Sunday, February 21, 2010


We lost Charley this weekend. Mike found him collapsed in the snow on Friday night, and the vet said he most likely suffered a heart attack. We had to let him go Saturday morning, and the house feels very empty without him. He was a part of our lives for so long, and we lost him just days before his twelfth birthday.

Charley came to me in October of 1998 when I was in graduate school at the Art Institute in Chicago. He was just 7 months old -- awkward, big-nosed, and gangly. I lived on the top level of a two-flat in Chicago, and my landlords, Art and Barbara, lived on the bottom. They were breeders and rescuers of Rhodesian Ridgebacks. At any given time they had between six and nineteen dogs, depending upon whether it was puppy season. We often left our back doors open and their dogs and my Great Dane, Claire, would come and go as they pleased. One late evening when I returned home from school, I noticed a rather odd looking Ridgeback in my apartment. Thinking that Art and Barbara had accidentally locked a pup out of their flat, I attempted to return him. I believe the response I got was, “Nope, not our dog. Must be yours.” And Charley was with me ever since.

Charley was abused by his former family, so there were a lot of preexisting conditions and issues that needed attention. He always accepted that I was his new caretaker, but he growled and barked at Mike for 3 months when he first moved in, and for years he would do the same to anyone else who stepped foot in our apartment. He seemed to dislike and mistrust everyone he came into contact with, but at the same time you just couldn't help loving him, and everyone did. I remember our friend Chris once whispering to me, "Don't tell the Danes, but Charley's my favorite."

Somewhere along the way, Dan and Chris gave Charley his own slogan: “I’m not gonna bite ya, but I don’t like ya.” So true.

Charley was extraordinarily strong, and could jump 6 feet into the air from a sitting position. I guess that trait came in handy when hunting the grand lions of Chicago. His neck was massive, hence his mafia name, “Charley the Neck.”

When we would walk Charley around Chicago without the Great Danes, we unfailingly got comments such as “Good Lord, that is a big dog!” And Mike and I would turn and look around for the big dog. Since we had the Danes, we always thought Charley was more of a lap dog. But at 90 muscular pounds, I guess he wasn’t really all that small.

His later years were marked with mountain activities. When we moved to Colorado we took him hiking, walking, doggie sledding down the driveway – he loved it all. Once when our friends Kevin and Kelly were visiting, we took Charley on a fairly long hike. At the destination waterfalls, he played with another young dog, and unfortunately stepped on some small pieces of glass. We didn’t realize this until we were on our way back down the trail and he just stopped. Literally dug his heels in and wouldn’t budge. We tried pulling him. We put Kevin’s socks on his paws, which lasted all of 10 seconds. We tried fashioning a stretcher out of those same socks and large branches. None of those solutions worked, so Mike and I ran to the trailhead, got into our car and drove home to get the Jeep, which we proceeded to illegally drive onto National Forest property for a few miles (surely the statue of limitations on that crime has expired – fingers crossed) and picked up Charley, Kevin and Kelly. My heart still races a little bit at the thought. We may still be rotting in a federal prison had we been caught.

Charley had a special fondness for my mom and my brother, Matt. Matt thinks it’s because Charley knew we are siblings. Just last week Charley got up on the couch and put his head in Matt’s lap, which he never does with anyone else. He would sleep in bed with my mom when she visited – they were perfect bedfellows – neither moved an inch during the night. As he got older, he seemed to love everybody in his own way.

We’ll miss Charley’s quiet, unassuming nature. When he loved you, it really made you feel special. We have holes in our hearts, but I just know he’s chasing the lions now.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why yes, Virginia, we ARE made of money

I can’t even count how many times people have asked me how much it costs to feed 350 pounds of dog. I normally just give some sort of vague answer, implying that it’s a lot, simultaneously refraining from panicking while thinking of just exactly how much the next trip to the food store is going to cost me.

Things are costing a bit more since we got Ivy. She evidently likes money, as illustrated below where she stole and is eating a dollar bill from my brother's wallet. Thus, we’ve decided it’s just easier to feed her the money rather than go to the pet food store and purchase actual dog food. Cuts out the middleman.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Have You Seen Us?

  • 1 avocado;
  • 1 tin of Christmas cookies;
  • One half dozen eggs, plus shells;
  • Three empty egg cartons;
  • 1/2 tomato;
  • 1 large bunch broccoli florets;
  • 1 freshly washed, empty Tupperware container.
In the past couple of weeks, various items from the kitchen have gone curiously missing. Also within the past couple of weeks our vet recently told us that Milo needs to lose about ten pounds. Coincidence? Doubtful. So this week we have officially submitted Milo's application to doggie fat camp. Upon further inspection, he does look like he swallowed a basketball. So we cut his food by about 1/2 a cup per day, and I think he believes that we are starving him, hence the above-referenced indiscretions.

As you can see, he's overflowing in his own chair.


1. Avocado
2. Eggs
3. Egg cartons
4. Cookies
5. Half tomato
6. Broccoli
7. Tupperware

*It is more difficult than you might think to draw on a glossy photo with a white marker. You would never guess that I went to art school. I apologize.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Good Trade

I'm not going to eat you, but I am going to sit on you
(Sometimes emily has good luck being in the right place at the right time with the camera)

So maybe that's the trade-off. We basically let our 150+ pound dogs walk all over us, thus avoiding becoming a news headline or a creepy Google search (see post below). We have bruises. Scrapes. A puncture wound or two. And scars. Lots of scars. But we are, proudly, Things Great Danes Don't Eat.