Requiem for a Mastiff

Dick at age ten.
Dick at age ten.

Today a champion died.

March 7, 2011

Most of you never heard of him, or if you did, you knew him only as my pet, Dick.

In his prime, Dick weighed in at 252 pounds of muscle and good nature. Today, old at ten years of age, he could no longer pull himself to his feet. His great strength was finally spent. His breathing was labored. He refused to eat.

Too weak to rise, he’d lain on his bed since 10 the night before to 1:30 in the afternoon. He had a cast-iron bladder. Unwilling to soil our house, he felt great distress and gathered the last of his powers to get up. He managed to totter out to the yard for one final pee, only to fall down into the pool of his own urine. He was deeply embarrassed.

I could not get him up. For two hours, I brushed the ants and flies off him while he rested, brought him fresh water and raw eggs to build up his strength and waited until he was ready to try to walk again. Finally, with my encouragement and to please me, he struggled to stand. Once he was up, I slipped a bundled and knotted old sheet under his abdomen as a sling and helped him back into the house. He collapsed three times on the way.

He had an appointment with death at 4:40 that afternoon.

I had made that decision the day before. I should have made it several days before, but could not. You see, Dick has been with me from the second he was born, and an integral part of my life since. My congenial companion through all my travels (he loved a cross-continent road trip) and the muse, content to lie beside my chair through all my writing adventures.

My husband left work early, and between the two of us, we managed to help Dick, half suspended in a sling, to walk the twenty feet from the house to the van. A trip requiring fifteen minutes. It almost finished the grand old dog. And both of us by the time we lifted and hauled him into the van.

At the vets’ office, the doctor and his burly assistant came out into the parking lot to help us. We managed to slide a stretcher under the exhausted creature. The three men had a hard time to carry him.

Once he was lowered onto the floor, Dick raised his upper body, searching for me. I slipped his blanket under his head and sat beside him, stroking him, comforting him as best I could. He was so ready to go.

The doctor gave him a powerful sedative. Within five minutes Dick felt nothing. The doctor asked me if I was ready. I was. He injected the fatal shot into Dick’s veins. His labored breathing ended in a long sigh, and he was gone, slipping quietly into death.

If this sounds like the most maudlin thing you’ve ever read from me, bear with me. This is a loss as grievous as any I’ve ever suffered, I admit it.

Let me pull myself together and wipe away the tears; it’s not the loss I want to share, but the life.

Dick was a sterling example of this amazing breed of dog – the mastiff.

I want to share some of my mastiff memories with you here.

Shirley (Champion Cheadle's Contessa Valentine) (Cdn)
Shirley (Champion Cheadle's Contessa Valentine) (Cdn)
Max (Champion Seville's Lynnspride Maxflie (USA) (Cdn)
Max (Champion Seville's Lynnspride Maxflie (USA) (Cdn)
Shirley with her second litter. (Not Dick's -- he was from her first)
Shirley with her second litter. (Not Dick's -- he was from her first)

Dick begins

Dick had excellent bloodlines.

His real name was Champion Cheadle’s What the Dickens, son of International Champion Seville’s Lynnspride Maxfli (USA)( Cdn), known to those that loved him as Max, and Champion Cheadle’s Contessa Valentine (Cdn,) my much beloved Shirley.

His grandmother was none other than my grand old lady, Tess – the mastiff bitch of 210 pounds who once dragged a full grown man who tried to attack me down to the ground as easily as a terrier worries a mouse. (Another story for another hub.)

These dogs weren’t merely pretty; they were working mastiffs.

Oh, by the way – Cheadle Kennels was me. For many years, I ran a kennel breeding good quality mastiffs and providing boarding facilities for all breeds and shelter for many of the dog rescue groups. (Yet another story for yet more hubs, one day)

Dick was born October 19, 2001, one of thirteen siblings delivered by caesarian section. Such a delivery requires a lot of hands because the mother is not the only one anesthetized, but so are the puppies. The longer they remain in the uterus, the more drugged they become, so the surgeon works at top speed to get them out. The puppies are handed out like hot dogs at a barbeque, and the small army of volunteers goes to work stimulating them, rubbing them, clearing the fluid from their respiratory systems and ensuring they don’t drift off to sleep. Sleep means death. It is a flurry of activity.

Eventually, the mom – Shirley in this case – wakes up to find her pups busy having their first feeding, all are pronounced stable and the pups, packed into a box with a hot water bottle, and mom, still groggy and drugged out go home.

Where the real work begins. See my hub, “Diva tells all” for a description of what raising a litter entails. This is Dick’s story, so I’ll stick to his litter.

Thirteen ravenous puppies, and Shirley got a uterine infection requiring hospitalization and strong antibiotics, which meant we raised those pups by hand. Feeding every two hours, thirteen pups – we bottle fed round the clock. Those pups drank my neighbors goat herd dry.

But they thrived. Especially Dick. He was the biggest and also the shyest. 11 ounces at birth, by six weeks he was twenty-five pounds.

Dick as a newborn
Dick as a newborn
Dick at twelve days
Dick at twelve days
Dick at one month
Dick at one month

Dick grows up

From the very beginning, it became apparent that for all his size, Dick was no alpha. He wasn't even an omega. Even Peewee, the runt could chase him off his food, and a strange noise would find him at the bottom of the puppy pile shaking.

Yes, Dick was a true coward and that never did change. Even at his prime, a stranger would send him behind me,(all two hundred and fifty pounds of him) peeking around my legs trying to be invisible. He was a disgrace to his breed, but I loved him.

And accepting! He never, ever showed discomfort. A chicken he might have been, but a stoic one.

At around six weeks of age, somehow -- I never did know how -- he got a paw stuck in the hinge of the panels of the puppy pen. He must have been rearing up for some reason and pushed out the fence trapping his foot. Did he cry? No. I found him later hanging there by one leg, looking dejected but without a sound as though his philosophy was "this is my fate; so be it!"

I think it was that combination of physical promise and total submission to life that caused me to select him as the puppy to keep. Always been a sucker for the needy ones.

Dick at six months and 125 pounds.
Dick at six months and 125 pounds.

Dick the hen-pecked

Poor Dick grew up with his mother, Shirley, his sister and litter-mate Alice and his grandmother, the grand matriarch of the kennels, Tess, who'd as soon give him a good whopping as look at him. But then she felt pretty much the same about all of us -- me included. She used to like to pinch me with her front teeth if she thought I was being disrespectful, and I walked through life with a collection of purple bruises on my thighs from her chastisements (though I told people my husband did it... I mean who wants to admit they have a dog who abuses them? Another story for another hub -- I know.) We all respected Tess.

Shirley and Alice used to love to play the "hunt" game with Dick. Now, understand mastiffs were bred to be big game hunters and they work in pairs. They are surprisingly fast and agile -- at least if they're well bred -- capable of running down their prey and dispatching it with their great strength. Well, the two bitches would invite the gullible young Dick to romp and he'd joyfully race the full length of the field with them. Until -- at some secret signal, the two bitches went in for the kill. They'd crash into him, grab the loose skin of his neck -- all at full speed, you understand -- and send him tumbling ass over head, then pick at him until he lay flat out on the ground in total surrender. When the girls had tired of the game, he'd slink off, tail between his legs, his tiny pride dashed. Of course, Tess would give him a good view of her teeth as he passed, and then turn her authority on her daughter and granddaughter, admonishing them for having too much fun.

Yes, Dick was the brunt of everyone's malice.

And he fell for it every time -- like Charlie Brown who believed that Lucy would not pull back the football, this time. I used to wonder how any animal could be quite that dumb. But he was.

Dick's mean sister, Alice (superb isn't she?) with her handler at a show.
Dick's mean sister, Alice (superb isn't she?) with her handler at a show.

Fear and Dog Shows

Dick’s fearfulness grew with his size. He was afraid of thunder (okay – who isn’t?) of fireworks, of gunfire (remember this is rural Alberta) of backfiring vehicles, of my husband’s sneezes… At one point he was stung by a wasp and grew fearful of buzzing insects, once trying to climb a six foot fence to get away from a bee. He was afraid of football games on the TV, of plastic bags caught on the fence that blew in the wind – and oh horror! – the Remax hot air balloon that sailed overhead. He was afraid of the vacuum cleaner, the dishwasher, the jetted tub, brooms, mops, spray cans (in fact anything that went psst!) He feared drapes that billowed in the breeze, bicycles, school buses, small dogs, the vet, pit bulls (one bit him,) cats, large birds, small children, raised voices. In fact it would be simpler to tell you what he wasn’t afraid of. He loved to ride in cars, provided he wasn’t asked to get out of it before getting home again.

Above all, he hated going to dog shows. Which, considering that was his job in life, posed a problem.

A sack of potatoes showed better than Dick. He was gorgeous. He was magnificent. Nothing around could touch him when it came to physical prowess. But he galumphed around the ring with his head and tail down, the picture of dejection. We went through so many handlers trying to find one who could work with him, but they all gave up. A couple couldn’t even get him out of our driveway. Dick plopped himself down, refusing to budge, staring at me in reproach.

Nothing worked. He hated liver treats, could care less about toys. He went into zombie mode the minute you put on his show collar. He just didn’t want to show. But he had to.So few mastiffs have that great bone structure, healthy joints, bulk and good proportions. The breed has suffered from too much mediocre breeding. Dick had what is lacking -- size, bone density, health. But without show credit...

Finally, I took on the job myself. Which meant I had to go to handling classes and learn what to do. And I did – just for Dick. I also knew his secret pleasure – bananas. Dick loved bananas. And if you don’t think I didn’t feel like a total fool trotting around the show ring baiting my dog with a banana… well I did! So did everyone else – but it worked.

Dick won often enough to get his championship. And promptly retired.

Finally!!! Meet  CHAMPION Cheadle's What the Dickens
Finally!!! Meet CHAMPION Cheadle's What the Dickens

Dick the stud

Dick now had to prove himself as a stud. Quite a few people were waiting. No wonder; he was a beauty whose quality one doesn’t see every day. Now, my kennels didn’t produce a lot of puppies. We waited until we had a waiting list of good homes, did all available genetic testing and made the best matches we could.

The first’ lady’ to visit Dick was a beautifully put-together but small bitch by the name of Lizzy. She was brought to the kennel in the early stage of her ‘heat’ cycle and to say Dick was pleased to meet her would be an understatement. I don’t think I’d ever seen him so focused on anything other than his food bowl before.

Lizzy weighed around 135 pounds – like I said, small, but solid in her conformation. Dick outweighed her by more than a hundred pounds.

When the big day arrived, Dick performed with his usual aplomb.

He was a pig!

I’ve seen some males who really work at the job, scooping up the bitch with their front legs, carrying their weight on their own hindquarters – gentlemen, if you can apply the term to dogs.

Not Dick. He threw himself on her, his front legs hanging limply at her sides, forcing her to bear his weight and then pumped around blindly, hit and miss until only by sheer circumstances, he hit a homer. Her back legs bowed under the strain, but she stood like a rock. God only knows how.

I don’t know how many of you know about the breeding habits of dogs, but it really is quite bizarre and rather awe-inspiring. Once the male penetrates the female, her vagina clamps to hold the penis in place. At which point the male dismounts, turns 180 degrees to stand facing the other way – but his genitals are now twisted and his testicles are on top. (Yes, I’ve seen men wince at the sight.) They will stay, locked like that, for anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour, the male ejaculating off and on the whole time. While he has access to a female in heat, the male may mount her two or three times a day, for three to four days in a row, with no noticeable reduction in sperm count. (Pretty impressive. Now you know why there are so many dogs!)

Dick and Lizzy's kids
Dick and Lizzy's kids

Dick and Lizzy had a successful breeding and Lizzy returned to us to have her pups under my care.

That was the first of Dick’s stud jobs. When those pups began to be seen at six months in the puppy ring, the demand for Dick’s ‘seed’ grew. Soon, his semen was traveling places without him. I always intended to have some frozen and put in storage for posterity.

Too bad I didn't.

Three years into his breeding career, Dick developed a testicular infection and was neutered to safeguard his health.

He became a eunuch. Not that it changed him much. He never was Mr. Testosterone.

Dick’s pups are all over the North American continent. They include several show champions in Canada and the US, a couple of working dog titles, and a champion pulling dog in British Columbia who at a year of age pulled 1,400 pounds. More are simple family companions. I keep in contact with many of the families who've adopted one of Dick's pups. Sadly, a few have died. Despite all the genetic testing in the world, some things like heart anomalies, late developing cancer or other life-threatening conditions will sometimes appear. And the oldest of his pups are now approaching seven, and seven is getting on in the mastiff world.

Here are some pictures of his offspring.

Dick's daughter, DiDi winning best of breed and her championship. Didi later returned to us and came with me to Florida. Unhappily, she died last year of a stroke.
Dick's daughter, DiDi winning best of breed and her championship. Didi later returned to us and came with me to Florida. Unhappily, she died last year of a stroke.
Dick's daughter, Fiona with her Labrador friend, Raven. Both are retired show dogs. Fiona works as a training dog for junior handlers. That's right -- a show dog for children learning dog handling.
Dick's daughter, Fiona with her Labrador friend, Raven. Both are retired show dogs. Fiona works as a training dog for junior handlers. That's right -- a show dog for children learning dog handling.
Dick's son Jake, living in northern British Columbia, a competitive draft dog in pulling competitions with a working dog title. Note the heavy coat -- mastiffs adapt to their environment. Dick lost his when he moved to Florida.
Dick's son Jake, living in northern British Columbia, a competitive draft dog in pulling competitions with a working dog title. Note the heavy coat -- mastiffs adapt to their environment. Dick lost his when he moved to Florida.
Dick's son, Wallace, companion and guardian to a young family, living in Regina Saskatchewan. look at the expression in his eyes. "Don't touch my baby."
Dick's son, Wallace, companion and guardian to a young family, living in Regina Saskatchewan. look at the expression in his eyes. "Don't touch my baby."
Dick's son Harpo and baby granddaughter Ainsley (at 4 months) with their 'uptown' family, living in Calgary, Alberta.
Dick's son Harpo and baby granddaughter Ainsley (at 4 months) with their 'uptown' family, living in Calgary, Alberta.
Three bitches, two are Dick's daughters and the brindle is Dick's half-sister (same mother) on a day out with their handler (Kathy) preparing to show.
Three bitches, two are Dick's daughters and the brindle is Dick's half-sister (same mother) on a day out with their handler (Kathy) preparing to show.
Dick's daughter, Maxine, the day she won her championship. She lives with some very dear friends of mine in Alberta, along with four (or five) Labradors. She retrieves very well for a mastiff.
Dick's daughter, Maxine, the day she won her championship. She lives with some very dear friends of mine in Alberta, along with four (or five) Labradors. She retrieves very well for a mastiff.

Dick in retirement

For the rest of his life, Dick had only one job. At least in his own mind. And that was to stay as close to me as he possibly could. People used to say, "Oh, he's so protective of you." Yeah, right! It was so I could protect him; we both knew that, but in deference to what little pride Dick had, I'd nod and go along with the lie.

We adopted an abandonned Chihuahua to protect us. But he didn't last long. When you're used to the sedate mastiffs, quiet, humble and agreeable, a busy, demanding little dog who pees in the house just doesn't work. The Chihuahua found a new home and it's working out well.

Dick liked life in Florida. He became a real home-body, going out to pee and back in the house again. If I tried to take him for a walk, he went as far as the property line and refused to go farther, and it's not like I could force him. If I went out, he went to sleep. When I came home, he was right by my side. He slept beside my chair while I worked at the computer. On the floor by the couch if I was watching TV. In the middle of the kitchen if I was cooking. And beside my bed while I slept.

If I insisted on working the garden, he was right there lying beside me, moving every time I did but with a frustrated sigh. "Can't you stay put?"

To say I will miss him is such a paltry statement.

Writing this tribute to Dick and his life has left me feeling better. When I think of the impact this glorious but humble dog has had on his breed, I realize he lives on in so many ways. Who knows; maybe one of his puppies' puppies may find their way into my life.

Dick was the last, you see. The last of a long family line. Goodbye to Dick is also goodbye to Shirley, to Tess, to Alice, Didi, Diva, Rosie -- all of them. Goodbye to a large part of my life.

Goodbye, my cowardly lion.

To Dick --

Good bye dear friend. And thanks for everything you gave me. And to Didi, there in the background. I miss you too.
Good bye dear friend. And thanks for everything you gave me. And to Didi, there in the background. I miss you too.

More by this Author


Comments 77 comments

resspenser profile image

resspenser 5 years ago from South Carolina

I am so sorry that you lost Dick. He was a great dog and friend.

Will you get another? A friend of mine (cop,macho, etc) lost a Boxer he had and swore he would never get another one but about six months later he did. Not a replacement but...

Nice job on the hub, Dick's personality shined!


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

I've never had champion dogs, always mutts and rescue dogs, but they pack so much love into such a small place that that I wouldn't miss it for the world.


pintails7886 profile image

pintails7886 5 years ago from Memphis TN

I am sorry for your loss, this literally made me cry. I lost my Lab also a champion breed, this last month also. The pain is like that of losing a loved one, I lost my grandmother in January also, and I have to say the pain is the same. words can not describe it really, I feel for you. I know we dont know each other that well, but my thoughts and love go out to you at this time.

My dog Jeb, was a ducks unlimited dog, born and breed from a long long line of pure breed. I have his family tree that goes back a little over 100 years. But he was much more than any kind of champion pure breed, he was like a brother to me, maybe even more like my son. I do love him so much, and I always will. I do not want another dog now, he was the only dog for me.

Some people think it is crazy to love a pet like family, but that is only because they never had a friend that loyal and loving. Also it is a commandment from God to treat our pets and farm animals with the same love we offer our families.

Anyways, I wish I could do more for me and you both in this situation. I really do feel for you, and I will surly pray for you my friend.


Cindy 5 years ago

Lynda, I love what you've written and when I've finished wiping the tears away....I'll add more memories. Hugs from here.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks resspenser. About two months ago we were asked to take in a four-year-old neutered male mastiff for a family losing their home. We did, intending it to be a temporary rescue situation. Remy is still with us. He is a prime example of what I meant when I spoke of the proliferation of poorly bred mastiffs. He is very tall with spindly little legs and was quite overweight when he came. Kind of like an overstuffed cocktail sausage on four toothpicks. He has a horsey face and skull that comes up to a point. His rear end is straight as a stick and I just know he'll have hip problems later on. Everything I preach against. But oh well, he does have one quality: the mastiff temperment. He's a very nice dog. Just don't try and compare him to the beauties above.

In answer to your question, yes I imagine I'll have more mastiffs in my life. Breeders are often looking for a home for their retiring bitches. I'll put my name out there.

Hi Austinstar. A dog is a dog. Bloodlines don't change the quality of their love. I often wonder why so many people feel it necessary to say that whenever you speak of your experience with a certain breed. I've had many, many mutts in my life, will have more and am no dog snob. But the reason I took such pains in the breeding of these mastiffs is because I love the characteristics of that breed. It is their particular natures combined with their physical strength that makes them so special. I very much enjoyed my years with mastiffs, and the many people I met who share my love of the breed.

Thank you pintails. It isn't their accomplishments or bloodlines that make the loss so painful, it's how they give us their devotion. Anyone who does not feel they lost a family member should not have dogs. You're preaching to the converted here, dear friend.

In this case, it isn't just the loss of one particular dog, but of a family line that lived with me for five generations. I've now lost three dogs in the past year, all from my kennel in Alberta, all members of that family and they all traveled to Florida with me.

Diva passed away in December of 2009 of bone cancer. Didi died last spring of a stroke and now Dick of old age. Dick was the last member of my household from that bloodline I worked with for so long. All of those dogs were born in my home. They all traced back to one female -- Tess.

But that's the price we pay for sharing our lives with dogs. They don't live long enough. But, on the other hand we can get to know so many in our lifetimes.

Thanks to all of you. Lynda


Nan Mynatt profile image

Nan Mynatt 5 years ago from Illinois

Beautiful pictures and you kept his descendants with pictures. Dogs can become like children to you, and they seem to understand what is going on around them. Remember all the good times you had and years with him. He is irreplaceable in your life, but you may decide to someday to get another dog at some point. Words can't express your sorrow!


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi Cindy. So nice to hear from you. Yes, you watched Dick grow up, too. Do you remember the "bottle" parties when you helped raise that litter on goats milk? Or how funny you thought it when one pup latched on to your chin? Until you realized he'd given you a big hickey... Oh, that memory just gave me a good laugh. Say hi to Dick's daughter Maxine and give her a hug from me. Lynda

Hi Nan, thanks. You know I've always had dogs, and I've had children -- not the same thing at all. To me they're dogs, wonderful companions to share life and yes, of course they understand what is going on around them. They are a sentient life form. And yes, I will have more dogs. I couldn't enjoy my life without a dog. True, I am grieved at the passing of my special friend, but he did die of old age. He had a good life. Thanks so much for your comment. Lynda


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

There are no words that will convey my sense of sadness on your loss of Cheadle's What the Dickens - Dick. As the tears streamed down my face and sobs escaped, my Tony came and stood on my chair washing away the water with his rough pink tongue. I continued to read, although through blurry eyes and had to laugh and smile at Dick's puppy pictures, his giant cowardice and his studly antics.

You've written a worthy tribute to your lost loved one here, Lynda, full of beautiful sentiment and gorgeous pictures of his life. I feel as if a member of my own family has passed through reading your story. It brought back some of those dreaded last days with mine - the canine sling, the attempt to retain their water for unimaginable lengths of time and the sad end to their existence here on this planet. We will all be joined by our herds of lost creatures one day if heaven is all that is promised. Meanwhile, my heart goes out to you in this sad time. Lots of love from your friend in Texas. Peg


shellyakins profile image

shellyakins 5 years ago from Illinois

Thank you for sharing Dick's life with us. I read several parts out loud to my co-workers.


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

Lynda - this is a lovely, beautifully-written tribute to Dick and all the other marvelous dogs you have been fortunate to own.

There is a wonderful book here, m'dear, in your lovingly recalled memories of these dogs. No, strike that, I mean of these friends!

Thank you for letting us share in these remembrances.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Losing a dog is a special sort of sorrow because in most cases, we have to make that final choice for them, and we then have to live with our unearned sense of guilt.

We lost our beloved yellow lab last fall. She died in my arms, just like Dick.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi Peg. I know you are a true dog-lover and remember reading your tribute to your past canine friends. Yes, it is hard to watch them age and fall apart, to lose them all too soon, but the pain of loss is part of the contract we made with dogs in return for the devotion (totally undeserved) they give us. I am fine. Unlike my other recent dog losses, Diva and Didi, Dick did not die of disease or catastrophe, but of sheer old age. That's easier. Thanks so much, my good friend.

Thanks Shellyakins. Hope your co-workers enjoyed it.

Hi drbj -- yes, I've often thought of writing The Adventures of the Cheadle Mastiffs (first person point of view from a dog, of course.) Thanks.

Thanks all, Lynda


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks WillStarr. We mustn't feel guilt. Euthanization is a humane act for a suffering animal. I remember watching my father die by inches and thinking how much kinder we are to our animal friends than our human ones. And Dad would have agreed with the thought -- trust me. Clearly, you too did the right thing by your Labrador. It's our responsibility. Thanks for your comment. Lynda


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

"We mustn't feel guilt. Euthanization is a humane act for a suffering animal."

I know, but still...


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

They truly are part of our family. I have an aging Boston Terrier that I enjoy each day as I know he won't last much longer.


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

My condolences Mrs. Lynda. I do feel you now. I was lucky that Daisy (my Airedale Terrier) lived until she was almost fourteen. It doesn't matter though, after a decade of time to lose a friend is a very hard thing. I will always miss her smile (for some who might not know, dogs can smile - it's just different) and her beautiful gem-like black eyes.

I loved the puppy photographs! Such cuties, awesome! Thank you for a great blog. I am sure Dick had a great life and is thankful to you for it. Cheers!


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

"I know, but still..." I know. But still.... Lynda

Thanks Pamela. Loss is part of the bargain with dogs. C'est la vie. Thanks.

By the way everyone -- did you know hubpages has removed ad content from this hub as inappropriate? What a.... Gosh, we mustn't use the term bitch, not even for a female canine, nor should we describe sex in any species. And certainly never call the reproductive system by proper terms. I've asked for a human review. Unbelievable.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thank you, Mr. Happy. Dick did live a good life, though I don't expect he felt gratitude. I suspect dogs don't operate that way. They pretty much live a life of stoic acceptance. Glad to know you had a canine friend. Lynda


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Yes, Mrs. Lynda she was actually like my sister - my hairy little sister rofl. I also worked with dogs, trained some ... Dogs are just amazing animals - I simply love 'em! All of them.

I wrote a blog a while back: http://hubpages.com/animals/LittleofwhatIknowabout


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

I must have missed that one somehow. Will check it out. Thanks.


LiamBean profile image

LiamBean 5 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia

I'm very sorry for your loss Linda. There are no words adequate for consolation, but I know your loss well.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thank you LiamBean. It is losing a family member, as apparently you know. Appreciated. Lynda


Literary Geisha profile image

Literary Geisha 5 years ago from Philippines

i'm so sorry for your loss. i never had a show dog as i prefer mixed breeds - castoffs, some breeders here call them - and i used to have this adorable pitbull/labrador who was loyal till the end, actually waited for me to get home from school before saying her last goodbye.

it took me 3 years before i got the courage to adopt another puppy, a purebred sharpei (a gift), and i love her to bits!


Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 5 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

Aw, you made me cry, I feel the same way about my babie girl, a small toy poodle, she is the most amazing being in the world. I don't know if I can ever be without her. Love you story and I know how you feel..rate up up peace & love darski


Genna East profile image

Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Dick was quite a "guy," and he was lucky to have a such a giving, caring friend and owner like you. You were, and are, both blessed. Wonderful hub.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

I cannot read the whole thing for the tears, Linda. We lost our two cats whose lives had started at their birth in the bottom of my closet and lasted 17 years. It was excruciatingly hard to accept. I will be back to read on to the happier times when he came to you. It is a wonderful requiem and I know the tribute to his life is, too. It is a personal story of your love and loss for Dick - more personal than many of your hubs. Thank you for sharing.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 5 years ago from Stepping past clutter

Linda, I had to read this tribute. I know I have been away from hubpages for awhile- in part because I am searching for a new pup. I lost my dear Lorraine last November. I thought I would be fine, but it is harder than I thought to find a new friend. I expect when the time is right, I will no longer resist it. She was just... always there; not demanding, not impatient, simply present.

This fresh emptiness of yours is difficult. I am uncertain it will ever heal, though you will love again. There is something to be said for time and I do not mean "time heals all wounds." I mean time with Dick, years and years of sharing and slobbers that will never be emulated. I honor your process and I appreciate how much you loved the big fellow. Hugs.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

It never fails to amaze me how love and loss of a pet brings us all together. It seems to be one experience we all share. Okay, not all, but people who never loved a pet shouldn't be trusted in my opinion....

Literary geisha -- I would never allow anyone to call mixed breed dogs castoffs without giving them the sharp edge of my tongue. I've had wonderful mutts as friends. But I do love mastiffs. Glad to know you are back with a pet.

Hi Genna. Dick was an interesting creature and I could fill many hubs with tales of his life. Not just Dick, but his entire family have shared many years with me. I am by far the most blessed of the group.

Hi Nellieanna. There's nothing better for us than a good cry over a shared sorrow. Loss of our animal companions is as devastating as loss of our human ones, though many people don't understand that. It's also the price we must pay for enjoying them. Part of the bargain, is what I call it. I hope you enjoy the rest of it later. It really is a celebration. Thank you, Lynda


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi Storytellerrus. Thank you for your kind thoughts. I must say though, that while I am grieving, I do not feel I need to heal. Grief is a normal part of life, particularly when we share it with dogs. They just don't live as long as we would like, but we know that going in. I've always had dogs. So I've seen so many losses. I celebrate their lives, give them the best ending I can, cry over them a bit and move on to the next. There will always be a next. I shared wonderful times with Dick, as I did with Didi who had a stroke a few months ago, with Diva who died of bone cancer a little over a year ago, with Shirley, with Tess, with Alice and every other dog who has blessed my life. I accept that this is how it must be. I have a dog with me now, Remy, a poorly-bred mastiff but a sweet soul who is sheltering here because his family lost their home. I imagine he'll stay for the next few years. I'd like to get another. What I'd really hope is that one of Dick's or any of his siblings' descendants may come into my life and keep that circle turning. Thanks again, Storytellersrus and let your heart open to the next dog -- knowing that the price is saying goodbye at some point down the road. And then the one after that.... Bless you. Lynda


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 5 years ago from Canada

Lynda, Dick and his family were beauties! I understand "gentle giant" as my mastiff is exactly the same, and only a pupppy at 8 months. I use to breed rotties, and I miss my original breeding pair. You've brought fond memories back to me -- handing feeding puppies every 1 1/2 hours -- just like I did with my own children! Thank you for writing and sharing Dick's life.

Lynda, I send you a heartfelt hug and thoughts of warm wishes to you. I can see how lucky Dick was to have you in his life. You are both beautiful!


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thank you, Beth100. Yes, mastiffs are a special breed, no doubt about it. I was always perplexed when people would react in fear to Dick. If they only knew. I am very familiar with Rotties -- also members of the mastiff family -- having boarded many of them. A particularly stubborn breed, but good dogs once they get the message. Enjoy your mastiff! Thanks again. Lynda


crystolite profile image

crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

Nice article on mastiff dogs,these specie of dogs are wonderful creatures for any purpose.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

I am bookmarking this one as one of my favourite hubs.

I have had two Dobes and a Staffie and they were such characters and not just pets but very important members of our family.

This is a beautiful hub on beautiful , handsome dogs. I push all the buttons on this one.

Thanks for sharing,

Take care

Eiddwen.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi Crystolite and thanks for comment.

Hi Eiddwen, every dog I've known had a particular personality, aside from those inherited traits we expect. They are as diverse in this aspect as the people they live with. Thanks so much for your comment. Lynda


gusi 5 years ago

Hi lynda you made it to florida I am so jealous as I sit here as a foot of snow comes down I know what Dick meant to you they do leave a big hole in our hearts that can not be filled I know what it feels like after lossing Bubba we are still getting over it you seam to think of them all the time now it is good thoughts of a great love that not to many people have but we all do who own Mastiffs they are the greatest dogs there ever will be take care I love your story of him take care Harrie


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Why Harrie, Thanks so much for commenting here. This past year has seen so much loss, dogwise. Three good dogs moved here with me when I closed down my kennels. First Diva (Bubba's daughter from Shirly, if you remember) developed bone cancer and died a month later. Then Didi, (Dick's daughter) had a stroke and died. Now the old guy himself, Dick has passed on. Tough year!

How good to hear from someone who has been there and who understands. We know when we first take them on we'll have to say good-bye, but does that make it easier? Maybe. Still, the joy is worth the pain. Thanks so much. Lynda


Afra Newell 5 years ago

I'm so sorry for your loss, Lynda. I know how much he ment to you and what a giant baby he was. Rest in peace, Dick.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks Afra. A giant baby -- yes he was. Lynda


sonia05 profile image

sonia05 5 years ago from india

I am so very moved by this hub. The loss of a beloved pet is a big thing.I have a pet too,a labrador. He is as imperfect as Dick but still he is very special. The photos of Dick and his offsprings are awesome!


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi Sonia, I love Labradors, the most social and congenial of dogs -- and smart, too. On Dick's behalf, I say thanks for the compliments. Lynda


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

Thank you, Lynda, sharing and for letting us know of you great heartbreak. I know the feeling of loosing a pet. It hurts so much and you will always miss it. All you can try and learn to live with it. My thoughts are with you.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi Hello, Hope you are all better now. Thanks for your kind thoughts. I am fine. We all grow old and face the final journey, and I am one who believes all living things return to Him. Thanks. Lynda


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago

This is a beautiful and heartfelt tribute to a dear friend and cherished member of your family. My condolences to you for your loss. I know how you feel, I have lost beloved pets too, and I know how you must be hurting. You created a beautiful hub that lets us all know how special he was. Dick was real, and everyone will know he existed because of this hub. He will live on in your heart and on the internet forever. My friend just went through a similar situation with her mastiff, of the same age just this past December. He too was a gentle giant. I wish you a better year and an easier time ahead.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks so much toknowinfo. It appears the loss of an animal companion is almost a universal experience. Your comments is much appreciated. Lynda


Dee Righter profile image

Dee Righter 5 years ago from England, United Kingdom

Oh what a beautiful dog and a touching story. I have two bullmastiffs and they are 3 and I dread their times coming to an end - take care and god bless


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Enjoy your bullmastiffs and forget the dread. What's the maxim? -- seize the day. Thanks for your comment, Dee Righter.


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Freewind Ginger 5 years ago from USA

I enjoyed your article though I found some parts a bit apathetic. Death is an accepted part of life but grief is still grief. I rescue cats or make an attempt at it as much as I can afford to but no matter how many I lose, I still feel the loss keenly. I am sorry for your loss but this dog was special and not a coward; a gentle giant so say.However, I am sure you loved him and his family. I have buried a human child so I know about grief including the deep grief of losing a pet. Fine writing.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thank you for your comments. Apathetic or not, they were my feelings at the time and the intent was to share what is surely a universal condition -- loss and grief. I too have gone through the loss of human life: a child, a grandchild, parents, all the usual grief of life. We need not measure or justify, simply accept and move forward.

But, I'm sorry; I must correct you: Dick was a coward. Yes, he was and everyone who knew him would agree. It was part of his charm. And of course I loved him and all the others, so the however is not necessary.

Thanks again. Lynda


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 5 years ago from Canada

Just popping in to see how you are doing....how are you Lynda? Just thinking of you and hoping that you're fairing better.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi Beth, and thank you. I am fine. I long ago accepted that loss is the price we pay for the friendship. He was an old dog who'd lived a good life, and that makes it easier. Thanks so much for caring. Lynda


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I loved this Hub,it speaks to all of us who have had a dog, the sorrow we face because they have short life spans and the sheer fun and pleasure they give us.I laughed and cried my way through your celebration of the life of Dick and enjoyed the pictures of him from a wee pup to the picture of him as an old dog at the beginning of the Hub.

Beautiful requiem to a constant companion! Voted up, awesome and beautiful.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks Scribenet. Glad to have touched your heart. Lynda


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 5 years ago from UK

What a great tribute to Dick. It's so sad to lose a friend, and you obviously loved him dearly. He was such a cute pup, and grew into such a handsome fellow. Thank you for sharing his life with us.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks, Amanda. Lynda


Tammy Lochmann profile image

Tammy Lochmann 5 years ago

Sorry you had to say good bye to a treasured friend. I am sure he had a most wonderful life! Between you and Respenser I need a tissue box every time I take the time to read one of your stories. I'll be thinking about you and I hope your sorrow is short and your treasured memories are long. Tammy


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks Tammy. I'll be sure to write something humorous next. Wouldn't want to get a reputation as a tear jerker.

And you're right, Dick had a good life. To everything comes a time, and his did. Thanks again. Lynda


KateWest profile image

KateWest 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Poor baby. Thank you so much for sharing - great hub, great dog's life.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks, KateWest. Lynda


MyMastiffPuppies profile image

MyMastiffPuppies 5 years ago

Beautiful tribute... we used to have Rottweilers and we raised our male with our oldest son. He was part of our family for 13 years and when he died, it was like losing part of the family.

We now have English Mastiffs and we really love having them as part of our family. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful story, voted up, awesome and beautiful...


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thank you, MyMastiffPuppies. Nice to meet you here. Lynda


rjsadowski profile image

rjsadowski 5 years ago

A great tribute to a loyal friend. When I had to put my wife's dog "rocket" down, I sobbed uncontrollably afterward. She couldn't stand to be there. He had a cancerous tumor in his mouth and it couldn't be removed. The same thing happened with "vinnie the pooh" when his liver failed. You never get used to it.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thank you rjsadowski. It's been a while since I wrote this, and in the interim, one of Dick's granddaughters came to live with us. She's as big a coward as her grandpa, I'm happy to say and just as loving. Yes, it's always hard to say goodbye. Lynda


christinepurr profile image

christinepurr 5 years ago

I am so sorry for your loss. He was clearly a superb dog and this is a beautiful tribute. The pictures are amazing, I especially love the one of him and the baby, so adorable! I can tell he was quite the character.

I LOVE big dogs. My motto is the bigger the dog, the bigger the heart. Dick seems to have left quite a legacy, and now his memory is shared and can live on forever on here as well. :) I am dreading the day my Doberman pup will get old and slow down... he's just 5 months now, but he's left such an impact on me already, it makes even these early years precious. I'm going to hug my pup now!


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi Christine. I agree; big dogs are the best. The dog with the baby was actually Dick's son, Wallace. Yep -- enjoy your pup every day. They leave us all too soon. Thanks so much. Lynda


busy bunny1 4 years ago

My hubby and I have Lady Fiona living with us in Calgary. I had connected with Kathleen to learn more about caring for Morpheus (an EM (English Mastiff) we adopted) who had fear issues. Kathleen and her family quickly became our close friends, sharing our love of animals, and their friendship carried us through my hubby's fragile heart surgery. Morpheus saw my hubby through his recovery but we lost the huge boy last August. Kathleen was there for us and you cannot imagine the great gift she bestowed on us: we now share our lives with London (Lacelle's) and Lady Fiona!!! London may, or may not have one more litter for Kathleen (time will tell whether that will happen) and Fiona is the grand lady of our home. Reading about Dick's personality has explained so much about our big red girl!!!! She doesn't care for distressed voices; loud movies; and such but she is very happy with us and enjoys watching tv with us, hanging about and just enjoying each day LOL... the two big girls have a cat who is convinced he's a dog and leader of the pack... We adore them all and I'm writing this mainly to say Dick's girl does him proud and brings us so much happiness. She's about nine years old now and doing great.. she didn't have puppies which is somewhat sad as she's a giant of a lady in every way... I truly believe she'll be with us for a very long time. Sending good thoughts from Calgary, Alberta :-) :-) Irina and Randy p.s. I think she's one of the puppies in your "puppy-gang" photo... There's nothing like a great English Mastiff to round out a home and Dick surely must be smiling over us all!


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 4 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

You are indeed fortunate to have Fiona -- such a beautiful and gentle dog. I'm glad to know this one of my "kids" is in loving hands. And London, too! I remember London as a high-spirited youngster when Kathy first brought her to my home for a visit. Thank you for this update.

I now have Elinore, one of Dick's granddaughters born here in Florida living with me, along with a dog from Mastiff Rescue down here -- Remy (a mess of a mastiff with terrible skeletal structure but a lovely personality.) But it is Elinore who gives me the sense of continuity, being fifth generation of my lines.

Mastiffs are wonderful dogs, so gentle and quiet despite their size. Good thing for us, too, considering what they could do if they wanted to.

Thank you so much for letting me know all this. Give Fiona a big hug and pets from her original "Ma." Lynda


busy bunny1 4 years ago

I'm thrilled to know Dick's legacy continues and am glad you found my comment :-) Tonight finds us on the couches; London (yes, she is a total spitfire for a mastiff) with me and Fi cuddled up with Randy on his couch. We had a bit of fun trying out some Alligator for dinner tonight and chuckling about that tv show "Swamp People." Got it from Horizon Meats in Calgary and did it on the bbq... pretty good that way though next time it'll be done jambalia sp? method... of course the girls and monster kitty loved it too LOL! Just told Fi you are fine and happy in Florida and gave her happy hugs. You'll be glad to know she enjoys very thick carpets and soft 'n huge bed in our own room...the winter has been very mild so far with a cold period coming up soon with it's deep cold temperatures... it must be great to be in FL... I know it fairly well as my Mum had a little house in St.Pete's years ago and I had an Aunt who lived in Venice and later on in Sarasota... both ladies are gone now but our memories of Florida are cherished. I once caught a three foot long Snook fish during their run through inland waterways! Here's to a gorgeous weekend at both our Mastiff-run homes :-) Irina and Randy from Cowtown


Lesley 4 years ago

Hi Linda, we have never met but I wanted to let you know that I am proud to have 2 Cheadles mastiffs in my home! My beautiful Oralia who is Winston & London's daughter and my little man Ruari who is from Shyla, Winstons sister. Oralia is a CKC champion and we are hoping to have our first litter this summer. If you want to see their pictures you can visit my site oraliamastiffs.com

Thank you for your dedication to this amazing breed, with out you I wouldn't have my Mastiff babies!


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 4 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi busybunny -- Thanks for dropping by. I don't care for alligator meat (too tough) though I do like to see them in the waterways around here. Fascinating creatures. Glad to know Fiona and the busy London have such a good home.

Hi Lesley-- I will check out your site. Great to know Dick lives on in his descendents. Winston is a gorgeous boy. I was always very proud of him. Shyla -- your pup would be from Lisa? Good luck to you with the litter; mastiffs can be very hit or miss with more misses than hits. Lots of work! Let me know when the great day arrives and thanks for commenting here. Lynda


J Red Horse profile image

J Red Horse 4 years ago from The beautiful wilderness of the White Mountain of N.H.

Thank you for sharing the life memories of your beloved friend.

I loved the pictures you provided with the story.

I'm a Native American Tribal member of the Northern Blackfeet Nation and we believe that we are reunited with our pets in the Spirit Lands when we meet our creator, I wish this for you when you are called back home.

Imagine the joy you will feel when Dick greets you.

Thanks so much for this Hub story.

Jesse Red Horse.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 4 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thank you J Red Horse. I hope you are right, though that means I will be trampled in the stampede of dogs rushing to greet me. Well, that's what my life has been like, so why should the next world be any different? What a nice thought. Thanks. Lynda


rodlyalcide profile image

rodlyalcide 4 years ago from Miami, FL

Sorry for your loss and Great hub. He seemed like a great dog and friend. I hope you can recover from your loss and just remember that Dick is in heaven now.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 4 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks rodlyalcide.


Barbsbitsnpieces profile image

Barbsbitsnpieces 4 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

@Immartin...This is a gorgeous expression of the Mastiff breed! Your show and championship photos are lovely, as are the ones tracing your beloved Mastiff friend, Dick. It is so difficult to lose a dog, be he a family romper or a show stopper. I offer my condolences.

My beautiful Newfoundland, Ebony, passed on in January of 2009. She wasn't a show dog, rather a shelter rescue, but she grew to her own heights of glory as my steadfast friend. Her loss was devastating, but I did learn to love again. Another rescue, Cee-Cee, came into my life two years ago, and I am fortunate to have her loving companionship as well.

There were several dog books which helped me with my grief. "The Dogs of Our Lives" and "Marley and Me" allowed me to share the grief of others, which was immeasurably helpful.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 4 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi Barb I have had dogs my entire life and can't imagine being without one. Right now I live in a little two bedroom bungalow which I share with two mastiffs: Elinore, Dick's grandaughter and Remy, a rescue mastiff who probably has the worst skeletal structure of any mastiff I've ever seen, but is a good soul.

I long ago accepted that to live with and love a dog came at a price. While it is true they don't live long enough, this means we can get to know many individuals from this incredible species. I do not spend long in the grief pool, but feel grateful for the time we had and wonder who will be next in my life-long doggie romance.

Thanks so much for your kind thoughts. I loved "Marley and Me" having known several super Labradors over the years.

I also love Newfies:

From Stompin' Tom Connors of Newfoundland:

"This may sound goofie

But the good Lord loves the Newfies...."

Cheers, Lynda


Barbsbitsnpieces profile image

Barbsbitsnpieces 4 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

@Immartin...A shout out back to you to say I'm not surprised you've "dogged" all your life, being a show and championship handler.

I always just feel so bad for someone who says they lost a companion of the canine kind, but I really love your philosophy of having extra opportunity to share our lives with many dogs because of the difference in life spans between humans and dogs. It's a good way to think of losses and gains in the doggy part of our lives.

Thanks for sharing that "goofie Newfie" line! Ha! Ebony would like that!

Best wishes to you and yours!


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 4 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks and you're welcome and I hope you read more of my work. Lynda

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