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