Friday, July 11, 2008

Tribute to Scooby in Dave's words.

Tribute for Scooby
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." -- Will Rogers

Friends:Thank you so much for your heartfelt expressions of sympathy, empathy, condolence, and consolation on the recent loss of Scooby. Emily and I have cried and smiled over the many kind posts, lively anecdotes, and fun photos in this thread…and our hearts have been warmed by your support of us (including Shep!) and by your fond memories of Scooby. We have also received many PMs, emails, cards, and flowers from our FourteenerWorld friends...again, thank you so much for your support and generosity. Emily and I also offer reciprocal thoughts to all of you who considered Scooby a friend and welcomed him as a climbing partner, and who now feel his loss.The remainder of this post is my tribute to my best climbing buddy and forever friend, Scooby. I'll provide some of his history, list his mountaineering accomplishments, describe the circumstances and aftermath of his tragic demise, and expound upon his legacy. As a consequence of my psychological state, eloquence escapes me at the time I need it most... I hope that these words, photos, and recollections will comprise a worthy remembrance and farewell to such a loyal friend and incredible spirit.Emily and I brought Scooby home in July 1997, just after returning from our honeymoon. He was my first dog. Scooby lived with me in College Station, TX; I was on the faculty at Texas A&M University while Emily taught at a high school in Dallas. Scooby went to work with me every day (a two-mile walk each way), and sat in the office with me or went on walks with many of my students (he cheerfully served as a "surrogate" for those who missed their own dogs back home). He was a great traveling companion for my twice-monthly trips to Dallas, as he sat bolt upright in the passenger seat, enjoying the open Texas road and the passing scenery. This first year of our friendship, we established a clear pattern: nearly constant companions, separated only when I was in class, in stores, in restaurants, or on interviews.Scooby's mountaineering career commenced when we moved to Colorado in 1998. Tabeguache was his first fourteener; unfortunately, his sore feet precluded Shavano becoming his second fourteener that same day. Shep arrived in January 1999, so Scooby's big-brother job was to show him the mountain-climbing and trail-hiking ropes from the four-legged and low-center-of-gravity perspectives.During the summers of 2000-2004, canine-frisbee competitions limited our mountain-climbing activities. Both dogs were great performers in the toss-and-catch and distance events, and Emily and I each formed two teams paired with Scooby and Shep. Scooby won many first-, second-, and third-place awards in state and regional competitions. In 2001 and 2002, the Scooby-Emily team won several awards for long-distance catches; and, for several years, they held single-digit world-record placing among female competitors. My proudest canine-frisbee moment was in 2003, when the Scooby-Dave team won the season's Hershey Memorial Award for racking up the most points in toss-and-catch competitions. We also did frisbee demos at events for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and for a charity for the families of the Littleton-based flight crew killed on 9-11. And, Scooby and I were part of an intermission show at the 2001 Meeker Classic Sheepdog Championship Trials. Scooby's frisbee catching was shown on a Colorado Springs newscast and in photos published in The Gazette and in the Academy Spirit (the U.S. Air Force Academy newspaper). We "retired" from canine-frisbee competitions and events four years ago, as we decided to spend most of our time in the mountains rather than on city athletic fields.The incredible endurance, natural agility, fierce loyalty, and gentle demeanor characteristic of the border-collie breed pre-adapted Scooby to be a tireless hiker, nimble climber, devoted companion, and gregarious friend. He clearly took these innate attributes to higher levels in his love of hiking and mountain climbing, in his devoted partnership with Emily and me, and in his enjoyment of other human and canine company. We packed many many many outdoor times into our ten years in Colorado. Over the last several days, my review of personal notes, trip reports, and hundreds of photos allow me to derive the following list of mountaineering accomplishments for Scooby:-- 47 of the 59 Colorado fourteeners listed on the FourteenerWorld climbers page (he lacked Eolus, North Eolus, the Bells, Capitol, Longs, Sneffels, El Diente, Mt Wilson, Wilson, Little Bear, and Crestone Needle)-- 146 total fourteener ascents-- 11 winter fourteener ascents-- 5 traverses of the Sawtooth Ridge, including 1 in snow and 1 at night-- 3 ascents of the Kelso Ridge-- 19 ascents of 18 centennials, including a winter ascent of Cronin-- many other 13ers, including the Spanish Peaks, Apache, Squaretop, Organ, Baldy Alto, and Sheridan-- snow climbs of the Y Couloir, Little Italy Couloir (5X), Lost Rat Couloir, Angel of Shavano (4X), Queen's Way, south-face couloir on Democrat, north-face gully on Challenger (2X), and "Cincinnati Couloir" on Pikes-- dozens of climbs of local 9ers (e.g., Eagle, Herman, Blodgett)-- backpacking trips to the Rawah Wilderness, Buffalo Peaks Wilderness, Lost Creek Wilderness, Chicago Basin, Lake Como, Capitol Lake, Willow Lake, Navajo Lake, Snowmass Lake, Cochetopa Creek, and Barr Camp2008 was developing as a banner year for Scooby in the mountains. As of July 3, his high ascents for the year thus far were Rosedale, Sherman, Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, Bross (2X), Grays (2X), Torreys (2X), Tiptop, Morgan, Santa Fe, Sullivan, Hope, Ruby, Cooper, Pikes, Castle, Wetterhorn, and Uncompahgre. Unfortunately, our long-anticipated plans for Wilson, El Diente, Sneffels, and The Needle this year will not be.
Before this tragedy forever changed our lives, we were already dealing with the potentiality of Scooby's imminent mortality, as he was diagnosed with a large hepatic tumor on June 30. The recommended surgery had a 10% mortality rate, and the survivors' prognoses depended upon a number of factors, not all of which were in Scooby's favor. With the vet-internist's approval, we delayed the lobectomy surgery a couple of weeks for the sake of our long-planned backpacking trip to Navajo Basin…sort of a "Make-a-Wish Foundation" outing for Scooby, and a way of giving him the most rewarding summer possible. He would have been out of climbing commission for several weeks after the surgery.The Fourth of July was the last day of Scooby's awesome life. The actual day was a relaxing and breezy time of sitting on the porch with coffee, running to a local park for a prolonged frisbee session, and driving to various stores and other destinations. He and Shep sensed the excitement of our late-afternoon cul-de-sac party, and they looked forward to canine partiers, more frisbee, loving children, and dropped food. My last sight of Scooby alive was of him awaiting a frisbee toss from one of our neighbors. Approximately three minutes later, as the aerial fireworks reached a crescendo, I noticed he was gone; we were very concerned, but had no idea that he had disappeared forever.Frightened by the fireworks, Scooby had bolted from the party, and apparently ran and ran and ran. A jogger saw him running on the primary road in our subdivision, and briefly grappled him to read his identification tags. Unfortunately, even though she held his tags, she failed to realize that he had a Ruff Wear collar under his happy tie-dye bandana, and he pulled away from her as a salvo of bottle rockets exploded overhead. This was the last chance for him to be saved. We frantically searched most of the night and all the next day. I quickly created a flier with his photo, and posted dozens of copies at local stores, on light poles, on street signs, and on "multi" mailboxes.As I was searching west of the interstate late Saturday afternoon, I received the sobbing phone call and crushing news from Emily: "Sharon found Scooby...and he's dead." I rushed to the scene (on the northbound lane of Interstate 25, approximately 200 feet south of the Baptist Road interchange), and ran across 75-mph traffic to where he lay. The beautiful and effortlessly bounding form I saw the previous day on the summit pitch of Wetterhorn was now incongruously reduced to a broken still body, with dusty and grass-littered fur blowing in the tailwind of each passing indifferent vehicle, enveloped in the malignant sound of tires on pavement. His laughing eyes were now cloudy and unseeing, and his expressive ears hung randomly. We carried him to the car on a blanket, and took him home. We let Shep say goodbye to Scooby in the garage...I then bagged his bloating body, and sullenly iced him down.This whole situation has been so completely unreal for Emily and me, and I keep expecting to wake up from my worst f--king nightmare. This is such an incredibly painful time...we miss Scooby so much, and still can't believe that he's gone forever. All that's physically left of him now are a few woofs of his fur (we trimmed off his white tail tip as a keepsake) and a small wooden box with his ashes; it's hard to believe that such a wonderful dog and boundless spirit have been distilled to a few ounces of sullen gray material.Scooby's life was tragically cut short, and Emily and I deeply mourn the trails that will not be walked, the peaks that will not be climbed, the frisbees that will not be chased, the new friends that will not be made. And, there are so many little Scooby things that I'll miss so much: his happy face at the front window when I came home from work; his fuzzy butt in my face in tiny tents; his head between the front seats of my truck as he watched the road; the black and white double dogpile at the bottom of stairs when Emily and I slept late Sunday morning; his joyful "woo woo woo woo woo" as we loaded into the truck for a mountain trip; his paw on my knee (at home) or shoulder (while driving) when he wanted something; his snoozing under my desk when he came with me to work; the way he and Shep often walked down the sidewalk and trails shoulder to shoulder, in the fluid coordinated motion reminiscent of figure skaters; him waiting patiently for the last veggies in the bowl; our weeknightly runs. But most of all, I will simply miss his loyal companionship, his comforting presence, and his endearing personality now that our 11-year streak has been forever broken.Over the last ten years since Tabeguache, Scooby and I have walked together on a long mountain trail that ended on Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre last Thursday. The two of us, along with Emily, Shep, Matt, Sharon, Jeff, Allison, Sierra, Hoot, and many others, have had many wonderful times together on the trails and peaks, and I will treasure these memories forever. The death of my loyal friend is the single worst event of my life…I have never experienced such profound sadness and crushing loss. But I derive great joy in reminiscing about the countless good times and from considering how he immeasurably enriched my life over these years. Scooby will no longer actively appear in my trip reports and photos…but, he will always be with me on the hikes and climbs.Finally, I close with appropriate mention of Scooby's special buddy, Shep. Several of you have asked about Shep...Emily and I are making a concerted effort to help him through this trying time. Clearly, he is disturbed, but we are not sure how much he understands. His demeanor is undoubtedly a combination of his own sense of loss and of the grief emanating from Emily and me. He made me choke up Monday night: I was working on the computer, while he was on a sleeping bag next to our bed. He suddenly jumped up, and bolted down the upstairs hallway to the far room....he either had a dream or heard something, and was desperately looking for Scooby...
Below is the most complete list of Scooby's FourteenerWorld climbing partners that I can recall right now. Thanks to all of you who considered him a friend and welcomed him as a trail partner over the years. I know that his outdoor experiences were enriched by the many friends he encountered on the trails and peaks. If I've left anyone off the list, please let me know...I'd like for this post to be record of his many friends.

Jeff and Allison Valliere, and SierraHoot GibsonBrian FreiburgerMatt HaleKevin LundSue PersonettHeather MusmannoRyan MishmashJerry ShustrinJohn PraterKevin BakerSteve Hoffmeyer and Terri HorvathKen NolanJean AschenbrennerGerry and Jennifer RoachDoug HatfieldKate Decker and Paul StratmoenJeff and Jean Kunkle, and DenaliDwight SunwallBeau JeanmardDerrill RodgersBen OsbornJeremy HakesDoug ShawMark BrownForrest Thorniley, and LupineBob DawsonSharon AdamsSteve NichollsSteve CassinKeith and Beth BershaderCarol GerberJohn BroadbooksFerenc JacsoPete KrzanowskyJames JustGeorge BarnesNate StutzkeJoey LutherRyan Schilling and Erin BurrJamie PrincoRicky CarrJim WiseKevin and Diana CraigJared WorkmanJohn and Renata CollardMike Via