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The Thing About Cheko

Morning folks.

Hope you had a great holiday weekend.

While Mrs. B and I made a point to think briefly about the rockets' red glare and what not, this was a no-blogging weekend out of respect to the late great Cheko the Dog, who succumbed at the start of the holiday weekend to a leg injury and a very, very bad reaction to a vet-prescribed arthritis med that just made him sicker (be careful what you give your elderly dog, even if the vet says its OK!). He had 14-and-a-half good years on earth. I only wish it could've been more.

You who've read this blog since its start, back when we were on Blogger, know that Cheko was the director of security for Burnettiquette World Headquarters, as well as one of the best friends and relatives and step-pets a guy could have.

Mrs. B rescued him when he was a puppy from a ranch in Durango, Colo., where Cheko hadn't read the memo that his breed is supposed to "work" for a living. He may've read the memo, but it didn't move him. He simply refused to herd cattle. So when the rancher mused aloud that he had a bullet with Cheko's name on it, 'cause he couldn't abide lazy dogs, Mrs. B did what just about anyone would have done: she loaded Cheko in the back of the Jeep and got him off the ranch...with the rancher's blessing, of course.

Funny thing though. While Cheko slowed down in recent years, he never proved lazy once in the 14 years since he left that ranch. He even instinctively nipped a few human heels before he learned to behave.

Mrs. B and her mom have hair-raising stories about chasing him along the banks of a rushing river, 'cause he thought it was his duty, even at risk of drowning, to jump and swim after a fleeing duck until that duck decided to stop and surrender.

And there are more times than I can count over the past six years and change that Cheko dragged me huffing and puffing up and down (and often too far off) the hilliest hiking paths along the Milwaukee River.

When a stranger approached, Cheko kept a vigilant eye on him. Never menacing. Just aware. And they knew he was aware. The first time I met him I could almost interpret the barks. He lay on Mrs. B's balcony, as I arrived at her house for our first date. Cheko wasn't a barker. But before I had even turned off the sidewalk and up their walk way, he had jumped to his feet and started.

Woof! Attention everyone, there's a guy coming!

Woof woof! I don't know you, dude. But you should know I see you!

Woof woof woof! Is anyone listening? Take a close look at this guy, in case he turns out to be bad!

That was the first and last time he ever barked at me, except to let me know he wanted to come back inside the house or that he was growing impatient with me for holding his treats hostage till he agreed to shake hands/paws or roll over.

And never let another dog - especially a Husky or a Chow, for some strange reason - even look at Mrs. B or me the wrong way, or Cheko would have given that other mutt what for. I can think of the time a hippie at the end of our block - the guy had a giant school bus painted green with a flowered peace sign on the side - let his three dogs out off leashes, and they rushed Cheko and me, while we strolled, minding our business. Cheko pulled a White Fang, and after a brief dusty tussle that would have made Andy Capp proud, all three attackers turned tail and ran, with the Chow leading the way.

But Cheko wasn't all business. He got to chase thrown sticks into Lake Michigan - which he rarely brought back, chase raccoons away from our campsite, and when we weren't looking roll around in dead fish in the sand dunes in Kohler, Wisconsin.

He sniffed his share of King Crabs and rolled around in seaweed on Virginia Beach.

He hiked mountain trails, drank from mountain streams, and peed on mountain trees in Colorado.

He stalked but never caught geese, ugly ducks, and wild iguana in TY Park here in South Florida. And like the dog who can't resist the toilet bowl, Cheko had an addiction to sipping from our koi pond, no matter how often doing so gave him the trots.

He wasn't fond of our cat, but because he knew Mrs. B dug the cat, Cheko tolerated the scratch happy beast...even when she drank out of his water bowl and tried to steal his snacks.

Perhaps most important though, Cheko was a great companion. When you didn't want to go for that extra long walk, he'd get in your face and release a fish-breathed whine to let you know it annoyed him. But sensing your fatigue, he'd lay on the floor next to the couch where you passed out and wouldn't move until you awakened. When you were elated, he studied your mood and reacted in kind, with crazed celebratory romps in circles around you. He didn't know what he was happy about. But you were happy, so he was too. And in a page right out of Lassie's book, most days when I arrived home from work - 'cause I always get home latest - he was standing at the door looking out to the porch, waiting for me.

If truly there are gods among men, in terms of caliber and quality, then Cheko was a man among dogs.

So R.I.P. Cheko R.A. Burnett. You were the best.

Thanksgiving_2007_004 Thanksgiving_2007_020

Cheko the Dog, 12/5/93 - 7/3/08



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Wonderful eulogy for a good friend and family member.


I'm so sorry, JB.
RIP Cheko.


First of all please allow me to send sincere condolences to you and Mrs. B. on the loss of a trusted and loved pack member. There is nothing like dog who gives so much and asks for so little. Im very glad that this dog found its way into your life and also that of Mrs. B. I have a feeling that your loyal dog thought as much of you and Mrs. B. as you thought of him. Perhaps a perfect match or as perfect as we have in this life.
I hope another well-deserving canine finds his/her way into your house and into your life. If so that dog is going to have some huge paws to fill. Best wishes to you and of course, Mrs. B.
ps James, your post is some of the best writing I have ever read in my life. I could tell it was written entirely from the heart. Life is sometimes defined by our trials and tribulations. Write on James, Write On.

Karmyn R

Oh - I'm so sorry to hear about Cheko. He sounded like a GREAT dog.


I am so sorry to hear of your and Mrs. B's loss of Cheko. Like losing any family member, the void that Cheko leaves behind can never be filled except with the fond memories that you so beautifully documented here. Thank you for sharing them as well as you always do.



How sad to lose such a wonderful friend. Sorry for you and Mrs. B.

James, this remembrance was so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Cheko couldn't have been with better people. Take care.


Lord, I'm sorry.


Beautiful eulogy upon the passing of a dear friend.My thoughts and prayers are with you and the Mrs. during this sad time.



As someone who has also lost a beloved Animal Companion this year, I offer my condolences and sympathy on the passing of Cheko.

Our Fuzzy Friends give us love unconditional. It's something to treasure...and to remember with fondness once the immediate pain of loss has eased.

May your memories of Cheko all be sweet.


An excellent tribute. Cheko was truly loved and appreciated. I am very sorry for your loss.

James B.

Thanks all, for your kind words.

Val Prieto


My condolences on the loss of your friend. Ive lost two dogs in the past five years, each leaving their own mark on my life and a little hole in my soul.

When the first - Othello - died, a friend passed the following poem along and I found it comforting:

A Dog Has Died

My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.

Some day I'll join him right there,
but now he's gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I'll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

Ai, I'll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.

No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he'd keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.

Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea's movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean's spray.

Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.

There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don't now and never did lie to each other.

So now he's gone and I buried him,
and that's all there is to it.

Pablo Neruda


Very well written, good job! Tyson is twelve and a half. I'm torn between wanting him to live as long as Cheko and not wanting to see him get that old.

Jeni Hill Ertmer

Over my lifetime (almost 64 years soon) I've had a number of pets -dogs, cats, even two parakeets -and I did love each of them but one in particular stands out. My sweet mutt, Duffy! I got him in the spring of 1958 when he was barely old/big enough to be weaned and we had him but a short five years but in those five years, he became the dog I have to say I loved then, still do, the absolute most. Forty-five years later, I still get weepy thinking about what a great dog he was and he sets the standard in my life for any other dogs that may have come my way too. I'll wager that 45 years from now, you'll still be feeling pretty much the same way too about your beloved Cheeko. My condolences to both of you in the loss -and yes, when you have a pet you love, it is just as painful as losing a close friend or family member because, those pets do become part of one's family, don't they? Peace.


Condolences on the loss of your family member. May the happy memories you've shared and so many more of a good dog live 10 fold with you.

Via Neanderpundit.


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