Story of the Week


May 3, 1987-May 10, 2004

    There will be no Sports Junkie article today as we know it. This article is dedicated to my beloved dog, Cruiser Lippel. The Sports Junkie will resume next week.

    The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word "friend" as a person we know, like and trust, a favored companion, a comrade, one we can count on for support. I think the word friend is terribly misused in our lives; most people we know are acquaintances. Those who are our friends are special. We can absolutely count on their loyalty; the latter has to be a major ingredient of the definition of the word friend, or forget it.

    I am quite fortunate in that I have true friends, people I can count on who can count on me. A few of these relationships go back to high school and college, and one person I call friend went to grade school with me. Others donít go back that far in time, but those relationships are still very obvious.

    My main disagreement with the American Heritage Dictionary is its use of the qualifying word "person" in definition. Those of you who own pets and who love your pets know precisely what I mean. Pets surely fall into the category of friends. I am terribly saddened by the fact that I recently lost conceivably my very best friend, my dog. I had her since 1987. She was a 50-pound brindle boxer, and was so docile and loveable. And it was obvious to everyone that she was truly mine. It was mutual, as all true relationships must be.

    I viewed Cruiser as my daughter, not my dog. Well, thatís not entirely true; I most assuredly viewed her as a dog during all those times I cleaned the backyard after she made her contributions to the landscaping. But my great love for her invariably overcame this unenviable task.

    She was not a good eater at all, always complaining about her food, so sheíd leave it and eventually eat it, but only as a last resort. It was the best dog food money can buy, but dog food none-the-less. She really wanted a barbeque pork sandwich, heavy on the sauce please, so when she realized that it was not to be, she reluctantly cooperated. I tried psychology 101 and 102 with her on a regular basis by tapping her food dish with the bottom of a catsup bottle or whatever to make her think it was something special. I would then tell her that it was ok now to eat her food. She would smell it, and walk away; she knew me as well as I knew her, and probably wondered why her daddy was going through all that wasted effort. She ate when she was ready to eat, and not a moment sooner.

    My friend in Los Angeles, Howard Suer, wrote an interesting article in his corporate newspaper, the Box City Bulletin, in January, 2002. It included:

*A dog is the only thing on earth who loves you more than he loves himself.

*No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as does your dog.

*I hope to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.

    I recently had to have Cruiser put to sleep due to her many physical ailments. She had just turned 17 years old a week earlier. It is the toughest thing I have ever had to do in my life. There has never been a pet owner any more devoted and dedicated to his pet than I was to her. I loved her so much, and I miss her so much. So American Heritage Dictionary, on behalf of Cruiser Lippel, donít tell me a friend has to be a person.

    My special thanks to Dr. Pat Connolly and the great staff at the Conejo Valley Veterinary Hospital in Thousand Oaks, CA., for all they did for Cruiser during her first 15 years that Cruiser and I lived in that area.

    In my infinite stupidity one day 10 years ago, I changed the rose bush feed in the garden of my house without reading the label on the feed noting its poison content. Cruiser ate it while I was away. Were it not for the Pet Emergency Clinic of Thousand Oaks that horrific Sunday night, I would have lost her then. They saved her life, and she rehabilitated that week at the Conejo Valley Veterinary Hospital under their expert care. No one has ever driven a car faster from Agoura Hills to Thousand Oaks than I did that Sunday night with Cruiser, and had a CHP tried to pull me over, there is no way I would have stopped that car until I made it to the hospital period.

    And my special thanks, too, to Dr. Randy Ceballos and the great staff at the Sunridge Animal Hospital in Henderson, Nevada during the last two years of her life. To Randy and his staff, thank you for your caring, and thank you for baby-sitting me on May 10th. I needed it.

    Cruiser Lippel, you will always be in the most expensive luxury box seat on the 50-yard-line of my heart.


The Sports Junkie format will take up next week where it left off last week. Thank you.