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March 2022


I was driving along in my car on a freeway when I looked over and saw our vet’s office and thought “That’s the last place 827 earl from sept 2009we saw Earl.” 

Then, tears suddenly appeared in my eyes. I must have been holding them back since March, I think.
“Maybe I’d better pull over for a minute,” I said to myself. 

Traffic didn’t allow for that; I blinked my eyes clear. And I drove on home.

That photo is one of the first I took of my friend Texas Earl The Cheeseman back in September, 2009.

But that freeway “teardrop spell” was just one more moment when I realized how 8-30 earl on thecouchmuch I miss our big ol’ Rottweiler friend Earl. Usually it hits me in the house when I realize there’s a dog dish I don’t have to prepare, there’s a place to sit on the couch, there’s an open path across the living room rug. No big ol’ Rottie snuggling with small dogs or cats!

Honestly, it has taken me a real while to get this tribute together.
8-30 earl in the feb snow 2My dearspouse Martha and I, with Earl’s best interests at heart, held him as he went on — I think he was ready. That was on March 10.
He’d had a chance to play in the snow.

You remember that snow? Earl enjoyed it more than anyone — well, anyone who hadn’t lost power or had their roof cave in. He romped! 

Here’s the deal on my delay: I simply did not have a way to say in a couple of sentences just how much he meant to me. I encountered the emotions while driving past the last place I petted his big ol’ velvet head, hugged his neck and told him I loved him. He means a lot to me. To Martha, too. And, yeah, to his ol’ friends in the House of Formerly Unwanted Animals.

Here’s some more about Earl, a dog I gave the “show name” Texas Earl The Cheeseman for no particular reason other than it seemed to fit him.

Each time I come home from an errand — half-hour or half-a-day — I am met at the door by our wonderful dogs.

For about a week in March they were not looking at me when the door opened. No, they were looking at an area around 827 earl i[side4my knees where their friend Earl used to stand politely and wait for them to clear the way when he’d come back from the vet’s.
That is about the grandest tribute I have seen for a big ol’ dog who was a fixture in our home. His friends kept hoping he’s coming through the door when it opens. Didn’t we all. And, yeah, I’m tearing up right now.
Porche, Wendy and Dudley all appear to live with faith that their friend Earl is going to be coming back through that door some day and lead them on another bark-filled, nose-sniffin’ romp in the yard.

I wish that such a thing could happen as much as all three dogs added together 8-30 earl chick and duckand a few of the cats, too. Earl charmed the cats. The younger ones, born into a feral situation, somehow loved rubbing their heads on Big Earl’s chin and chest. He took it as a compliment.
His assorted ailments finally made life too rough for him to go on and Martha and I, our dear vet and one of Earl’s loving techs sat on a rug on the floor of the vet’s office with Earl. 
We all petted him, talked to him and, ultimately, helped him avoid some hellish suffering. Don’t think for a second that we didn’t need to dab our eyes and hate the ache in our hearts.

Earl was already having big problems with his “insides” and we knew this was coming. But it still hurts to look at his usual spot on the living room floor, one ear listening for snacks in the kitchen, and see a giant vacancy.
What kind of dog was Earl? The best. [LARRY NOTE: That's Earl lounging on our back deck while having a conversation 8-30 earl dudley chick and duckwith our two outdoor fowl residents, Chicken and Duck. The next photo? That's Earl and the Yard Pals relaxing with Dudley The Angel, a wander-up dog dumped in our old neighborhood in Dallas.]
Dear Readers may recall the circumstances that led to Earl joining our household in the long-ago year of 2009.
 I have, sometimes, introduced him as “our free Rottweiler.” That’s what he was. [LARRY NOTE: He was also thought by our vet to be "5 to 7 years old" in 2009. So, yeah, he was ancient for a dog when we lost him in March. Every year since 2009 was a great year for us and Earl.]

One afternoon, I drove into Oak Cliff’s Kiest Park to do my 
walking exercise” and as I pulled into the parking area, I saw a grown Rottie rise from the shade of a tree. His head held high in happy anticipation, he walked over to a car that had just arrived, paused to look into the driver’s window, then, head now drooping, walked slowly back to the shade and lay down. 
I watched him for about 15 minutes as other cars arrived and he repeated this routine. 

Finally, I’d had all I could stand. I got out of my pickup and walked toward him. He got up and walked toward me. I had some treats and offered them. He took them happily. It was clear this slightly slim, fully adult black and tan classic Rottie with a docked tail was homeless.

Nobody was coming back to get him. 

827 earls faceHe wasn’t the first dog I’d invited home after he was dumped in Kiest Park. I had Inky the Cocker Spaniel (a mange-stricken puppy with no hair on his body except on one long ear); Rosie, a mange-tortured Chihuahua who smelled so bad kids were throwing rocks at her to keep her away from them; and Hambone Jack (“Hammy), “The Canine King of the Blues,” a Great Dane/Lab mix who had a metal collar growing into his neck, a belly that needed a steady diet and a nature so happy that a circus clown would be envious.

And, so, here was one more: the great Earl, “Texas Earl the Cheeseman.” I loved hugging him. Look at those bright eyes in that couch photo!
He would sometimes rise from his spot on the floor, walk over to the couch and insist that I grab his big ol’ face in both hands and kiss his muzzle like it was my funspouse Martha’s cheek.
We love Earl. Love him. 
He had become ill in January and he’d gotten one of those “could be soon” diagnoses. But he was so happy when he was feeling good. He was just so darned happy.

We set a date for helping him, but then, as the day approached, he was like the healthy Earl — good appetite, no 8-30 earl in the feb snowkproblem with his bodily functions, loved to be petted, liked being with us. We gambled that we could enjoy him another week or so.
Then came the winter storm.
Our yard — like the roads — was covered with snow. Nobody was going anywhere. Offices were closed, Highways were largely empty. 
On one of those sunless mornings when the snow reflects what little light is getting through the clouds, Martha opened the door for the dogs to go out and the first one out the door was Earl. After weeks of slow and certain movements in the yard, Earl was suddenly inspired and he led the other dogs on a merry chase through the snow. He romped. He jumped. He shoved his muzzle into the snow. He was happy. His “inner puppy” was at work.
Happy! He frolicked in the snow for as long as it was in the yard. [He was happy riding in the car, too, before it got to hard for him to get into it. Martha took that shot of me and Earl riding around for fun back in 2016.]
One morning he went out with the other dogs and he spotted a squirrel on the ground about 20 yards away from him. Suddenly, he was like a rocket across the snow and the grass. That squirrel was stunned that a dog he’d come to ignore might now be in the mood to give chase! 
The squirrel ran up a tree and for a moment, I thought Earl might, too.
827 larry and earl 2016But, he decided to walk through the snow at the back fence. Every now and then, he’d stop and look up at the fence and I could swear you could almost see this guy contemplating trying to get one more good leap out of his arthritic legs and run off into the nature preserve next to us.

A few days later, he had a bad night and a bad morning and we made the call.

Now, Earl is romping with his young legs, he’s probably leading other once-homeless pups on a joyous jog through Heaven. Now and then a cat will walk up and say, “I’ve heard it’s enjoyable to headbutt your chin and rub my forehead on your cheek. That right?” And our boy Early will give off one of his big ol’ Rottie smiles and lean down just a bit to be accommodating to the much shorter kitty. 
“He’ll think back to Stevie Ray the kitten and maybe even the humans who loved feeling the top of his velvet head and marveling at the sweetness of this formerly 509-10earlharp1unwanted dog. 
He was so gentle on Earth — evidence that, as I’ve frequently noted, all dogs don’t go to Heaven, those angels are all going BACK to Heaven. [That may explain why he liked to sleep next to one of Martha's harps, the big ol' angel. That lower photo is of Earl and Porche Noel snoozing on Porche's Retro-Hippie Trancendental Carpet of Meditation. They were pals for more than a decade...]

You know what I could never teach Earl to do? I could never teach him to catch a treat in mid-air. I’d toss one toward the other dogs and they’d snare it out of the air like a Hall of Fame shortstop handling a line drive.
1-01-2021earlporchcontemplationaWhen I’d gently toss a treat toward Earl, he’d let it hit his face, his chin, his chest — and he’d pick it up and eat it just the same. I finally stopped trying, except every now and then, because I stubbornly believed that I’d eventually teach him to catch a treat with his big, sweet ol’ mouth. 
If I play my cards right, some day I’ll get to see the new trick my great family member Earl has learned since I last saw him. I’m sure there are treats in Heaven and Earl is enjoying them.
But, for now, here is the genuine thought I have every morning, every evening and now and then during the daytime and nighttime. “I want my dog back.” Maybe some day….Not too soon, of course, but some day. “I want my dog back.”

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