PUMPKIN

PUMPKIN

October 31, 1994 to August 26, 2008

“She was the child I never had” 

Pumpkin, a stunning Rhodesian Ridgeback with a miraculous sixth sense and healing effect on the sick and elderly, passed away of undetermined causes last August. “She was the child I never had,” said her still grieving owner, Annie Nelson of Mission Viejo. “She had very human qualities…an old soul with a keen sense of people and their needs.”

Scheduled for a routine visit to the veterinarian the day she died, Pumpkin, about 14, seemed fine, Annie said. Not a sign of the cancer she had so courageously whipped five years earlier.

Pumpkin was something, all right.

The pairing had a magical element

With a coat the color of sun-drenched wheat and eyes of darkest amber, she lit up Annie’s life from the instant she foot in it on Oct. 31, 1994, the date that became the pup’s unofficial birthday. Like so many things relating to Pumpkin and Annie, the pairing had a magical element. Close to losing her life in a terrible industrial fire in Norwalk, the puppy was rescued by Norwalk firemen and taken to the firehouse. Annie lived in Long Beach at the time, and a neighbor who raised and showed Rhodesian Ridgebacks told her about the fire and asked if she was interested in adopting the puppy. It was love at first sight, Annie determined to cure the frightened baby of her traumatic ordeal.

She brought the orphaned pup home on Halloween, her house decorated with baby pumpkins. Trying to think of a name for her adorable charge, Annie yelled out Pumpkin! “and the name stuck.” Pumpkin validated her new handle by chewing up the decorations.

African Lion Dogs

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SQUEAKY LEE FRIEDMAN CLISH

SQUEAKY LEE FRIEDMAN CLISH

1997 to September 24, 2008

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So you think cats can’t talk?

Bob Clish was never a cat person. He always had dogs. So when Rhonda Friedman Clish suggested they adopt a cat, her husband was cool to the idea. That was over 10 years ago, before Squeaky Lee entered the couple’s lives and radically changed Bob’s feeling for felines. Forever. So you think cats can’t talk, giggle, sing, perform, laugh at your jokes, play hide-and-seek, contemplate the universe? You never met Squeaky.

rrhonda-new.jpgNow that she’s gone, the anguish of her absence affects both Clishes to an extent once unimaginable to them. Rhonda, especially, has trouble talking about her remarkable companion, who passed away last September, a subject that almost always sparks tears. “I probably sound like a crazy cat lady,” Rhonda said from her home in Pittsburgh, PA. “But she was really special to both of us.”

Will there ever be another Squeaky Lee? Probably not. Despite the absolute joy she brought the couple, they are not sure they could endure another loss. “Everyone says we should get another cat,” Rhonda said, “but as happy as she made us, we can’t go through the pain again.”

Squeaky had a special language

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LIBBY

LIBBY

December 10, 2008

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A match made in heaven

Libby, treasured Keeshond of Debbie Lewandowski of Mission Viejo, passed away shortly before Christmas. She was believed to be about 12.  Adopted in February 2001 from a shelter that caters only to Keeshonds (a lively, intelligent breed recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1930), Libby (shown above with a certain friend) was named by shelter caregivers who felt they had “liberated” her from bleak circumstances. “I didn’t have the heart to change the name,” Debbie said.

The other love of her life

couple.jpgFor Debbie Hawkins (her last name at the time), it was a match made in heaven – in more ways than one. Libby was that rare Keeshond (pronounced “Kayz-hund”) able to bring pint-sized Debbie together with theother love of her life, Mark Lewandowski. The two met when Debbie was out for a walk with her eye-catching, gray-and-tan canine cohort. No one quite remembers if it was the lion’s ruff around Libby’s neck, the richly plumed tail that curled over her back, or the pink rhinestone collar and black leash decorated with doggie bones that grabbed Mark’s attention, not to mention everything about Debbie. Regardless, a new love story was born, two people meeting “cute” over a dog within a Mission Viejo condo community in the fall of 2003. Granted, Mark got to feeling like “an ambulance chaser,” hunting Debbie down until she agreed to marry him two years later.

Not exactly your ideal guard dog

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TONTO

TONTO

December 2, 2008

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 Diane felt blessed

Tonto, beloved companion of Diane Eisner of Trabuco Canyon, died of a stroke on Tuesday, December 2, 2008. He was hovering outside the kitchen, waiting for a snack, when he passed. The precise age of the black-and-white pit bull/Labrador mix with the sad eyes and crooked tail is unknown.  He was adopted.  Friends, unable to find a rental home that accepted two kids and a dog, opted to keep the kids and give Diane the dog. Diane felt blessed.

The result of hard knocks and obedience training (which didn’t quite take), Tonto liked to chase skunks, tree opossums and eat cat poop. An equal opportunity provider, he preferred to hump males but would also hump females – regardless of breed, age, ethnicity or appearance. He never quite came out of the closet.

“Why aren’t you scratching my ears?”

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