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Chet Baker's Last Run

Thursday, August 31, 2017

For the past week, I've had a song running through my head, Carol Burnett's farewell.

I'm so glad we've had this time together
Just to have a laugh or sing a song
Seems we just get started and before you know it
Comes the time we have to say "So long."

Over and over. I hear her voice and see her tugging her earlobe. I wondered why. Now I know. I honestly think it was Ida, a great Carol Burnett fan, gently bringing me up to speed, singing in my ear. 

The trouble with Chet started a year and a half ago. It's a litany of ailments that started with a systemic tick medication I wish I'd never heard of, and wish I'd never given to him.  After only a few months, Chet got an ear infection, resulting in profound and permanent deafness in February 2016. While poking around with that, Dr. Lutz found Chet's thyroid was no longer working, and he had a heart murmur, too. Dominoes kept falling. In September 2016 he got a bad skin infection that was linked to allergies. He'd be on antibiotics for the rest of his life. The drug management of his maladies swelled until he was taking six medications, twice daily, and I rather swiftly lost my strong, vital, funny little running buddy to the dull, nagging drone of his ills. For his part, Chet's world contracted down to pill treats, meals, and slower and shorter runs that became lopes that became walks. I never saw a better 10-year-old dog--unfazed by 7 mile runs--until I saw him no more. 

I didn't write much about it because it made me so sad, and I didn't want to make you sad, but I have to say it's been hard to stand by, throwing pills at him from the sidelines, as my dearest friend faded. Keeping my blog and his Facebook page going was like being a press secretary to a beloved but ailing head of state.  How is Fidel today? Well, Fidel enjoyed his morning coffee...I'd scratch around and find something sweet or funny to share and then a long time would go by before I found another thing worth sharing. The writing was on the wall, and I had to read it every day for a year and a half. But that didn't mean I wanted you to have to read it, too.

It turns out that, even as I share some of my life here, and make people feel they know everything about me, I'm an iceberg. There's this huge lurking part of me that I won't allow to roll over and pop out of the depths. This thing with Chet has run me down, pushed my iceberg over, and it feels out of balance now.  I'm upended, the rotty icy part from deep down dripping in the unaccustomed light.

Doing wildlife rehabiltation for so long has given me a familiarity with the signs of suffering, and an intolerance for allowing it. I've played jury, judge and executioner far more times than I ever wished to. Who'd have thought that the child who wept over every black molly that went belly up in her 5-gallon fishtank would end up seeing so many creatures out of this world? Cue Carol Burnett. She's been singing in my ear for a week now.

He had a good two weeks in and out of Phoebe's arms. He was loved and cuddled and coddled. He gave her so many good kisses. On  Monday, August 21st, we took our Eclipse Night walk together.  I had a feeling it would be his last walk, but I didn't say anything about it. And the day she left for college,  the following Sunday, he started down a much steeper hill. By Monday afternoon he was breathing hard. Lasix, prescribed on another office visit Tuesday, had no effect. I heard the rasp in his breath Wednesday morning around 4 AM. And I knew when I looked into his eyes that Chet Baker's good long run had come to an end.  He was apologetic but firm. He wanted out. I wanted to let him out. I was not going to be the one to drag it out, to exhaust every possibility and spare no expense.  There may have been options for prolonging his life, but I had no interest in pursuing them, because the outcome would be the same, and the interim would hold only more suffering for him. I listened to Chet, and he spoke to my head, and my heart heard him too. I was grateful to know beyond doubt that it was his time. It's the doubt that will ruin you and bring you to your knees. I have watched too many friends walk this terrible line with their pets. No one is comfortable in this role, having to make the final judgement on a beloved one's time with us.


It wasn't a surprise. I'd had all kinds of warning. So I went into Deal With It mode, which keeps no room for drama, breast beating or hair tearing. I made Chet as comfortable as I could, and Bill and I picked a place and dug a sweet little grave in the front flower bed, just a couple of feet from the stoop where he baked his brisket on spring mornings. There, we wouldn't have to dig into turf, or mow around it. There, I could plant whatever I wanted in his honor. I set aside some daffodil bulbs we'd dug up to replant when we were done. 


 Liam got up and got the news and held his dear dog for a long time. He'd been so worried about him Tuesday night, but we hoped Lasix every 8 hours would perform a miracle.  He didn't believe my words that it was time until Chet told him it was so. I hated to see that sweet boy facing this, but I've tried, and I know now I can't make everything OK for my kids, not even close. All I can do is tell them the truth, always. 


 When Dr. Lutz's office opened at 8, I called, and they agreed to take us at 9:15. A blessing. I made Chet a breakfast of ham, eggs and cheese, but he couldn't take it. Just a little water. All right then, off we go. It was the longest half-hour ride into town I've ever experienced, except for when I was in labor with Phoebe.

Taken from the back seat. Bill drove. We kept our hands on him the whole time. 
Dr. Lutz gazed at him and said there are a lot of wonderful dogs, but there will never be another Chet, and she's right. Another heaven and another earth must pass before such a one comes again. We all wept and I wrapped myself around him and shared his last breaths, nose to nose, so he'd know I was there. His ears smelled like honey, his feet smelled like Fritos, and the harsh rasping slowed and stopped, and I realized that over the last three days it had become the soundtrack of my sorrow. In the unaccustomed silence, I wondered aloud. "Just like that. So fast. And he's gone. Who'd have thought?"

And yet most of us reading this have done this odd thing, or are looking at a time when we will. Only time will tell whether I'll ever have the strength to do it again. From where I sit, I don't think so. Finding another Chet Baker...it just doesn't seem possible, even if it seemed right to me. I think my heart has had all it can take for a good long while. That dog was there for me for twelve and a half years. He tried to hang in there, knowing how much I needed him, but his time came and too soon. I'm sailing alone without him now. I'll be OK, Bacon.  If I could just freeze-frame him at 9, and keep him that way forever, with his vast vocabulary of words and mutual understanding, with his training having come to full fruition, with  his hearing and eyesight and all his organs and wisdom and humor and strength intact, I'd sign a deal with the Devil. Give me the pen. Show me where to sign.

Midwest Birding Symposium, 2013. Photo by Jenny Bowman

I'd already signed a pact when I bought him, sight unseen; in utero no less! from my wonderful friend Jane Streett in the winter of 2004. And that pact was to love him without reserve or condition. It was not a performance-based love, not a jealous love, nor a possessive one. I remember wondering, when he was a young pup, when he'd turn to me and realize that my heart was his, and his mine. And I remember when it happened, when I saw him light up upon seeing me, when he started refusing to go anywhere unless I was along. And that was when I got the handle "Mether" and our love took off. 
12 1/2 years, and it never failed us, not once. We never fought, never went to bed mad. There was no no subterfuge, no duplicity. There was only love, the pure kind of love a baby has for its mother. Is it any wonder we love our dogs back so hopelessly, so slavishly, so openly, so fearlessly? 

February 2005. Small enough for a tubesock coat. Be still my heart.

I was searching for images to illustrate this. Yes, I could go back in the archives and sort through tens of thousands of Baker photos and find just the ones. But I don't have the time or the heart to do that. So I'll take you on Chet Baker's last run, only ten days before he left us. August 20, 2017, the day before the solar eclipse. 


At this point, when taking Chet for a lope, I was picking my weather and my routes. It had to be a cool day--this one started in the upper 50's. I didn't want a lot of steep uphill climbs. There had to be water for him all along the way. Duck Creek Road, on this sparkling August morning, it would be.

We had to stop and pick up a Little Soldier on the way. 


I carried him across, singing the song. My song.


Chet knows to wait in the car until Mether's done wriggling around in the middle of the road with her camera and the turkle. He's in the Chetspot, front pawdypads on the console, where Mether can kiss his cheek and throw her arm around him for the curves. Sometimes he'd put his left paw on my shoulder, leaning into me as we went around a curve. That was my favorite thing he did in the car.


Duck Creek Road was still misty, just like we like it. And there was clean water in the ditch from last night's thunderstorm. Perfect. 


This beautiful blackish horse was very interested in Chet, and he was happy to touch noses and exchange breath with me, too. 


Horses in the morning always do me good. The days when Chet would duck under the fence and try to nip a soft nose are long, long gone. He was one crazy-ass puppy.


I missed my palominos and the grullo--Buckeye, Daisy and Jesse--but these worked just fine.


I'd say I shot an unusual number of Bacon photos, but I didn't. I always shot an unusual number of Bacon photos.


We scuttled from shade spot to shade spot.


Chet was always a dog who looked up. As a puppy, he'd run after low-flying turkey vultures, jumping up to try to meet them. I'm thinking of all the posts I've done...Chet Baker, Birdwatcher...oh, I could go back and link to them, but I won't. It's hard enough to stay in the present.


In the last year of his life, any time I tried to stop take a photo of Chet going on ahead--his default mode when he could hear--he'd stop and turn right around to come back to me. He refused to walk ahead of me, because he couldn't see me then, and who knew when I'd take off to identify a butterfly? He wasn't about to lose me now, this late in the game. Plus, he always got kisses when he doubled back. So doubling back was a win for him. I could no longer take my distant inkblot photos that had become sort of a signature of this blog, but who cares? Things change. 

Here I come. You aren't going to get away from me this time.
We got to the Whipple Fish and Game Club, and found a shady bank where we could look over the pond. There was an osprey there, piping from a dead snag, perched above four wood ducks and a green heron. We settled in for some birdwatching and a nice long rest.


I love this picture of my little gentleman. Love the peaceful, careless way he's sitting, love his expression. 


Don't you think it's time to go home, Mether? It's past brunchtime. 


We took it slowly on the way home, with water stops and stretchouts in deep shade. 


While I waited for Chet, I found Small-flowered Leafcup!


Polemonium canadensis was one of the rare plants I looked for when I worked for The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut. I wasn't able to come up with its name when I found it, but I knew it was something worth knowing. A quick message to The Buckeye Botanist fixed that!


 I do love The Information Age. So much.

When we got back home I took a photo of Chet, waiting for me to give him his brunch. I was happy that, at 12 1/2,  he'd made the four-mile trip with me, but I remember saying as we came inside, "I think I've just taken my last run with Chet. From here on out, it's going to be shorter hikes. I'll take my big lens and take it slowly, pick my days and quit trying to run with him. All I do is keep doubling back to wait for him now."

Still...



 I'm so glad we've had this time together. 

The next night was Eclipse Night, and he walked almost two miles with me and Phoebe, to go get some more peaches. 


 Such a beautiful sight, that little white cow-face coming up over the hill.

Seems we just get started and before you know it
Comes the time we have to say "So long."


 This zinnia got good and trampled during the dig, but I've been nursing it, and it's coming back. Tiger swallowtail thinks so, anyway.


 He always loved to shuffle through this bed, looking for chiptymunks.




And another matchless little soul takes wing. 


He hears each soft word
Sees the rabbit and squirrel
Runs like black ink and
Stays like a good dog
in our hearts forever. 

Chet Baker, Boston Terrier

December 12, 2004-August 30, 2017

87 comments:

I can't write anything now, my eyes being totally blurred. But I will, dear Julie. Meanwhile, hugs.

Thank you for pouring your heart out to us, Julie!! Chet Baker was an amazing dog and lived a good, loved life. Rest In Peace Chet

Oh Julie. Bless your whole, powerful, complete iceberg self. Bless your precious Chet. I'm asking Zoey to go visit him. I love you -- Kathy R.

Thank you, Julie, for sharing your heartfelt loss with us. I know it must have been hard to write this, but it was absolutely beautiful, the perfect tribute to Chet Baker. I will share this on Facebook for all who care to read this poignant prose that honored such a magnificent animal. Chet was so much more than a dog. He was a family member and a friend to all who met him.

Blessings to you and your family as you mourn the loss of this marvelous friend.

Bruce

I'm sobbing; I've been "there" with 3 Labs. Having to make the decision. Weighing all the options against the quality of life. Looking deep into dark eyes for the "sign".
My heart is broken for you. There are no words. Dogs are true companions; they want only to be with you. This is why the loss is so profound.
I'm just so deeply, deeply sorry.

Thank you for sharing some of your wonderful dog with us.

I'm so sorry.

Over the last year I wondered, but did not dare ask. I loved my snuggles with him those years ago. I have always enjoyed how you shared your unabashed, beautiful love for such a fine gentleman. Profound love to you and the family from me and my family. Thank you for chronicling this lush life.

Oh my dear Julie, tears for you, tears for me when my sweetie pie's time comes. I can't imagine. Hugs to you.

Carol

My eyes are teary, throat lumpy and heart aches. We've been through this any times and it never gets easier. What you wrote about that last night is spot on.

Thank you for sharing Chet's incredible story!

Thank you so much for this. Having another good cry now. Farewell, sweet amazing incomparable Chet.

Once again, you have chosen your words well. Here I sit while mucus and saltwater pour forth.

Thank you Julie for all the Chet Baker moments you've shared, and countless other joy filled pictures and blogs. You brighten my life! Bless.

Just as everyone is saying, I type through blurry eyes and with a heart heavy of knowing. My soul-dog has been gone for 2 1/2 years now. The hole, now only filled with memories that make me laugh, will never go away. I did rescue a sweet, old man boxer 10 months ago...primarily because I want every dog to leave here feeling that loved. Hugs...they are so worth all of this pain. ❤️

Fair well dear Chet, you special wonderful little man, I have so loved hearing about you and seeing your photos. God bless xxxxxx

Thank you for sharing these photos and words of Chet's last days. He was loved around the world and back again, to the sun, moon, stars, and beyond. May his memory always be for a blessing.

the tears help ease the pain, somehow they do. so will let them loose, again. no dog/human combo deserves them more than the incomparable Chet Baker and his mether. thank you for sharing this with us, it helps to know - such a beautiful boy.

Julie, you and Chet Baker were so blessed to have each other. We book and blog followers have been blessed, too, to know you and Chet through your words and photos. Much love to you both! Crying like a baby now – that's the Information Age for you.

Sending a hug from SoCal. Julie, take care --

Luisa

So sorry for you and your family's loss, Julie. A very touching read. You're in my thoughts and prayers. xoxoxo

Sniff sniff. Having been there myself, I know the heartache you're going through. Hugs, hugs, hugs!

Pax vobiscum, Chet Baker. Give my love to Puppy, Powder, Pabba, Snoopy, and Val.

Made me cry so hard for you and your family and our precious Bacon. And for all the wonderful furry family members we have loved and lost. My heart breaks for you.

Thank you Julie. Thank you for letting us get to know Chet, and adore him from afar. Thank you for letting us tag along on your morning runs. I could imagine the smell of the horses and the feel of the mist and the pitter-patter sound of Chet's little paws. And thank you for sharing this with us, for anyone who has given their heart to an amazing creature knows the depth of sorrow in having to say goodbye. Saying that I'm so very sorry doesn't even begin to convey the heartbreak I feel for you and your family, but its all I have to give you. May your shared love and wonderful memories of Chet comfort you all. Peace.

The pain of loss is the price we pay for love. I have always felt that as hard as it is, it's still worth it. And the fortunate thing is that as the pain diminishes over time, the love never does.

Even as a total stranger, an admirer from afar, your little Chet Baker was dear to me because you were able to share him with the world. We now cry with you, stand beside you, and embrace you from afar, even as we thank you for having shared a bit of love in every doggeh post, photo, and video. That love has enriched us all, and will remain long after our tears have dried.

How many of us are there out here, who have never met you or Chet in person but are bawling our eyes out? You both have our love and shared heartbreak. Thanks for the memories....

I'm so very sorry. I also lost a beloved dog to that kind of flea treatment this past March. It was awful and no way to reverse what happened. It was very painful. She was a rescued dog, so weeks later we adopted another rescue. We felt it honored all she had meant to us by continuing another in her memory. We miss her dearly, but it has been a good thing for all of us including our dogs to have continued rather than stopped. Blessings to you, your family, and dear Chet's memory. God rest his sweet puppy soul!

Reading and weeping, sitting in the sand on the riverbank with my two old souls. I'm so sad, but glad that the message from Chet was so clear--when they are fading, how do we know when they've had enough? Thank you for this chronicle of his last days and how you made the decision that it was time for him to move on. Every detail helps me see his life and yours, and helps me imagine my own decisions in the next few weeks and months. Thank you for sharing Chet with us.

I feel your pain. I knew it was coming from the posts you shared. I feel so blessed getting to know your little fur person. He was a lucky doggeh to have such a loving family and rich life. Peace to all of you.

Thank you for sharing Chet with us. My eyes are blurry with sadness. Thank you, too, for sharing story of the end of his life, the difficult decisions and hard days and wonderful days. Chet was such a great dog. I am sorry for your broken heart.

Thank you so much, Julie, for all the wonderful Chetposts over the years--but especially for this one. (Even though, along with everyone else, I'm sitting here bawling into my laptop.) RIP your wonderful Bacon, and my boundless sympathy and good wishes to you, Bill, Phoebe, and Liam.

I wish I'd gotten to meet him, but I always felt like I knew him all the same. Thanks for sharing his life and adventures with us. AB and I send our love.

I had a pleasure of meeting Chet Baker at the New River Birding Festival back in 2009. He was a special little dog that won the hearts of everyone.

I can't stop crying. What a special little guy, what a joyful loving Mether. Thank you for sharing this extraordinary fellow with us.

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”― Will Rogers

Dear Julie, as I compose myself, I'm teary eyed and sad. You and Chet Baker kept our family filled with adventure and love! You see, I lost my dog of 14 yrs -2 yrs past. I had Bostons throughout my childhood. This hit close to my heart as I had read all your wonderful posts. I'm so grateful to the jon Berger's for introducing me to you via blog. Blessings to you, and my best word of advice to you is "get another puppy and begin again". Life isn't the same with our Chet Baker , but after the healing -begin anew ❤️��Sending love and light rip beloved Chet❤️

I'm gutted reading about Chet's last days, and the love you and your family had for him. He was truly special, with that "X Factor" personality! In April, we said goodbye to our special, X Factor Boston Cheech, (born May 5, 2005). He and your Chet Baker seemed alike. Reading of his passing yesterday, I cried fresh, long tears as though he were mine to lose. After an hour, I wondered why I was so shattered reading about this. I saw Cheech Dolan in so many ways and I grieved for both. Even their last day, hour were the same. The pain will ease, but as I discovered these last 24 hours, it will never go away. They were, and are our hearts! Sincerely, heart felt condolences to you, Mether, and your family. Thank you so much for sharing him. I hope Chet and Cheech found each other at the Rainbow Bridge and are on some wicked good adventures together.

Eyes clear now, heart still full. I could sense this day was coming...your gentle hints, your sweet care for your aging companion. And I knew when it came, you would write about it. Writing is a way of shaping our feelings, helping us through difficult times.
I am amazed, however, that you could write this so soon. But, I suspect you have been composing parts of this for some time, perhaps a year, as you mentioned.
When I first began to read about Chet Baker, I thought--I WANT A BOSTON TERRIER. I looked up the information you had on Chet's breeder. And since I live fairly close to where she lives, I wondered if I should or could. I finally decided--no, Chet Baker is his own person, and cannot be duplicated. So, when we lost a lovable dog, we waited all of one month and got another lovable dog, both rescue dogs.
I must say--though I never met Chet Baker (or you for that matter), I count you among the dearest creatures I could have as friends.
This is the bargain we make with our dear dog friends--come and live with us. We will love you, feed you, spoil you, walk you--provide in every way possible for you. AND, when the time comes that our time has ended, we will be with you and let you go.
Letting go is hard--but I too have decided not to prolong what we know must come.
There is nothing I can say that will let you know how things will be in the days ahead. You know. But, please know that I and all your many friends will hold you in our hearts.

Such a wonderful boy. I loved singing with him on my lap, kisses peppered between songs. The best. Ever.

Oh, Julie, words cannot express my sadness at the passing of precious Chet. I discovered your blog a year ago, and while I loved your writings about birds, it was your posts about the Bacon that made my heart skip a beat. Your recounting of his hearing loss was one of the first posts I read and I felt like I had found a friend. You give voice to all of us dealing with beloved pets and the passage of time. It simply goes too fast. As I read your post, I could not help but think of my Japanese Chin (named Phoebe). Although she still seems puppy-like, her tenth birthday is approaching. You remind us all not to waste a moment of our time together. I came to your talk at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme in July. It was entirely worth my trip in from NYC, and I have told lots of people about you since then. This morning a friend of mine who just started reading your blog called me in tears. At first, I thought she was annoyed that I had introduced her to a blog that was making her so sad at the moment. But she said, ¨Are you kidding? I am hooked and I will be reading everything Julie Zickefoose has written, even if it sometimes makes me cry!¨ You truly are a gift to your readers, just as you were a gift to Chet Baker (and vise versa). To paraphrase E.B. White, if the Bacon could talk, I feel he would say that it is not often you meet someone who is a true friend and a good writer. Chet Baker´s Mama is both. Thank you for sharing him with all of us!
Best,
Lynda Moran

STAAAHP everybody! I didn't cry today! And then I read Donna's comment, and then Lynda's, and dammit!!
I'm going down Dean's Fork and I'm going to listen for his tags jingling behind me. No, in front of me.

xoxox
jz

Wherever Chet Baker is (I’m sure it’s doggie heaven), he must be smiling at hearing how much he was loved, how many people he made laugh and go “awwww,” how many lives he touched in so many ways. I’m sure he knows how much he meant to you and your family, how much his “mether” loved him. That’s why he could tell you, and you knew, it was the right time. I’m always glad that you share BOTH the happy and sad things with us, your readers. This post is a beautiful tribute to a singular soul. Take care.

I, like so many, utterly fell in love with Chet Baker. I am grieving with you, and his passing evokes fresh grief at the loss of my best friend, Lily, (a year and a half ago) a brilliant Miniature Schnauzer who also had a huge vocabulary and went everywhere with me. She even liked to "tease" us with a game she made up of tippy-toeing up to the bathtub while one of us was in the shower and either throw a dog toy in; and back up waiting for our cry of surprise before we chucked it out in her direction--or more often sneak up and carefully place a toy on the edge of the tub or propped in the shower curtain and then slowly, tippy-toe backing up and out of sight, waiting for it to be found with loud cries of surprise that made her wiggle with delight as the wet, sloppy thing was tossed out and toward the bathroom door. Anyway, believe me, I get it. There will never be another Chet Baker, and never another Gizmo Tiger Lily either. And that's as it should be, I think. I am so sorry for the loss of your dear friend. Thanks for sharing him with us, Julie.

No words, can't s ee to type. Hugs.

Thank you for sharing Julie. You describe so perfectly and beautifully the human condition. Love is so beautiful and yet painful too. My 14 year old daughter already has a strategy. "Mom, I'm never getting attached. I don't want to have any separation." I so understand her dilemma. :)

We all knew this day was approaching… and yet my heart still sank the moment I saw this post's title.
The bonds we form with other species are really quite amazing.
And your words are always so perfect, so spot-on; I really don’t know how you do it, as if you’re channeling the words of angels! Anyway, just know the joy that Chet brought to so many, so far away, for so long... And, as others have repeated, THANKS for letting us all in on it.

You're definitely a sinus cleanser! So so sad but also inspiring! Notice that many of us commenters have felt this pain. They never seem to die on their own... so glad you all have memories with a special creature of God!

We are on vacation. I am the navigator. Reading this, we just got lost because I was crying. I am sure you feel lost right now too. Sending you love.

My heart aches for you. I hope you don't mind if I release one of the monarch butterflies from my nursery in his memory?

Julie,I only know of you and Chet Baker from what i have read about in your wonderful blog. But oh what a soul he was, what a companiero,what a ....soulmate😢😮🤗😍 #muchlove

Oh, JZ. How my heart is broken for you. So unaccustomed to reading your thoughts in their jagged form, but there's such a beauty of truth here in this memorial. I think sometimes of my dad's miserably failed attempts to shield us from the heartache of losing a dog. The first night we got the dog of my childhood, he sat us down and told us we should remember that dogs will die and it will hurt. The absurdity of telling us this still makes me laugh but I understand it now. There is no protection from canine heartbreak. I lost it at the photo in the studio of Bill and Liam and Chet. It's a story in itself of cycles, family, love, and the rawness with which we all come to learn these things. Thank you for letting your heart weep here to help all of us bid him farewell, too. Blogs do create this alarming sense of intimacy and I have no doubt many share your heartache. Thinking of all of you.

Oh, Julie, I am so sorry! I have been expecting this for some time now, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I know that you undoubtedly felt that, too, but magnified to the nth degree. My husband and I have lost many animal family members over the years. You'd think that it would get easier with time... that one would deal better with the next death, and the one after that. It doesn't, though. If anything, it seems to get more difficult. The price of love is pain. Yet it is a price that we are willing to pay, because what is the alternative? A loveless, joyless life, because one is too afraid of the inevitable pain that comes from separation? That is not life, but merely existence. Our furred and feathered family members help make our lives worth living. They make us better humans. They teach us how to love unconditionally and perfectly. We would be better people if we used our pets as role models.

Thank you for sharing Chet with us... even up to his final moments. He was greatly loved and admired by so many people that he never met, and we will all miss him.

Much love to you, Bill, Liam, and Phoebe.

Posted by Anonymous August 31, 2017 at 5:40 PM

You've got me sniffling, giggling, and yanking on my ear lobe all at the same time. So sweet. I love reading your writings. We'll all miss the little pooch.

speachless. Love to you and yours, Pauline

I'm as much a dog person as you are a cat person, I think. For all of that, I loved Chet Baker. I think mainly so because I felt your love for him so clearly and took such pleasure in Chet Baker stories and photos. You brought out the very best in each other and your relationship has been a real delight. I'm sorry for you, Julie- it's a mighty loss for you and the family. Thank you for sharing Chet with us in every way.

Heartbreaking loss, this one. The way you understood and celebrated him brought many of us joy. Sending love from an old friend in CT.

What a wonderful tribute, Julie. I guess I expect it from you, as you are such a nonpareil storyteller, but I still found myself smiling & crying at the same time as I read. You are the world's best doggeh mether, bar none! I'm not even particularly a dog person, but I always look forward to reading your Chet Baker, Boston Terrier stories and I hope you will share more in future when you are in situations that prompt memories of him, as I am sure will be the case.

I thought I'd gotten it over with yesterday, but here I am in tears again. Some tough old ex-cop I am.

I can't say much, all choked up. I know so well the incredible bond beyond description, tbe love and then the loss so painful

Julie I was so sorry to hear about Chet. I never met him but nonetheless through your blog I felt I did. There is nothing worse than losing your dog. My thoughts are with you.

Butterflies are the spirits of those we love come back to visit. He is well. Sending love for the really bad times. I know the emptiness of losing the presence of an animal love.

Julie, I am so sorry. Dogs have life spans that are way too short. I applaud your devotion to Chet Baker, and thank you for not selfishly hanging on to him beyond his time. I don't doubt that you could read each other's minds. He was slowing down but faithfully following you til his last breath.
I have dreaded this news. Charlie, Baby Bobcat, Ellen and now Chet Baker. Oh Julie. If anything happens to Jemima, please don't tell us. Or at least start with Don't read this Sharon.

I've been trying to think of what to say to you and how to say it eloquently and with deep meaning and resonance but everyone here has nailed it over and over again. i am just nodding in agreement with tears dripping and heart sunken to my shoes thinking of that feeling of losing your best buddy, your shadow, your smile. and i think of all the joy he brought you and the joy you bring us, your readers, and i wish you peace and send you hugs, dear Julie. i know that the void is cavernous and that your family is suffering but i know watching your Bacon decline and knowing what was inevitable was hard too. So, let the healing begin and let those voices from cyberspace create a cushion for your memories and i hope Bill, Liam and Phoebe too will continue to feel it from the Zick world out there. I am so very sorry for your loss. He was the best little guy and we will miss his adventures!
Oh, and one more thing -
Never. Stop. Writing.

My sympathy at your loss. Our dogs are so much a part of our family, when we lose them it hurts so much. RIP little Chet Baker.

So many things I'd like to say but really, we are all so sad, we've all been there I think, making that hard decision between not cheating them out of a minute of life and letting go. Such a fine point to it all. Chet, you have good company on your next journey I am sure of it. Julie and family, hugs. There will come a day when the memories don't make you gush, or even puddle, but bring joy and comfort at having shared time with such a remarkable fellow!

What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful love.
Look for him...he will come by to check on you, to tell you that he's okay, that he's always watching over you.

Thank you for sharing him with us. He's somewhere chasing turkey vultures and maybe even almost catching one. Nancy Magnusson

Dear dear Chet Baker. Loved so deeply by so many. And Julie, thank you for sharing Chet's Last Run. What a beautiful devotion. It's so hard to believe he's gone. Take good care, keep close to yourself. Sending you and your family warm hugs and empathy. Keeping you in my thoughts.

Elaine and I feel deeply for you. We have been there, too – standing over the freshly dug grave for a beloved pet of many years, holding one another amidst the sobs, big round tears rolling down the fronts of our jackets. Thank you for giving all your blog readers the blessing these past 12½ years of getting to live vicariously the joy and adventures of Chet’s lifetime with your loving family. What a treasure you have in the many wonderful photos and stories from those years! Maybe down the road, when the day eventually arrives where the remembered sound of Chet’s jingling tags evokes less grief and mostly just happy memories, you can create from that archive a wonderful book celebrating the Bacon’s life?! No doubt it would be a unique and beloved classic in both the “dog lives” and “nature” genres.

Feeling your heartache...

Weeping. Thank you for sharing him with us. You've both made this Life a better place to stay for awhile.

What a beautiful tribute! Those of us who have loved a special dog, and lost them through the unkind uneven life spans between humans and canines feel your pain.

Blurred vision, heart breaking, what a special tribute to the love you shared. I will always remember the smiles you brought to my days.

Bless you, dear Julie. I've been following you and Chet's adventures since 2005. You all seem like family by now. Tears flowing for the loss of this sweet, audacious little doggeh. Hugs to you and yours from western Kentucky.

Some of your best--and most heartbreaking--writing, Julie. Not everyone can honor their beloved pets in this way, and you've just given the words to so many.

My condolences. We will all miss Chet Baker.

Chet Baker lighted so many lives, an endearing thank you for sharing him with us. He was loved far and wide.

Heartache--and so much love--for a dear doggie, much loved from afar by so many.

Jules, my heart is with you. There are no words where the heart goes during such losses. Sending love.

Oh Julie, my heart and my tears are with you and your family. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing Chet Baker with us for all these years. Of course, I knew when I first met you both that someday he would break our hearts by leaving us. It's one of the privileges of loving pets. I'm crying so much, for a dog I've not met in person. But I did know him through your words and photos - again, thank you for sharing him. I met you once, in Denver, when I learned from Chet's Facebook page that you would be participating in a conference. It was a privilege to tell you in person how much your work means to me. You cheerfully looked at photos of my Bostons, Archie and Lulu. You and Chet Baker have given the world such a great gift! Love and blessings to you. Patricia Paige Cronin

Heartbreaking. I know just how you feel but deeply appreciate your kindness in recognizing when Chet was telling you it was time for him to go. Dogs don't live long enough, one of the Universe's cruelties. So sorry for you and your family.

Dear Julie,

My heart goes out to you and your family. This is such a loving and beautiful tribute to Chet Baker. Thank you for sharing him with us all of these years.

Take care,

Julie Brown

Brings back the loneliness of losing our beloved pal of almost 12 yrs.
I hear the echoes you are hearing from the loss of Chet..
Thinking of you my friend.

I am so sorry. I loved ready the adventures of Chet Baker. Hugs to you.

Oh dear oh dear, Julie! I am bawling my eyes out. Thank you for expressing your love for Chet Baker so beautifully. Anyone who has ever loved a dog can sympathize with your words. May time heal the wounds of your loss. I have already cried for the death of my son's English Lab. He is only 3 years old and in perfect health, but I can become sad anticipating the loss we will one day endure. Sigh. Tempus fugit. P.S. I met you in Cambridge and gave you a chickadee towel.

Oh my!!! My heart aches for you. I know how hard it is to lose such a wonderful soul mate, we have gone through it several times ourselves. I know you never really get over the pain, it stays with you forever. Thanks for sharing.
I attended your presentation last evening, Sept. 12th, at the Ashland Public in Ashland, Ohio. All I can say is you moved my spirit , what an inspiration you are!!! My only regret is my husband could not be there. I did look at your schedule, but so sorry that we will not be able to see you again.
Do you think you will be giving one in Ohio next year?
Also, I wanted to ask you what your daughter is studying in Maine? Our son lives there and we love going to see him. Just to smell the pine trees and the salty air fills your heart with joy! Makes my heart soar like a hawk!!
If you can contact me I would appreciate it because I purchased 2 items from you at your presentation and I think you only charged me for one item. I bought the boxed set of note cards and the book about gardening with birds. I checked my bank statement this morning and only saw one charge for $15.00. I don't want to cheat you. You were kind enough to sign all my books, and I appreciate that.
Thanks again, Becky
beckypender474@gmail.com

oh yuck. I have been not-looking-forward to this and have not read your blog for awhile. and that stupid too-big bag of dog food.... what size is right? Do you think anyone's dog goes right as they are finishing a bag? I would say No. :( Good luck with your bat and get another dog even if it will be (initially) deficient and not-Chetlike enough and you will call it Chet by accident. :(

I will miss the incomparable Chet "The Bacon" Baker, Boston Terrier more than you or even I realize. He has been a part of my life routine for many years now and although I never was able to feel his sleek "seal brindle" coat, smell his sunshine smell (or experience his emanations), taste his lickety-kisses, I was able through the miracle of Julie Zickefoose and her husband, Bill Thompson III, daughter, Phoebe Thompson and son, Liam Thompson to see and hear him through the wonders of modern technology. Two out of Five senses added to Chet Baker's astonishing personality made me able to fall in love with him many times over the years that he has been on Facebook. My heart goes out to you, Julie, his "mether" and partner in life as well as your entire clan, for your loss. May your memories bring comfort during this difficult time of grief. I'm here if you need me. With love, BUFFLEHEAD

I've been out of commission for a month and was startled to read about Chet Baker. I loved following him on your site. I've been owned by four wonderful Boston Terriers, two having to be put down at 11 years, my present two are 9 and 13, both rescues. I've had the 13 year old for a bit over a year and due to her owners' divorce (& neither of them wanting her), I got her thru a rescue. I love the breed so much and they live here with my other two rescues. I am so sorry to hear of your loved one's passing on and know it's hard to live without him. I still miss my Josie and Jasmine and it's been 12 years and 5 years. My deepest sympathy.

Huge hugs. Thank you for your honesty and sharing your little man with us. We've had our hearts broken many times saying goodbye to the best companions we could have dreamed. We grow wildflowers over their patches of soil and spread the seeds to the world. It comforts us....knowing our friends grow beautiful flowers that nourish butterflies and bees and birds and are now spreading their magic across the miles in a new way. Thank you too, so very much, for the love and life you returned to the precious Red Bat.

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