Thursday, June 02, 2011


Blaze of Glory

You know, I never meant to be away this long, and I certainly didn’t mean for my first post in months to be such a painful one to write, but it can’t be helped.

You see, Blaze died last night.

I wish there was a better way to tell you this, to ease you into the awful moment. Nearly everyone who has ever been a friend of the blog was a devoted admirer of my dog. And with good reason, if you check any of the links in the sidebar about him.

It all happened very quickly. I came home from work last night to find out Blaze had been throwing up a little. He’s a dog, of course, and barf-production is part of the job description. Plus he has always been prone to springtime allergies, which also leads down the path to vom, so his being sick was in no way unusual.

As he came to the door to greet me, it did seem to me he was walking a little slowly. I chalked it up to some arthritis issues he’d developed over the winter. We never did know Blaze’s true age, but he had to be at least 10. Most days, he was his usual manic self and once in awhile he’d have an off day and totter around for a bit. This too was par for the course.

He laid around the living room with the kids for a little while last night. The Brownie spent time with him, stroking his head while he wagged his tail. The Éclair put some food in his bowl and brought it over to him. “Blazey’s tired,” she said. But Blaze didn’t want to eat. He got up, walked slowly over to me and nudged his head under my hand. I was in the middle of something and gave him a perfunctory pat. Then he went to Thomas’ room, where we put his kennel and dog bed, and laid down, keeping Thomas company while my son did his homework. After putting the Éclair to bed, I went to check on the guys a short while later. Blaze seemed to be sleeping peacefully. But in fact, he was already gone.

Thomas was beside himself--he’d been in the room the whole time and hadn’t heard or seen any signs of a problem. Screaming and crying, he begged me to help him get Blaze out of his kennel. Things got a little blurry after that, a jumble of images. Her Lovely Self is holding a door for us, her face streaming with tears. The Brownie is standing in the hall, head turned, unable even to look at her dog. Next thing I know, I’m speeding down the highway to the veterinary ER, Thomas in back holding Blaze. But we both know it’s too late.

It turned out Blaze had some kind of fluidic cyst near his heart, a defect he was probably born with, and which never gave him any trouble. Until it ruptured last night, and the excess fluid pressed on his heart, stopping it with crushing swiftness.

“Even if you’d brought him in earlier, there was probably nothing we could have done,” the vet on call told Thomas kindly. I wasn’t so sure about that--all I could think was why didn’t I pay closer attention to my dog? I would have seen something was wrong. I could have saved him--but I kept my mouth shut. I have never seen Thomas in such a state. But I wasn't surprised. Twelve is a hard age to lose your dog. He was beyond hysterical, howling like a dog himself. But it was a busy night at the ER and there was nothing more to be done and soon it was time to say our goodbyes.

Thomas mastered himself, wiped his eyes on his sleeve, put a hand on Blaze’s cold head. “Sorry I lost my shit, Blaze,” he said, a little breathless. Then he drew a deep breath and took his hand away, some kind of realization dawning. “He’s not there anymore, is he, Dad?” he asked. “The real Blaze is somewhere better, right?”

I was stunned to discover that I couldn’t speak. I had no words. All I could do was nod. And then I lost my shit. I cried for Blaze harder than I have cried for any pet, harder than I have cried for quite a few humans, to be honest. I don’t know what that says about me. A good thing, I hope. When a dog loves you, he loves you entirely, nothing is withheld. His love is undaunted by pettiness, by emotional baggage, by anything. So I guess it’s only right to repay that love with copious, uncontrollable grief, nothing held back.

And still I have no words, none that seem remotely adequate to express our sorrow. And stark surprise. Blaze didn’t die as I sometimes imagined he might--he didn’t fall defending his children from a mean dog, or protecting us from a home invader. He didn’t die chasing a rabbit into the street, or in any one of a number of moments of foolishness of which he was all too capable.

In the end, he went quietly, asleep on his bed, not in a sterile office after a long decline, but in a place of warmth and good smells and family and love. And if anyone deserved what grace or peace such an end might give you, Blaze surely did.

But he left too suddenly for me to say a proper goodbye. And to thank him.

For his unflagging enthusiasm in everything but baths and shots. For his rock-steadiness in what has been too many years of upheaval and change. For his unceasing devotion and attention to my children. And not least for his ever-ready willingness to go along with me in indulging whatever stupid idea I ever got into my head.

He was my companion, good and true, through many adventures--and many more misadventures. And he was that very best kind of friend, the kind who stands by you even when he knows you’re wrong. Sometimes even when he was the one you wronged.

Hopefully, though, we gave Blaze more rights than wrongs. In 2003, he was an abandoned stray doomed to a slow death, staked out in an empty yard. We lifted him out of that bad story, and wrote him a new one, one where he was the hero, valiant and loyal and smart and even a little handsome. For eight years, we loved him as well as we knew how, and counted ourselves lucky to have him. He was ours. And we were his, utterly and completely. I hope he knew that. I think he did.

Goodbye, Blaze. You were, first, last, always, a good dog.

I'll miss him too. Bye Blaze
Oh, this just broke my heart. I don't think that it's a coincidence that "Dog" is "God" spelled backwards. We're blessed to have such wonderful spirits in the bodies of such cuddly creatures in our lives. My heart goes out to you and your family. Blaze's posts were definitely my offense to you, MM.

All my love,
Mandy (aka "SassyGirl" from Boston years ago)
Oh my gosh I am so so sorry, I've been following your family for years through all the ups and downs and Blaze adventures.

Blaze we will miss you dearly...

Crying at work, sigh...

Thank you for sharing this moment with us, my thoughts are with you and your family, I'm sure Blaze is watching from up above protecting your family.
I was so happy to see an entry from you. I wish you hadn't had this reason. Blaze was a very special dog and will be missed not only by his family but also his fans.
One of your stories about blaze is what first brought me to the site, and kept me as a reader.
I'm so sorry to hear of his passing, he was a great dog. My heart goes out to you and your family.
I said some of this to you privately, but it bears repeating publicly. Blaze was heroic, and you were heroic in regard to him. Yours was a very special man-dog relationship, born somewhere on high. My sincerest condolences to you and yours.
Wow, I can't believe I'm crying about a dog I never met but I've been following your blog and Blaze's adventures for so long now. I'll never forget sitting at the edge of my seat waiting for the next installment when he was stolen away.

A dog couldn't have wanted for a better family or a more peaceful end.
They're so dear to us, and they live such short lives. I'm so glad that he was comfy and warm and in a place where he knew he was loved. I'm so sorry for your loss; I read this post with my doggie in my lap.

Glad to see you back, though.
Oh, so sad. I'm truly grateful to you for writing this to let us know. How odd to think that I'm crying for his death, when I've never met you, your family or sweet, valiant Blaze. All of my sympathy to your whole family. What a loss.
Seems odd I'm shedding tears for a dog I never met but admired all the same. I'm so sorry for everyone mourning in the Magazine Mansion.
And so it is Blaze is providing one more service to his family, that of providing the experience of loss and mourning for someone we hold dear... and of death. One more reason for families to have pets.
It speaks well of your son that he could grasp that Blaze is no longer here but is in a better place. Long live Blaze!
How peaceful - as a vet, I can say that if you have to lose a dog, what a calm way to go. Infinitely sad for you all - a real hero to the end. Thoughts with you - I lost my Saffy suddenly last year and primal sobbing is the only way I can describe the reaction! Glad you were able to let it out too.
What a shame. He WAS a good dog and your stories of him made him a great one.
Not quite losing my shit but definitely losing some tears :( Thanks for telling your loyal blog readers, MM.
I'm so sorry for your loss. It sounds like Blaze said his goodbyes in his own way, and died as peacefully as any of us could want for ourselves. He will be missed.
Oh, MM, I am so sorry for your family's loss. I had a bad feeling as soon as I read the title of your post and by the end, the tears were streaming, my nose running, and I had to use a tissue and then wash my hands before I could comment.

Blaze certainly was a good dog, one of great heroism on more than one occasion. I'm glad I got to know him a bit through your stories and photos. He is missed.

My best to you all.
I've been wishing and wishing for your return here and now, considering what you had to write about, I almost wish you hadn't written. No, that's not true really because as so many others ahead of me have said, I've followed the adventures of Blaze and your family too long not to want to know what happened to him, ya know. It brought back memories to me of a Saturday morning in late November about 3-4 years ago when my older daughter called me, sobbing uncontrollably, to tell me my son's dog, Andre, that she had just taken over ownership (temporarily) for my son had died that morning -all in a space of about 45 minutes. And grown people, not just children who love their pets, do break down and sob and sob when things like that happen. I know because I was sobbing right along with my daughter! And my other daughter then joined the teary spectacle as did my son and phone calls had to be made then to my son's ex-girlfriend to let her know too. And, we couldn't bury poor Andre until about 7:30 that night as we had to wait till the former girlfriend could get here from where she lives -about 160 miles away from us! Yes, we're all a bunch of truly sentimental slobs and especially so when it comes to losing a beloved pet. That attitude also carries over when I read about someone else's pet -an animal I've never seen, never met and yet, feel I know from your descriptions of him. And now, I'll gradually dry my eyes, adjust a bit in my thoughts but remember your Blaze along with our Andre (and several other dogs that have been a part of my life over the past 60 plus years) and think that perhaps in the great beyond or over the Rainbow Bridge somewhere, they've all met now and are becoming great friends to each other because of the great friend each of them was to us while they were here with us on earth. But the pain of the loss at this time, I'm sure, is something you'll feel for a long, long time to come and for that, I do send you my deepest condolences over the loss of this member of your family.
I had to say goodbye to my dog this week too, so I completely feel your pain. The hardest part about loving someone is letting them go. He was a lucky boy, and so were you. Peace.
My thoughts are with you and your family. Reading this just broke my heart.

Blaze really was a good dog. Your family was definitely blessed by his presence.

So sorry for your words can help at this sad time...take care.
You didn't give him a "perfunctory pat", MM. You told him that as he has always been here for you, you would always be here for him sign of reassurance.

That's all, and more than enough, you can do.
Blaze will be missed so very much. When I lost my dog 2 years ago I came home, curled up in a ball on the floor, and sobbed. It doesn't matter how old you are, when you lose someone you love it hurts. And Blaze was loved. It was clearly evident in every piece you wrote about him (or by hime). He was lovingly rendered to us time and time again with your words. Thank you for sharing him with us, and for letting us know of his loss.
I am somewhat surprisingly tearful over the passing of a dog I never met.

I told my wife who replied, "But I loved Blaze!" We all did. He will be remembered warmly.

Condolences to you and your family.
Just last night, I was missing your blog posts and re-read all of the Blaze stories for the first time in probably 2 years. Seeing this today just...floored me. And yet, he will remain so alive for me, for the rest of my life, through what you've written, the tales you've told, the adventures you've shared. I am so grateful for that.

But my heart breaks for your family. You will all be in my thoughts. And so will Blaze. All of our tears honor him.
I so miss Blaze's comments on this post - I'm sure he would have said something like "Foolish One, I known our bond was strong, despite your absentminded hand pat. But I have other squirrels to chase now."

Perhaps we'll hear from Blaze again on some cold October night. He was loved by many.
I am so sorry. We lost a beloved dog when my oldest was about twelve, and he was sobbing in the shower for months. If only there were a way to make it easier, but there isn't, not when a dog is a family member.
ah jeez, mm. i'm so sorry. some dogs are one in a million, and blaze may have been one in a billion.

my condolences.
My heart is with you and your family.
Blaze will forever be remembered.
And like they say, all dogs go to heaven.
Oh, MM--I'm so sorry for you and your family. Blaze brought smiles and laughs, and you'll find your grief sneaking up on you in all the most unexpected ways. But you gave him a good life, and the memories you've had (and been generous to share with the rest of us) will never leave you. My thoughts are with all of you.
Now I just lost MY shit...Loved Blaze through all your stories. Tell Art Lad, Eclair, Brownie and Her Lovely Self how sorry this fan of Blaze's is.
I'm a animal lover too, so I know how it feels to have your heart torn out of your body by the loss of a pet. I am so genuinely sorry for what I understand first hand is a terrible loss for your family.

Good boy, Blaze. Good dog.
I don't normally write stuff like this but Blaze isn't dead, he's getting scratches and walks from your parents.
Ah a sad one indeed...
R.I.P. Blaze
chasing cats in doggie heaven..
Over from Suldog's and reading this I lost my shit .. so so so sorry for your loss ..
Please accept my condolences for the loss of your beloved Blaze. He was special.
here from suldog's. so sorry for your loss of blaze. he does sound like he was a very true companion. i'm glad he found a home of love with your family.
Well, I just lost my shit. I'm so sorry for your loss.
I remember how unprepared we were for the depth of our grief when our Little Dog died. We'd kind of duck our heads and look around sheepishly "Is this normal?" Yep it is. The loss of the relationship -- even if it was "just a dog -- is gut wrenching to the very depths of our souls. So sorry for your loss
Oh - I am visiting from 'suldogs' place - just wanted to say I am so sorry - how lucky he was to have had such a wonderful family ...
Please accept my condolences on your loss. You shared Blaze with the world, and I feel the richer for having had the chance to read about his adventures.
Came over via Jim, and now I'm blubbing like a baby. So, so sorry for your loss. I shall be holding my (dense as two short planks, and my fifth and most favourite child) Golden Retriever all the more closely tonight, for my visit. My thoughts go with you.
Why am I now crying this much for a dog I didn't know, and a family I've never met?

I've lost several dogs over the years, and it never gets easy. All I can say is what I tell my own dog: he was lucky to have you, and you were lucky to have him.

Rest in peace, Blazey.
Like the others, I was so excited to see a new post. I've been wondering how the recent changes in your lives have been going. Now I'm sitting here sobbing, trying to type. I'm so very heartbroken for you & your family. I never met Blaze either, but I "knew" him, he touched my heart every time I read about his latest antics. He was a valiant, loyal, loving companion & will be greatly missed not only by you, MM, but by all of us readers. The stories of your adventures together through the years are going to be a comfort to Thomas, Brownie, & Eclair. It's so hard to lose someone you love, even harder when you're young & can't quite grasp why it hurts so bad & how long forever is. Please give hugs & codolences to everyone in the Magazine Mansion. You gave Blaze a stable home & opened your hearts to him, I'm positive he loved you as much as you loved him (maybe even more). Thanks for letting us know. (Raising a glass, in honor of Blaze)"To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die"
I lost my own amazing dog several months ago and still sob from time to time, as I am doing now for yours. My most sincere condolences to you and your family for the loss. And my deepest gratitude to you for allowing us - Blaze's extended family, in a way, given how we all followed his exploits - to know what happened.
Oh man, I'm sorry to hear the bad news, MM. Blaze was such an awesome dog. I cried like crazy when my family's dog died, and I still miss him...but I do like to think he's in doggie heaven now. Thanks for letting us know about it so soon.
I, too, have been checking back here at least weekly, waiting and hoping for a blog post. I, too, am crying over a dog I've never met. He was such an awesome dog - and I'm not even a 'dog person.' He was unique and wonderful and brave and loyal and funny. I'm glad he went surrounded by those who loved him best.
Oh gosh, this is so moving and loving. I'm sorry for your loss.
as Kipling said "brothers and sisters I bid you beware of giving your heart to a dog to tear."

That same day, June 1, I spent giving all my attention to the storms that spawned the Springfield Tornado, which passed scarily close to my central Mass. home.

Despite my distraction I had a strong feeling that something wasn't right with the Magazine Family. I brushed it off at the time by thinking if I was right you would surely tell us. But it was days before I dared look.

Never feel it's wrong to about cry for a loved one, no matter what species your friend is, or whether you've met.

Blaze will always be with us. doGspeed, Might Blaze.
Condolences to all of you on the loss of a member of your family. My tears are flowing too, not just for Blaze, but for all of you as well. We will all remember him for the Great Dog he was, and keep him in our hearts. Hugs to all from Oregon.
Came here from Suldog, and while I knew nothing about Blaze before now, I offer my condolences because I know the pain of losing dear friends like this one.
so many of us have taken dogs from desperate situations and desperate stories only to have written them a new story where they are the hero and we are their hero.

Sometimes we occasionally act good enough to be worthy of being their hero but they don't care. We are their hero, their specialest mom or dad because we can do such amazing things like feed them and take them for walks. We pet them, let them sleep on a bed and we never ever beat them with sticks or throw cans at them. That's all it takes to be their hero. And because of that, they are in our hearts forever.
Saddest news of the day. Soon enough you'll have stories of a new dog, I'm sure, but Blaze will always remain a hero in our hearts.
Trying hard not to cry out loud because how do you explain to people that you are crying for a dog that you loved but never met?

But I don't really have to explain, do I? I can just point them to the wonderful Blaze stories you have written and if they don't love Blaze when they're done then I have to wonder what I see in them.

Thinking of you and your family and Blaze.
I'm so sorry, MM. I was just talking to a friend about Blaze the other day, and we were wondering about him, since dog years and days so by so quickly with the sweep hand of life. I'm so glad you and all your family had wonderful years and adventures with Blaze, and may he rest well. He was a good dog.
My heart breaks for you and your family. My heart breaks to know that Blaze is gone. I've kept up with you through the last 6 years, and I feel like I too have lost a friend and family member.

I have every confidence that Blaze knew you loved him, and he passed feeling like his life was the happiest a dog's could have been.

There is so much more I wish I could say. Blaze was an amazing dog, and he will be missed by us all.
Like your other readers, I am sad and filled with tears. Through you, OUR lives have been enriched because Blaze was alive in the world.

Thank you for sharing him with us.
So many words have described his good works. He has really touched a lot of lives just through those as well as you folks in the MM family. Sad to have this be the last tale of The Mighty Blaze.
My heartfelt condolences to you and your family, MM.
Awww...I am so sorry. :(
Oh MM, I am grief-stricken to hear of your loss. I was sitting in the barber shop when I read your post. As soon as I saw what the post was about, I should have stopped reading. I didn't though, so I ended up with tears streaming down my face while sitting amongst a bunch of military men in the waiting area. "Gosh those seasonal allergies are tough this time of year aren't they?"
As always, you have shared the news with us as a master storyteller, and I appreciate you sharing it with us in spite of how painful the loss is to you and your family. I have loved your stories of Blaze, and he will truly be missed. God bless you and your family as you mourn the loss of such a close member of your immediate family.
For your kids, though it works just as truly for girls and not-so-little boys like Thomas:

In his grief over the loss of a dog, a little boy stands for the first time on tiptoe, peering into the rueful morrow of manhood. After this most inconsolable of sorrows there is nothing life can do to him that he will not be able somehow to bear.

---James Thurber
I am so sorry that you lost your beautiful Blaze. I have no doubt that he was probably one of the happiest dogs, amid all of that love. My heart goes out to you and your family. Here from Suldog's.
I'm so so sorry for your loss... I know how incredibly sad it is to have to say goodbye to such a great friend.
My heart goes out to you and your family.
Oh man, that is heartbreaking. I loved Blaze, as I know you all did. My thoughts will be with your family.
Oh MM.. What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful companion. I'm so sorry for your family's loss.
Bye Blaze! You were loved by so many - some of which you have never met. I'm sure Blaze knew how much you all loved him. I'm happy to think that Blaze is happily onto his next adventures on the other side!! So sad... hugs to you all!!
I am so sorry for your loss.

Blaze was a wonderful dog and I feel I know him well through your posting about him.

Rest In Peace, sweet Blaze.
Our sympathies on the loss of a damn good dog indeed. Thanks for sharing his journey with us.
oh sad. what a truly awesome companion he was. hugs to you all!
How many dogs have an owner that not only saved him once (from starvation) and then twice (fighting to bring him back home when he was dognapped). There's no better life (for man or dog) than to be so loved.

Having to deal with the death of a friend recently from cancer, there's no better way to go than surrounded by people who love you.

At home, where he belonged.
Very sorry to read about Blaze.
My sympathies to all your family.
Long time blog reader.
John (London)
Oh, MM! How wonderful and what a blessing that you, your family, and Blaze shared time with each other and I know how you must be aching now. His memory will live on in my heart!
Nice article, thanks for sharing.
I'm so sorry; it's always hard to lose a family member. Much love to you all.
Sad to hear it. Glad Thomas figured out that he was in a better place all on his own. I hope your girls cope as well. Take care.
MM - I'm so sorry to hear about Blaze. Thank you for sharing his stories of heroism with us. Blaze had many fans and we'll keep you, HLS, Blaze and those beautiful children in our thoughts and prayers.

(can't believe I'm crying so much at work about someone else's dog - one that I've never met even - but he was special. And he was loved because you shared his story with us.)

Aw, Blazey. So sorry to hear about that. We lost a pet too, in the past year. It's hard, hard, hard. Hugs to you all.
So sorry. They take a piece of our hearts with them when they go...
So Sorry to hear about Blaze. He was a good boy.
From what I understand, Blaze led a lovely life. God Bless your family. I hope that you'll be able to share the love with someone new one day.
omg, I'm soooo sorry for your family's loss. I have been through the loss of faithful, four-legged friends and it never gets easier. I've added my tears to all those already shed for Blaze. {hugs} to all.
I'm sorry for your loss, as I sit here with tears in my eyes.


I'd been thinking about Blaze all month. We've got an old, good dog too and I kept wondering how Blaze was doing with all the moving and...

I'm so sorry. I'm so glad he went surrounded by love and family and especially his kids.

Gotta go..can't see the keyboard very well.
I was introduced to your blog through the wonderful stories of Blaze. I'm so very sorry for your loss.
Goodbye, Blaze. It was an honor just to read about you. If you see a Doberman named Shadow, give her some loves for me, okay? She'll be a good friend to you.

You'll always have a special place in many people's hearts. But especially in the hearts of MM, Her Lovely Self, Thomas, the Brownie and the Éclair.

All of you in Magazine Mansion are in my heart right now. If we were honored to read about Blaze, you were even more honored because you were His People.
Bye Blaze You will be missed
Prayers for the human family you left
Take care MM and family
I am so very, very sorry.

I have been so buried in my own grief and exhaustion that I just saw this tonight.

RIP Blazey Bellow Hoska BooBoo Ba Doo. You were the best Blaze ever.

He knew how much you all loved him; everyone of you. And he slipped away just as he probably would have wished - sleeping near his beloved Boy, quietly and quickly.

You know, he stands patiently waiting for you between your Mom and Dad. For them, it is only a moment until you are all reunited.

For us, it seems a lifetime.

I am so very sorry. Please know that everyone in your home is always in our hearts and prayers, and that we love you all.

(((hugs))) Thim
MM and family,

I have been away from reading blogs and this or that as of late, so I have only just read of your loss and ours. I will miss Blaze, for you and for us. I loved his stories. I loved how he cared for you, his family. I looked forward to every adventure. I'm in tears here at my desk, trying to get them under control before I head to my afternoon of meetings.

Thank you for sharing the life of the Blaze with us. We are better people for having known him too.

Love and tail wags,
RocketScienceMom and my kids
I feel like I just lost my dog all over again... I'm crying just as hard, anyway. I've loved reading about Blaze over the years - sometimes I felt like he was a part of my family, too. I'm really going to miss him. My heart goes out to you and your family... getting over the loss of a pet as instrumental as Blaze is not something that can easily - if ever - be done.
He was a terrific dog and I am very sorry to hear he is gone. You and your family have my deepest condolences.

-Kelly (Indianapolis)
Gawd, snot faucets running and the tears are streaming. Blazey Bellow Hoska BooBoo Ba Doo will be missed just as much with your blog family as your home family.
Blaze is and will always be a HERO dog.
So sorry MM.
I'm so sorry, MM.
I'm so sorry to hear about Blaze. I never met him, but loved him and will miss reading about him.
Blaze was a special dog. Dogs don't live as long as humans, because they love harder. I'm sorry.

I just checked your blog for the first time in a while (trying to unplug a little and all that), and now you have me crying. What a good dog Blaze was/is. I am so sorry for your loss.

Haven't checked in for months, obviously, and was so excited to find new posts. Then so devastated to learn of the loss if Blaze. Ugh. Life's best and worst moments are rooted in our capacity to love. So sorry for this, one of those worst moments, but so glad for all of those best moments your family and Blaze brought to each other. God bless.
I have been reading your posts for years and remember when you first shared the story of how you acquired Blaze. My heart broke reading this post and I mourned his death as though one of ours had passed. Thank you for sharing him with us.
Thanks …great read. I too lost my friend of 12 years in December; a golden named Pumpkin Three 3 months later I still mourn her leaving. The significant sadness I feel each day is balanced by loving memories of her. This is the toughest thing I have ever endured. This spring I am going to plant a new tree, a dogwood, and her ashes will be beneath the roots. Perhaps I will buy a roast and bury it as well so she will also have some to nourishment although thinking back she was very partial to Jellybeans
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