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A Tribute to My Best Friend

It was the Fall of 1983, Marie was a year out of Benet Hill, Joe and Veronica were starting their senior year at St. Mary's High School and Bobby was in 7th grade at Holy Trinity. We had earlier lost a dog whom we had had for only a month or so. After losing Sheba, we haunted the Humane Society looking for a replacement. Then one Saturday afternoon it happened. We found a sickly looking dog who wanted no part of anyone. He was in a run but had gone back into the enclosed part of the pen. The attendant asked if we would like him to get the dog so we could look at him again. He entered the enclosed area and after a small commotion, proclaimed that he could not get the dog to come out. That was where I first met Bubba. I told the gentleman I would be back first thing Monday to pick him up.

I was there first thing Monday. I filled out the paperwork and loaded Bubba into the car. We stopped by St. Mary's High School on the way home to show him off to Joe and Ronnie. We came home and Bubba began the first of the 5630 days he was to spend with me, nearly a quarter of my lifetime. I was 49 at the time. Bubba was about six months old and not an easy creature to train. When the whole family would go to Church on Sunday, he was an unhappy camper. To show his displeasure with our absence he literally ate a couch and chair which ultimately had to be replaced. He was a rare animal. In 1986, 87, and 88, he won the "Loudest Bark" competition at the annual Canine Games sponsored by the Humane Society at Rampart High School. One year Joe ran a race with him and took a spill the injury from which Joe feels to this day. Another year, Bubba was invited to pick an NFL game of the week for radio station KNUS in Denver. Jim Turner and either Mike Hafner or Dave Logan (not sure which co-hosted with Jim that year) would pick the game the week before. I would post the injury reports by his dog dish each Thursday, and Friday he would make his famous "Bubba the Wonder Dog's Pick of the Week." We thought he was doing poorly until about two thirds of the way through the season we realized he was picking the losers. Then he did quite well!

I'm sure Bubba and I have walked enough miles to more than cover this country coast to coast more than once. Our favorite was a two mile walk that went from our house up South Carefree, up Avondale, across a path to the Raquette Club, down Murray to South Carefree and back home. In later days, we limited our walk to one down South Carefree to the spillway, along it to the opening in the fence to Serendipity, then back to Whileaway and home. We did it twice a day, through all kinds of weather.

Every year he and I would stroll the streets of Old Colorado City and downtown Colorado Springs during Territory Days and Spring Spree sharing bratworst, curley fries and other assorted treats. He enjoyed those celebrations and seemed to know they were in progress as the car approached the downtown area.

When I took my annual two-week trips to Italy, Bubba would stay at home and Joe would come by twice a day to walk him. The only times Bubba stayed at a kennel were two nights for medical reasons. This was his home and he wanted to be here to watch over it. I could put him out back with no side fences for hours and he would stay in the yard and not stray. In the summer, I would leave the front door open and he would occasionally wander out onto the front lawn and hunker down in the cool grass and watch passersby. He really loved to stretch out on the lush green grass on cool summer evenings.

Everyone in the neighborhood knew Bubba. The neighbors would greet him as we passed by their homes on our daily walks. Young children would flock to him when they would see him coming. He loved to chase squirrels and cats but could never catch them. It was just a game to him.

For years he slept in the twin bed next to mine on an Army poncho liner. He hadn't been doing that since Christmas time as his back legs just didn't have the strength to get him up the stairs. However, on the night of March 16th, 1999, I carried him up to spend one last night with me as I knew that the next morning he would make his final visit to Dr. Smith. It will be lonely here without him. Now I'm about to turn 65 and I will do it without "My Best Friend." Goodbye, old pal. I will think of you often the remaining days of my life.