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Missing Chet Baker

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Looking right into my soul, he was. Because he was a higher being, and because he wanted a bikkit. I have been missing this little feller so much lately. It's almost been worse lately than right after he left. Been needing kisses, and not getting any. Missing the popcorn smell of his pawdypads, the click of his toenails, the inkblot in all my landscape photos. Missing everything about him.

It's been an even year and a half since Chet Baker left us, and I have steadfastly refused to consider replacing him. I have straight-armed any number of kind people who suggested that I should consider another dog. It had been just too damn freaking hard to lose him. I didn't want to have to go through that again, ever. My heart couldn't take any more. Plus, I said, I have no backup; nobody else in the house to let a dog out, to feed one when I'm called away. I'd been enjoying the freedom of coming and going without a thought. Can't tie myself down like that again, I said.

In the stone-hard center of my heart, I knew that there was a dog out there waiting for me to find him, but I would never have said that to anyone but Shila. OK, I did say it to Shila.

When the time is right, I thought; when I'm finally ready, the Universe will present a dog to me. I will NOT go looking. He will just appear to me. Maybe come up to my door, dirty and starving. That was the scenario I most often imagined.
And it will not be just any dog. It will be The Dog. 
I will feel an instant connection, and I will know this is it. There will be no room for doubt. If I have any doubt, it isn't the one.

Scrolling through my Instagram feed on Saturday, Feb. 16, my heart gave a flip when I saw my sweet friend Kelly's post about a Valentine's fundraiser for CHA, the private animal rescue organization which runs an exemplary shelter--clean and spacious-in a Columbus industrial park. Kelly volunteers there, placing dogs in need with people in need of dogs. Kelly knew Chet Baker. She knows a good dog when she sees one.


If you click on the photo you can see that Curtis' tail is blurred because it's wagging so hard.

I really liked this dog's size, carriage, and looks, but I liked Kelly's description of his personality even more. Whoa. This dog is up for adoption? Throwing caution to the wind, I left a public comment:
 "Is he already someone's darling?"

 If you know me, you know that this is atypical. I am much more a private message kind of inquirer.

When Kelly didn't reply, I tried to forget about Curtis. I waited a few hours, knowing I often don't see my Instagram comments or messages for days.  Oh, screw it. I'll message her.
So I sent her a text. And she replied, "I'm sorry, but I believe Curtis was adopted this afternoon." 

My heart had floated up to the ceiling, and now it sank back down like a tired balloon.  Too late. 
I guess it wasn't meant to be. Put Curtis out of your mind now, Zick, and listen to your more sensible self.

Thanks to a huge winter storm and flight cancellations, it took about 34 hours to make my punctuated way to a deliriously wonderful time at Klamath Falls Winter Wings Festival in Oregon. I had two talks to give, and a field trip to help with, and a whole lot of fabulous birds to photograph. And I was just winding down from the festival on Sunday afternoon when I got a text from Kelly. 

"It turns out Curtis is still available! I was mistaken yesterday. Because he strikes me as a potential match for your lifestyle and desired dog personality, I wanted you to know he's still adoptable. Of course: no pressure. And shoot me a text if you have any questions."

Oh, I had questions. And man, the whiplash of thinking Curtis was inaccessible, talking myself down with all the reasons I didn't need a dog in my life, and then wha wha whaaa? He's available after all? 
I replied,

"Wow. Thank you for letting me know. Gotta think about that. I wasn't expecting that. I don't get into Columbus until nearly midnight Monday, unfortunately, if all goes well." At that point, I was only wanting to go home. I was dead tired. Winter travel during huge snowstorms will do that to you. Staying another night in Columbus to meet a dog I'm not even sure I should be looking at? Mmmm. Hmmmm. Derr.

"No problem. It's a huge decision (at least, it should be). By all means, let it simmer."

I got Curtis' story (more on that later) and I thought about it all evening. I was thinking about him when I woke up to start my journey from Medford OR to Columbus on Monday. I texted Kelly. 

"I feel like I should meet him before deciding anything. Obviously." 

Kelly said she'd see if he was still there when she went on shift Monday afternoon. I would be flying all that day. When I landed in Phoenix, I saw some messages from Kelly.

"Well Curtis is still here! I'm very surprised. Thought he'd be snatched up already. He's 4 yrs. old, 38 lb. As far as breed, straight-up Heinz 57."

I stared at the photos. This might be the perfect dog. Fabulous personality, and this beautiful?  Striped like a gol-durn tiger??

With a completely black face and soft little black ears that flop over? And a great big spoon-tongue for kissing? (Also, how cute is Kelly here? Look how she lights up around this dog!)

 The first two photos hooked me, but this last one killed me daid. Thanks a LOT, Kelly, you minx.

There is someone in those eyes, an  old soul. Someone with a sense of humor and a strong sense of self. Dogs who will look directly at a camera are very, very rare. Dogs who enjoy it are rarer still. I had one of those rare ones for twelve beautiful years. I know. Now here this dog was, looking at the camera like Chet used to. I could see him bombing all my flower photos, durn him, just because he thinks he's a better subject than some little flar.

Torturing myself, I went online to see if I could find Curtis. OMG. There he was, looking perky af, for any Tom, Dick or Mary to set their sights on.  Gulp. Who else was looking at Curtis tonight? The shelter wouldn't open until noon on Tuesday. Would he still be there when I got there? If I could make myself DO this?

This is probably the worst cliffhanger I've ever posted. Sorry.


 Yep, that's me, cackling. 


Go for it. You need each other.

Julie!!! As a huge Chet Baker fan, I also foster dogs almost continually. It’s been my experience dogs like Curtis are so thankful, so adoring, so loyal when they are adopted. I’ll be stalking for more of Curtis’ story!

Posted by Anonymous February 20, 2019 at 8:15 PM

That face makes my heart sing for you. I agree, go for it! He looks perfect!

@Janeyms it's the brindle you were always shooting for. Except not a Beaner. Ah well. I never thought I could love another. Sometimes it's nice to be proven wrong.


Reading about Chet broke my heart for you, and I love to hear you may have a new buddy. I just lost my two very-long-time inkblots, and it has helped some bringing home a little mystery mutt I saw online with that spark in his eyes.

The love of a dog will get you through these tough times. I am SO GLAD!

I'm not crying you're crying! also I cant believe it's been over a year! I hope Mr. Mook like to run! xoxo

This is all very exciting! Waiting to hear the rest of the Curtis and Julie story. My heart tells me Curtis is already in your home and your heart.

I thought I could never love another when Risky died, Then, years later, along came Birdy. Enough said.

I am down to one dog who is currently cuddled up next to me on the chaise. But, in early renal failure, his days are numbered. I soon will be without, then going through the stages - grief and sadness, sudden freedom from responsibility, no rush to get home, hmmm, is it time, and hopefully, someday, "I think you are the one"...... Looking forward to hearing more about Curtis.

What's the cliffhanger part??? seems like we all know where this is headed! :)))
I just hope Curtis is ready for the fame about to be thrust upon him.

How exciting!!! And just look at that sweet face. He needs you as much as you need him. I see a mutual love fest about to erupt.

The only thing that has prevented howls of despair from your readers’s not REALLY a cliffhanger.!!! I’m tthrilled that you have fallen in pupper love again, and let Curtis in your heart and life. Mutts are the BEST. And a dog that you don’t have to bend over to pet- even better.

Grinning from ear to ear here.
It'll be different, but it'll be love again. Dog is love.

It took us 5 years after Mabel left us to agree that we really did need to have a dog. I love your story about Curtis. I hope you get to meet him at the shelter and he shows you that YOU are the ONE for him. He would be the luckiest dog in the world. We have had Topsy and Turvy for 18 months now and life with Bagels, ( bassett/beagle), is wonderful and ...amusing

That is a good looking puppers! Gotta love the brindle. Having always started with puppies, I can tell you that adopting an adult dog from the shelter was great. Not only do you get a wonderful dog, you get a dog that's already house trained and not a naughty puppy anymore (okay, Dottie is the exception...)
I hope things will work out for you and Curtis. Speaking from experience, it is possible to love another dog, even after you've had the BEST.DOG.EVER.

NO NO can’t do this to me. I have heart issues. HURRY UP and post the next blog. Grrrr.

This is so funny. Just a few days ago, I was thinking about Chet Baker and you. Thinking how you must miss him, especially now. How you really needed him or some other puppy to love. I know it would be complicated - you travel so much and live alone now. But it would be so worth it! Can't wait to hear what you decided. He's adorable.

Awww...those eyes, that face, that brindle coat. I sure can picture y’all rescuing each other!
PS: I’ll always cherish Chet’s paw prints in my JZ books! ❤️❤️❤️

I am so thrilled for you. Your beautiful soul is meant to be shared with a four legged companion. I can envision a long sunny silhouette selfie with Curtis running by your side enjoying the hills and valleys of your life at Indigo Hill. We lost our beloved Holly the Chocolate Hug Lab in December. We said at the time, let's go dog-less for awhile. Our daughter achieved her dream of becoming an attorney. We are empty nesters. We can go birding, come and go without restraint, linger at coffee shops and drop in on friends. Our grand plans lasted about three weeks and came to the realization, we wanted another Lab. So, we are getting a Lab in a month. The love story continues with us and a Lab in our lives, and the squirrels will watch for the new sheriff in town. May your life be enriched by Curtis' companionship. You are most deserving of his.

Oh my gersh. Would you look at those loppy sooty earlobes. Those happy eyes! I have been silently hoping with fingers and toes crossed that a pup would find its way to you. Bats and flars and birbs are adorbs and all, but not good kissers. Do you think Chet Baker sent Curtis Mayfield to rescue you? I sure do.

“Hush now child, and don’t you cry...”

I'm happy for you both. But just a little word of caution: This dog probably misses his former family a lot. He looks like, acts like, he has had a lot of love. He might be grieving, anxious, feeling like he's been kidnapped, wanting to be rescued by his Real Mom. It will take time for you to become his Real Mom.

I hope you get him. (but the worst cliff hanger in my memory was when Chet fell off a cliff.)

Cliffhanger, pthpppt!

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

How many hearts will Blogger let me post?!?!?!? He is a handsome fella!

"molecular redistribution" ... Hugs to you ...
"Mom: Where did your molecules come from?

Raika: From dogs that have passed on. When their body is gone then their personality molecules get distributed wherever they are needed." ....


Love the story! Can't wait for part two.

Well, we all know the ending....the smiling in the eyes did it. You have fallen ❤️

He looks like a VIOLIN!

Looks like a keeper to me! Love the brindle coat.

Curtis looks like he's part Plott Hound. Looks just like my friend's Plott hound - Finn. Right down to the brindle coat.
I hope you adopted him!! Something tells me you did! Can't wait to find out!

I completely understand the loss of Chet Baker. He was a doll. And when you lose an animal that felt like a soul mate, it's even harder. I lost my feline soul mate in December. It was devastating and I think I'll be devastated for years to come. I love my other furry companions, but there was something really special about my Tiger boy.

Stop messing around. What happened next?

I'm all 😀😊😁😃😄😍😎

Chet is smiling and thinking "Oh good! Mommy will have some happiness again and will be smiling like old times"

"Mother, May I" print a pic of this darling for my wishing wall of doggehs?

@Dallas D but of course. @ R. Powers, oh, the in between.

Antic. . . . .

. . . . . . . . . apation

I knew as soon as I saw his photo. :) What a sweetheart.

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