Remembering Dodger Dog

By Joyce Amaro, LA Stormwater

I said good-bye to one of my best friends last month. Dodger, my beloved 12-year old Boxer/Shepherd mix, peacefully crossed over the Rainbow Bridge on April 18. While my heart is broken, I’m eternally grateful for the opportunity I had to be Dodger’s mom and the life lessons he taught me during our years together.

Dodger.Love.Your.Pet.Day.02.20.12Dodger taught me to enjoy the beach but to respect the ocean. Dodger never liked swimming in water. Instead he loved romping in water that came up to his knees or playing on the sand with his canine friends. During his lifetime, we took many summer trips to the dog-friendly beaches here in Los Angeles, and he would run along the shoreline, but never go too far into the water. I could almost see the respect for the ocean in his eyes, “I love the ocean, Mom, but it’s a great and powerful force of nature and I know that!”

Dodger taught me to be prepared! Dodger loved his walks but, early on, he would never do his business on these walks. He seemed to prefer the privacy of his own backyard. And then one day when he was about five years old, he shocked me and decided to make his mark in the parkway around the corner from our house. Imagine my embarrassment when I realized that I didn’t have any bags with me! From that day forward, I always carried bags on his leash. And, from that day on, Dodger almost always took care of his business on our walks. He reminded me that as a dog owner, I need to be prepared!

What's.The.ScoopDodger taught me to be a good sport. He was the unofficial mascot of the City of Los Angeles, Stormwater Public Education Program during his lifetime. He was a model for our “What’s the Scoop?” pet pamphlet and was photographed for numerous blog posts about responsible pet ownership that also included environmentally-conscious pet tips. Throughout all of this, he was a trouper – “smiling” for countless photos, sitting patiently while being drawn, or having yet another one of his walks turned into a neighborhood clean-up, which meant stopping every 10 feet and waiting for me to pick up just one more piece of trash. He always approached each new work assignment with happiness and enthusiasm and seemed to understand his role in communicating responsible pet ownership and environmental stewardship to the public.

Dodger was my first dog and because of that he will always hold an extra special place in my heart. I will remember the warm July night in 2002 when my husband walked into our house carrying a sweet 4-month old stray puppy that he had found “dodging cars” on Rosemead Blvd.  I will remember Dodger’s snuffling snores at night and his Cowardly Lion barks when someone was at our front door. I will remember his love of tennis balls and obsession with squeaky toys. I will remember the way his left upper lip curled up in an Elvis-like smile whenever he closed his mouth and the way he looped one of his front paws under the other when he slept. I will remember his addiction to chicken jerky and his love of cheese, which earned him the nickname “Cheese Dog.”  I will remember a gentle, mild-mannered soul who captured my heart and turned me into a lover of all things canine. I will always remember my Dodger Dog. 

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