BENJI

Jan and Benji
Jan and Benji

BENJI

February 14, 2000 – January 29, 2016

By Jan Quaritius With Larry Sherman

(Edited by Kathy Lowrie)

He taught us so much

PICASA

Last Friday, Larry and I faced the toughest and most emotional decision we have faced during our thirty-four years together. We said goodbye to our four-legged hero, Benji. For the last sixteen years, he was constantly by our sides, providing nothing but unconditional love and laughter.

To say that Benji was the most precious, loving spirit is an understatement! We were honored to be his guardians. He taught us so much about life. And, ultimately, death.

Although I literally rescued him from the streets of Los Angeles, I really don’t know who rescued who. Beloved in the neighborhood, our doe-eyed Wheaton mix was known affectionately as “Doodles, Doodlebug, Benjers, and The Doggie Lama.” Everyone adored him: kids, moms, dads, grandparents, neighbors AND other dogs.

He did take exception to cats and squirrels, however.

Raggedy, flea-bitten

Back in 1992, when six-month old Benji came into the picture, our cats, Kali and Ginger, were the queens of their domain. Needless to say, the two felines did not take kindly to this scruffy, scabbies-ridden kid from the streets of LA. Rough at first, they eventually learned to tolerate each other.

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FERGIE

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FERGIE

September 4, 2009 to July 8, 2015

By Katharine Blossom Lowrie

Valedictorian of her class

P1000442[1]Fergie, a pure-bred English Labrador Retriever with big, brown, sad eyes and the temperament of your friendly neighborhood Walmart greeter, succumbed to a degenerative condition, probable lumbosacral disease, on Wednesday, July 8th—her best buddy Jake at her side. She was just 5 years old.

The color of golden wheat, whip-smart, the Valedictorian of her class at Petco, Fergie never met anyone she didn’t like. Her whole family was there at the end, Jordan, Jennifer and G.B., the ones who—along with her beloved Jake—helped her endure three trips in three days to the emergency hospital, all praying that her unendurable pain would cease, that her back legs would spring back to life, allow her to jump up, run out and play ball.

Not even morphine would do it. It was only at the very end, soothed in her last hours by Jake, that she finally closed her eyes and rested in peace.

No ordinary dog

Sleeping

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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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