Tag Archives: Casper

…a place in Paradise

My buddy, my friend...
My buddy, my friend…

I don’t normally post on Friday nights, but I just had to post tonight.  I don’t know if you watched the NBC evening news tonight, but they did a story about something that the pope said today to a little boy who was missing his dog who had died.  The boy wanted to know if his dog would be in heaven, waiting for him.  The pope reportedly told the boy, “All God’s creatures have a place in Paradise.”  I don’t know if the pope is right or not…the simple fact is that we just don’t know.  But, I can tell you this: I sure hope he’s right!

Today’s photo is of my late dog, Casper, a white boxer, who died three years ago on December 20, 2011.  One thing I know: if there is, indeed, a place for all of God’s creatures in Paradise, I know he will be there, waiting and eagerly watching for me – as I would be for him if the tables were turned.

Casper, I thought of you when I heard Brian Williams reporting the pope’s comments…and I cried.  I still miss you so much.  No other dog has taken your place in my heart, nor will they ever.

I just wanted to tell you to be patient and wait for  me like you always did while you were here.  One of these days I’ll show up and you can come running to greet me!  Until then, know how much I love you…and that I can’t wait to see you again and feel your strength and exuberance…and see the delight as we look each other in the eye.

I miss you, good friend.  It won’t be long…until then, play and have fun, and keep your eyes open for me coming over the rise!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1980, American oil tycoon Armand Hammer paid $5,126,000 at auction for a notebook containing writings by the Leonardo da Vinci.

The manuscript, written around 1508, was one of some 30 similar books da Vinci produced during his lifetime on a variety of subjects. It contained 72 loose pages featuring some 300 notes and detailed drawings, all relating to the common theme of water and how it moved. Experts have said that da Vinci drew on it to paint the background of his masterwork, the Mona Lisa. The text, written in brown ink and chalk, read from right to left, an example of da Vinci’s favored mirror-writing technique. The painter Giuseppi Ghezzi discovered the notebook in 1690 in a chest of papers belonging to Guglielmo della Porto, a 16th-century Milanese sculptor who had studied Leonardo’s work. In 1717, Thomas Coke, the first earl of Leicester, bought the manuscript and installed it among his impressive collection of art at his family estate in England.

More than two centuries later, the notebook–by now known as the Leicester Codex–showed up on the auction block at Christie’s in London when the current Lord Coke was forced to sell it to cover inheritance taxes on the estate and art collection. In the days before the sale, art experts and the press speculated that the notebook would go for $7 to $20 million. In fact, the bidding started at $1.4 million and lasted less than two minutes, as Hammer and at least two or three other bidders competed to raise the price $100,000 at a time. The $5.12 million price tag was the highest ever paid for a manuscript at that time; a copy of the legendary Gutenberg Bible had gone for only $2 million in 1978. “I’m very happy with the price. I expected to pay more,” Hammer said later. “There is no work of art in the world I wanted more than this.” Lord Coke, on the other hand, was only “reasonably happy” with the sale; he claimed the proceeds would not be sufficient to cover the taxes he owed.

Hammer, the president of Occidental Petroleum Corporation, renamed his prize the Hammer Codex and added it to his valuable collection of art. When Hammer died in 1990, he left the notebook and other works to the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Several years later, the museum offered the manuscript for sale, claiming it was forced to take this action to cover legal costs incurred when the niece and sole heir of Hammer’s late wife, Frances, sued the estate claiming Hammer had cheated Frances out of her rightful share of his fortune. On November 11, 1994, the Hammer Codex was sold to an anonymous bidder–soon identified as Bill Gates, the billionaire founder of Microsoft–at a New York auction for a new record high price of $30.8 million. Gates restored the title of Leicester Codex and has since loaned the manuscript to a number of museums for public display.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Russian poet Sergei Esenin (1895-1925) wrote an entire poem in his own blood that served as suicide note.

Two Years and a Million Tears Ago

I know that Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and laughter and wonder and awe.  And it is…it is all those things.  But today has not been a happy day for me.  I am feeling rather down today.  Why?  Because it will have been two years ago tomorrow that my beloved boxer, Casper, died.

730 days ago today (Thursday), I got up in the morning and knew Casper needed to see the vet.  He’d started struggling to breathe a few days before, though in hindsight, it was clear that he’d been having symptoms for a while.  So, on 12/19, I loaded him in the car and drove him to see the vet.

She was a wonderful, compassionate young woman who watched with great interest the video I’d made of his breathing on my cell phone.  I could see a immediate look of concern on her face and she said she wanted to do a more thorough exam and took him to the back room.  She soon came out and said that it appeared that he had air in his chest that was making it hard for his lungs to inflate.  Such a thing could be caused, she said, by a recent injury, an infection, or cancer.  So, she started running tests, calling for consults, and decided that they had to remove some of the air from inside his chest to help his breathing.  I started to hear him howling as they inserted the needles to let the air out of his chest cavity.  It was horrible.  I had to walk out the front of the vet’s office, but I could still hear him.

After draining the area around one lung, she came and told me they were taking a break, but that they needed to do the other side, too.  The howling soon began all over – and every howl tore my heart out.

After the procedure he was much better and I took him home.  He sure seemed happy to be leaving with me!

That night, however, he started to struggle again.  The vet called in the morning with the test results: no infection.  There had been no recent injury.  The only possible explanation left was cancer.  I asked her what she would do if it were her own dog, and she said the words that crushed me: “I would let him out of his misery.”  I told her I would bring him right back over, so with tears streaking my face and falling all over my shirt, I loaded my precious friend into the back seat of the car, talking to him all the way, telling him how much I loved him and how much he meant to me.  I could barely see to drive through the tears.

I can’t tell you the rest because it is far too painful.  But within the hour, Casper was at peace.  It is something that we do for the pets we love when the time comes.  It just always comes too soon.

So, my friend, Casper, this one is for you. I miss you, buddy. I will love you always!!!!!!  This picture was taken of Casper about 7 months before he died.

Casper051711ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1971, the Apollo lunar-landing program, arguably the greatest scientific achievement and feat of exploration in human history, ended when the last three astronauts to travel to the moon splash down safely in the Pacific Ocean. Apollo 17 had lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, 10 days before.

In July 1969, after three years of preparation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) accomplished President John F. Kennedy’s goal of putting a man on the moon and safely returning him to Earth with Apollo 11. From 1969 to 1972, there were six successful lunar landing missions, and one aborted mission, Apollo 13. During the Apollo 17 mission, astronauts Eugene A. Cernan and Harrison H. Schmitt stayed for a record 75 hours on the surface of the moon, conducting three separate surface excursions in the Lunar Rover vehicle and collecting 243 pounds of rock and soil samples.

Although Apollo 17 was the last lunar landing, the last official Apollo mission was conducted in July 1975, when an Apollo spacecraft successfully rendezvoused and docked with the Soviet Soyuz 19 spacecraft in orbit around the Earth. It was fitting that the Apollo program, which first visited the moon under the banner of “We came in peace for all mankind,” should end on a note of peace and international cooperation.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Cats purr at 26 cycles per second, the same as an idling diesel engine.


Gone, but Never Ever Forgotten

Well, it’s over.  As I posted yesterday, Casper, my precious white boxer, has been sick.  He continued to struggle last night with breathing.  This morning he could barely eat, seeming to have trouble swallowing, and was whimpering.  I called the vet, she called back, and said the blood tests were negative – meaning no heartworms or infection.  That left not much of any other choice other than a tumor(s).  I suppose we could have waited longer, but I just couldn’t let my buddy get worse and suffer more.  So, he was put down this morning about 11:45 a.m. EST.

I’m sure I’ll have more to reflect on later, but for now, let me just say that I would hope that sometime I could be as faithful and loyal of a friend as he was to me, as pure in my loving without even any suggestion of expectation in return.

Our lives have been WAY too full of painful goodbyes in the past month, as we said goodbye to our oldest son and his precious family in California, to our daughter and her priceless family in California, to my mom (84 years of age) and sister and two nephews in California, to our beloved church family in Cloverdale, to assorted friends in California…and now this one, farewell to Casper.  I hope we’re at the end of the farewells for a while.

No new pictures today…just some of my favorites of my buddy.  There will be no further Twolfgcd photo blog post for today.  Hopefully, I can resume tomorrow.

Casper is gone now, but he will never, ever be forgotten.

The adventure begins...


Puppies need good naps...even if they look silly doing it!                                                                       Puppies (picture above) look silly when they’re taking a nap, but who cares?


Don't even think about touchin' my chew toy!


My buddy from May 17, 2011...snuggled up for a nap in his favorite blanket.

Rest in peace, my GOOD friend!


A Farewell to a Friend?

I like to keep this blog about fun, happy, uplifting things.  But it is supposed to be a chronicle of my life/day (of sorts) and there are bound to be bad days.  This has not been a good day…and I fear tomorrow may be even worse.

I’ve mentioned my dog, Casper, many times in my DayBreaks posts (http://daybreaks.wordpress.com) and in this photo blog, so you know how much I love this dog.  I’m his biggest fan…and I think he may be my biggest fan, too.  Whenever I’m around, he’s my constant boon companion and has been for about 7 years now.  Alas, I fear our run of time together is coming to a much too rapid close.

Over the past month, we started noticing that sometimes at night he would breathe really rapidly.  But, to start with at least, that usually subsided and he was able to breathe normally the rest of the night.  It’s been getting worse, not better, and the past week hasn’t been good at all.  During the daytime he seems pretty normal, but whenever he lays down to try to sleep, he starts very rapid breathing (60 per minute – one a second!) and is very uncomfortable to the extent that he can hardly sleep.

Saturday, I called the vet and got an appointment for this morning.  He had a truly horrible night Sunday evening.  I loaded him in the car for his appointment and to make a long story short, the vet said he had a lot of air inside his chest cavity that shouldn’t be there.  They tapped it with a needle on each side and withdrew 2 liters of air!!!!  (That’s like a large bottle of soda you’d buy in the store!)  She said that there are 3 reasons it happens: 1) it can be the result of some traumatic injury; 2) it can occur spontaneously for no known reason; 3) it can be the result of tumors, especially in the lungs.  Boxers, by the way, are prone to cancers and cardio-myopathy, so the mention of tumors isn’t something a boxer owner wants to hear.

So, I brought him home after the air was taken out and he’s still breathing rather harshly, which is very concerning.  They are doing blood tests and will have the results tomorrow – and those could indicate tumors, although the vet said she couldn’t see any on the x-ray, but that x-rays aren’t always all that conclusive.  The only other bit of good news is that she said his heart sounded very normal.  It’s also possible that his breathing is being affected by heartworms…but that isn’t typical for the area of California we come from as there are hardly any mosquitoes there.

So, I’m teetering back and forth between hope and despair.  I’ve already cried my eyes out in anticipation of having to have him put down.  He can’t go on like he has been lately.  I can’t go on watching him struggle like that…he’s been too good to me for me to allow him to suffer if he has tumors.  Pray that his breathing is better tonight and that he (and I) can sleep!

This is a picture of him when he was about 1-1/2 or 2 years old, in the full glory of his youth.  He’d just come in from the back yard and was SO proud to show me the piece of grass in his mouth.  I love this picture of him and will cherish it, and him, always!  Isn’t he a great looking dog?!!!!!

My baby when he was young and strong and healthy...

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1777, George Washington settled his troops into Valley Forge for the winter.  When I was in junior high, I did a book report on Valley Forge, called Blood in the Snow, in which I made up the name of the author, publisher, the story, etc.  I got an A on my report.  I feel guilty about it now.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: in the ancient Greek city of Athens, the olive tree was considered sacred.  All the fruit of the olive trees belonged to the state…and the penalty for anyone cutting down an olive tree was death.

Watchin’ and Waitin’ for Dad

OKI…there’s the first picture after we settled in to our rental in Atlanta.  I’ll share some more pictures of the place in the very near future (we’re still very busy unpacking and settling in!), but thought this was too cute!!!  We’ve had nice, warm weather the past 3 days (up until today) and I took this picture yesterday.  I was leaving the front wood door open so the dogs could see me when I went outside so they would feel less stressed, and when I turned and looked back at the front of the house, this is what I saw.  Both Lucy (the lab) and Casper (the boxer) watching me intently.  Maybe they were just watching to see if I was playing with another dog, or if I was getting something for them to eat – I don’t know what they though.   I just love ’em!!!

Watchin' and waitin' for daddy to come back inside...

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1538, King Henry VIII, who had declared himself to be head of the church of England, was excommunicated by the pope, Pope Paul III.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: how tall is Barbie?  She’s 11-1/2″ tall.  I think 9″ of that is legs.



Watch Out for Snakes!

FIRST, let me say that this picture is from 2009, so Casper has NOT been bitten by a snake AGAIN!  But, the picture is what he looked like a couple of days after being bitten by a rattler on the back patio behind the house where we used to live.  It happened early one morning about 5:30 in September, I believe.  It was a hot day.  The night before, we’d spotted a rattler just above the retaining wall on the hillside behind our patio.  I got the .22 and shot it.  We weren’t sure if I’d killed it or not, because it was dark and we couldn’t see well.  Unfortunately, at that moment in time I didn’t have snakeshot shells, only regular .22 bullets.  So, after the snake seemed to be gone, we went to bed.

Early the next morning, I heard the unmistakable sound of the rattlesnake on the patio, and Casper barking at it.  It was curled up inside of some chicken wire that we’d put around some plants.  I got up and looked out the window (it was open), just in time to see Casper put his nose right down by the wire and the snake struck.  It got him right on the nose.

I ran out as quickly as I could and got Casper back away from the snake, but I could see where the fangs had penetrated the soft tissue of his nose and blood was pouring out of the wounds.  We took him to the emergency room and they gave him anti-venom (at the fine tune of $900 per injection – thankfully he only needed one!)

So, after he got back home he started swelling up…and he kept swelling.  Poor thing, he was miserable!  Not only was he swollen (check out his head, jowls and distended neck), but discolored (you can see it looks like he’s got a black eye), too, as an effect of the poison of the snake (which causes bleeding inside the tissues.)  His whole head, face and neck were hot to the touch from fever!

Anyway, the good news is that he recovered.  At times, though, he gets a strange quivering, almost like a seizure, which never happened before the snakebite.  I don’t know if that’s normal or not.  Has anyone else had experience with this sort of thing?

My poor boy after being snake-bit a couple years ago.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1961, Brian Epstein, a local record store owner, was asked for a copy of a record by a group known as the “Silver Beatles”.  He didn’t have it, but went to hear the band at the Cavern Club and signed them to be their manager.  The rest, as you undoubtedly know, is mega-history as the group changed their name to simply, “The Beatles.”  Talk about being in the right place at the right time!

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Americans, on average, buy 4.6 movie tickets per year.  Ireland buys more than any other country in Europe, averagine 3.2 tickets per year.

My Boy Is Sick

It’s been a long time since we had young kids (or old ones for that matter!) in our house.  The pitter-patter of little feet has long been missing from the hallways of our home…unless you count our dogs as “kids”, which we do.  They don’t yell like our kids used to, they do fight over toys sometimes, and they wrestle and play sometimes, just like our kids did (especially our boys!)

I still have enough gray matter left to remember how terrible I felt when our kids (the human kind) were sick.  They would sometimes cry, sometimes, whimper, have sad, tearful eyes and would be listless and so unlike their normal selves.  And there isn’t much you can do to help them except hold them and cuddle them until they get better.

Now, however, my boy, Casper, is under the weather.  It doesn’t happen often.  On our recent trip to Georgia to meet our newest granddaughter, Casper stayed at a “kennel” here in Cloverdale.  I hated to leave him there…he looked so forlorn and it was clear that he didn’t understand.  He’d never been there before and it broke my heart when we turned and walked out, leaving him behind.

Well, to make a long story short, he picked up something while he was there.  This past week he’s been a sick little puppy…runny nose, “snorting” (but not coughing), a bit of Montezuma’s revenge and listless.  One evening he was laying on his “throne” (a rather large, stuffed chair in our living room from whence he rules the visible world) and I sneaked up on him and took a picture of my miserable little buddy.  I’m happy to report that he’s doing much better now…not all the way well yet, but making progress.  Now the problem is that our other dog, Lucy, seems to be getting it.  Help!!!!

My little boy is sick...

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1797, Andre-Jacques Garnerin made the first successful parachute jump, landing safely from a height of about 3000 feet.  (Makes you wonder how many unsuccessful ones there were before the first SUCCESSFUL parachute jump!!!!)

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the Academy Aware statue is named after a librarian’s uncle.  One day Margaret Herrick, librarian for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, made a remark that the statue looked like her Uncle Oscar, and the name stuck.

The Birthday Boy!

This is a very special day for me!!!!  Very special!!!!  Oh, no…not that…it’s not MY birthday.  That comes in June so I’ve got to wait a long time before you send me my birthday presents!!!  (Boo-hoo!!!)

So, if it isn’t my birthday, or Christmas or my anniversary or the birthday of any of my children, why is it so SPECIAL?  Here’s why: today is Casper’s birthday!!!  Casper has been featured in my blog on more than one occasion, but this is his first birthday appearance…and be warned…HE IS APPEARING IN HIS BIRTHDAY SUIT!!!!

For those of you who are new to the blog, don’t panic!  Casper is my boxer.  He turns 6 today, so in just a few minutes, I’m going to give him something special to eat for dinner.  He’s been asking me all day long when he’ll get his treat and I just kept stalling him, telling him it would be part of his dinner.

So, in honor of His Highness, Casper, today’s photo is an old one I took of him nearly 6 years ago – perhaps even on the day he came to stay with us, I’m not sure – along with a much more recent picture from this year.  Ain’t he pretty???  And look at those big, soulful eyes?  Could anyone resist a request from such a creature?  NOT ME!!!

Happy birthday, Casper!!  You’re a great buddy and I am proud you are my boy – you’ve been even more wonderful than I could have ever hoped for!!!!  (And for the first six years you’ve been a lot less trouble than my other boys, Doug and Tim were during their first six years!)

Casper: My Buddy...Then and Now

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1995, NASA received the first transmissions from the space probe Galileo.  The message arrived across the vast distance of 2.3 billion miles (2,300,000,000)!!!!

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Jackrabbits are incredible jumpers!!!  A 20 inch adult rabbit can jump over 20 feet!  While that’s not 2.3 billion miles, it is a LOT farther comparatively than a human can jump in a single bound!!!!

The Emperor’s New Clothes

First things first: I am not the emperor…so if you’re expecting to see a picture of me in my birthday suit, it ain’t gonna happen!  Whew.  Now that we’ve got that out of the way, on with the story of today’s picture!

Any of you who know me (and for those of you who don’t) you must know that I have a huge soft spot in my heart for dogs…especially for my boxer, Casper.  He’s our fourth boxer and our second boy boxer.  He’s my buddy!  He loves being with his “daddy” and I love to have him with me!

There is only one problem with boxers: they have very short fur, and so when it gets cold at night – he shivers!!!  It breaks my heart to see him shivering, or to feel him shivering during the night when he’s laying next to me on the couch or bed.  (We keep our house cool in the nighttime in order to sleep better!) Yeah, you heard that right: “or bed.”  Our dogs (confession time) sleep on the bed!  Casper (myself not withstanding) is the alpha dog of the house.  He likes to get up on his special chair and sit there looking very regal and kingly…like an emperor…as he surveys the domain he rules over.  Bonaparte should have looked so regal and emperor-ish!

The last couple of days have been pretty cold for California, and tonight we have not a frost warning, but a hard freeze warning in effect.  It finally got to the point these past couple of days that my wife broke down today and bought him some new clothes!  After all, the like emperor in the child’s story, he’d been running around naked since the day he was born.  ‘Bout time, right?  So, after she bought him a jacket, she came home and put it on him.  He stood there very patiently while his robe was put on…and he seemed very pleased with  himself and this new gift from his vassals.  Here’s the proof:

The Emperor Models His New Clothes

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1963, the alleged assassin of John F. Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald, was himself shot and killed by Jack Ruby in Dallas, TX.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: according to the National Wild Turkey Association, the number of wild turkeys in the United States has increased from a low of 30,000 to over 4,000,000 today.  In fact, there is one park in Iowa that has a population of over 100 turkeys per square mile (and that’s not including my cousins Gene, Denny or John!  When they’re there, the turkey head count is slightly higher!!!!)

Casper the Green Ghost

Finally!  Fall has arrived in the wine country!  The leaves on the vines are changing color, there is a definite nip in the air and the days and nights are cool.  In fact, the last couple of nights it has been on the chilly side (for California, at least!)

The house we live in, built in 1978, doesn’t have central heat.  Each room as an electric baseboard heater with individual room temperature control, but electricity is EXPENSIVE.  Fortunately, we have a wood burning insert, and we live in a part of the country where we are still allowed to burn firewood for heat.  But there is only one catch – we’ve not started burning yet this year (although tonight will probably be our first night to do so, I suspect.)

Anyway, Casper is our white boxer.  He’s named Casper because he is white like a ghost.  He is like all other boxers in that he has short fur.  When it gets cold, he will shiver and it looks so pathetic.  So, last night when it was time for bed, we noticed he was shivering, but by then it was too late to start the  wood burner, so Laurel pulled a green blanket out of the closet and covered up our boy with it.  Often, dogs don’t like to be covered – they’ll immediately get up and move around until the blanket falls off.  Not Casper – at least not last night.  As soon as she put the blanket around him, he stopped shivering and sat as still as a stone!  All night long he lay snuggled up next to me on the bed (we won’t go into that!) and I noticed he barely moved all night long – and stayed covered up!  It was so cute.  And he didn’t shiver a bit all night long!

Here’s a picture of him on the bed that we shot just as soon as Laurel had put the blanket on him.

Casper, the Friendly Green Ghost

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: In 1961, Brian Epstein, the owner of a record store in England, had a customer ask him for a copy of the record, “My Bonnie”.  He didn’t have it in stock, but since the group was playing there in London’s Cavern Club, he went to hear them play.  The group was known as the Silver Beatles.  He signed to manage them…and they became world famous as “The Beatles.”  Talk about being in the right place at the right time!

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Poliosis in the graying of the hair.  It comes from the Greek word for gray, “polios”.