The Spirit

It has taken me a while to get used to the fact that Smokey is no longer with us. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I’ll ever get over his sudden death. During the past week I have taken a lot of time to miss him and to reflect on what made him so special. 

They say a dog offers unconditional love. They are right. His look of complete adoration and devotion is still fresh in my mind. But the warm feeling of knowing that there’s someone in this world that thought I was a rockstar went both ways. In other words, my worthy aspiration in life is to be more like Smokey and less like myself.

I wish I could love like him, with unconditional purity. Smokey never noticed if I was wearing fancy shoes or dirty clothes. He wasn’t concerned with my finances, the color of my skin, my creed, my stance on abortion or the death penalty, or my political choices. He was just as happy in the Rover as he was in the Saturn, and he enjoyed the tiny cramped studio as much as he liked the bigger two story house. Regardless of our weight fluctuations throughout the years, he was always wholly and utterly devoted to my husband, and later on myself, for the simple reason that we were ourselves (and, ok, we dished out the food).

I’d love to greet each day with a feeling of excitement for no reason other than it’s a new day filled with wondrous new opportunities. Despite my good health, wonderful family and friends, a roof over my head, and food in my cupboards, I complain. Smokey really treasured the little moments in life and always had, even when feeling a bit under the weather, a smile in his face. You can really see dogs smile.

What for me was another boring, monotonous, repetitive day for him was an absolute adventure. Just our walking in through the door elicited in Smokey an unbridled joy. He was not only the ‘Adrian and Mildred Fan Club’ president but he was also the whole club. Hearing a package of food being ripped open or grabbing the keys to the car provoked the same exact response of contentedness. My most vivid memories of him are of his long tail, wagging so ferociously it slapped both sides of his face making him wink constantly. Silly, happy, goofy grins, all tongue and teeth captured the blissful essence of being a dog. If only I could be this ecstatic about life.

I’d love to work and play like him, with total dedication, purpose and concentration. The way he chewed on a bone, played his own version of tennis, and wrestled with the neighbor’s dog, were all done with the same intensity. Nothing halfhearted there. Talk about living in the moment. We learned upon his death that he probably had an undetected tumor. He never complained, ached, or turned down an opportunity to play though. Nothing slowed him down. He was enthusiasm incarnate, fully giving himself to each and every activity, be it snuggling against us in our bed or chasing rabbits in the yard.

Smokey was the self-appointed canine ambassador. He was a Stafforshire Pit Bull Terrier and some people would initially fear him because of his body builder looks. Indeed, he weighed 50 lbs and was thick and compact with an enormous head. That’s where the ferociousness ended though. Smokey never met a stranger he didn’t like. That went for both humans and all animals. Many times he was attacked by other dogs, not once did he retaliate. He always chose to make friends and try to engage the attacker in a playful game of chase. I never paid much attention to the expression “he has a heart of gold” until I met this dog.

People, even those who didn’t like dogs, ended up scratching him for hours and even taking pictures with him. In July of 2008 we took him to the CrossFit Games and he ended up being the life of the party as usual; everyone including the athletes, the staff, kids, and adults alike would pass by our stand periodically for the chance to pet him. As if he knew he had a higher calling in life, Smokey sat there patiently, with wanton abandon, and fulfilled his purpose of spreading love.   

When we screamed at him to get out of the way, he forgave. When we ignored him, he still loved. When abandoned during our working hours, he remained loyal. When neglected, he didn’t judge. All he wanted in life was to be near us…his favorite past time was to get on the couch in between us with his big head resting on my thighs (especially if they were enveloped in the special robe) and his butt squooshed against my husband. He would ocassionally rotate and lay down the other way just so we could both get a chance to scratch him.  Without prejudice, bias, or judgment, he epitomized the best of human nature. Or what human nature should be. It is no coincidence that dog is “God” spelled backward. The father of a good friend points that throughout his life he had had better dogs than human friends. I now know this to be a fact.

Today I got a sympathy card in the mail from my sister. It reads “I have this feeling there’s one more star up in the sky tonight. And even though it’s far away, its brightness and warmth still reach us here to make the night a little less dark.” I couldn’t have said it better. He is an absolute star!

Smokey is the spirit of this and every venture of my life. He will forever be my inspiration.

   

36 Responses to The Spirit

  1. Maria says:

    My goodness dear girl, this is so very beautiful. I am truly touched with sympathy and appreciation for the love you shared with Smokey and the wisdom his passing has revealed to you. I ache for your grieving (no really, literally. The lump in my throat is so big it feels like I swallowed a shotput!) but am very grateful you wrote and shared this heartfelt eulogy to your wonderful and beloved friend so the rest of us can be reminded to live and love now, treasuring those we love moment by moment.

  2. Rob says:

    I’ve never had a dog but you just made me want to buy one.

  3. Dave says:

    RIP, Smokey. You’re a good boy.

  4. Robb Wolf says:

    A beautiful and touching tribute. I was TERRIFIED of dogs for years…the aftermath of a pretty good chewing I received while a kid. I was “rehabilitated” by the Glassman’s dog, Athena. Funny that these “cold blooded killers” of the canine world are the biggest lovers around.

    My sincerest condolences for you loss. I think I’ll go pet our cat…he’s a great little beast in his own right.

  5. Tim Wyatt says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I like to think of my guys as angels sent down to care for us. Perhaps even after they still watch over us. I hope Smokey is watching over you.

  6. JB Rhodes says:

    I have a black female pit-bull named Fiona, shes everything i wish i was. It tore me up to hear about your loss, Smokey must have been very special. I’m sure without a doubt that you were the sunshine in his life and he wouldn’t want it any other way. I hope you feel better, and know that it takes a great person to raise a good hearted dog

  7. TomC says:

    A wonderful eulogy. I miss my doggie, too.

  8. JOE says:

    Ma’am,
    I am so very sorry for your loss–we recently had to put down our 13 yr. old Shepard/mix, Shiloh–What you wrote about your Smokey really made my hurt and sense of loss turn into giggles, then guffaws remembering how our ‘first born’ was in life: I can totally imagine our Shiloh and your Smokey playing together and having a great time in Eternity! Thank you very much for sharing your experience–Smokey was obviously a wonderful family member to you and yours.

  9. CCTJOEY says:

    I lost my dog to a poisoning It was the only time as an adult I can remember truly being sad enough to cry. I am sorry for your loss, but glad you had such a great friend.

    Joey

  10. Brad says:

    I would first like to say that I am deeply sorry for your loss. There is little consoloation during these times and even though I never met Smokey I am sure he was every bit as special as you describe. There is an anonymous quote that may give you some solice, “He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.” It seems clear to me that you guys were worthy. Dogs like Smokey are a blessing and each memory should envoke that same joy he so often demonstrated.

  11. This is beautiful. We should all try to be a bit more like our dogs at times.

    R.I.P. Smokey.

  12. Jay C says:

    Mildred;
    My heart felt sympathies. I lost my Greyhound this past Jan, know how you feel. Waited a month, adopted a Border/Aussie mix female, two months later, got her a pure Border male, rescued, for a buddy.
    I think about Iggie every day and the great life he had, then I look at my two new nuts and smile……….

    Jay

  13. What a touching piece and beautifully conveyed

  14. […] Smokey, March 20th, 1998 – August 19th, 2008 Ground Fighting Part 2 by Tony Blauer, CrossFit Journal Preview – video [wmv] [mov] Filed under: True Crossfit Calgary […]

  15. Kirk Crenshaw says:

    What a beautiful tribute. R.I.P. Smokey. You will be missed.

  16. Pit Master says:

    The Pit will create and do a workout in honor of Smokey today… RIP you beautiful Smokey.

    Pit Master

  17. Pit Master says:

    Smokey…
    for time…X4
    200 meter run
    farmer walk 100meters
    10wall balls
    20 sledges
    20 push ups
    20 squats
    20 Double unders

  18. Gio says:

    My deepest sympathy go out to you and yours. I’ve know that type of bond with my previous two dogs, and now as a Parent I’m blessed to share that bond along with the children as they grow up learning to love, and respect their dog from a pup to adulthood also. There will always be a soft spot in there for your loved one, and nothing or no one can tell you that it’s going to get easier. You just learn to manage and find a new place in your heart for a New bond to be created.

    Patience.

    Yours,

    Gio

  19. powerfitcamp says:

    Everyone,

    Thank you so very much for your support and heartfelt condolences for Smokey’s passing. He was such a good boy and his death so unexpected that it has left us stunned, with a huge void in our lives. The only thing that has made this sadness more bearable is the support from family, friends, and all of you out there.

    This is the first dog we lose, our baby, and your comments have made us realize there’s light at the end of this dark tunnel. A million thanks to all of you and to Lauren Glassman (our rockstar!) for posting the tribute in the CrossFit website.

    To Smokey the Love Machine – RIP and know that we remember you as the best thing that ever happened to us.

    Thank you everyone,

    Mildred & Adrian

  20. Nelson says:

    You can never find a better friend than a dog! You and smokey will be in my families ( me, wife, daughter and two dogs) thoughts

  21. Bodyfit says:

    I’m so sorry you lost such a good friend……and thank you for your comments….Smokey sounds allot like Dakota…….very loving…….i believe there is a place for all Gods creatures……………im sure Smokey and Dakota are there playing in wide open fields and chewing on some giant bones…………….Thank you again for your comments…..Kevin

  22. […] Smokey, March 20th, 1998 – August 19th, 2008 […]

  23. Pit Master says:

    My team did “Smokey” today… Antonio Banuelos finshed first at 13;15

  24. Jim says:

    Friends are hard to come by. Unconditional friends even harder. You were blessed, even if for a short time to be blessed with an unconditional friend. What a wonderful memory to hold. I am sorry for your pain but pray that someday I too will have the unconditional love of a friend like Smokey. Regards, Jim

  25. bigfuzzy6 says:

    After going through the same thing with my parents 12 year old mastiff “Shylo” this past winter, I can totally relate to your grief and words describing his love and devotion. It is precisely for this reason that my parents just got a new mastiff “Dooley” three weeks ago and I am purchasing our first family dog on Wednesday. Not sure who will be more excited, me or my children.
    Take care….bigfuzzy6

  26. Superd954 says:

    I know it is tough to lose your sidekick. I also had a pit that I lost this year, Plato, who succumbed to cancer from mast cell tumors. I miss the way he wood look at me when I came in the door and his stubbornness, no matter how many times we left the trash can in the kitchen, he would tear into it and then give you the sad puppy face when confronted. In the spirit of his breed I have continued to educate people on how loving and loyal pits can be. It is not easy trying to change the negative stigma that people have helped to created about this awesome and loving animal. It is truly like losing a family member!

  27. Luca Zanet says:

    I just now read what you wrote about Smokey, I too can relate to your loss, my dog passed away suddenly, at age 10, too 3 years ago and the pain hasn’t gone away yet. I’m still not ready to get another one, I don’t know if I want to go through that again.
    My condolences, take care

  28. D says:

    Such beautiful words!! From these words, we feel your pain and hear your love for Smokey. Never met Smokey but what a beautiful friend and dog.

  29. Chantelle Proia says:

    Sorry for your loss. He was so handsome. Excellent tribute. I have a 5 year old Chocolate Lab and he is my best buddy—they bring so much joy to your life.

  30. Josh says:

    My fiance and I have Pit and German Short Hair Pointer mix and your description of Smokey, including the lying on the couch between us with head on her thigh is pin point accurate to ours as well. We have only had Bella for a little less than a year and couldn’t imagine not coming home to that amazing bundle of energy and joy. I have never met you and probably never will but from your writing it is easy to comprehend that he was a lucky dog and loved being yours.
    I hope you can one day find another little buddy to show that these beautiful dogs dont’ deserve the stereotype they have so wrongfully been given.
    Thank you for sharing this with everyone because it hits home as you can see in the responses before and after mine.
    Best…
    Josh

  31. […] very cool pitbull story(link inside) I think the way she says that she should act a little more like her dog does, is an interesting take. Either way a good story> The Spirit […]

  32. Mary says:

    This is beautifully written, and I now have an image of Smokey etched in my memory as someone I’d like to emulate. God bless you.

  33. Jason Staton says:

    I love the pictures. Dogs are great.

  34. Steve Price says:

    I recently lost my Breeze. Like Smokey, she was a 47-50 lb. Am-Staf, an ambassador for the breed, and experienced a sudden death due to cancer.

    I miss her, as do many, as I’m sure many miss Smokey.

    Thank you for your story. It really rings true and reminds me of my Breeze.

  35. Katie says:

    I am so happy Smokey’s story is still up. I read this shortly after your original post and saved the link. I have a pit-mix who amazes me every day with his forgiveness and unconditional love. Smokey’s story is my motivation on a tough day. Thank you so much for sharing.

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