My best friend and I the day he passed

Jim's Wee Laddie, this is how he was registered with the American Kennel Club. I met Ladd in the winter of 1990. My mother wanted to give me an early graduation present as I was finishing my doctorate in music composition from the University of Alabama. We went to a local pet store where my eyes immediately locked onto this ball of fur jumping up and down in the kennel. My entire family wanted me to look at the pretty apricot poodle but I had already made up my mind. I had fallen in love with a spunky male Yorkshire Terrier.

Ladd was known by many names, most of which gave insight into one of his many temperaments:

  • Laddie - the loving and devoted pet
  • Ladd - the terrier that could get into most anything
  • Laddamus Dogamus - the Latin version of his moniker
  • Laddie Wompers - the spunky puppy
  • The Pee Monster - always an intact male terrier looking for a tree to mark...or some furniture
  • Pogo the Wonder Yorkie - the 7 lb dog that could jump 4 ft in the air

He was my co-pilot each evening when I would drive our one and only truck to the mall in Tuscaloosa to pick up my wife Cynthia. He could sit, shake his paw, lie down, and roll over on command. He could "speak" and "cry" on command as well. The terrier in him made him difficult to train but my effort was always rewarded and most often accompanied with a "kiss" of love. He had the most beautiful "blue and gold" fur imaginable - so soft and silky!

When we first moved to Gainesville, Florida, we rented a house with a backyard on a drainage culvert. Every night people would walk their dogs along the chain-link fence at the back of the property. One family had several whippets (mini greyhounds - very fast) and would often run them along that fence line. Ladd would run along and darned if he didn't keep up with the whippets...mostly on determination as his legs were about 1/4 the length of his competition.

We also had squirrels in the yard of that rental house. They would often feed from our bird feeder and would taunt Ladd. One day a squirrel was egging on Ladd. Ladd was running back and forth, barking at the brazen rodent. Well, the squirrel fell to the ground and Ladd in his excitement just over ran the animal, failing to catch him. Both looked stunned and stared at one another until it dawned on them what a predicament they were in. The squirrel got to his feet and ran away as Ladd got up and pursued.

guess who

click above for more drawings of ladd by jps

As a small dog Laddie had some problems with a collapsing trachea. As a dog only a few years of age, I thought this would be a major health issue for him. We even had to call the vet as he had "honked" so much his throat was raw and he had difficulty in swallowing normally. We were able to treat this condition and he eventually grew out of the problem.

We bread him for a few years with our female, Winnie. They produced about 5 small litters of around 12 pups of which we still have three girls - Bessie, Camilla, and Constance.

We had the fortune of knowing Laddie for nearly 16 great years. We nearly lost him at age 14.5 as the side gate was left open to our yard and he went wandering off. After a day of constant searching we found him at the animal shelter. The entire family had panicked. Angels had followed him and he returned post sojourn unscathed.

At 15 years of age he had all 10 of his incisors removed due to decay - yet he came back to eat the solid food. He nearly lost his left eye last spring due to an infection and abased cornea. Ladd and I went through months of applying medications aptly prescribed by the ophthalmology specialists at the University of Florida Veterinary Clinic. We had saved his eyes and we treated the cause of his eye rubbing, dry eye (two medications daily for the rest of his life). We had licked that one!

He had always had a bit of a "roach back" but as the aging process accelerated, the arthritis in his back became more pronounced. Our wonderful vet, Dr. Julie DeMarco, prescribed treatments of glucosamine and fish oil dietary supplements along with pain medication to keep him comfortable. Some of Ladd's youth returned and I got to visit with that pup I knew so well from years gone by for about 6 mos.

With failing eyesight, loss of hearing, arthritis, and numerous other failing organs, the pain became too much for him. He was taking over 6 medications daily. Ladd began to shake even when at rest and struggled to gain balance when walking - often pacing around our family room. He had lost weight and was only 3 lbs 8 ozs!

At 6:05p on Monday, Dec. 5, 2005, Laddie was set free. He was released from his earthly body to play among the wonderful animals of my family that had gone before him. My childhood poodles Candy and Sugar, my cat Calliope, and my mother's dog Muphee. I wanted to celebrate his life by doing what he loved the most but my wife thought better of my running around the back yard peeing on all his favorite trees. The hole he has left in my heart will never mend but I know the love he left there will allow the flowers of his memory to grow and flourish.

I miss you Ladd! I always will. My best friend has gone on to a better place and so too will I as the time comes. It will be at that time when we will again play and I will be able to hold him in my arms and give him a big hug.

Laddie and his girls the afternoon prior to his passing
[click here for more photos of Ladd]
[click here for an earlier story about Ladd]