The Art Of Racing In The Rain

Our golden Teddy

Editor’s Note: It’s movie week on the blog. Check out our Blinded by the Light post on yourdelrayboca.com

If you love dogs don’t miss the new movie “The Art of Racing in the Rain.”

Bring Kleenex though.

The movie is beautifully shot, features an adorable Golden Retriever named Enzo and has some scenes that will tear at your heart strings. It also features some great music by George Harrison.

The movie is based on the book of the same name by Garth Stein.

I think my friend Jim Nolan gave me that book several years ago. I remember liking it very much.

Jim is a dog lover, like I am. He used to take his dog Goober to the Delray Green Market. The big old Bassett Hound with the soulful expression would auction off kisses for a few bucks. He was quite the guy.

But Goober got old and passed. To me and others the Green Market is not quite the same without old Goober. But that’s what a good dog will do. They work their way into your heart and never quite leave. That’s a good thing.

Dogs are having a moment as they say.

They are everywhere—movies, Subaru ads and all over social media.

One of my favorite Instagram accounts is called UPS Dogs, which features dogs that UPS drivers encounter as they deliver our parcels. Check it out, it’s great.

Anyway, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a two-hour marketing campaign for golden retrievers.

As if they need any help.

Folks, golden retrievers are truly terrific dogs.

I’ve had four—one mix and three purebreds.

All have been exceptional companions—and three were rescues so it is possible to adopt this popular breed if you so desire. I hope you do, because they rescue us too.

They rescue us from our self-indulgence and our anxiety.

The movie notes that dogs never think about the past or the future, they live in the present and that’s a good thing to be reminded of if you’re a person. Fixating on the past can hold us back, worrying about the future can also be harmful but being present in the moment is always a good thing.

The Art of Racing in the Rain really got to me. I felt this movie viscerally. It may be a tad predictable and melodramatic and it’s likely that dogs don’t have quite the inner life that Enzo does in the movie. It’s also unlikely that their inner voice sounds like a grizzled Kevin Costner. But maybe, just maybe, dogs do have this rich inner life.

I have two dogs—a golden named Teddy and a Chihuahua mix named Randy who we adopted 15 years ago at the Delray Affair.

The CRA used to let the Animal Rescue Force set up shop in its parking lot. One of the main volunteers from ARF (a terrific organization) worked in Delray’s Code Enforcement Department at the time. Randy is 16 and a half now, blind and losing his hearing. He’s been a great dog and a loyal friend.

But the sniffles I tried hard to stifle at The Art of Racing in the Rain were mostly because Enzo the star of the film looked exactly like our Teddy.

Teddy—like many goldens—is fighting cancer. This year he has endured surgery, radiation and chemo. The treatment left him with osteoarthritis which seems to flare when the weather gets wet which is often these days. Seeing him limp and struggle tugs at our hearts. Looking into his beautiful eyes and petting his soft hair often brings a lump to my throat. There’s something about this dog that resonates very deep. He touches something in my heart and has from the moment that Linda Ripps from Golden Retrievals in Boca Raton brought him over so that we could adopt him.

I can’t quite place why. I’ve loved all of my dogs similarly and have been grateful for their presence in my life.

Dogs enliven a house, comfort you when you’re down and love you unconditionally and completely. Yes, they are a major responsibility and a heartache waiting to happen but I wouldn’t want to change a thing—unless of course we could find a way to make them live longer and healthier lives.

In the movie, Enzo longs to be a human so he can better communicate with those he loves.

Enzo is frustrated that he can’t visit a loved one in the hospital or race cars which he believes he was born to do.

He finds himself fascinated by human rituals, abilities and beliefs.

I think Teddy may have the same thoughts—still waters run deep.

Randy…let’s just say Randy is pretty wrapped up in being a dog. He thinks he’s bigger than he is, but he seems content to be what he is.

Anyway, The Art of Racing in the Rain is laden with messages, lessons and wisdom.

And if you have a dog like Enzo–as I do— it will make you want to come home and love him or her even more.

That’s always a good option—to love more. That’s what dogs do so well.

 

 

 

 

The Love Of & For A Dog

My perfect line-up, Teddy, Randy and Sunny.

It’s hard to put into words just how much we love our pets.

People who love animals will get this. Frankly, I feel sorry for the rest.

Why?
Because the love of a good dog or cat, horse, bird or whatever you prefer is one of life’s great pleasures.

As for me, I love all animals but especially dogs. Always have, always will.

And while I love all breeds, I’m happiest when a golden retriever is in my life.

We got Teddy four years ago from a wonderful Boca-based non-profit called “Golden Retrievals.”
From day one, Teddy was the perfect gentleman—80 pounds of love covered in bountiful and beautiful golden fur which was soon everywhere. I mean everywhere.

Within moments of entering our lives, Teddy captured our hearts and I soon discovered that he had that knack with everyone who crossed his path.

He’s a heartbreaker—so good, so cute, so handsome, so sweet and so so loving.

I fell for Teddy completely. It’s a connection that I can’t really describe but all I can say is that whenever I look at him I just feel good. He’s a special dog.

So we were absolutely devastated when a few days after Christmas we learned that Teddy had bone cancer.

He had been limping for a few days and we thought/hoped it was old age (he’s 9), a pulled muscle, or maybe a sprain. Teddy’s an active dog and enjoys playing with my son’s golden puppy Riley and my neighbor’s dog Asher. Maybe in all that happy rough housing he strained something.

When we took him to our long time veterinarian, Dr. Jim Grubb knew exactly what it was. He’s seen a lot in his long practice: cancer.

Apparently, Golden’s and other large breeds are prone to bone cancers—the statistics are beyond disturbing. Google them if you must, when I did it made me queasy.

Anyway, on Dr. Grubb’s recommendation, we took Teddy to the Animal Cancer Care Clinic in Deerfield Beach and earlier this week Teddy had surgery to remove his ulna bone. Luckily, it’s a non-weight bearing bone so he will be able to walk. Removing the mass should make him much more comfortable and also prevent the risk of a painful fracture. As for a prognosis, we have to wait and see the results of his pathology before determining what the future holds.

For the past month, there has been a sadness in our home as we grappled with the news and continued to enjoy, love and cuddle with this wonderful dog who has changed our lives in so many ways.

I’ve been blessed with a bunch of truly great dogs—Tina, Rusty, Snowball, Magnum, Casey, Sophie and Teddy’s best friend Randy— a soon to be 16 year-old half blind Chihuahua mix that we adopted from the Animal Rescue Force at the Delray Affair many years ago.

I love them all and they love you back—unconditionally and completely.

As I’ve grown older I have grown even fonder of dogs because of who they are and how they live—in the moment, with appreciation, excited about the little things—a walk, a car ride, a beautiful day, a trip to the park.

Teddy is the epitome of this ethos.

He has the most endearing style.

Morning is his favorite time of the day.

He’s so excited to greet the dawn and he rolls on his back and kicks his feet into the air. When we get read for a walk, he barks when he sees his leash anxious to see who is outside so he may say hello. And when we take him on a car ride he leans his head on the back seat cushion, closes his eyes and enjoys the breeze in his hair. I’ve never seen a dog do that—its bliss defined. He is loving every single moment.

Yes, he’s a special dog.

They all are in their own way.

So when I look in his big, soulful brown eyes I’m reminded of the other great retrievers I have known—my winter lab Sunny, Casey who would go downtown with me and then try to get in every car as we walked the avenue, Rusty who snuck on my mother’s prized couch when she wasn’t looking and Magnum who used to sit outside with me at 1 a.m. for long talks into the night with my good friend Officer Skip Brown. He also ate a couch and a carpet, but those are stories for another day.

I’m hoping for more time with Teddy—quality time because we won’t let him suffer.

I feel we have more roads to explore on our rides and that he’s due more belly rubs and trips to Pet Supermarket where he enjoys looking and sniffing at each row of merchandise.

But if somehow it is not meant to be…I will still be thankful for every day I’ve had with this magnificent dog who overflows with love and has given us so much happiness.