Monday, December 19, 2011

Goodbye to Eddie: Until We Are Reunited

Eddie Paws
Feb. 24, 1998 - Dec. 17, 2011

On Saturday morning, at about 7:30 a.m., Eddie Paws went into full respiratory failure. We rushed him to the vet and were told there was nothing that could be done for him and that he would slowly suffocate. We did the only thing we could for our little boy to keep him from suffering.

We held him as the vet administered the drugs and I whispered to him that his beloved Grandmother, Doris, liked him much better than she did his brother Yorick.

The truth is that most people liked Eddie better than brother. Yorick was a bit of a snob and was quite happy to restrict his affections to my wife and myself, but Eddie’s heart was big enough to love everybody; and it was easy to love the bear-cub-sized Muppet. Everyone was taken with his abject desire to love and be loved and returned the affection Eddie so freely shared.

All you need to know about Eddie is said in the picture included with this post—Eddie rolling in leaves with the warm sun on his belly. Eddie enjoyed life. He was simply the happiest dog I’ve ever seen. He was so happy and carefree that his rehab Vet once remarked that he seemed almost simple.

Eddie wasn’t simple, but he was innocent. He knew that the simple joys in life, the love of your family, good food, and plenty of affection were all that was needed to be happy.

Eddie was fond of going to bed early and barking until someone joined him.  At bedtime Eddie has a strict "lights out" policy and would loudly complain if the lights were not out once he was settled. He was also very fussy about sleeping and liked his pillow just right. He would spend a good five minutes arranging his pillow and “blankie” to his liking before settling down. He was quite the funny fellow.

Unlike his brother, Eddie hated exercise. At the mere mention of a walk he'll drop to the floor, roll on his back and throw a paw in the air and use it to wave us away like he's pleading "please no walk!.  And if we could coerce him to walk he'll fake an injury to cut it short. Funny how his limp would disappears within sight of the house. Once through the door he's bouncing around for his treat.

Eddie, the Portuguese Water Dog who was afraid of water, learned to swim this year.  Lucky for us he seemed to like swimming more than he did going for walks. Still, he preferred to float about the pool on small raft than to actually swim.

The house is silent now. Eddie’s labored panting has gone still. His bowl sits empty in the corner and all that I have left of my little boy are memories. Yet I know that death has no power over love. I know that Eddie is always attached to us through the love we shared.

Rest in playfulness my boy until we are reunited. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Velveteen Despot: Eddie Bear

It’s Wednesday December 9th, 2011 and the Mountaineers are in the Orange Bowl, “The Product” is reuniting with some old friends way out in Arizona and wants Jeff Casteel to be among them, WVU and the Big East are set for some legal wrangling in the courtroom and sports is the furthest thing from my mind.

Earlier this week we found out that Eddie, our beloved Portuguese Water Dog, has lost ground in his fight with malignant melanoma. The cancer has metastasized to his lungs.

His prognosis isn’t good and our treatment options are now focused on palliative care and maintaining his quality of life for as long as we can.

Eddie will be 14 in February and we are determined to see that he reaches it.

I’ve written a lot about Eddie’s brother Yorick, who we lost last April, but relatively little about Eddie.  My omission wasn’t deliberate. Yorick had been battling IMPA for years and he just seemed closer to the end than his brother.  I just thought I would have more time.

Eddie’s nickname is  “The Velveteen Despot” and for good reason.  He is the sweetest, most loving and kind-natured dog that ever walked upon the Earth—He is also the most beguiling manipulator dog-kind has ever produced. 

This sweet and extremely loveable dog   uses his talents of persuasion and cuteness to procure food—and as much as can get.

Portuguese Water Dogs are supposed to be medium sized dogs averaging about 65 pounds; Eddie weighs in at almost 87. 

He’s worked long and hard to be fat and spends almost every waking minute  of his day plotting how to get tasty treats into his tummy.  Eddie’s  definition of tasty treats means anything that is not a  banana or lemon. This long list of items includes wrappers, popsicle sticks, paper towels and the occasional kibble of actual dog food.

Eddie has talents other than begging or foraging—he’s also an accomplished thief. Name it and Eddie has swiped off the kitchen counter. The list of stolen items is so long, and so varied, that an accounting of them would be impossible, but  Eddie would want you to know his greatest accomplishments in kitchen thievery:  an entire rasher of bacon and a whole pizza.

The Velveteen Despot’s thievery is legendary, his tricks, used to district and sometimes outright deceive, have to be seen to be believed.

Consider Eddie’s dilemma when there is food on the table protected by killjoy humans.  Eddie runs to the front door and begins to bark frantically as if he needs to go outside RIGHT NOW or he will whiz all over the floor. The human recognizes the “bathroom bark” and hurries to let him out. As soon as the door is opened Eddie wheels about and runs back to the table and steals whatever he can.

Another favorite  trick of Eddie’s is the plate flip. This cute and adorable dog will humbly saunter up the table and place his head in the lap of a human. The human begins to pet Eddie and relaxes. Eddie somehow senses his victim has relaxed and uses his head to bump the table hard enough to knock the plate off and onto the floor.

Eddie is certainly the scoundrel, but he is a lovable one. I don’t think I would have endured Yorick’s passing without Eddie’s calm and loving presence.

The tragedy of this all is very simple… we live longer than our canine friends. The pain and remorse we feel at their passing is both real and profound. I admit that I have struggled with depression since Yorick passed and I feel the pain of his absence on a daily basis. Yet having dogs such as Yorick and Eddie in my life has made it far better than it would have been otherwise. The joy and comfort they gave me is worth the pain.

As for Eddie, both my wife and I will be with him as he makes this journey. We will not let him suffer, but we will not give in to the cancer that threatens to take him from us. We will do everything we can to make Eddie happy and comfortable while fighting the cancer with an antigenic diet and heavy doses of curcumin.

Wish us luck.  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Isaiah Pead Wins Big East POY Award - Give Me a Break!

Big East coaches voted Cincinnati's Isaiah Pead the conference "Player of the Year"—Yea right. Pead certainly had a good year—no question about it—but did he have a year worthy of being singled out as the best player in the Big East?

Not by a long shot.

Pead wasn't the Big East's leading rusher—long considered the hallmark for a running back to win POY—and most argue that Pead wasn't even the best player on the Bearcats roster.

I realize comparing the stats of quarterbacks and running backs is like comparing apples and oranges but still the numbers show how Big East Player of the Year award actually was totally out-of-wack.

Geno Smith 483 314 3,978 25 7 331.5

Isaiah Pead 186 1,102 11 94.7 33 305

Geno Smith, on the other hand, clearly earned the Big East "Player of the Year" award.

Geno set career records for WVU in Passing Yards (3,978), Pass Completions (314), and Pass Attempts (483). Smith also lead the Mountaineers to a Big East championship and BCS berth while leading the Big East in passing yards (3,978), passing efficiency (148.4), touchdown passes (25) and total offense (3,919).

So what happened? How did Pead win the award over Smith?

Maybe it had something to do with West Virginia bolting the Big East for the Big 12; or maybe it was that WVU sued the Big East.

The vote was clearly rigged no matter the reason and Geno Smith was cheated out of an award that should have been his.

Smith, much to his credit, points out that Stedman Bailey may have been WVU's most valuable player and deserved the award as much, if not more, than he did.

Geno went on to say via Twitter that his goal isn't individual accolades but winning games.

Good for Geno and bad for the Big East for rigging the post-season awards.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Rumors and More Rumors

I’m always hesitant to write about coaching staff rumors—there’s just too much volatility and deceit in the profession to  stifle any rumor definitively.  Rich Rodriquez is an example—from the moment Rodriquez was named Don  Nehlen’s successor he began flirting with other schools (Kentucky, Alabama, and Michigan just to name a few) and most of his dalliances were behind the scenes and out of the public eye.

It’s the secret behind the scenes part that makes any coaching staff related rumor quashing a dangerous game. I can go out on a line and say a particular rumor is false and wake up tomorrow morning and read that the coach in question has snuck out of town to setup shop at his new school.

Yet, I’m confident enough to put myself on a line to hopefully quash at lease one of the two particularly bothersome rumors  floating about cyberspace.

Jeff Casteel may join Rich at Arizona. Casteel has an offer and WVU will make a counteroffer--but I don't expect it to be enough. Whatever Jeff decides will be all about his desire to be a head coach someday and has nothing to do with his relationship with Dana Holgorsen.

Rumors about Dana and Jeff having disagreements are overblown and completely out of proportion. Do they disagree sometimes? Certainly. Have these minor disagreements impacted their working relationship to the point that Casteel would leave WVU for Arizona—absolutely  not. Dana respects Casteel and considers him to be one of the premier defensive minds in all of college football.

The rumors about Dana Holgorsen are false… Hugh Freeze is the new ball coach at Ole Miss and Dana was never in contact with them, or anyone else.

I think Dana Holgorsen will be a great coach, but he hasn’t earned his coaching spurs yet and would be considered a “risky” hire by a lot of “blue blood” programs. I’m not sure exactly how to put this but let’s just say WVU has a lot of people who make sure Dana’s leisure activities don’t make it into the evening news. 

My bet is that Holgorsen stays at WVU a long time. He likes West Virginia. He likes that the can be a young head-coach with a lot of expendable income and be able to enjoy life without being the scandal of the day. Dana is a lot like his mentor Mike Leach, he prefers a small, football crazy, atmosphere where his eccentricities contribute to his reputation rather than detract from it.

I just don’t see Dana leaving anytime soon.

But what if Dana would leave? Who would be in-line to replace Dana if he left? How about Rich Rodriguez? I know Rich is still the most unpopular man in West Virginia and many Mountaineer fans have called me delusional for even suggesting “The Products” return, but consider this: as long as Rich has big-dollar boosters behind him the door will be open for him to come back.

Mountaineer fans tend to panic when a coach leaves under his own power. We immediately think we’re not good enough and don’t even stop to consider other factors that may come into play when a coach leaves. So, just for the sake of argument, let’s say Dana is successful at WVU and suddenly leaves for someplace like Texas or USC.  If Rich is successful at Arizona, a panicked Mountaineer fan base would   welcome him back as the savior of WVU football.

Go ahead and laugh, call me crazy and prepare the rubber-room but Rich Rodriquez wants to coach at WVU again.

We don’t have to worry about that right now. Neither Dana or Jeff is leaving and Rich still needs to win at Arizona and continue to rehabilitate his image in West Virginia, but mark my words… Rich Rodriguez will return.