Monday, January 25, 2016


We had hoped that this week's entry would convey good news about GIMME SHELTER but, as often happens in the arts, we're still waiting for Fate to deliver. Instead, we share the sad word that  Charlie, one of Tanner's best and oldest friends, has moved on to the dog park in the sky. Like all Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Charlie was small, but he had the heart of a lion, especially when other dogs dared trespass on the sand in front of his Malibu Colony home. He was 8-years-old, about the age Tanner is now, when the boys first met. True to their characters, Charlie hopped on Tanner's muscular back and started grinding away, letting the pit bull know exactly which of them was the alpha dog. The pattern never changed. If Tanner tagged along for a workout or a cookout, Charlie insisted they 'dance' a bit to get reacquainted. The boys shared many long walks together on the Colony Road and carefree jaunts on the beach, where neighbors gave wide berth to the feisty lap dog and his hulking but docile bodyguard. Charlie was 14 when his kidneys began to fail but his loving  'dad', Carl, and the team at Malibu Coast Animal Hospital kept him going for several more months, the last of which was spent nibbling grass fed New York steak. My fondest memory of Charlie is the day, nearly thirteen years ago, when I showed up for a workout with Carl to find his late wife, our dear friend Roberta, weeping uncontrollably.  "What's wrong?" I asked. Between sobs, she pointed down the beach and gasped, "My dog just ran away!" It was high tide and I was wearing long sweats and high-top sneakers but I took off, tramping through the knee-deep surf, until I found the runaway huddled with a neighbor and his Labs. Like a DB pouncing on a fumble, I scooped Charlie up and splashed back to the house, where I received a hero's welcome. We'll miss you, Charlie. 
Carl & Charlie

As anyone who's ever loved a pet can attest, their loss can shake us as profoundly as the death of a relative. In describing his attempt to cope with the sudden death of his beloved Doberman, Red, Washington Post Food & Dining Editor Joe Yonan had this to say: I'm no stranger to death. I was a mess of anger and confusion when my father, suffering the aftermath of a stroke, took his last gasps one day in 1995, his children gathered around his hospital bed. And three years later, the death of my sweet, beloved sister Bonny after a withering battle with brain cancer was nothing short of heartbreaking. Yet somehow, and much to my distress, the death of my dog seems even harder. I haven't felt grief quite like this since, well, the death of my previous dog five years ago. (read the entire article)

Tanner & Charlie

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


With Tanner’s permission, we start the New Year on a bittersweet note. For the sweet part, we’re relieved to report (yet again) that our canine nomad Rex has found a home. According to a friend who volunteers at the Best Friends Sanctuary in West L.A. Shortly after his failed Thanksgiving adoption, a gay married couple stepped up and took him home with them. We have a our fingers (and paws) crossed, hoping that this one sticks, and that this doggie soap opera (As The Bone Turns?) has drawn to a final, happy close. 
Rex - fingers crossed!
As Rex begins his new adventure, another of our doggie bffs is fast approaching the end of his. The little guy has lived a long, happy, pampered life but lately his organs have begun to fail. Like all of us, he’s facing a relentless, undefeated foe – Father Time. It’s probably a shortcoming of my character but, ever since I was a boy, animals, and family pets in particular, have always touched me in a way my human counterparts don’t. Thinking about our friend's aging pup, I happened to recall an article by writer Jim Krusoe that I read in the L.A. Times Book Section in December 1993 in which he detailed his lifelong infatuation with dogs. It moved me then and it moves me now, and so I thought I’d share a bit of it: 

“And yes, like Rilke, I love dogs because they do trust us to figure out their problems and their pain, whereas I am incapable of even scratching the surface of my own. My favorite memory of my current dog (a setter--English, not Irish, just to show that like my parents, I too am capable of surprise in my advancing years) is of one day when he was six-months old and disappeared while out on a walk in the hills around our house. I found him thirty minutes later, apparently having chased a rabbit into a cactus patch, covered from the top of his head to his tail with broad, flat spines. Embroidered as he was with inch-long spikes, he simply refused to move and waited for me to come and find him, which I finally had. To remove the spines with a bandanna wrapped around my hand took another half an hour, and when I was finished he just got up, wagged once, and went looking for another bunny. I have the same dog now. I had chosen an English setter for the breed's elegance and grace, but this one grew to a goofy giant of an animal with enough lip and jowl to sew into a beach blanket. Still, he has that look, and stares at me now, patiently waiting for me to open a door to let him out so he can run out into the back yard to bark at imaginary thugs and robbers and thus feel as if he's accomplished something for the day. Which after all, may be the final reason I am so fond of dogs. Unlike us, they can act and not know what it is to measure themselves against every other dog who has ever barked into the vacant air or to doubt the importance of the act itself. For them, at the end, they can simply say, "I was a dog. I did my best. Now it is finished." (entire article)
Tanner & Charlie @ Colony Beach, Malibu, 2009
Rebell @ Cape Cod circa 1987
with Dudley (aka - The Man-Killing Pug) circa, 1998
Eugenie withRoxanne (the Dalmation from Hell) and Blanche cica 1995