Some Little Kid Memories Of Nikolai Volkoff

There haven’t been as many So Long posts lately as there used to be, and that’s intentional. To be quite honest, I don’t particularly enjoy writing them. Some folks, even when you appreciate whatever it was they did, just don’t inspire a whole lot of words or draw out much in the way of specific memories or good stories. And judging from the statistics many of you seem to enjoy the reading end of them almost as much, so making the decision to cut back on them has been a pretty easy one. But there’s no way I’m not making an exception for Nikolai Volkoff.

I was not a Nikolai Volkoff fan back in the day, because I was a little kid, it was the 1980s and Russians were bad. The more things change, right? But you would never have known I wasn’t a Nikolai Volkoff fan given that one of my 6-year-old self’s favourite pastimes was sitting on the swings in my back yard, belting out the Russian national anthem Nikolai style at the top of my lungs.

Sadly, that video is not of me. As far as I know, unless Joe McCarthy has it, no video or audio exists of me doing this. But to this day my mom still jokes that it’s a wonder we’re still allowed in the country whenever somebody brings it up.

As much fun as I had with it though, that damn anthem almost scared me out of my first live wrestling experience. I can’t remember the date, but it was at the old London Gardens somewhere around late 1986 or early 1987. I was super excited about going, but in the back of my mind, there was a problem. What if Nikolai Volkoff was on the show, and what if he wanted us to please rise and respect his singing of the Russian national anthem? I knew from sports and school that you were always supposed to stand for an anthem as a sign of respect, but I also knew from the news and wrestling and just about everywhere else that Russians were bad. What if I stood up and the people near me got mad? Or even worse, what if I didn’t stand up and Nikolai caught me? Either way I was in trouble, and the last thing I wanted was to get in trouble. As the days went bye and the show got closer, more than once I thought about asking somebody what I should do or even faking an illness because although I’d miss out on something I was hugely looking forward to, it would be better than death by angry Sheik and Volkoff. But somehow I managed to keep my mouth shut and my fear in check, deciding that I’d do whatever everyone else did and if Nikolai didn’t like it, dad and our neighbour would protect me. Thankfully I didn’t have to test that theory, because Nikolai almost certainly would have destroyed both of them had he been on the show, which he wasn’t.

Man did I ever love that Wrestling Album. The way most kids are about watching the same movie over and over again, that was me with the Wrestling Album. Pretty sure I wore out a record and a tape listening to it alone, subjecting my family to it, wrestling with my friends while it was on in the background, using it for theme music while I played with my figures…that reminds me of one more story, actually.

I don’t remember what the occasion was, but somebody gave me Nikolai Volkoff and Iron Sheik thumb wrestlers as a gift one time.

I was pretty happy, but I couldn’t help but wonder out loud who they were supposed to wrestle. Somebody in the room gave what she thought would be the obvious answer, “each other.” So I had no choice but to explain to this obviously uneducated person that this wouldn’t be possible. There’s no way Sheik and Nikolai would wrestle each other, because they’re tag team partners. Luckily I got a Junkyard Dog one either that same day or not long after, so I was able to book handicap matches in living rooms and bedrooms all over the province. So if you’ve ever seen me go off about some stupid, illogical wrestling thing and wondered is this guy ok? The answer is yes. This attention to detail stuff is not new.

I don’t have a favourite Nikolai Volkoff match, but aside from Big John Studd lifting me way up in the air when I met him in a parking lot, he’s in a lot of my favourite earliest wrestling memories and I’m pretty sad that he’s gone.

Rest in peace, Nikolai. I promise I’ll stand for the anthem next time, even if Russians are bad.

Goodbye To Trixie

Trixie takes a treat out of Brad's mouth.
Mmmmm…mouth treat.

Brad, who it can’t ever be said too many times did an amazing job of taking care of Trixie during the last 5 years of her life, has some words to say about her and what happened at the end.

Some of what I’m going to write here I know Carin has already written, but I feel like I need to say it, too. Bear with me if some of it overlaps.

As you likely know, on the 21st of February, Trixie passed away due to what seemed like a very short battle with cancer. I say very short because, in January, we were still going about like nothing was different. During that warm spell in the middle of the month, we were actually able to get out on the trails and get one of those 5 KM loops that Trix loved so much in. She was so happy to be out, off her leash and able to go around in circles, sniff stuff, catch up again, then run ahead a little ways. Like I said, it was basically business as usual.

Trixie smiling as she runs on a hill with Brad.
About a week after that, we were out for a walk around the neighbourhood. It had cooled off and was snowing and the ground was freezing again. Trix slipped on a patch of ice and almost fell. We stopped a minute while she got sorted and I made sure all was alright. We finished the walk, seemingly none the worse for wear. She seemed fine after that, and the entire thing was basically forgotten. She did slow down a bit, and we even took a couple days off walking, because she didn’t seem to be moving as well. She was limping a bit on her left front leg. I figured, well, she slipped, maybe pulled a muscle, right? Well, maybe she did, maybe she didn’t.

Seemingly overnight, she developed a rather large lump on that left shoulder, right on top. I thought back to her slip from a few days ago and figured it was just left from that, but called the vet just to make sure. Trix didn’t seem to be in any pain from this lump. I could touch it; push on it a bit, nothing. It was hard as a rock and had no give to it at all. That’s what made me think it was a bone. It felt just like one.

Unfortunately, when I called, my vet was away on vacation, and would not be back for a few more days. I booked a time when she would be back, and hoped for the best. They asked if she seemed to be in pain and I said it didn’t look like it. I had some pain medicine left from her toe amputation back in the Fall, and they said I might try it just to be sure that nothing was bothering her. I did. Nothing changed. She grew a little more lethargic. I called the vet back to keep them in the loop, but our appointment was still a couple days off.

Trixie laying on her bed in Brad's living room.
She began to seem terrified of the stairs, and I would have to help her down them. She could go up on her own. Keep in mind; this is all in about a week’s time. By about the fourth day, she needed help both up and down the stairs. The pain meds weren’t making a difference. When not on the stairs, Trix seemed like herself. She still wanted to go walking, but I kept it down to a block or two, just enough to get her out and moving. Usually, she hated when I shortened walks, but she was ok with it this time.

Monday of that week was Family day. We went for what would prove to be our last walk. We went out around the block. One block. This was by Trix’s choosing. She sniffed everything, just like always. She went straight to bed after her post-walk treat. She slept until supper. Another thing, she was eating just fine. Nothing wrong with her appetite at all.

Brad and Trixie as the sun sets.
The next day it was back to work for me. Trix didn’t seem keen on our block walk, so we didn’t go. I took her outside before I headed out. I had to help her both in and out. She seemed very tired, too. One of my neighbours often stops by to let Trix out and feed her in the evenings while I’m working. I didn’t know until the next morning when I checked my email that Trix hadn’t been interested in her supper. The neighbour said it took about fifteen minutes for her to decide to come out and eat it.

The next morning when I went down and was getting her breakfast ready, she didn’t come roaring out like she always did for food. I made it up, and then went in to see what was going on. I told her it was breakfast time, but she didn’t seem overly interested. I helped her up, and we slowly, very slowly tottered out to the kitchen. She ate, very slowly, then I literally carried her out to do her business. She wasn’t interested in making her daily circuit of the yard. She was out to pee, and no more. I carried her back in, and she lay down right away. Our vet appointment was still one day away, but I knew something was really not good. I called them. They said they were booked right up, but to bring her right in anyway. I called around for a few minutes and found a ride. Deep inside, I think I knew she might not come home. I don’t know how, it was just a feeling.

Brad and Trixie on the floor by a fireplace.
I lay down on the floor with her, and we had one of our little chats. It was fairly one sided, but I told her I was worried about her, and that she didn’t seem right. She just licked my cheek and put her head on my arm. I couldn’t help it, I lost it. Meltdown 1.0 was in session.

When we got to the vet, she walked in the front door. They took one look at her and said, “Whoa!” There was no waiting around for our time. She went straight on the scale. I knew she’d lost a little weight, but I was floored when they said she was down ten LBS from Christmas. She had been a very lumpy beast for quite a while, so her ribs weren’t that easy to feel. She had a lot of those fatty tumours. Harmless they always said.

We headed for the exam room. They did a blood test right away to check organ function. Results came back fine. All systems firing fine. They did have an awful time getting any blood for the test, though. This worried not only me, but them as well.

They wanted to do x-rays. It was obvious that something was drastically wrong, but the blood test didn’t show it. Of course I said go for it. We have to figure this out.

After about 25 minutes, the vet was back with the x-ray. She said it looked like something that looked like a kidney was putting pressure on her intestines, but couldn’t tell with that angle. I remember asking if that meant that something else was displacing the kidney. She said it probably did.

They wanted another x-ray from a different angle. The vet suspected that Trix had a tumour somewhere in her abdomen. She couldn’t see it, but she was pretty sure that was what it was.

They did another x-ray. It still didn’t show the tumour, but things weren’t aligned like they should be. They brought Trix back up to the room where I was waiting. She was absolutely exhausted. They carried her down to the basement for the x-ray, and back up after it. They set her on the floor by me, and she sat down, and then just lay down. She was exhausted. We talked a bit more. The vet said there was nothing they could really do. Trix had a bleeding tumour in her abdomen, which would explain the lethargy, and the difficulty getting a sample. Her heart was beating very fast, which were all signs of internal bleeding. The only thing to do would be to put her down. Meltdown 2.0 hit me like a freight train. I had suspected something bad when we went there. I think I even knew this would happen in the back of my mind, but, no matter how prepared you think you are for that news, you’re not ready when they come out and say it.

After I sort of pulled myself together, I asked if they could come to the house early Friday afternoon and put her down. I didn’t know this was something they offered, but apparently it was.

She needed to be carried to the truck, as she could no longer stand. I guess the additional blood needed for the test drained her. I lifted her out of the truck when we got home, and she walked with me to the backyard. I figured she may as well pee while we were out there anyway, and save another trip out. She tried to burrow in to a big pile of garden waste bins and other junk my neighbour has between my fence and his house. She has never done that before. I fished her out and guided her in to the back yard. Instead of going to the bathroom, she headed down the yard, and crawled in under some wood in the back corner. I knew then that this was it. I know firsthand that dogs often go off alone when they are ready to die. I unlocked the door, fished Trixie out of the wood pile, and carried her in to her bed. She didn’t even seem to be completely with it at this point. I knew it would be pointless to make her hold on until Friday.

I called Carin to let her know what was happening, and asked if she could make it down that afternoon. As you know from her post, she did, thanks to a great coworker. I called the vet back and explained everything. They said they would be there at three that afternoon.

Those two hours were the longest I had ever spent. I spent most of them laying on the floor next to Trix’s bed just petting and talking to her. I don’t know just what all I said, but I think I told her everything, including what was going to happen and why. She gave me a couple licks, but that was about it.

By the time carin and the vets got there, Trix was in some sort of other world. I don’t think she even knew anyone was there at all. She was lying there, breathing like she was asleep. Carin said her goodbyes, and even got Trixie’s puppy raiser on the phone for one last goodbye. To their credit, the vet and her assistant waited patiently and gave us all the time we needed.

Trixie on a beach as the sun sets behind her.
When the time came, I sat with Trix, with her chin in my hand, just like she often did. They took another couple minutes trying to find a vein with enough pressure to inject the sedative in. It was quick. One second I could feel her breath on my wrist and the usual way her head felt in my hand. The next, she was gone. The breathing stopped, and her head was heavy in my palm. I put her head down on the bed again and just sat, petting her and talking a little. After that, the vet and her assistant carefully rolled her in a blanket, gave me a hug, and took Trixie out to their car.

Carin and I just sat and talked. What do you do when something like this happens? We talked about all the different things Trixie had done, funny, strange, and downright weird.

Trixie in a lei.
I forget what I did after that. The house just seemed so empty. It still does.

I’m sorry this turned out so long, but I wanted to get everything down so you all would know what happened. I didn’t expect it to be this hard to write, though. I’ve had to stop a couple times to blow my nose and dry my eyes. I guess some things are harder to get over than you think. Even a month later, I still get asked at least twice a week where my dog is, and I have to tell the story, the abridged version, again and again.

Brad and Trixie at a creek.
Trixie, you were a great dog, and I will always love and miss you. I’ll never forget all the great times we had, the places we wandered, and the times we got lost in the bush together. So long, friend.

Maybe Tomorrow, They’ll Put Him In The Ground

The Littlest Hobo theme song is a strong contender for best television related musical composition in history, and I will fight anyone who says differently. Even if you don’t remember anything about the show to which it belongs, odds are you remember the tune. And if you don’t burst into song or at least smile a little when you hear it, I think it may be time to get yourself checked out.

Seriously, I love this song. So I got a bit sad today when I heard that John Crossen, who along with Terry Bush was responsible for bringing it to the world, had died.

It is with the saddest of hearts that I pass along the news that my soulmate, the love of my life, my husband, John…

Posted by Deb Crossen on Thursday, March 22, 2018

Without Googling I couldn’t name another John Crossen song, but if you have to be remembered for only one, it doesn’t get much better than this.

A Memorial To Trixie

I have to say the people at my work are amazing. When they heard about Trix’s passing, one of them decided to make me a little something to remember her by. Not only that, but she managed to get a ton of people to send me messages of condolence. This all came together super quickly. I now have a file full of beautiful messages from people, and this amazing little statue. Apologies if the picture is sideways. I really need someone to help me learn how to fix that!

Statue of a black lab sitting on a little round base with "Trixie-Always in our hearts" written in Braille around the outside.
The Braille says “Trixie-Always in our hearts”

Isn’t that just heart-meltingly awesome?

Side note: I always knew 3D printers were cool. Now I have actual evidence of how cool they are. Not only did it make a pretty awesome statue of a dog, but around the base is readable Braille! I know this is a testament to the detail of the specs that were used, but still! Mind blown! My coworker who made it was so happy when I was able to effortlessly read the message that was written there, since if the spacing of the dots is off at all, it can be incomprehensible.

I have had the little Trix statue on my desk since Tuesday and every now and then, I pick it up and hold it for a second. I laughed one day because I set my lunchbox next to it, and the placement was perfect, since it kind of looked like the Trix nose was headed right for it, which it would have been if actual Trix was that close to my lunch.

I will treasure this statue forever. I am truly lucky to have such wonderful people in my life who get it, and go the extra mile to show they care.

Goodbye, Trixie.

This post is going to take me a long time to write. Bear with me. Hopefully, it will actually make sense. I will try, but there is no guarantee.

On Wednesday February 21, Trixie had to be put down. You’re probably all pretty shocked. Brad and I had some inklings, and a screaming warning the night before, but this was not something that was a long time coming that was a big old secret we were keeping from the world. We were all caught by surprise.

The sucky part, one of many, is we don’t know precisely what evil thing came to get her at the end. All we know is she was losing a lot of blood internally, and masses were pushing on organs, and there wasn’t anything they could do. Whatever these masses were, they came on suddenly and grew like crazy, so I don’t think we had a chance. I’m sure Brad will have more thoughts about her last days, but I know he said she was at least trying to have a sniffy walk on Family Day, and by the next night, walking anywhere was not an option, so the last part of the decline was super fast.

About that. Steve will tell you I’m an uber planner. If I can plan for something, I will try, even if it’s impossible because there is so much uncertainty. As Trix got older and began to slow down, I had mentally considered what I would want to do when the end came if I got to see her either right before, or when it was time. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to bring Tansy, but I started to think that Trix might not want her there because they had such a set of mixed feelings towards each other. Tansy always loved Trix, but Trix was a little less keen on the crazed Shmans. Plus, Tansy is very tuned into my emotions, so may not have responded well to whatever state of distress I might be in seeing Trix near her end. I tried to think out how I would get there, and be helpful without being too much of a burden on Brad both before and after. I even found an Uber driver who wasn’t an arsehole about dogs, and didn’t mind long drives. I scooped up his number and had it on standby. I had to keep in mind that said Uber driver needed some advance notice to do this since he had kids and a business, so he could only be used if I knew days out that this was happening. Of course, all of this would be contingent on Brad even being able to have me there for whatever reason, it happening in a planned manner and nature not just taking matters into its own hands, but I wanted to be all ready to go. Then I read about another person putting their dog to sleep at home, and thought that would be the way to do it if we could at all. Trix, in her younger days, was no fan of the vet, so I thought this would make it as comfortable as possible. I looked to see if you had to find a special service for this, and was relieved to see that Trix’s current vet offered this. I stuffed that nugget of info away in my back pocket, but was too cowardly to bring it up to Brad. What good is your back pocket full of nuggets if you just end up losing them in the laundry?

I tried to plan a little further back, hoping to let Trix’s raiser see Trix in video form at least one last time. I was contemplating asking her if she wanted to come up this way and then we could plan some kind of visit, but then life made that possibility next to impossible, so I thought at least I could do the video part. I was taking entirely too long to troubleshoot whether you could put 3 people on a Facebook Messenger video chat so Brad, the raiser and I could all chat together from different locations, since usually when Brad and I were together, it was at a family due. But I took too long, and the universe made completely sure that video contact would not happen. Perhaps this was for the best.

Then, that same universe boomed “I spit in the face of your planning, you measly human! Bow down to my power!” Some things, probably the important ones, worked out the way I wanted them to, but there was no measured and elaborate plan. Like I said, the night before, Brad said she needed help in and out to do duty, and was obviously not herself. The next day, she even needed help to her food. This dog did not need any help finding food. If there was food to be consumed, even unsanctioned food, this beasticus would find it.

So, off to the vet she went, where things continued to look bad for the poor thing. From what I understand, they basically said she was losing blood and she had masses inside her that were pushing on things but they didn’t know why, and her options weren’t good. Brad first planned that we would put her down on Friday, but it became clear that she was probably going that day. Thankfully, he discovered that they would do it at home, and decided to go that route.

He called me and told me the news. All my preparations of scenarios went right out the window. I must have made quite a scene, bawling my face off at my desk, zombifiedly shambling to heat up a lunch I was never going to eat, because an angel in coworker form said “Do you want a cookie? I think you need one!” When I explained to him what was happening, this guy offered to drive me there and back! Seriously! As much as I cursed the universe for taking my plans and smashing them into pretty little shards, I couldn’t have asked for a better gift than this. I will owe him forever.

After I told Brad that I could make it that day, he started arranging things with the vet. we took off, and first dropped off Tansy at home with Steve. I felt bad that Steve didn’t get to see Trix one last time, but he offered to stay here. It’s a really good thing that I was traveling with someone who knew me because I soon discovered that I was not coherent. Never have I found the tasks of unplugging a charger or typing on my phone or finding the correct door in my apartment building or locating necessary items to be such a chore, but they were today.

Once Shmans was safely at home wondering what in god’s name was wrong with me, soon we discovered that the city where Brad lives was a freaking mess because of a nice flood situation. “Road closed” was a sign we saw frequently while trying to get to Brad. This caused us to take longer, which was making me very nervous. Maybe Trix wouldn’t even make it that long. Maybe the vet would have to hurry. Maybe all of this would be for nothing. But there was nothing I could do about it but hope and pray.

I arrived, and the vet and tech were sitting there, taking all the time in the world. They knew the scoop, and were completely understanding of the situation. I continued acting in a completely incoherent manner, barely remembering to hand Brad my coat and set things down. I just listened, heard Trix’s laboured breathing and headed straight for her, bonking into the coffee table as I went.

It was abundantly clear that Trix was at death’s door, knocking loudly. I could hear her breathing from across the room, and it was loud and difficult. Sometimes, it would be peppered with little whimpers that you could be fooled into thinking were dream barks. But these weren’t dream barks. As I approached, she didn’t move one muscle. I petted her and the head didn’t move. That lizard tongue did not reach out to give me a lick. She was in her own world.

As I petted her, I noticed these new and weird masses all over. Where there weren’t masses, she was bony and her back legs felt kind of caved in. This Trix was not the same Trix I saw at the end of December. Whatever this degeneration was, it happened in one heck of a hurry. I knew this, but seeing it solidified it…and started up the waterworks again.

I wondered what my last words would be to Trix. I would always read other people’s descriptions of what they said to their dogs at the end, and wonder if I could come up with something. I couldn’t. I can’t actually remember what I said. I know I passed on that her puppy raiser said that Pepper would be waiting for her at the bridge, and I think I said something like “Thanks for being an awesome dog.” I think I muttered something about being a trooper, no wait, that’s your brother, because some inside joke about Trix’s siblings would make a whole heap of sense to anyone but me. Anyway, when facing down the death of someone important, I was yet again rendered inarticulate.

The vet and tech were incredibly patient as I fought with my phone to get the video chat to work so I could talk to Trixie’s raiser. The weirdest thing was whenever I would open the window for her raiser, without fail, the app would crash. I could open anyone else’s window, but not that one. Closing the app didn’t help, rebooting the phone didn’t help. I only fixed it the next day when I reinstalled the app. So I gave up and called her.

It was at this moment when I realized that I had done a crappy job of helping to knit Trix’s life together. Sure, I had sent her raiser lots of pictures and updates on how she was doing while with Brad, and I had even given Brad her address so he could send her a calendar that had Trix’s picture on one page. But, not once had I brought them together to chat, not once! So, on the day when Trix was about to leave this world, Brad and Trix’s raiser finally met and had a conversation. For that, I will always be sorry that it wasn’t sooner.

After we had all sat around and talked a while, and it was clear that Trix had wormed her way into the hearts of her vet and tech, they gently moved in to do what they came for. Poor Trix had lost so much blood that they could not get the needle into a front leg, had to go for a back leg, and then they kind of had to prop her up a bit so they could get things to go where they had to be. Perhaps it took 10 seconds, and she was gone, just like that. There were no dramatic last breaths, there were thankfully no twitches or gasps or horrible messes on the floor, she was just gone. I don’t know how to explain it, but the room suddenly felt more empty than it had just seconds before.

We talked a little longer about logistics, they gave Brad her collar, wrapped Trix up in a blanket, scooped her up and left. And just like that, the end of an era had come. Trix, who has been a fixture in all of our lives was gone forever.

Unfortunately, I had to head back too. My wonderful coworker had agreed to hang around the city, and since the city was under a state of emergency because of the flood, and Brad was near an evacuation zone, we thought it would be best if I left in case he did have to get the heck out of dodge. So, I was not able to stay around, maybe get him some dinner, talk a while. I felt bad for descending on him and flitting off just as quickly, even though it was what I had to do.

I knew this would be hard. I knew I would be a wreck for a long time. I knew these things in a logical, clinical sense. What I didn’t know was how it would feel, and what creative methods of punishment my mind would devise to make me wonder what I might have done along the way to screw things up. When I got home, in a moment of clarity, I called the school to give them the scoop. That was a rather jumbled conversation. “Hello, support center? Who do I talk to about…erm…it’s Carin Headrick calling…what’s the process for notifying people…my retired guide dog passed away.” They were really good, and took down the info as best I could give it. There was a lot of I don’t know, and then they asked me if Trix had had any ongoing medical issues. It was at this point that I realized I never told them about the lupoid onychodystrophy, or the toe that had to be removed in November, or the thing she was doing where she was drinking way too much water. We just took care of them, and in the case of the toe and the lupoid thing, we thought they were under control. In the case of the water thing, the vet had run a bunch of tests and they had all come up normal. We had put it down to some weird old dog quirk, maybe a bit of dementia, and decided to keep an eye on her water intake. Suddenly, I wondered maybe if I had asked for their advice, maybe they could have asked for different tests and we could have discovered the fast-growing masses before they jumped out from behind the proverbial tree to say “Boo!” But I am starting to realize that all that might have done was hasten the inevitable, since these things meant business, and she could not have survived surgeries the way she was at the end. She was nearly 13, and dogs don’t live forever. But in those moments when I was on the phone with GDB, I suddenly began to be afraid that I hadn’t told them information they needed for the dog’s health, and because of this, Trix had paid the price. Yes, my mind is an evil, evil thing.

It amazes me how many people know Trixie. Each time I tell the story, it gets a little easier, and I can wrap my mind around it a little more. But I think I will be finding people for months that I will have to tell. Trix has a massive fan club.

I am so happy that I have so much of Trix’s life documented. Those memories will live on for years to come, and give me so many laughs, and that is what matters.

Trix, you were a great dog. You put up with this clueless human and learned with me, because I was pretty much a newb to guide dog life when I got you. You melted my dad’s heart, and my dad is not a dog-lover! You took away my one friend’s fear of black dogs. You showed me that I wasn’t the reason that Babs and I failed, and made it so I wasn’t afraid that all dogs pulled like freight trains. You amazed me with your steel-trap memory. You helped me solve the problem of what to do to protect dogs’ paws in the winter. Thanks for traveling with me on all our crazy adventures, including but not limited to new jobs, funerals, weddings, family events, long bus trips, flights, boat rides, helping take care of friends’ babies, the examples are endless. I know some of those things stressed you out but you did them anyway. You really are a trooper.

Not only did you do all of that, but you gave Brad so many memories too. You did things with him that I didn’t think you would ever do! You rediscovered your love of swimming and decided you loved snow! You decided that barking at people who came to the house was a great idea. You really became a dog, pure and simple. I remember one day, we got a voicemail from Brad that said something like “Trix rolled in some dead thing! It stenches!” My parents were there and could hardly believe that you would do such a thing! I’m so happy that once you retired and your stress lifted, all your health problems evapourated. Poor Brad got a laundry list of your needs and things to watch out for. I think I traumatized him, but he still bravely agreed to go ahead. I’m so glad he did, he gave you the life I would have wanted for you.

How on earth do I end this? I guess I could end it by explaining the beginning. That song fits perfectly with this post, but there’s an even better reason to put it here. One night, our friend who we call the shoe thief was at our place, hanging out. For some reason, this song started randomly playing, and Steve and Shoe decided they had to dance to it, because they’re goofs. Trix absolutely loved Shoe, and I guess she decided to get in on it. There she was, standing on her hind legs, perching her front legs on their arms, trying to dance with them. She had never done that before and she never did it again. I really wish I’d gotten a video.

Trix will never be forgotten. Wherever she was, she always made life interesting. We will all miss her.

Does This Qualify As Backing Down?

I don’t know if this is weird or not, but even though Tom Petty is one of my favourite recording artists of all time and is at least partially responsible for the creation of literally dozens of songs that I will love forever, I have no idea what my favourite Tom Petty song is. Since the news broke last night I’ve been trying to figure it out, but I just can’t. Although when I really stop and think about it, not knowing might be the highest compliment I could possibly pay Tom Petty the musician.

I feel like sentences similar to this perhaps get thrown around a little too much, but Tom Petty really does strike me as somebody who wrote a song for everyone. Whether you were looking for a loud song, a quiet song, a fast song, a slow song, a driving song, a song that feels like it’s speaking to you alone, a song everybody can relate to, a love song, an angry song, a song to sing along to or a song about some sort of new beginning, odds are you could find one with his name on it. Odds are also that you could find many of those qualities in a single song, because so many of them are just that well crafted. It’s not easy to write a simple song that millions of people are going to want to listen to for decades, but somehow Tom Petty managed to do it over and over and over again, I dare say more than almost anyone.

Ok, back to me for a second.

I still don’t have the foggiest clue what my favourite Tom Petty song is, but I knew immediately which one I’d choose if I could only share one here.

When this came out, I was doing some very small time radio. And while I’m extremely proud of that fact because it means that I achieved one of my life’s longest dreams, it was also pretty clear that for a lot of reasons it was never going to be the career my imagination had drawn it up to be. I think that somewhere inside me I’d known that for a while, but then Tom Petty and his damn song walked up and punched me right in the emotions.

No, nothing super dramatic happened after that. I didn’t march in and quit the next day. But when it was time to go, that 3 and a half minutes helped me make some sense out of how I felt about it. To this day listening to it still makes me a little sad, but that’s what good songs and great songwriters do. They make you feel something. They help you sort things out. They help get you through. I hope Tom Petty knew how many people he did that for.

So Long, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. You Were The Best

As a tiny, wrestling watching kid, Bobby Heenan was a hard guy for me to wrap my head around. On one hand he was this terrible man who kept getting other terrible men to attack all my heroes, but as somebody who was also drawn to comedy and broadcasting from a very early age, I couldn’t take my eyes off of him because he was an absolutely hilarious guy who could talk like nobody’s business. It didn’t help that one of the terrible men he managed was Big John Studd, who I got to meet when I was seven years old and who to this day is still way up there at the top of the list of the nicest famous people I’ve ever met, even though he wasn’t supposed to be because wrestling was real.

But all of that said, any bit of internal conflict that may have existed in my brain didn’t matter, because Bobby Heenan was special. He was so fantastic at his job that it was easy to laugh at all of his jokes but still hate him at the same time. His lines about the Big Boss Man’s mother often had me rolling, for instance, but I still kind of hoped Boss Man would slap the piss out of him one day.

Everybody has their favourite Bobby moment. Yours might even be in that tribute video up there. As for me, there are two that come to mind immediately.

First, there’s the Barbershop window.

Yes, this was mainly about the Rockers splitting up and was a pretty heavy angle by WWF standards, but I’ll never forget Bobby’s commentary. “Jannetty tried to dive through the window to escape!” is one of my favourite lines ever. But even as ridiculous as it was, it somehow fit perfectly. It takes talent to pull something like that off, and nobody could do that sort of thing quite like The Brain.

And then there’s the 1992 Royal Rumble match. If you have the Network, go back and listen to Bobby. The way he lives and dies with everything Ric Flair does is incredible, and it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that it required almost as much energy as actually being in the ring.

Whatever your best memory is I hope you treasure it, because I doubt we’ll ever see anyone else like Bobby Heenan. People say it all the time, but he really was one of a kind. I don’t know if heaven is a real place, but if it is, any minute now I expect to hear Gorilla Monsoon yelling “Will you stop!” from all the way there.

Rest well, Brain.

So Long, Bob Robertson

I grew up on a steady diet of Air Farce and Double Exposure, often taping the weekly episodes off the radio so I could listen to them over and over again. So news that Bob Robertson, who without a word of exaggeration may be the best impersonator I’ve ever heard, died last week, bummed me out quite a bit.

Some of my favourites were his Don Cherry,

Rex Murphy,

Jean Chretien,

and even his ridiculously over the top Preston Manning, but really he was so good at so many that it’s hard to pick.

There’s nothing at all wrong with the Irrelevant Show or Laugh Out Loud, but I really miss the days when CBC Radio was full of the kind of weird political satire that Bob Robertson and Linda Cullen cranked out faithfully for so many years.

So Long, George Michael

Since that bathroom thing, I haven’t thought much about or really kept up with the goings on in the life of George Michael. I knew he was still out there doing stuff (not all of it positive), but to me he was just one of those guys who did some songs that I loved the hell out of when I was little. But that said, I was still pretty shocked and a touch sad when the news came in on Christmas Day that he had died, feelings that weren’t helped when I got to the part about him only being 53. Even though I was well aware that the same thing happens probably hundreds of times or more each year to people all over the world, it still felt a little weird tucking into a great big Christmas dinner with family after hearing about someone important’s untimely demise.

Singer George Michael has died at his home at the age of 53.
The star, who launched his career with Wham! in the 1980s and had huge success as a solo performer, “passed away peacefully” on Christmas Day in Goring, Oxfordshire, his publicist said.
His manager, Michael Lippman, said he had died of heart failure.
Former Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley said he was “heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend”.
Writing on Twitter and referring to Michael by his family nickname of “Yog”, he added: “Me, his loved ones, his friends, the world of music, the world at large. 4ever loved. A xx”
On Instagram, Sir Elton John posted a photograph of himself with Michael, writing: “I am in deep shock. I have lost a beloved friend – the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist. My heart goes out to his family and all of his fans.”

Thanks, George.