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Toby Johnson
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RIP Aloysius, 2002 - 2015

I’ll always remember the day Aloysius chose me to be his poppa. He was my first dog, and before we got him I decided that I wanted a black Lab and I wanted to name him Aloysius. As luck would have it, when we went to the shelter to look at dogs, they had just received a litter of black Lab mix puppies. They were absolutely adorable, running around on the linoleum floor, wrestling and tripping and peeing on the floor and playing tug of war with their toys.

When we called out “Aloysius” to the group of them, my Al came running up. He already knew his name and that I was going to be his forever poppa. He was a cute lanky little thing with great big paws; he mostly had Lab features but his ears weren’t quite as floppy. He was full of energy in those days, and together we learned a lot as we both adjusted to our new living arrangement.

Al loved being around people. Okay, he had separation anxiety. He eventually got to the point where he wouldn’t freak out every time he was left alone, but he was always most comfortable when he could be in the same room as whatever people were nearby. He was always happy to greet someone at the door or to meet new people or new dogs.

He loved to go on walks and sniff everything he could in the neighborhood. He only ever partway mastered the whole “lifting his leg” thing, and even then only on his right side. So much of the time he tried to leave his mark on a post, especially if it was on the left, ended up as an awkward half-attempt that mostly just resulted in peeing on his own foot.

Al loved life and loved exploring his world and meeting everyone in it. He always had that great big doggy smile on his face, his tail was always wagging, and he never complained about anything. He was never much of a cuddler but always wanted to be close to his crew. All the other dogs would always look up to him. When they were anxious about something they’d go to him for comfort.

He wasn’t as big on treats or toys as most of the other dogs, but it was always fun to indulge him in the pleasures that he did enjoy. He loved empty jars of peanut butter or yogurt or wet dog food, and would quietly take them off to a corner somewhere and lick them clean. He did love having his ear scratched, and would make adorable low grumbling noises when I hit just the right spot. He was also particularly fond of falling asleep either upside down or with his head & legs twisted in different directions. He also loved laying on my piles of laundry when he could, as well as getting big gulps of water then coming to put his head on whoever had a convenient lap, being sure to dribble fresh slobber all over their leg.

As he grew older, he began to develop arthritis in his back legs which slowed him down a bit and made it difficult to go up stairs. But he still never complained, and still never turned down a walk or gave up an opportunity to head down the stairs to be with someone, even knowing that going back up the stairs would be an effort. And he still did so with that great big smile. As I moved from one room to another, he’d grunt as he got up to follow me so he could keep me in sight. I eventually got him to understand the phrase “I’ll be right back, stay there”, though he’d still be uneasy until I returned.

He was Oscar’s absolute best buddy. Oscar rarely left his side. His calm demeanor was always a comfort to the other dogs too. He mostly liked to lay by himself in his bed (or in one of the smaller dogs’ beds, if he could squeeze himself in), but the other dogs couldn’t resist snuggling right up to him. Even though he didn’t particularly enjoy it -- especially because they’d often lay on his sore legs if I wasn’t there to move them off of him -- he still never complained (though sometimes he did return the favor as well).

Later on he developed a fondness for licking other dogs’ ears, and all the other dogs loved visiting “barber Al”. Even loner Jackie was known to visit from time to time. Yeah it was pretty gross.. guess it's something us humans don't understand.

He loved to be up in the bed with his people, not so much to cuddle but just to be close to others and feel safe. The last few years, I had to get out of bed and help him up, and he’d often nudge me if he wanted up (or just stick his front paws up on the bed and give me the look that said “up please!”) It was often inconvenient to have to get down and help him up but I’d give anything to see him looking up like that at me again.

In the last year, he developed a condition called Cushing’s Disease which threw his body’s steroid levels out of whack. That led to other complications like always being thirsty and having low blood pressure. He’d still hang in there, but getting around got even more difficult and he became even more insistent on laying under my desk while I worked. It got annoying not having a place for my feet but it made him so happy that I tried to not mind too much.

Eventually, the symptoms and other complications from his disease got the better of him and we had to put him to sleep recently. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but I know it was for the best. I’m sure Oscar is excited to have his best friend back, and I’m happy to know that along with Jackie, my original three-dog crew is back together again.

I miss you terribly, Aloysius. You were my first doggy and my faithful little buddy, and I’m thankful for the 13 years that we had together.

Remembering Aloysius
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"Love is a marathon, sometimes you puke."

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iOS developer has his app removed without explanation, based on vague and subjective criteria, while many similar apps still exist today.

Does he decide to drop iOS development and switch his efforts to a platform that isn't controlled by the whims of overzealous, snobby control freaks? Nope, he goes right on developing more iOS apps, hoping that these don't get yanked.

You deserve what you get, iOS developers.

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RIP Jackie, 2002(?) - 2014

I rescued Jackie from a no-kill shelter in 2004 when she was about two years old. My black Lab, Aloysius, was still a bit rowdy at that point and I wanted to get him a playmate. Jackie was there with a couple of her litter-mates.

I didn't get the full story on her circumstances, other than that they were owned by a homeless lady who apparently didn't treat them well. As a result, they were all very skittish and considered "special needs". When she first met Al though, they were playful enough together that I decided they'd be a good match, and the shelter workers were happy that she'd be going to a good home, so home she came.

Jackie was practically bipolar: spent most of her time in whatever quiet place she could find, hiding away from all the things in the world that scared her. Thunderstorms, sudden or unexpected movements, changes in furniture or flooring in the house, and even the bubbling of the "self-filling" water bowl I previously used for the other dogs were all things that gave her anxiety.

Happily though, she also had periods of abundant doggy joy. I wish these periods could have been more frequent, but I cherished them when they arrived. She loved being able to run free in a field or forest with lots of interesting smells. She never met a mudhole that she wasn't happy to run through, or a pile of poop (goose, deer, rabbit, dog, cat, whatever) she wouldn't roll in.

She mostly avoided playing with other dogs and people but occasionally she would have bouts of overt exuberance and sociability. She would hop up and down, kicking her front legs into the air with a goofy smile and her tongue flapping wildly. In fact it was a bit too exuberant at times; the line between "aggressively playful" and just "aggressive" could be a blurry one for her.

Jackie seemed to relish her role as the cranky curmudgeon. When she was in her quiet place in the bedroom, woe be to the creature who interrupted her serenity; a quick snap in their direction put an end to that. If a dog playing with a toy elsewhere in the house was disturbing her peaceful solitude, she would sometimes steal the toy in order to silence the commotion.

She could be a finicky eater but she always loved canned food and table scraps. Her excitement at being presented with these was such a contrast to her usual demeanor that it was difficult to avoid spoiling her when possible.

My mom was never a dog person, but if she had a favorite, it was Jackie. Oftentimes when Jackie became too reclusive I had to carry her outside to use the bathroom, and one time in particular this happened while the whole family was gathered at my place. Jackie had been hiding in the bedroom all day due to the extra commotion, and as I carried her outside she had a pitiful expression of resignation and anxiety on her face. My mom made the comment that she felt for Jackie because she had social anxiety herself and could relate to her, just wanting to hide in her room and avoid interaction.

Jackie's anxiety resembled my mom's in one other unfortunate manner: she hated having her picture taken. Whether it was an actual point-and-shoot camera, or a cell phone which I attempted to casually point in her direction in silent mode, Jackie somehow always knew I was trying to take her picture. This would invariably make her stop whatever happy moment I was trying to capture and she'd shrink away.

Because of this, I don't have nearly as many pictures of her as I would have liked. I don't think I have any videos of her frenzied "happy dance" when she was about to get a yummy treat or got to run through a field chasing Oscar. One rare exception to the lack of photos was a visit to a friend's pond in the country back in 2008, when +Peter Johnson was able to capture quite a few wonderful pictures of the three dogs playing around. Those are my absolute favorite pictures of Jackie and show her at her happiest.

Last month, I took Jackie for her annual vet checkup, which included a "senior dog" blood panel. That blood test showed that her liver had some unusual activity, so the vet recommended an antibiotic and a new dog food. She loved the new food at first but then completely stopped eating any dry food at all after a few days.

Thinking the antibiotic was upsetting her stomach, he took her off of it, but in another few days I noticed her abdomen was swollen. I took her back in, he performed an ultrasound, and found a massive and aggressive tumor surrounding her liver. It had progressed so far that he was worried it could rupture any day, at which point she'd likely die of internal bleeding.

He recommended that we euthanize her before that happened, to avoid any suffering. It was a painful, heartbreaking, and sudden decision, and the timing couldn't have been worse. We found out on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and he was very concerned about waiting any more than a day. They were also very busy and he couldn't come to the house for the procedure, which meant we had to take her in.

Needless to say, I really wish it could have been different and she could have left us peacefully at home as Oscar did. At least we had one last day with her beforehand, and she was still comfortable enough to enjoy being spoiled with all the canned food and chicken she could handle.

Rest in peace, my sweet Jackie. It breaks my heart to think of the happy, playful, feisty dog you could have been were it not for the miserable person who made you afraid of the world. I miss your beautiful floppy ears and your moments of sweetness where you'd lick my hand as I tied my shoes in the morning.

For ten years, you spent most of your time laying in your doggy bed in my bedroom. While I hate that your anxiety kept you there, I loved always seeing you as I walked in. You were such a fixture in that bed that it will take me quite a while to get used to not seeing you there. Half the time you would shrink away a bit more, unable even after all those years to fully trust another living creature. But sometimes you'd give me a little tail wag or lift your head a bit and I treasured those times.

I hope that I gave you the best life that you could have during your time here, and I look forward to seeing you again someday at the rainbow bridge, with all of your fears wiped away and that happy dog finally free to run around with unlimited joyful abandon. Please try to be nice to Oscar, and give Mom a sweet Jackie kiss for me.

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Every single time I see Google Music's new logo, I see Wendy's "Redhead Roasters" coffee logo. Sorry, you can never un-see it now.

In happier news, I got YouTube Music Key access today! Google Music All Access just keeps getting better...

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RIP Oscar, 2004 - 2014

My little buddy was certainly one of a kind. He had a very expressive face and a funny, short tail that caused him to wag his entire butt when he was excited or especially when he was feeling guilty.

He loved to greet others with his own signature growling talk. Later on he learned how to howl which also became a favorite communication method, especially after we left him and his pack alone for any more than 3.5 minutes. Sarah tried getting him to say "I ruv you" and he got pretty close a couple times. :)

Another favorite pastime was trying to see how many stuffed toys he could carry in his mouth at once. He liked to take a toy outside with him whenever he went out, but usually left them scattered about the yard. Then once in a while he'd gather up a half dozen or so and carry them all in a big wad of toys that was almost bigger than him.

When it got cold out, Oscar loved to curl up by the fireplace or just lay with his face so close to it that he instantly began panting. His fur would get hot to the touch but he loved that feeling of warmth all over him. That always reminded me of my mom, who also loved spending evenings by the fireplace.

Sadly, Oscar lost his quick battle with cancer last week. By the time he was diagnosed, it had already spread too quickly through his body, and particularly to one leg where it became quite painful for him.

We were able to buy him a bit of time with some medication but with the particular type of cancer he had, there just wasn't a very good prognosis for recovery and we didn't want to put him through a drawn-out treatment process that likely wouldn't have ended up making much difference.

He was put to sleep peacefully in his bed at home, by the fireplace that he loved so much. I like to think that he and Mom have made peace in heaven -- she didn't like him too much ever since he (in what he thought was a playful gesture I'm sure) swiped at her shin and caused it to bleed -- but I hope they are both sitting by that fireplace and soaking up its warmth.

Rest in peace, Oscar. We all loved you and miss you greatly. Family gatherings just won't be the same without your "discussions" and antics. You were always such a loyal doggy to your Papa and he'll always remember the 10 great but brief years we had together.

I've included some of my favorite photos of him in the album below. I've also put together a couple videos; the first one in particular is a great testament to his unique personality.
71 Photos - View album

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Dogs love me 'cause I'm crazy sniffable.

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Woohoo just got my first gold badge! So it was just for reposting someone else's comment as an answer, but still...

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+David Hasselhoff apparently disregards "don't stand on the rail" signs.
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