Sweet Polly's Hero (aka "Gastropup" and "Piggy", aptly earned monikers due to his passion for anything remotely edible...although his interest in any particular offering seemed to wane in direct proportion to its broader location on the food pyramid), joined our family on Easter Sunday in 2003. A little unsure of himself at first and obviously a bit intimidated by our older and more established black lab, Molly, I was initially concerned that he would not be able to negotiate a comfortable niche for himself in the hierarchy of our "pack". However, he quickly (and seemingly cheerfully) settled into his role as omega II, fourth behind myself as Molly had claimed the beta spot to her Daddy-Dawg's alpha position long before I arrived on the scene (a pecking order I have allowed them both to believe has remained constant over the past thirteen years, while usually even managing to supress a giggle at the very idea).
He was a fun-loving clown from the very beginning who never wanted a THING to do with confrontation, although he did once seriously threaten to rip a small, dilapidated kettle grill to smithereens that had been left curbside for trash pickup by a neighbor on the evening prior to one of our many hundreds of pre-dawn "poop walks" (apparently mistaking it for an ax murderer). As it turned out, "Hero" was a bit of a misnomer. A lightning fast runner in his youth who could make a greyhound hang his head in shame, he loved to chase small woodland creatures. On one occasion, he actually managed to overtake and momentarily wrap his jaws around a squirrel...but promptly panicked and almost soiled himself from sheer terror as its small, squirming form thrashed around his snout (not to mention The Mommy's shrill screams of horror) and dropped it. Therefore a certain fortunate rodent miraculously lived to collect nuts another day.
He had hobbies...and lots of them. He loved his playthings more than almost anything (except food) and had his own generously-filled toy box which was more frequently than not completely emptied of its squeaky, bouncy, round and trip-inducing denizens, which he remorselessly left randomly scattered throughout the house like little land mines for one of his dumb humans to stumble over in the dark.
Swimming was also a passion, and there was nothing more fun than taking a quick dive in the pool before running back inside via the doggy door, shaking off all over the house and then scraping his soaking wet pelt along the sofa in a seeming (and successful) attempt to remove all of that nasty brown dye from the leather. Since his "parents" were incapable of looking at that face and administering any level of meaningful discipline, what did he have to lose? He owned us, not the other way around.
A nosy neighbor, he often channeled Gladys Kravitz and peered through the cat door whenever the garage door was open to see just what everyone else was up to. It's a good thing he couldn't talk, because someone probably would've had to kill him. Neighborhood Watch at its finest.
R-I-D-E-S were also high on his list of faves. Yes, we always had to spell it so he wouldn't go batshitcrazy at the mere mention of the word. As is clearly evident in this photo, he also taught Miley Cyrus everything she knows.
Hero always got into the Christmas spirit (his favorite holiday). I like to imagine he was grateful that I, who had a certain knack for innately discerning his every desire, assisted him with "getting his 'Jingle Bell' on". Okay, maybe not...but he tolerated it like a trooper because it made me laugh and earned him a "Good Boy!"
At times, he enjoyed donning the dubious disguise of a dead palmetto bug...in what I can only assume was an attempt to lull the People of Earth into a false sense of security while he secretly plotted to achieve world power. He was one inscrutable beast! As an aside, he had a propensity for gnawing on his right front leg until it was bloody...which seemed super unnecessary since he was neutered at a young age.
"Gastropup", more than anything, I believe...loved co-blogging. While he never had the opportunity to grace Bern's with his presence, he did enjoy some memorable treats at the many dog-friendly dining establishments in the Tampa Bay area. Paella at Cafe Alma was particularly well received, even if he and Molly DID manage to totally trash the outdoor resto patio like a couple of drunken rock stars before our meal was over. But, hey...these little moments of indiscretion happen to the best of us, right?
The Fish and Corn Chowder at Cassis American Brasserie...well, I think it's safe to say that he never forgot that! Not to mention the kindness of the management staff who made it clear that our "kids" were absolutely welcome on the sidewalk dining patio and brought them bowls of cool water as soon as we sat down after an afternoon of playing in Vinoy Park.
I think his favorite treat of all time was the Tres Leches Cake at Pincho y Pincho in downtown St. Pete (a former offshoot of Ceviche) following a day of frolicking at the Fort DeSoto Dog Beach. So very cool, creamy, sweet and refreshing!
Despite his highbrow epicurean proclivities, "Piggy" was not too proud to revel in the gastronomic delights of a good food truck (let's face it...we're talking about someone whose idea of a "party" was a serious roll in a pile of another dog's droppings). A pureed frozen banana treat from Gone Bananas was snorted in veryshortorder a couple of years ago. High praise from a canine who was generally disdainful of fruit. It was, however, prepared in a way that was reminiscent of ice cream, which was his most beloved indulgence.
The world and I lost a most precious, gentle, affectionate, humorous and empathetic soul this past Monday, August 18th to the bitch that is cancer. Death, be not proud...because (and I hate to be the one to break it to you) you have somewhat of a POS reputation.
And something is just not right with the universe when "Man's Best Friend" has such a disproportionate lifespan to our own. The silence in our home is deafening without the relentless beat of my perpetual puppy's "tail drum". Hero, you brought me unbelievable joy and I'll love and remember you for as long as I live. I'll try harder to be good so that I might again one day press my kisses atop your snowy head. Godspeed, sweet puppydoodle.