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Blondie: 1989-2006

Blondie: July 6, 1989 - January 12, 2006

Blondie: July 6, 1989 - January 12, 2006

I'm heartbroken.

Update, January 16, 2006: In the comments section, here, I have responded at length to the many lovely public and private condolences that I've received since Blondie's death. My deepest appreciation and gratitude to each of you for your support.

Update, January 19, 2006: I have responded to additional comments posted by Notablog readers here.

Comments

Chris-
Very sorry to hear it -- my condolences.
Aeon

Chris,

I'm so sorry you've lost your friend.

Blondie looks much loved and well cared for. She's a lucky dog.

I wish you better days in the near future.

Chris,

I am really sorry to hear this. As a pet lover, I synpathize 100%. Now I have to break this news to my wife who will be extremely upset. I am glad Blondie had a nice long happy life though.

Technomaget

Dear Chris:

I was just informed about Blondie's passing. I too am heartbroken, not only because I know of your deep affection for Blondie, but also because my few encounters with her were so touching, so memorable. She was a ray of sunshine, a perfect expression of love.

Please accept my deepest condolences.

Hugs,

-D-

Chris, My deepest condolences on your very sad loss. --Shawn

Chris,

I too would like to express my condolences at Blondie's passing. Having lost a pet myself (albeit some years ago, during my teens) I am well aware of how hard such a loss can hit. The memories of course will never fade.

MH

Chris,
I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. I know she was very dear to you. You are in my thoughts.
Peri

Chris,

Our hearts are with you. Our deepest condolences.

//;-(

Michael and Kat

Dear Chris,

Oh, no. I'm really really sorry and you have our deepest sympathies. Both of you are in our thoughts with much love.

Chris,

Oh no. I'm so sorry. I know you cared for Blondie deeply. I enjoyed the Holiday greetings from Blondie and the adorable pictures you shared with us. My heart aches with you.

Michael

So sorry, Chris. Blondie was such a cute, feisty little pup. I'll miss her as well.

I'm so sorry, Chris. Deepest sympathies.

I am sorry to hear about. She was a beauty.

I'm very sorry to hear that. My condoleances. I've lost a couple of loved cats and it breaks my heart every time.

Chris,
My condolences for your loss

I can tell that blondie meant a great deal to you

hang in there buddy

My heart bleeds for you and your family for the loss of someone who was truly special and lovable. You gave her so much love and affection. She now takes that with her to a place of no suffering as she runs freely in the green fields while she waits for the day to be reunited with you. I'm truly honored to have met her. I will keep you and her in my prayers. Call me if you need talk to or a shoulder to cry on. You can count on me.

Dear Chris, Hank and I were so sorry to learn about this. As animal lovers who have lost a number of precious companions, both dogs and cats, we feel your grief.

When you are able, please write an essay about the experience of sharing your life with such a delightful creature, who enriched your life for so many years. It will not only be a fitting tribute to Blondie, but will give you some needed closure.

Your friend, Erika

Chris; This is very sad news. The memories you have you can cherish and remember. My best. Chris Grieb

Oh no! I'm so sad to hear that.

My condolences for your loss, Chris.

My condolences, Chris. I've experienced the loss of a very dear pet myself; as a matter of fact I've got an elderly tomcat now, a fat (and irascible) orange tabby, and dread the inevitable. But I'm sure you know Blondie felt loved with you and had a great life. No pet could ask better than that.

Chris:

I'm very sorry to hear about Blondie. I'll miss her barking at me next the time I visit you in New York.


I am sorry to hear this Chris. I wish you a lot of strength. A few weeks ago we have lost our cat, I can imagine how you feel. Keep the memory alive.

Sad to hear about your loss Chris.

Let me add my condolences. My wife will be saddened by the news when I tell her; she had a crush on Blondie (who couldn’t love a face like that!)

Oh Chris
I am so very sorry about Blondie. Whenever you wrote I imagined her on your lap and sharing your every word. Her doggie heaven just sent her to me to spread the love.
Jane

Chris,

As a fellow dog-owner, I cannot begin to tell you how sorry I am for your loss. I know how much Blondie meant to you, and I know what a happy life you gave her. Although I met her only twice, it was immediately clear that she was a truly special friend--as is her dad. To get you through the coming days, you might enjoy the pictures at www.cuteoverload.com. In the meantime, Blondie's photo album will remain one of my favorites facets of your Web site.

My sincerest regards,
Jon

I want to thank every individual person who has written to me personally, or publicly here on this blog, for your comforting words of support.

I've spent some time over the last few days regrouping, taking my time, going through the grieving process, and shedding many tears, along with my family—my sister, brother, and sister-in-law, all of whom have been deeply affected by Blondie's passing. I have spent time writing in my private journal too—something I've done for more than 30 of my 45 years here on this good earth. It is a cathartic exercise for me to work through my sadness. And, in fact, this sense of loss is something that will always be with me, even if to a lesser degree in time. But as the old adage goes: Time does have of a way of healing us.

I have had enormous health problems throughout my life. And throughout that life, two pets have occupied a rightful place in my heart, while also providing me with the kind of loving "medicine" that no doctor could ever hope to prescribe: My cat Buttons, who was with us for 18 years, and who was a part of my life from elementary school through practically the end of my doctorate; and my dog Blondie, who was with us for nearly all of her 16 1/2 years of life. We lost Buttons in 1987; Blondie entered our home to stay for good in 1990 (before that time, she'd visited with us frequently and stayed with us for periods of time, while my dear friend—her first "daddy"—went on business trips). She came to us as Blondie and was always Blondie to us, but she learned to respond to a whole host of other nicknames, including Goose, Gosita, and Sutu.

Blondie sat on my lap for virtually every book, every article, every journal I ever wrote, edited, or published professionally over these many years. She was with me as a source of comfort and joy through some of the darkest periods of ill-health I've ever experienced; through the sadness of losing a dear uncle to cancer, through the five years of struggles taking care of my mother, who eventually died from cancer (and who Blondie also comforted day-in, day-out); through the devastation of 9/11 and all the craziness it inspired in the months and years thereafter. She was a constant presence, a given, a barrel of riotous laughs, exhilarating energy, and boundless fun. She had a limitless appetite. She sat at our table while we ate and slept in our beds. She loved the park and the beach, the way we did. She loved her toys. She loved getting new toys and she loved her treats. She opened her own presents with gusto at both Christmastime and her birthday. And she loved her stuffed animals, a little too much sometimes. It would make people blush when she'd mount her Cat in the Hat or the Grinch, putting on a show of thrusting hip action that would have easiily emasculated any male dogs in the neighborhood.

She was a remarkably sweet and unbelievably affectionate doggie. But she was also a Chihuahua mix with a stern Napoleon complex and protective bark that would keep strangers and dogs four times her size on notice: Do not venture beyond this point until or unless you have passed the sniff test!

Now, I don't want to over-intellectualize this brief remembrance, but I want to stress a great truth in my remarks here that should never be left unsaid.

There are surely important principles that one can uncover in the connections between humans and pets. And they are worth repeating here.

In his book, The Psychology of Self-Esteem, Nathaniel Branden enunciated the importance of what he termed the "Muttnik Principle." In trying to understand the psychological and emotional needs met by human bonds, kinship, and companionship, Branden looked to his relationship with his dog. He observed something very significant in the relationship he had with his little wire-haired fox terrier named Muttnik.

We were jabbing at and boxing with each other in mock ferociousness; what I found delightful and fascinating was the extent to which Muttnik appeared to grasp the playfulness of my intention: she was snarling and snapping and striking back while being unfailingly gentle in a manner that projected total, fearless trust. The event was not unusual; it is one with which most dog-owners are familiar. But a question suddenly occurred to me, of a kind I had never asked myself before: Why am I having such an enjoyable time? What is the nature and source of my pleasure? ...
When I identified the answer, I called it "the Muttnik principle"—because of the circumstances under which it was discovered. Now let us consider the nature of this principle.
My particular feeling of pleasure in playing with Muttnik contained a particular kind of self-awareness, and this was the key to understanding my reaction. The self-awareness came from the nature of the "feedback" Muttnik was providing. From the moment that I began to "box," she responded in a playful manner; she conveyed no sign of feeling threatened; she projected an attitude of trust and pleasurable excitement. Were I to push or jab at an inanimate object, it would react in a purely mechanical way; it would not be responding to me; there could be no possibility of it grasping the meaning of my actions, of apprehending my intentions, and of guiding its behavior accordingly. It could not react to my psychology, i.e., to my mental state. Such communication and response is possible only among conscious entities. The effect of Muttnik's behavior was to make me feel seen, to make me feel psychologically visible (at least, to some extent). Muttnik was responding to me, not as to a mechanical object, but as to a person.

And that response, writes Branden, happened in a way that was "objectively appropriate, i.e., consonant with my view of myself and of what I was conveying to her." As Branden explains, human beings experience themselves as a process over time; their own "self-concept" evolves as "a cluster of images and abstract perspectives." The act of being perceived by other living entities enables a person to have "the fullest possible experience of the reality and objectivity of that person, of [the] self." In Muttnik's responses to Branden, Branden "was able to see reflected an aspect of [his] own personality."

This, then, is the root of man's desire for companionship and love: the desire to perceive himself as an entity in reality—to experience the perspective of objectivity—through and by means of the reactions and responses of other human beings.
The principle involved ("the Muttnik principle")—let us call it "the Visibility principle"—may be summarized as follows: Man desires and needs the experience of self-awareness that results from perceiving his self as an objective existent—and he is able to achieve this experience through interaction with the consciousness of other living entities.

I can only add that the achievement of such psychological visibility is maximized over time and that the level of interaction between human and dog over many, many years has, in my personal experience, led to some rather profound levels of such visibility. You get to know your dog, your dog gets to know you; the loyalty, unconditional love, and companionship offered in this connection are what have led people to call the dog "man's best friend" (though having been a daddy to a cat, I can tell you that there are a whole host of other lovely visibilities that emerge, distinctive to that species and its interactions with other entities).

Well, that's my intellectual detour for the day. It explains some things (though not all things, by any measure) and, to that extent, it is very useful to our understanding of the meaning that human beings derive from their relationships with their pets.

For now, however, it is not the intellectualizing of the human-dog relationship that is of prime importance to me. All that matters to me is the fullest, most honest, grieving experience I can muster; the need to mourn the loss of an irreplaceable value in my life. Blondie was that kind of value.

I miss you so very much, my little girl. I'll love you until the day I die.

Chris,
I'm am so sorry to hear this even though you knew it was coming.

You are correct that there will always be a void in the place that Blondie once filled in your life. For almost a year, there has been a void in my life since my cat Scooter disappeared. He was most likely taken down by a coyote.

The way you describe Blondie's personality reminds me so much of my cat. He, too, was an endless source of entertainment and affection.

I enjoyed the quotes from Nathaniel Branden's work. I too have been amazed that animals when playing with humans or each other, know just how hard to bite without breaking the skin, just to show they are playing.

Being an evolutionist, I think the connection goes even deeper than what Branden describes. Their lives and their existence is not as divorced from our own existence as mystics would have us believe. The fate that befalls them is our own fate, they get here in much the same way and leave by the same path, yet they seem so much better adapted to enjoying their time in this universe.

Their present to us is their presence in the here and now, their constant sensual connection to all that exists within the grasp of their senses which are in many ways more powerful than our own.

I'm very sad for you but at the same time inspired by what you have felt for your four-legged friends in the past, inspired because you will in some way create that again. Think how quickly these "lower" forms of life move on to bond with another human when a loss takes their owner/friend away. I think that's another thing they teach us.

My thoughts are with you.
-Chip

Chris,
I am heartbroken for you.
Gayle

Chris,
Our deepest sympathy for you! I am glad I was able to meet Blondie on our visit a few years back. Every time I saw a Chihuahua I thought of her! Rick and I have two dogs and the thought of losing them is unthinkable. Having Blondie for so many years, a comfort when you were struggling with your own health, losses, or projects, will be a wonderful memory. A wonderful vet once told me that dogs were angels on earth...I think he was right.
big hugs to you!
Karen & Rick Minto

Dear Chris,

To those of us who own dogs, or owned them in the past, your pain at the loss of Blondie is fully understandable. My dog Takara died in 1979, a long time ago, but your remarks about Blondie brought all the pain back, brought tears to my eyes, brought the awful feeling that a piece of me had been torn away forever. My consolation lies in this thought: how wonderful it was to have something in my life that inspired such deep feelings. We all have a need for an outlet for a capacity to love, and that is one of the great gifts a pet can provide. Be grateful for the pain. It is the other side of love. Blondie's gift to you was the emotions she inspired in you while she lived--and inspired in you now.

Warmest personal regards,

Nathaniel.

Chris,

My heartfelt sympathy for your loss. Blondie's gift to you was the love she inspired in you. That gift will remain. A chance to love deeply--isn't that something we all long for?

Love,

Nathaniel

My computer's been down for a wk and I just saw this. So sorry, Chris.

Many of us have been there and been through that...and we probably will all go, willingly if not gladly, through it again; such is the way for animal-lovers, whatever favored (if so) animal-type.

I've lost a couple cats, kittens, parakeets, and dogs through accidents (one caused by me; I cried THAT night), bad-infections-thence-'put-down', gone-away-never-returning, chewed-to-near-death-thence-'put-down', etc...and vowed "Nope; not another one in my home."

R-i-g-h-t.

Now I've a G-shepard mongrel who's an oversized 55lb 'puppy' from a Save-a-Pup place who already had the name "Nemo" --- Leave it to me to be the one who ended up 'Finding Nemo' and (sigh) keeping him! --- He loves chewing things (like, our satellite dish cable, audio-cassettes, DVDs, etc.) and barking at those he wants to go play with...but is frustrated by a fence or leash. He's noisy and expensive....but...so what?

I know that no other pet will 'replace' Blondie (Nemo would have liked her, methinks; she's a sharp looker!), but, let not her memory interfere with a new companion in the future. Trust me on this: a new one will definitely not make you forget Blondie anymore than I've forgotten Tess, Shortstop, Pitcher, 'Eleven', 'Twelve' (so named by my wife so that "un-named" we wouldn't keep the kittens as pets...ha-ha), Mulan, and other older-times ones. --- Don't let 'the ghost' of Blondie limit your future companions.

There's times like this that I, in my non-atheist gloom-moments think "There's gotta be a better way to run this railroad" (which returns me to atheism), but, such is life: it's ending, and, that end's loss of joy for others.

Take care...and keep on truckin'.

LLAP
J-D

Just an additional note of thanks to those who have posted since my previous comments were published here at Notablog.

Thanks to Nathaniel, whose work I cited here on the "Muttnik Principle," as well as to Chip, Gayle, Karen & Rick, and John.

Chip, thank you for your comments here, as I know how difficult it was for you when Scooter disappeared. And I agree that there are most likely deeper evolutionary connections between humans and their four-legged friends.

And, John, you're right about the process that we animal lovers go through: "Nope; not another one in my home." Only to find another one before too long.

I have had a history of pets in my life: a parakeet or two (called, "Too-Too" and "Too-Too II"), loads of fresh-water fish in quite a few aquariums (including one goldfish I won at a street fair that lived for about seven years and grew to a very large size!), my first cat Peppers, my first dog Timmy, and then, long-time pets like Buttons and Blondie.

The pain connected to Buttons' death kept us away from pets for three years, and I actually didn't go and seek out Blondie. She was first owned by a dear friend, for a brief time, who kept going on business trips. I was always driving over to his apartment to walk her, and, invariably, bringing her back to my house for extended stays while he trotted around the globe. It finally got to be so ridiculous that she came for a visit on December 12, 1990 and never returned to his home. And it was quite funny too. At the time, my mother was living with us. She was dealing with the nightmare of lung cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation. And she loved having Blondie sit on her lap. When it ended up that Blondie stayed through the Christmas holidays and the New Year, Mom finally asked: "But when is this dog going home?"

My sister and I broke the news to her: "Well, mom, this is her home now!"

And Mom was elated, as she had bonded so deeply with Blondie. And her first daddy, my friend, was just as elated, because he knew Blondie had found a better home.

Perhaps the day will come when another pet will grace our home. I know that if I ever walked into the North Shore Animal League, where Blondie originally came from, it would be like that "Honeymooners" episode ("A Dog's Life"), where Ralph goes to the pound to return a puppy, only to emerge with several other dogs to take home with him.

We'll know when the time is right.

Bless all of you for your kindness and support, publicly and privately.

Chris,

Your essay so moved me that I posted an excerpt next to my essay on Wyatt, my miniature schnauzer:

http://www.jonathanrick.com/wyatt.htm

All the best,
Jon

Chris, I just learned of your great loss. Blondie must have been a wonderful companion to you. Please accept my condolences.

--Brant

Chris dear, I'm so terribly sorry that you lost your little friend. I've lost beloved pets of my own, and I know the pain one feels. I was so glad to have met Blondie, and to have seen firsthand the gifts of sweeetness and devotion she gave you. Perhaps you can find som comfort in the knowledge of what a wonderfully happy life you gave her, and how much love, in return for the love she gave you.

Barbara

I just wanted to thank the additional posters here: Jon, Brant, and Barbara. Your words of support are deeply appreciated.

My gratitude, again, to all those who have expressed their condolences, both publicly and privately.

All my very best, always,
Chris