Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Tough Goodbye and Some Post-ASU Thoughts

I know the season is winding down (thankfully), and we're officially in Apple Cup week. Sorry for the hoops-only post yesterday, but circumstances prevented much of a gameday thread. Besides, we lost 31-0 and the game wasn't on TV. What do you want??

We'll get to that in a moment. But I wanted to start off today by writing a few thoughts about our beloved golden retriever, Barkley.

Sadly, we had to say good-bye to the best dog ever yesterday, as he finally lost his battle with lymphoma. He was initially diagnosed in the spring, and we decided to fight for him by going the chemotherapy route. It was expensive and emotionally draining, but to us, it was worth it. He was, in our mind, just too young to let go. But the vet was very up front with us from day one, saying this is a terminal diagnosis. While we could kick it back into remission, it will return. And when it comes back, that will be it. We had, at BEST estimates, one year left with him, and that was as optimistic as it gets. Barkley was closing in on his 9th birthday, and while 8 years and 9 months might seem like a good amount of time for a dog, well, to us he was taken far, far too early.

Initially the chemo did wonders, as he bounced back quickly to at least somewhat like he used to be. Not all the way back to normal, but not too far away. We did everything we could to make this last summer his best, taking him with us everywhere we went, making sure to give him extra attention and love at every turn. But in the last few weeks, and especially this last week, we knew time was running out. The cancer had returned, making him weaker than ever. Even worse, Barkley had suddenly developed severe arthritis in his hips, making it very difficult to not only climb the stairs in our home, but just getting up from laying down became a struggle.

The one thing my wife and I pledged to do when we started the chemo treatments was that we didn't want to simply keep him alive for OUR own reasons. If he was ever in some real pain, we would let him go. At the end, the situation became unbearable, and these last few days were beyond painful for all of us.

I know, I know. Some of you are rolling your eyes and saying "it's just a dog, get over it." Yes, I understand that. He was just a dog. Some of you have gone through much, much worse. But to us, he was very special. Not just his loving personality, where everyone he met instantly became his best friend, but for many other reasons, big and small. I know you all have your own pet stories, so I won't go too far into the details that made him exceptional to us. But I will share one big thing that made him such an important part of our lives.

Back in 2000, my wife was pregnant with our first child. Anyone who has been down that road knows the overwhelming experience that can be, as a father, mother, or any other family member. The excitement and anxiety, all rolled into one, is almost indescribable. But just over halfway into the pregnancy, something went terribly wrong. We ended up losing the baby, a girl we named Megan. To say an event like that is devastating is an understatement, and if any of you have been down that dark road, you understand.

But after we lost our baby, well, we needed something. We needed a new soul to enter our home, a soul we could love and cherish and care for, something to pull us through a difficult time. That's when Barkley, an 8-week old puppy, entered our lives. His presence helped get us through those days, and for that, Barker Boy, we will always love you. I will see you again some day. And I know you will be waiting for me at the front door, tail wagging, thinking "Finally, you're home!", just as you always did in life. Rest in peace.

Moving on, ASU. You know what? Even though the final score was awful, the first half was actually pretty entertaining, just a 10-0 game at the break. There were some promising moments early, offensively moving the ball through the air. They even ground out a long drive early in the game, but missed a field goal that seemed to zap any momentum they might have discovered on offense.

But defensively, they really hung in there and fought hard. Playing exclusively early in a 3-3-5 defense, per the radio broadcast, they did a good job of getting some pressure early on Rudy Carpenter. They even logged back-to-back sacks one one possession, and on the next, drew a holding penalty on what looked like another sure sack. They were even stout against the run, not anything close to the outfit allowing 279 yards rushing per game. 132 rushing yards allowed, on 35 carries? That's pretty damn good. And as a whole, they allowed under 400 total yards, and in a year like this? MAJOR victory.

But once again, the offense let the team down. That's now the third shutout in our last four games. Think about that. For a team that hadn't been shut out since the early 80's, to now roll three goose-eggs? 130 total yards? Seven rushing yards? SEVEN?? Simply awful. Unfortunately they come out of this one a little banged up as well. Chance Staden was lost to a knee injury, adding to the list of injured backs in Chris Ivory and now Logwone Mitz. Basically it's down to Dwight Tardy....and Marcus Richmond.....that's about it for the running game.

And of course, Kevin Lopina was lost with the concussion. I know we have openly pined for the youngster to get his chance, and now it looks like he might if the doctors don't clear Lopina for next week. Concussions are obviously tricky, and today's day and age they take every precaution in the world, so the odds are probably good that JT gets the ball this week. Young Levy got into the game and made a few plays, but generally struggled to a 7-for-14, 41 yard, 1 INT performance, as well as a fumble on a sack that ASU scooped up for a score. Oh yeah, the kid also injured his left wrist on the play, but HOPEFULLY he's ok!?!? Whether he's ready or not, with the Lopina injury, the J.T. Levenseller era might be here after all. And what a week to start it, vs. UW.

Here's a rumor for you regarding UW. We got this from a reliable source too. But UW might unleash a surprise at QB this week. No guarantees, but let's just say you shouldn't be shocked if #10 is under center for UW.

Finally, the hoops team won. Hooray hoops! And the kids played well too. Baynes led with 14 points, but Marcus Capers had nine boards and six assists?? Wow. And DeAngelo Casto had four blocks?? NICE. 16% shooting, and 25 points allowed, the lowest total given up since 1948?? This is going to be a fun, interesting season of college basketball (and I KNOW from comments yesterday some of you despise basketball!).



TiltingRight said...

Truly sorry to hear about your pup. He may have been "just a dog," but it makes him no less a part of the family. I'm glad you had a chance to really live it up and enjoy him before he passed on.

Stiffmiester said...

Sorry for your loss. Barkley was a member of your family so there is no "just a dog" in my book. Just remember All Dogs go to Heaven and nothin cures a broken heart like puppy breath.

Stiffmiester said...


Three score and ten are given to man,
But ours is a much briefer span.
So, though I give you all my heart,
The time will come when we must part.
But all around you, you will see,
Creatures that speak to you of me;
A tired horse, a hunted thing,
A sparrow with a broken wing ...
Pity - and help (I know you will)
And somehow, I will be with you still;
And I shall know, although I'm gone,
The love I gave you lingers on.
--- (Author unknown

Michelle said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. In my family, our dogs and cats are members of our families. My guess is most people feel similarly about their pets. If they don't, they don't need to tell you that.

And I think as the 2nd best group of sportswriters in the state, even though this blog is dedicated to football, writing about the success of our basketball team is not something to be sorry about. It's not like you are replacing the football with basketball. I for one like the supplement to the blog, but I'm biased because my sport of choice is basketball.

Anyway, keep your head up

Sedihawk said...

Thanks for the kind words. It's very much appreciated. And time will heal this wound, maybe not today or tomorrow, but it will heal. We've got great memories of him that will last forever. And we had a chance to say a long good-bye over this last summer and early fall, really an extra six months to his life. Without a doubt it was worth it.

I read a good line once in an article about losing a pet, that said "The only way not to feel such intense sadness is to never feel intense love. And that is certainly no way to live." Pretty much nailed it.

Oh, and we might touch more on hoops this year. We'll never stray from football obviously, but hoops is just too interesting to ignore! This coach, this team, this year is so intriguing. It could be a real nice thing to carry us all through the winter!

Amazed said...

Quote from Coach Erickson in the Sunday Seattle Times:

"It was an unbelievable defensive effort," said Erickson, whose defense held WSU to 130 yards.

"Any time you shut out anybody it's special." OUCH! That hurt this Cougar.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your dog. Sounds like he had a great life. Even at a cranky 47 years old the loss of a pet is something hard, but I've found go out and get a new pup is always part of a healing. I lost my 15 year old lab this summer and replaced him with a rescue lab and that has helped the healing.

Best wishes!

Anonymous said...

Wow, 9yrs old? That's so young... I'm sorry for the loss :( About two years ago, we lost one our dogs who was 13 and the following year we lost our other dog who was 15. I'm 20 right now, so I basically grew up with them and called them "mommy" when i was little lol. It's tough at first, but later you just smile when you think about them and all the good times. Getting another dog helps. (its not a replacement of course)Sometimes you can see a lot of your old dog in them and wonder if you got their reincarnation or something, but there is always something unique that makes them different.

Anonymous said...

Here's another family with sorrow for your loss. I disagree with the previous anonymous about replacing Barkley, but I do think adopting a new puppy to carry on his legacy could be helpful and productive. I have a feeling Barkley would enjoy seeing the next generation in your home.

Anonymous said...

Lost one of my dogs two years ago and honestly it still hurts at times. Still have our other girl who is 11 now and it will be very difficult when she passes.

Lucky to have them for the time we do though.

OklahomaCougar said...

Barkley was a Coug through and through... RIP...

My condolences Sedihawk.

Sedihawk said...

Thank you all, again. We spent a lot of yesterday talking about the little things he did, good and bad! We are realizing now the little things are what we will miss the most. Just having his presence with us, like going for a morning jog or to the dog park or an off-the-leash vacation spot like MoClips, WA, to even just driving to the store, he was always with us. And YES, he was a Coug, no doubt about it! Some of the best conversations I had about this football team were with him, and he always seemed to understand when I would watch a game, then turn to him and say "what are they doing!?!" But some of the best moments, like the 2003 Holiday Bowl on TV, he was jumping up and down with me. :) Thanks again.

John Berkowitz said...

We know exactly what you are going through and you have our deepest sympathies.

BBOforLife said...

Well I'm not really for or against WSU. Hell, the BBO stands for Bleed Burnt Orange if that lets you know, lol. Just saw the link on the fanshouse post, and seeing that my dog doesnt have much time left either(heart and kidney problems), I just wanted to let you know I'm trully sorry and I can definitely feel your pain. Hey, they're a part of the family, so there's no "just a dog" in my book! Just do your best to keep your head up. That goes for all the WSU fans, it WILL get better soon, remeber that!! Hell, we all have our off years, and I bet you guys still thak god your not Michigan, haha.

Sedihawk said...

Thanks John, and BBO for life. We sure do miss him around our house right now. He's left a huge hole in our lives, bigger than we thought. It's the sad reality of being a dog owner. You give them your heart while they are with you, and they return their undying devotion to you. But these things just never end well. Whether they pass away suddenly or you have to make that call, it always ends the same. Keeping that perspective at least helps. But wow, do we miss him.