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The Best Dog I Never Had

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Old 02-10-19, 05:32 AM
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The Best Dog I Never Had

Written in October 2018

I saw an old friend yesterday on my bicycle ride; a white German Shepherd that I've "known" since 2008. The farmer that "owns" her never gave her a name, I always called her Snowflake because that's the name I figure is most often given to white German Shepherds. According to the owner, the dog wandered up to his house one day and never left. The area is rural farming country and it isn't unusual for people with no conscience to dump animals there. It was his guess that's what happened to Snowflake. The first time I met her I was riding by on my road bike and thought "Oh man, that's a big dog and I don't have enough left to outrun it". She ran alongside me in grass and never came out on the road, not barking; to this day, I've never heard her bark. As time rolled on that season I realized she just wanted to run so we played that game every time I rode by. Sometimes I'd make a couple U turns and we'd go two out of three. That progressed into me stopping afterward and petting her until I had to get going; she liked that a lot. I've never had a dog of my own, I was never home and it didn't seem fair to have a dog locked up in a house with no one around.

At the start of this riding season I passed by the farm house where Snowflake lives but never saw her outside, she was always outside before. I knew she was getting older and feared the worst. I've heard that big dogs sometimes don't live a long time and she was fully grown when we met in 2008. Three times a week I'd take the road she lived on and never saw her once, until about two weeks ago. She was laying in the gravel drive, in the sun, as she did all the years before. She slowly looked up and when she saw me she got up with great effort. I didn't know owner well enough to go up the driveway to save her some steps and I felt bad about making her get up. I was so over joyed at seeing her I had to make myself pet her gently because she looked and moved like a 90 year old. I thought about taking her photo but reconsidered, these weren't her best days and I didn't want to remember her like that. I started taking her road on every ride after that but never saw her again after that, until yesterday. I had begun to think she had passed away. Then, yesterday she was out in the drive again, relaxing in the sun. I was so happy to see her I pitched my Colnago in the grass and waited for her to amble over to me for some affection.

We had a great visit and she seemed to be feeling better than the last time I saw her. As I petted her I remembered why she was so special to me. In October of 2008 I was diagnosed with renal cell cancer and the early prognosis was pretty grim. After being operated on and treated at Ohio State University I began my recovery in 2009. My first road rides wouldn't even take me as far as Snowflakes house, this was more than a bit frustrating for a former USCF road racer and bicycle cop. But, as time went on, I got stronger and was able to increase my distance. The first time I passed by her house I was so knackered that she only got a petting, no race that day. By the end of that season we were racing again and I was getting stronger. The following season was more of the same and in 2011 I went to see the Tour de France with my old bike cop partner who is also a cyclist. Another friend of ours brought me a bike from Switzerland and I got a chance to ride up some of the HC (Beyond Category) climbs in the Alps, including Alpe d'Huez. Quite literally, Snowflake was responsible for my ability to ascend those cols and here I was petting her, ten years since my diagnosis. I felt sad for her advanced age and what little time she had left but reminded myself she still had a good home and a peaceful setting.

I finished petting her and did what I said I wouldn't do; I took a couple of pictures with my phone. As soon as the sun comes up, I'm going to get on my road bike and ride out to her house to see if she's outside. Whether she is or not, I'll always think of Snowflake as I ride down “her” road.


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Old 02-10-19, 05:44 AM
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You made me smile and you made me cry with your story. Dogs are special. Thank you.





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Old 02-10-19, 07:30 AM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
Written in October 2018

I saw an old friend yesterday on my bicycle ride; a white German Shepherd that I've "known" since 2008. The farmer that "owns" her never gave her a name, I always called her Snowflake because that's the name I figure is most often given to white German Shepherds. According to the owner, the dog wandered up to his house one day and never left. The area is rural farming country and it isn't unusual for people with no conscience to dump animals there. It was his guess that's what happened to Snowflake. The first time I met her I was riding by on my road bike and thought "Oh man, that's a big dog and I don't have enough left to outrun it". She ran alongside me in grass and never came out on the road, not barking; to this day, I've never heard her bark. As time rolled on that season I realized she just wanted to run so we played that game every time I rode by. Sometimes I'd make a couple U turns and we'd go two out of three. That progressed into me stopping afterward and petting her until I had to get going; she liked that a lot. I've never had a dog of my own, I was never home and it didn't seem fair to have a dog locked up in a house with no one around.

At the start of this riding season I passed by the farm house where Snowflake lives but never saw her outside, she was always outside before. I knew she was getting older and feared the worst. I've heard that big dogs sometimes don't live a long time and she was fully grown when we met in 2008. Three times a week I'd take the road she lived on and never saw her once, until about two weeks ago. She was laying in the gravel drive, in the sun, as she did all the years before. She slowly looked up and when she saw me she got up with great effort. I didn't know owner well enough to go up the driveway to save her some steps and I felt bad about making her get up. I was so over joyed at seeing her I had to make myself pet her gently because she looked and moved like a 90 year old. I thought about taking her photo but reconsidered, these weren't her best days and I didn't want to remember her like that. I started taking her road on every ride after that but never saw her again after that until yesterday. I had begun to think she had passed away. Then, yesterday she was out in the drive again, relaxing in the sun. I was so happy to see her I pitched my Colnago in the grass and waited for her to amble over to me for some affection.

We had a great visit and she seemed to be feeling better than the last time I saw her. As I petted her I remembered why she was so special to me. In October of 2008 I was diagnosed with renal cell cancer and the early prognosis was pretty grim. After being operated on and treated at Ohio State University I began my recovery in 2009. My first road rides wouldn't even take me as far as Snowflakes house, this was more than a bit frustrating for a former USCF road racer and bicycle cop. But, as time went on, I got stronger and was able to increase my distance. The first time I passed by her house I was so knackered that she only got a petting, no race that day. By the end of that season we were racing again and I was getting stronger. The following season was more of the same and in 2011 I went to see the Tour de France with my old bike cop partner who is also a cyclist. Another friend of ours brought me a bike from Switzerland and I got a chance to ride up some of the HC (Beyond Category) climbs in the Alps, including Alpe d'Huez. Quite literally, Snowflake was responsible for my ability to ascend those cols and here I was petting her, ten years since my diagnosis. I felt sad for her advanced age and what little time she had left but reminded myself she still had a good home and a peaceful setting.

I finished petting her and did what I said I wouldn't do; I took a couple of pictures with my phone. As soon as the sun comes up, I'm going to get on my road bike and ride out to her house to see if she's outside. Whether she is or not, I'll always think of Snowflake as I ride down “her” road.

I remember this story from the earlier post - still heartwarming ! When we ride in J'ville I'll tell you my sheepdog story.
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Old 02-10-19, 07:42 AM
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Beautiful story . ... Thanks for sharing ...

The GSD is mine, nice dog. The blue Heeler in the middle is the best dog I never had, everybodies best friend. Well till his owner comes home then he is a one man dog again....
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Old 02-10-19, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
I've never had a dog of my own, I was never home and it didn't seem fair to have a dog locked up in a house with no one around.
Good on you for recognizing what too many dog owners do not.
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Old 02-10-19, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
Written in October 2018

I saw an old friend yesterday on my bicycle ride; a white German Shepherd that I've "known" since 2008...I remembered why she was so special to me.
You and "Snowflake" found each other because you both were fortunate to receive new leases on life. Then you both found joy in your subsequent encounters with each other. What a sweet story. Thanks for sharing. (sniff)
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Old 02-10-19, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
Written in October 2018...

I'm NOT crying. Nope.


-Kedosto
*just got something in my eye*
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Old 02-10-19, 10:04 AM
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Thank you for sharing this.
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Old 02-10-19, 10:36 AM
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No tears here. Not.!! Just a fabulous story. Man's best friend.

I've fell in love with dogs that weren't mine. A friend had a King Charles Cavalier. As I walked up to the glass door that leads into the house the dog would scratch on the door like crazy while standing on his hind legs. I'd walk into the house and immediately sit on the couch and the dog would jump into arms and put his front paws on both of my shoulders and just smother me with love. Gosh I loved that dog.

And then there was my Emmy Gurl. Half Beagle half lab. Perfect size. I was living in the sticks and there was nothing but woods and fields for miles in any direction. In the summer it was tough to get a breeze running through the house so I would sometimes leave the front door open. She could come and go as she pleased. One day she left the house at about 10am. Guess what time she returned.?? ..... 9:30pm.!!! She came through the door panting like crazy and her tail going a million miles per hour. She was soo happy. She just followed her nose for hours and hours. I gave her a big drink and a big dinner and then she would go to her favorite spot.... up and onto my lap as I relaxed in the recliner. I loved her and she loved me. I gave her freedom to move.

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Old 02-10-19, 11:47 AM
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Great story.

A good dog can be a wonderful friend and I am on my third outdoor companion dog now with Molly, a Labradoodle (plus a string of small rat shaped dog objects like Chihuahuas, Yorkies and Shih tzus). Fortunately we are a family of five so she gets lots of attention and daily walks and with me she gets a regular diet of trail running, hiking and biking.

C'mon.. Let's Go!

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Old 02-10-19, 12:54 PM
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Thanks all! I was hesitant to post as it was a bit of an emotional journey and was afraid I wouldn't be able to convey the gravity or spirit of the moment, leaving readers with "I get it, you saw an old dog". Next up, "How I came to have handicapped cats"

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Old 02-10-19, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Deal4Fuji View Post
I remember this story from the earlier post - still heartwarming ! When we ride in J'ville I'll tell you my sheepdog story.
I'm looking forward to it.
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Old 02-10-19, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
Thanks all! I was hesitant to post as it was a bit of an emotional journey and was afraid I wouldn't be able to convey the gravity or spirit of the moment, leaving readers with "I get it, you saw an old dog". Next up, "How I came to have handicapped cats"
Oh yeah, I get it.

I almost wish I didn't, as I'm only a short time from losing mine.

The Mrs. must be chopping up onions around here. Or something.

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Old 02-10-19, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
Thanks all! I was hesitant to post as it was a bit of an emotional journey and was afraid I wouldn't be able to convey the gravity or spirit of the moment, leaving readers with "I get it, you saw an old dog". Next up, "How I came to have handicapped cats"
It was one of the most impressive posts I have ever come across on the internet, on any subject.
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Old 02-10-19, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
It was one of the most impressive posts I have ever come across on the internet, on any subject.
I second that.
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Old 02-10-19, 06:48 PM
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Too cool!
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Old 02-10-19, 08:39 PM
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Nice story, and a place for gratuitous doggie pics. Meet Snowball. RIP. Reminded me of your Snowflake.
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Old 02-10-19, 11:13 PM
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Nice story!
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Old 02-11-19, 07:19 AM
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Great Story! I have been taking my dog on bike rides since she was barely old enough to run. We started with just around the block and now we will go 7-10 miles around town and she loves it. i just hold the leash and she runs right next to me, sometimes on rural roads I take the leash off and she just runs free next to me. Truly wonderful animals.
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Old 02-11-19, 07:31 AM
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I am a cat owner myself, mostly because of my lifestyle. But I am constantly greeting other peoples' dogs on the street. Did just that while walking to the bus stop this morning.
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Old 02-11-19, 10:16 AM
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Great story, thank you for putting it together. Obviously you've touched some hearts.
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Old 02-11-19, 10:28 AM
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I regularly see the same dogs on the routes that I ride. Some are in cages or behind fences and others have invisible fences.
I always call to them or talk to them and after a while some will start to recognize you. Sure, you're something to chase but you also become familiar to them.
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Old 02-11-19, 10:37 AM
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Great story, thanks for sharing! I'm sure if Snowflake could pen a story it'd sound eerily familiar to yours. Cool that you and Snowflake developed this relationship, I'm sure he/she looked forward to your rides by her house as much as you did!
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Old 02-11-19, 11:36 AM
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Dogs are noble creatures, and worthy of our respect. Your post shows the respect (and love) you feel for Snowflake. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 02-11-19, 11:51 AM
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BTW...If you are a dog lover you should read "The Art of Racing in the Rain". The story is told through the eyes of a sardonic dog. It will make you laugh and cry and but ultimately warm your heart.
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