My grandfather was named Moe, too. You might remember him. He used to beat up his buddies, Curly and Larry.

Moe’s last dog was a hairy little mutt named Pogo. Whenever he walked Pogo, Moe would take his 9 iron along. One day, when I was taking a walk with them, Pogo stopped to make a poop. When a big dog approached I asked my grandfather if the 9 iron was for warding off threatening dogs like this one. “No,” he said. “This is what I use it for…” Then he took a one-handed grip, settled the club head into the grass, and “chipped” Pogo’s poop into the gutter. Fortunately he was a pretty good golfer.

Then there was my black lab, Moose. In 1969 we took him along on a trip to Wyoming and Idaho where we shot the last film the Stooges ever made, a comedy travelogue called “Kooks’ Tour”. When we got to the Old Faithful Inn the hotel manager, a big Stooges fan, greeted us like kings. But when he saw Moose he shook his head and apologized, insisting no dogs were allowed in the rooms. Moe explained to the manager that Moose was a very expensive and highly trained Hollywood show dog and that he would never have an “accident” in the hotel. This was a total fiction, but it did the trick. The manager led us up to our suite. He showed us the magnificent view, the amenities, the expensive furnishings, then shook the Stooges hands again like a big kid and departed. As if on cue, the instant the door closed, Moose lifted his leg and peed on the couch. Spielberg couldn’t have directed it any better. Turns out Moe didn’t lie to the manager after all. Moose didn’t have an “accident”. He did it on purpose!

Those are just some of the funny stories. I’ve got loads more. But funny dog stories isn’t why I’m writing to you, Mark. I’ve got a dog story that I think might help mitigate some of the pain of losing Sprite.

I used to have a yellow lab named Spencer. Moose was a terrific character, but Spencer was something else entirely. If you take a look at his picture you might notice that he would really look you in the eye. There was “someone home” if you know what I mean. It’s true for me (and I’m sure it’s true for tens of thousands of other dog and cat owners) that Spencer was not just an animal—there was a spirit there. A big, friendly, wonderful being.

After a while I came to realize that Spencer and I were “old friends”. I couldn’t tell you when or where, I just knew that I had known him before. Spencer was very smart and learned tricks in minutes. A few commands and a few treats and he’d do whatever I told him. I would say, “Turn off the light,” and Spencer would jump up and claw at the light switch until the light went out. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do it too much because he’d claw the paint off the wall as well.

But any dog can do tricks. What separated Spencer from others was his awareness of human things. Spiritual things! Like the time when my wife, Sunny, and I were in bed, trying to make a baby, and we were interrupted by loud panting. We rolled the covers off and looked at the foot of the bed. There sat Spencie, his tongue hanging out, staring at both of us with a nervous, laser-like gaze. I told Sunny that Spencer wants us to make a baby so he can have the body and be a person instead of a dog. “I know,” she replied. Her response was more surprising to me than my own thought. Was it true? Who knows? But the moment was so intense, and the fact that we both instantly got the same impression, certainly makes one wonder.

Then there was the time Sunny was pregnant. She couldn’t sleep in our regular bed because she had to keep her leg elevated due to a bad vein. So she slept on the couch with her leg up on a pillow. Late one night she couldn’t sleep because she was feeling some light labor pains. So she asked Spencer to keep her company. He leapt up on the couch and sat staring at her, panting away like a maternity coach for eight straight hours until it was time for Sunny to go to the hospital and deliver.

Spencer was my best friend. He was my wife’s best friend. And a few years later he was my daughter Caroline’s best friend. In fact, all of our friends loved Spencer. “There’s something about him,” they would say. So it was hard for me when that day came and I had to take him to vet. I sat on the floor with Spencer next to me, holding him as close as I could. I looked into his eyes. His gaze was older and more tired, but still intense. I told him I loved him and said goodbye. Then I watched as the vet poked his vein. A few seconds later his gaze faded away and took my friend with it. What remained was a heavy mass of old, lifeless dog. Not my friend. I cried. But my tears were equal parts joy and loss. It hurt that I wouldn’t have my best buddy around any longer. But there was a poignant joy knowing that just as he had been my friend in some distant past, and been my friend through the last 14 years, he would be my friend again sometime in the future. Good friends always come back.

Jeffrey from CA