Wednesday, January 8, 2014


My house was too quiet this morning.

No tinkling dog tags. No gnashing of teeth on a big cow bone. No lapping up water. No crunching of kibble.

I didn't wake to a paw on the bed and a look of eager hope that it was finally time to play.

When my feet hit the floor, there were no jumps with 360 spins, no dash to the back door with looks back over a shoulder to make sure I was still there. No pause once back inside the door for vigorous pets and affirmation that she is, indeed, a very good girl.

My Mandelbrot, my Mando Calrissian, my puppy schnup, my puppies-dog... my dear, dear sweet Mandee, died last night.

Those of you who are long-time readers know how much that amazing dog meant to me. She was a full-fledged member of the family, and, I know it's a cliche, but she truly was my best friend.

Mandee and Andrew, her first day in the family.

Mandee just a couple days later with a very young Duke.

I could go on for 100 pages listing all of the things that are missing from my life now that Mandee is gone. But I hate maudlin pet death stories as much as you do. Probably more.

So here, I will simply describe the loss of the best running partner I've ever had.

Mandee was the most natural runner I've ever seen...
and the most joyous.

Mandee absolutely loved to run. And she was a badass. It was her life. Running brought us together and made us best friends.

She knew my running clothes from all of my other clothes, no doubt made pretty easy for her by the smell. Once she smelled those clothes, she couldn't control her joy. It really was a sight to see - the jumping and mid-air twirling and whining and yipping with delight.

After an excited spin or two, and once I was in my gear, she would sit to have her collar changed and her leash clipped on, but just barely. Her tail would whip back and forth, cracking like a whip. Her front paws would knead the floor, her eyes wide open with overflowing anticipation and boundless joy. She managed to control herself for those 2 seconds, but as soon as the leash clip snaped, she was back to her jumping and twirling and desparate urging of me to hurry the hell up.

Let's go already, old man.

She was a natural runner. Lean, strong, fast, steady, with a stride as smooth as silk. She'd pull me a bit the first mile or so, she just couldn't help herself. She just wanted to go! Eventually, she'd match my pace, glue herself to my left side, and together we'd knock out the miles, loving every second of it.

Mandee loved running in the woods, or the roads, or grass…
anywhere but a treadmill

She was much faster than me, but she rarely showed it. She dragged me up hills, but she'd also drop anchor, with no warning, when nature called, more than once coming close to dislocating my shoulder.

Mandee drops a deuce in a snow-filled fountain.
No doubt this was my dog.

She knew our regular routes as well as I did, turning with me, without any input. She knew when to cross streets. She knew when she needed to slow down for a bit, which was very rare. She leaped over storm grates and puddles and logs with effortless grace. Over thousands of miles on uneven streets and sidewalks, and over hundreds of miles on trails, I never once saw her trip, or even put a foot wrong. And her eyes were always on the horizon.

In the early days, Mandee would pace me through a 47 minute 7-miler, and beg for more. Her longest run was 14 miles, at the end of which she looked up at me as if to say "Is that it? Oh, ok. Cool."

Mandee wondering why the hell we've stopped in the middle of a quick 7-miler

Lately, we both slowed down a bit, me more than her. But she never lost the drive to run.

She was one of us.

We were a bit slower, but still had a great time.

Mandee  was a share-pei/lab mix, and quite simply, the best dog I have ever known, mine or otherwise.

She came from the humane society.

Please don't buy dogs from breeders (unless you intend to show them) or pet stores. Go to the humane society or any rescue, and find your perfect dog before their life is wasted. You will be rewarded with unwavering loyalty and love. And your dog won't be an inbred freak show.

The Duke and I took Mandee out to lunch

Every time we finish one of our home-based runs, when we crossed the finish line by the mailbox, she'd look up at me, waiting for the affirmation that she knew she deserved, but needed to hear anyway. I'd reach down, pat her head or her ribs, and tell her the same thing. Always the same phase. And really, I think that phrase pretty well sums up my (too short) time with this sweet, lovable, gorgeous…

quick as a rabbit, faster than a squirrel…

Proud as could be, "Hey Dad, look what I have for you!"

intimidatingly fit, unintentionally hilarious…

Mandee would stand like this for 15 minutes at the vet… no movement… at all.

loyal constant companion, and the world's best running buddy of almost 7 years. Yeah, it sums up our time together perfectly...

Good girl, Mandee... great run!

PS - Bonus material

Mandee's co-starring role in our short video (she steals the show): Doug White, Everyday Runner

Mandee's guest blog post:  Day 285 - Guest Blogger

Her trademark wispy belly hairs, with snow after a long hard winter run: