Continuing the black and white photo challenge here’s a very special one. This was Sagan, named for Carl. His registered name was GCH Rockstar Phoenix Written In The Stars, AX, MXJ, XF. He was a Grand Champion and an agility dog and according to the American Kennel Club and Dalmatian Club of America standard was a typical Dalmatian, for whatever that’s worth. He was, as it says, “polite but reserved with strangers.” He’d wag his tail when meeting new people but kept his feet on the ground. With those he knew and loved, though, he was a sixty-pound lapdog.
Dalmatians were bred to be coach dogs, to trot alongside the horses on country roads and then be companions and guardians by night, very loyal and protective which is why they eventually became the traditional firehouse dog.
Here’s the original version of his picture.
Sagan was, as you can see, a liver-spotted Dalmatian. He wasn’t our first liver Dalmatian, but his spots always got a lot of attention. At a dog show a woman said to my wife, “I’ve never seen a brown Dalmatian before.” My wife said, “We call it ‘liver’.” The woman then looked down at Sagan and said, “Hello, Liver.” At another show a little girl saw him and said, “He looks like a Dalmatian but he’s brown!” My wife then explained that while black-spotted Dalmatians are most common you’ll also the liver-spotted variety in the show ring. Outside the show ring Dalmatians sometimes also have spots that are brindle, blue, lemon, and there’s even a long-haired variety. In the novel 101 Dalmatians Perdita is a liver dog and helps nurse Mrs. Pongo’s fifteen puppies, which came from Dodie Smith’s real experience, and something the Disney adaptations left out, but that’s another story.
When I was going through chemotherapy Sagan and I would take naps together. As soon as he knew we were headed to bed he’d jump up and down and spin, then he’d run to the bed and spin more and wag his tail. Then, because Sagan could go from sixty to zero in 1.8 seconds, as soon as I lay down he’d curl up next to me and fall asleep. If I moved even slightly he’d let out a long sad moan. That always made me laugh.
Less than two years later we’d have to say goodbye to Sagan. It’s the hardest thing we do. They give us so much love, companionship, and laughter, and in the end what we give them in return is to be with them. It doesn’t ever feel like that’s enough. We still have one of Sagan’s children and one of his grandchildren, and I love all of our dogs equally, and I miss all the ones we’ve loved who are gone, including Sagan. He was smart, sweet, and funny in a way that was anything but typical.
What a lovely picture of a beautiful soul. I’ve lost three dogs in my life so far, and it never gets easier, which I suppose it shouldn’t.
Thank you–I’d never really thought of it that way before, but it would be a terrible thing if it got easier because that would mean we no longer cared. And if we no longer cared they wouldn’t add so much to our lives.
Wonderful dog and blog, Chris. Here’s something I wrote for my therapy groups: “The pain of the loss is in direct proportion to the importance of the connection.” Thanks for sharing the pain and the beauty here.
Wonderful comment–I love that thought and will always keep it in mind that “The pain of the loss is in direct proportion to the importance of the connection.” Your connection is very important too.
Aw you know that got me right in the feels. What a good boy.
He was a very good boy, in addition to being very handsome, which is a combination that’s all too rare.
Looks like you had a great friend there. We lost one of ours last year. I’ve had a partially written post about it in my draft folder for almost that long. Whenever I work on it I can’t manage to get more than a few sentences typed before it gets too hard. Maybe one day I’ll finish it.
It’s really tough to say goodbye to them and their memories really stay with us. I’m sorry for your loss. I understand how hard it is and how hard it is to write about it.
Lovely photo and post. Dalmatians are really something else. Twelve years with my own lovely Penny left an impression that I don’t think will ever begin to fade. She was the world’s best cuddler and my perpetual snuggle buddy for late night insomniac movie marathons.
She was also approximately 95% pure distilled mischief, but somehow that just made us love her all the more.
A wonderful cuddler and 95% pure distilled mischief sounds like a classic Dalmatian. I’ve been at a dog show this weekend and have been reminded again and again that even though they all have their own distinct personalities they’re also all spotted clowns.
And now you’ve made me cry. I was chased from my home, feared for my house, and spent a week on an air bag, not a tear. This, tears.
Sagan was a beauty, and your love for Sagan beautiful all the more.
Great, great post, my friend. I’m really starting to think you’re kinda cool. 😉
And now I’m lol’ing cuz I said “air bag” instead of “air mattress” ?
There are commenting options that allow users to go back and edit what they’ve said but, you know, sometimes you’ve just gotta go with the funny accidents.
In the snow I am kind of cool. Heck, I’m so hip I can’t see over my pelvis.
Anyway thank you. Sagan was a beauty and, as Antoine St. Exupery said, one risks crying if one lets oneself be tamed. We’re lucky to let ourselves be tamed by these wonderful animals called dogs.
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