A sad farewell to Annie, the dog

The sweetest dog I've ever known is no longer with us.

Annie, the sweetest dog I’ve ever known.


She was the cutest dog in the entire world and she lived in our house.

Annie the dog died on Wednesday morning, March 23rd. We think she was somewhere between 12 and 13 years old, almost 11 of them spent with us.

Annie was a rescue dog and we were the ones who came to her rescue, getting her out of a miserable existence and bringing her into our home.

In return, she gave us unconditional love. Every single day.

Annie was a rat terrier. Those two words certainly don’t connote cuteness. But this dog was cute – actually, beyond cute. When we first got her, she was white with brown spots. Those spots faded over the years but even in her old age, she still had the personality of a puppy. How fitting that our pupper chose to go on National Puppy Day.

Annie had many names. When Chris, her sister, Catherine and Tom Jr. first brought her home, her official name was AnnaBelle. But that was quickly changed to Annie.

She went on to be called DiDi, Donna, Ern, Sockhead, PupperButt, Annie Banannie, The Baby, Tippy and PupPup, just to name a few. She answered to them all, and each one has its own story attached to it.

God, how we loved that dog. Whenever we got home from wherever we’d been, we’d all rush to greet her. “She’s my best friend,” Catherine would say. “She’s my best friend, too,” I’d chime in. She was our whole family’s best friend.

I work from home and Annie was always at my feet when I worked. Last night, as I reached down to instinctively pet her came the crushing reality that she’s not there anymore. I was wearing black sweatpants that are still covered with short Annie hairs. So she hasn’t entirely left me. She never will.

Annie was a loyal dog, an unbelievably friendly, happy dog. She was a lap dog and most of the time, it was my lap that had the honor of her presence.

She had her moments – Annie was terrified of thunder – something we believe tied back to her time in the puppy mill where she was probably left outside in the rain. She would tremble and shake at the sound of thunder and her little heart would beat way too fast.

As she got older, we feared that her rapidly beating heart would give out on her and about a year or so ago, a visit to the vet revealed that she had a heart murmur.

So we got her on some heart medicine and hoped for the best but we all knew her remaining time with us was probably not going to be measured in years.

The boys are in college now. Catherine will soon be graduating high school and we hoped that Annie would at least make it to the fall so that if she did go, it would be while Catherine was away.

That’s kind of what happened – the timing just wasn’t what we anticipated.

Last Thursday morning, Catherine took off for a Spring Break vacation with her friends. Chris and I used that empty nest time to take off ourselves and we were on an unbelievable golf trip. We put Annie in the good care of Chris’ mom and dad who had watched Annie before. Their home was a home away from home for Annie. Driving her to their house last Wednesday night, Annie did her usual of sitting on my lap, looking out the window as the world passed by.

All was well and when I left, I bent down and said goodbye to Annie, not knowing it would be the last time I ever saw her.

On Wednesday morning, Chris got a tearful long-distance call from her mom and dad. They woke up to let Annie out. But that would no longer be necessary.

The pup-pup had died. Her heart simply gave out.

There were no dramatics. No mess. Just a little white dog, lying on the floor – her work was done.

Annie won the hearts of everyone who ever met her. She didn’t have a mean bone in her body. So the dog that had never done anything wrong passed away while we were all away.

Now there will be no more volleyballs to dribble around our back yard. No more squirrels, birds or rabbits to chase. No more tug of wars with her toys that she loved to fetch, return and then refuse to let go of in her awesome displays of toughness.

Our house feels so empty now.

She was 16 pounds of love, goodness and happiness.

As we were flying back yesterday to St. Louis, I knew we were returning to life without Annie. I cried when we took off. I cried when we touched down. I cried because of all the tears that I knew Catherine would be shedding as well. Our best friend is gone.

I mourn the loss of that little dog. But I am so grateful that I got to be a part of her life.

Annie changed our lives – 1000% for the better.

Rest in peace, little pup-pup. Rest in peace.

Try, try again

I've worked and re-worked this and still can't quite get it right.

I’ve worked and re-worked this and still can’t quite get it right.


Golf can be frustrating. Work can be frustrating. Painting can be frustrating. Parenting can be frustrating.

Anything can be frustrating – if you let it.

But the key to anything is to always keep trying. Don’t give up. Unless, of course, you’ve worked on something for so long and re-worked it and it still doesn’t quite come out right. Eventually, you need to stop and realize it’s not going to get that much better.

That’s been the story of my most recent painting.

It’s called “Crossing Over”. When I first sketched it out, I liked the thought – a man and his son, out walking on water. I’ve been trying to create more mystery with my subject matter and I thought this one made you wonder.

I searched for inspiration and found a photo of a nice sunset on an ocean, waves gently rolling in. The water was a reflective orange, a nice complement to a gorgeous sky. So that became my model.

And my troubles began. I paint with acrylics – and my general experience has been that they don’t blend real well – and if they do, I still haven’t mastered the ability to make that blend work.

Since this painting had a ton of water in it, getting that nice reflective sheen to the water was key. I painted an orange mess with blurs of blue. It wasn’t a pretty picture.

I tried adding more shades of blue to the orange and yellow ocean. It was still a mess. I had painted the orange sand at the bottom and was semi-satisfied with that but it still lacked that glistening glow.

Two Saturdays ago, I began painting at 8:30 in the morning, working on the ocean colors. I decided to try a little Seurat approach by stippling in the color. At 3:30 in the afternoon, I was still stippling away and decided that I was close. I went to work on it again the next day but then decided that the waves were way off base. I was no longer following the picture, I was just doing my own interpretation. And my interpretation was wrong.

The waves were a mess. So I stopped.

Next night, I started in on the sky and here, I managed to get a blend that seemed interesting. I went back to working on the waves, basically re-doing everything I had done.

There is a lot of paint on this canvas.

When I finally got to the man and his son, I already knew they were too big for where they were out on the ocean. But I went ahead and painted them anyway and up close, they are rather crude looking, especially the young boy.

One of the key things in painting is knowing when to stop.

In this instance, I knew it was time to stop. Not because the painting was done. But rather, because it’s just not going to get all that much better.

I probably have close to 100 hours in this painting and ultimately, I’m not happy with it.

That’s okay. There’s another canvas waiting. I’ll try and do better next time, having lived the adventure of this one.

I will try and try again.

And I’ll keep on trying to get better.