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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The King is dead

Who saw Old Yeller? Who cried when Old Yeller got shot at the end? Nobody cried when Old Yeller got shot? I'm sure! I cried my eyes out . . .
--Bill Murray, Stripes
Yesterday, my dog died...and I cried.

Elvis, our family dog, would have been 13 in a couple of weeks. His mother's owners told us that his litter had been born on the 4th of July!

Anyway, we picked him up on August 16, 1991, the 24th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death. My wife and I planned to find an appropriate dog and name him Elvis, but we were quite surprised when the radio station played one song after another by the King the day we got him.

My brother-in-law asked me mid-summer 1991 how we were going to find a dog that looked like Elvis. I pointed out that Elvis wasn't a look, it was an attitude.

It was a big litter and we selected the one that was sleeping amongst the turmoil. We figured he'd be a calm dog -- and more important than his surroundings.

Elvis was an Aussie shepherd mixed with something. He was so much bigger than his 35 pound mother that I used to joke that the father must have been a horse. At his peak, he weighed about 90 pounds.

After the kids stopped dropping so much macaroni and cheese on the floor, he returned to a more reasonable weight of about 60 pounds.

At the end, he suffered from arthritis is his hips and the vet found a big lump in his throat that was making it difficult for him to breathe. The vet said there was nothing we could do.

He was easily the best dog I ever had, and he lived a happy life. On his final day, I took him for a very long walk to a local park. Rather than race around that park like he did when he was younger, Elvis sat midway up a hill and majestically surveyed his surroundings.

We'll miss him. I'll particularly miss him. My wife used to joke that he and I were closely attached, like the title characters in "A Boy and his Dog."

Unrelated trivia: Did you know that the film's star, Don Johnson, also attended the University of Kansas? Unlike me, however, he apparently did not receive a degree (though he may well have an honorary one now).

We're on vacation for awhile, so expect light blogging. I'll likely check in while the family is on the beach. I'm not a sun worshipper.

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