The Beginning

Devo was born in Spokane (May 22, 1997), bred from excellent stock: Brittania Late-Breaking News (Breaker) and Brittania Radical Rebel (Topaz). The breeder is a Vet who raises and shows Goldens. We took him home when he was 6 weeks old and he puked in the car on the way (already a poor passenger). Like most puppies, he was an energetic, naughty little boy who refused to piddle outside for the first 4 months of his life. Early on I putted a golf ball across the carpet and off he scampered to retrieve it. It was the beginning of his life long love affair with golf balls and retrieving. He considered fetching up any golf ball I hit "his job" and took it very seriously.  Devo was short in stature for a male Golden (we called him "sawed off"). He was strong and fast, and had that sweet, gentle Golden personality. As gentle as he was, his enthusiasm for play would bowl over little kids the first maniacal 3 years of his life. When Morgan was a little girl he plowed into her during a game of fetch; it is the only time I've ever seen her cry. Poor kid, it was like getting hit by a goofy, Golden, cannon ball.

The rest of Devo's story follows in no particular order, however the details of his fight with cancer are at the end. 

Devo & Dad's excellent adventure - Seattle to Phoenix, Dec. 2006

We try to spend as much time in Phoenix as possible during the winter months. However, there were always two problems with taking the dog(s): Devo did not travel well in the car and it was just way too scary to put our beloved fur babies in the care of the airlines who treated them like baggage. So I decided to drive down to Phoenix with Devo. Andi would fly down and back over the Christmas break. PaPa (my Dad) was not getting any younger and he had not seen his good pal Devo in 3 years. Devo has always gotten motion sick when traveling in a vehicle. We prepared him by going for short trips and occasional day trips during the two months leading up to our departure. Ultimately, we only had one "car sick" incident the 2 months we were on the road. This was amazing considering his history of discomfort. No drugs, just careful planning of his meals, many stops for exercise and a lot of reassurance as we drove.

We got to visit many old friends that welcomed Devo and I with open arms. Bringing a dog along when you visit can be awkward to say the least, but Devo was the perfect gentleman at all times. His sense of exactly what to do and when endeared him to everyone who made his acquaintance. As he quickly became comfortable in someone’s home, he would perform his “happy dance” for them. Happy Dance = wiggling around on his back with his feet in the air groaning with pleasure, usually with a toy or a pilfered article of clothing (shoes, socks, underwear etc.) in his mouth. That show of uninhibited happiness warmed the heart of even the most “dog neutral” member of the audience.

Devo on "his" rock. Oak Creek, Sedona, AZ

We took many pictures during the Arizona trip. It was hard to pick just two to represent our time together, but the day trip to Sedona to visit Bob and Robin supplied a beautiful back drop, representing all that was pleasurable during our excellent adventure. Not even Devo stepping in a gopher hole while chasing the ball could put a damper on our fun (he limped around the rest of the day, but recovered quickly).

We had a wonderful 2 month vacation from the winter gloom in Seattle and would like to thank all of our hosts and friends (in order of our visit): Don, June and the girls, MeMe and PaPa (we stayed with them pretty much the whole time we were in Phoenix), Jim and Terri, Bob and Robin, all Devo’s friends at the local Bashas, Skip and Merna, Don, Lyn and Tippy and the Shilo Inn, Medford, OR. Everyone was so kind and understanding. Thank you.

PS - Sept.08: I've come to the realization that this was the ultimate gift for Devo and I; to be able to spend this time together (just the two of us) less than a year before he died. I am truly grateful.

Cosmo's story

1991-2006 > It's important to make an early mention of Devo's companion Cosmo. She was our anchor dog. Her life spanned the last half of Sunny’s and most of Devo’s. She was the easiest dog we’ve ever had; mellow, obedient, extremely intelligent and friendly to all humans. She actually came from the factory that way! We loved to refer to her as our “loaner Golden”, because she would go with anybody and be their dog for the day or week.

Cosmo and puppy Devo. He bedeviled Cosmo when he was a pup.
In a years time, they would be completely devoted to each other.

She was our best swimmer and retriever ever. She would swim out on command and retrieve a wayward dummy that Sunny or another dog would leave behind, then respond to my hand commands for directions to where it was floating off to. All this was strictly by instinct, I never trained her to do that. No other dog (Lab, Chessie or Golden), in all the years we took her swimming to dog parks, lakes and rivers, would EVER swim faster or more efficiently than Cosmo. Cosmo and I attended Kathy Lang’s advanced obedience training with the goal of earning her utility dog cert, but Cosmo got frustrated with me because I didn't devote enough time and was too inconsistent with the techniques. She could have easily done it.

Cosmo 8 years old

I can’t thank her enough for setting a perfect example for her head strong PaPa dog Sunny and the devil dog puppy Devo. Because of her steady influence, Sunny could spend an hour walking with us OFF LEASH on city streets. Could not imagine such a thing could ever be possible. Cosmo anchored this effort just like she made it possible for Devo to become the perfect companion dog. He had such a great example.

They were so good together. What a pair!

The early years in Idaho

Devo spent the first 7 years of his life in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. His home was a 10 acre doggy paradise (I'm counting our 5 acres and Neighbor Jim's 5). He was a member of a wonderful pack: Ken, Andi, Cosmo, Tasha the big black Rotty mix, Neighbor Jim & his dogs Norm the Corgi and Devo's all time best friend Lucy the Brittany. In the summer time, MeMe and PaPa would come stay. They helped raise Devo from a pup and he just adored his PaPa. They would spend the warm days puttering around the ranch, mowing the grass and burning out the moles.

Devo could have easily been a working dog of some kind. Guide dog, service dog, rescue dog or anything that would keep him engaged and busy 20 hours a day. God knows we did our best to satisfy his desire to work and please all he came in contact with. He never met another dog and decided "OK, now that I know you, I want to dominate you". There was no time for that, there was fun to be had and work to be done. He was however, possessive of his toys. If another dominate dog wanted his toy, he would growl in protest. With the exception of defending Andi and Cosmo from an attack by aggressive neighborhood dogs, this is the only sign anyone ever saw that Devo had wild canis lupus relatives somewhere in his past.

We brought him home when he was 6 weeks old and introduced him to our 6 year old female Golden - Cosmo. She was NOT thrilled at all to have this "Devil Dog" biting her ears and competing for our attention. After about 2 weeks, Cosmo got caught up in the joys of being a puppy again and he was accepted into her pack. For the next 8 years she was his rock and helped raise him to be a sweet and balanced canine who loved his family and everyone he met.

Idaho is where Devo found his voice. One of the first commands he learned was "tell me". When he spoke, everyone jumped (it was so loud). He barked at his playmates when he was at a high level of excitement, but he was never one of those dogs who barked from boredom or frustration. Again, always the perfect gentleman.

The Idaho pack

What a great group this was. Norm was getting on in years when the pack was formed. He was a mellow little guy who was quickly accepted into our pack. Devo used to borrow Norm's doggy door to raid Neighbor Jim's house for any article of clothing that wasn't nailed down. To see him trotting proudly accross the field from Jim's with a face full of socks was priceless. Norm passed on around 2002. The next year, Jim came home with Lucy.

Lucy brought a completely new dynamic to the pack. She was incredibly energetic and had a mind of her own. Lucy and Devo were to become the best play buddys ever. Devo finally found someone to match his obsession with play. Cosmo was too mellow and too old to keep up with them, but seemed to enjoy being around their energy and spirit. Lucy kept Devo in great shape by ALWAYS wanting to play chase and fetch. Cosmo and Tasha would need to be exercised separately because the two maniacs would never let them get the ball.

Tasha came to us when we rescued her in 1999. She needed a place to live out the rest of her life and we were glad to give this sweet dog a home. Part Rottweiler and part Australian Shepard, she was a big girl who looked like a Rotty, but had the fur of a wooly mammoth. We had her shaved down for the hot summers then she looked exactly like a Rotty. She was just so happy to be part of a balanced pack, she thrived until 2002 when an overdose of wild mushrooms did her in (she would eat ANYTHING, even the moles she would root out of the yard). We were all sad to see her go.

Devo - the golf ball maniac

When he was just a little pooper, the very first thing he retrieved was a golf ball putted across the living room floor. From that point on, it became his favorite past time.

This was his favorite thing in the whole world. He is sitting on Dad's golf platform so nothing can happen without him being right in the middle of it.

He could track and retrieve an 80 yard shot, but once I pulled out a pitching wedge or lower numbered club, it just went too far, too fast. Then he would stand and bark at me until I bunted one he could chase and retrieve. Today, when I play golf with the guys, no amount of noise can distract me after years of listening to Devo pleading with me to "hit one for me".

I would normally practice with a 7 or 6 iron to a flag on Neighbor Jim's property (depending on the stiffness of the ever present wind). After 50 balls or so, we would walk out with my shag bag (with all the dogs in tow), and begin picking up the balls. Without any instruction, Devo would collect 3 balls from where they landed and bring them to me, drop them at my feet, then run off to gather more. Amazing, he just knew what I needed and loved that he had a job to do. All the other dogs just sniffed and hung out, but nothing distracted Devo when duty called.

Golden Spirit

This really illustrates the spirit of the two Goldies. Cosmo teases while Devo anxiously awaits her decision to drop it (maybe, if you're lucky). Farragut State Park in north Idaho, photos by Michael.

The soft side

After Devo was about a year and a half old, he began to appreciate a good long snuggle on the couch or the bed. It was very interesting how he would shut down his nuclear reactor and climb (never jump) on the couch, lay his head on your lap and go to sleep. Pack members were always willing targets, but he had a few favorite visitors he would seek out, even if he only saw them once a year or so. Michael, Glenn, BA, Grambo (Andi's Mom) or my brother Chip would only have to sit down in his presence and soon there would be a golden heating pad on their lap.

From 2000 to 2002 I would travel quite a bit and be gone for weeks at a time. Devo would take my place in bed with Andi. No invitation was ever offered or needed, he just sensed that this was his duty when his alpha was gone. He would sleep with his head on the pillow, just like a human. During the night, he would yip and yelp as visions of chasing squirrels and golf balls danced through his head. Good thing Andi is a sound sleeper. When I came home, he was happy to take his normal spot out with Cosmo in the living room, snuggling with her.

On weekend mornings, Neighbor Jim would be up early, which meant that Lucy was up too. She would run over to our house, jump up on the living room window with her front paws and stare in looking for Devo. Of course this would alert Devo that another day of play was about to begin. After pleading with me at the side of our bed, I’d get up, let him out and off they would run, full blast over to Neighbor Jim's. There he would play chase with Lucy, bark at Jim to throw the ball and munch on chewies while enjoying their perfect Idaho weekend morning.

Who moved my bone? Moving from Idaho to Seattle

In August of 2004 we moved from our home of 8 years, back to the Seattle area. Andi's Mom was sick and we missed family, friends and the excitement of the big city. Plus, there were many more career opportunities for Andi and I. Before we were able to find a house to buy, Cosmo and Devo endured living in our 5th wheel trailer at an RV park for 2 weeks, then a small apartment in Shoreline. Their whole lifestyle was uprooted and changed beyond recognition. Yes, somebody moved their bone! Surprisingly, they adapted quickly and never missed a beat, staying alone during the days while loving their morning walks and their playtime in the evenings.

Finally in March of 2005 we bought a house in north Shoreline. It had a small backyard and I installed a dog door to give the goldies the freedom to come and go. The minute it was installed, Devo would blast in and out much to his delight. This was the winter of Cosmo's life and she was a little "Grandma dumb dog" about it. With Devo now leading the way, she eventually understood how this new contraption worked. This was out of character for Cosmo. She was always a bright, intelligent dog who performed any task or trick quickly, but with a more subtle enthusiasm than Devo. It became obvious that the torch had been passed. Devo was now Cosmo's rock and was there for her until the end. They would still occasionally play and wrestle, mostly as a sign of affection. Cosmo passed in Feb. of 2006 at the ripe old age of 15. Devo would show the effects of losing his rock in a most unusual way.

Devo went through some subtle changes as the result of losing his companion sister dog. We didn’t think about allowing Devo to somehow understand the fact that when Cosmo left that day, she was not coming back. When Cosmo lost Sunny, it pretty much happened the same way, but she didn’t display any behavior changes as the result of Sunny being gone. I have since read about different techniques of allowing the pack dogs to sniff the departed to comprehend the loss in order to allow grieving etc. Of course, this technique is impractical when the dog is sick and euthanasia is performed at the vet’s office, but the logic of it seems proper. Dogs, like people, don’t always deal with their loss in a predictable way.

When Devo left Idaho and came to Seattle, he became a much shyer dog around his own kind. He ignored or avoided every other dog except Cosmo. After Cosmo was gone he withdrew completely to the comfort of his pack and never let another dog into his world. He was never unfriendly, just conveniently aloof. He wanted nothing to do with stupid doggy games. He appreciated other balanced dogs and would get along just fine, but he’d climb up into any lap to avoid pushy, dominant dogs when we visited friends or family. This was not the North Idaho Devo we knew who was the life of the party and played until he dropped with his pack. I will take some of the blame here. I have protected Devo and Cosmo from many mean, aggressive dogs most of their life. Cosmo had Sunny to protect her when she was young, but I assumed that role after Sunny. Devo has always looked to his Dad, even when he was so sick, his pleading eyes asking why I couldn’t fix this for him. God knows I tried.

Things I'll always remember about Devo

In no particular order:

A very late entry that popped into my mind July 2009;
After Devo was diagnosed with cancer, my vet prescribed Prednisone to help him through the tough times. Right after Labor Day, 6 weeks before he died as he was pumped up with steroids, Devo and I walked up to the elementary school. He was strong enough to make it and we had the whole place to ourselves. There I chipped his beloved golf balls for him to retrieve, just like the old days. This was the last time we ever enjoyed that particular activity together. He was sooo happy, and I was ecstatic. I often think about this borrowed time; the financial and emotional expense that just can't be measured with a simple, feeble, yard stick of value. Oh wait, yes it can. It WAS a bargain.

To make him produce a huge smile, run the tips of the finger from both hands along his muzzle. Works best when I returned from being gone for a few day. “Snickers” (half smiles) were everyday occurrences that only needed a light finger tip rub along the full length of his muzzle, especially sensitive on the right side of his muzzle.

The guttural crying sound he would make when I greeted him after being gone for several days, usually following a good affectionate ear rubbing immediately upon my return.

The regal trance he would enter as he contently lay with a ball or toy in his mouth, gazing out at the world. It was all he needed to enter a blissful world of his own. He could stay that way for an hour or more. Probably thinking about how much he loved being right were he was at that moment.

I have always talked to my dogs. No response was ever necessary, but Devo on occasion would give me “the look”, like he knew what I was trying to point out along our walk, while he lounged under my desk or just before I was going to hit that perfect 7 iron over the fence in our Idaho back yard. He was quite OK with just about everything that ended with “whadoyou think about that my pal?”.

Calling Andi at home while on the road, Devo and Cosmo hearing my voice and launching into “jujitsu”. Jujitsu=the two dogs wrestling and emitting noises that could only be described as fighting noises from the tackiest kung-fu movies. It is of course, all in fun, but boy was it loud and rough sounding, kind of like WWF fake wrestling. I've also heard it aptly described as "bitey face".

Young Devo was quite the rough house. One of his favorite games was chasing his toy (usually a rope) which I would pull along the floor around my body (as I sat cross legged on the living room floor in Idaho) keeping it just out of his reach. I would switch hands as he went round and round, growling with delight.

Devo always wanted a job to do. Carrying the mail in from the mailbox in Idaho was something he never tired of doing. When we moved to Seattle he would go down to the entry way and pick up the newspaper and bring it up to the kitchen every morning while I made coffee.

Learning at 7 years old how to “potty” on command after growing up never having to perform this. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it sure made life in the city and traveling much more pleasant for all of us (him included). Devo never failed to learn or adjust to anything his pack leader needed him to do.

Monkey noises: This one is difficult to describe for the minds eye (and ear!). As a working dog, Devo was always at his best when he had a job to do. Most of the time, work and play were exactly the same. Later in his life as he slowed down a little, he would emit a series of squeaks, cries and/or jungle noises as he began to retrieve or work. At the same time his tail would twirl in a circle as he happily frolicked after the Frisbee, ball or whatever he happened to be doing at the time. This was a very odd, but unforgettable noise that was uniquely his. Once the excitement of the game was replaced with pure joy of interacting with whomever was directing him, the noise disappeared and he just went about the business of play.

The Happy Dance. The only dog we’ve ever had who had a distinctive method of telling everyone exactly when and why he was happy.

Devo meets baby Skylar

Kim and Skylar came for visit in May of 2007. These two redheads are too cute.

Portraits from the summer of 2003

Devo's fight with Cancer

The following postings are copies of an email diary of Devo's fight with cancer. I sent these to friends and family to keep them up to speed on his condition. After labor day it was a matter of giving him supplements to boost his immune system, keeping him hydrated and well fed, and of course cherishing every borrowed minute we could have. I didn't belabor the fact with family and friends that he was dying and his prognoses was grim, so I didn't send any emails during September and October. At the end of these pages, I would also like to acknowledge all the people, professional and otherwise who helped make his last 3 months as special and pain free as possible.

The quoted excerpt below was part of an email I sent at the end of August. At that time, we were 90% sure it was cancer. Keep in mind that a tumor was never found. I struggled to put together in my own mind how I could help Devo deal with his sickness for the last weeks of his life.

The single best source of information about canine cancer can be found here: 
Land of pure Gold - Cancer and Goldens

While searching the web, I found the following article about cancer management in companion animals which really helped me understand what to do the last two months of his life.

“Maintaining the highest quality of life for the longest period of time is always the goal of cancer management in companion animals. This goal must be considered within the context of emotional and financial factors. Decisions are often difficult. The best service that can be provided is a knowledgeable, unbiased assessment of the condition and a frank discussion of options sufficient to permit an informed decision. This may involve consultation or referral to a specialist or a comprehensive cancer center. Curative therapy is designed to attempt permanent control of the tumor using aggressive but not excessively debilitating treatments. The decision to pursue curative treatment can be difficult. A working definition of curative therapy often used in veterinary medicine is the likelihood that a given tumor type will be controlled for at least 1 year following treatment. If the best available information suggests this is not possible, palliative therapy may be considered. ”Palliative therapy” (medical or comfort care that reduces the severity of a disease or slows its progress rather than providing a cure) is designed to reduce pain or functional difficulties such as swallowing, urinating or defecating without attempting to cure the tumor. The length of time is not as important as the quality of the time remaining for the pet. The hospital time and side-effects must be minimal for palliative therapy. Pets with cancer may also require supportive therapy such as antibiotics, medications to control some symptoms, blood transfusions and nutritional management.”

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