Spill is almost 16 years old, but it’s time for him to go. He’s been suffering for a week now, despite repeated visits to the vet. We’re paying extra attention to him today, and he seems to be liking it, although he doesn’t wag his tail.

He was our first dog, a miniature poodle with “phantom” markings – similar to a “party” poodle, but with symmetrical markings. His chest had a “bow tie” and he had white “eyebrows”.

Like most poodles, he was intelligent and had a unique personality. As a puppy, and our first, he wasn’t crated and it took a long time to housebreak him. He tore up carpets and scratched up doors. We finally crated him and he quickly learned to go outside, but he did have one last trick: he ate my daughter’s homework once when she left it on top of his crate!

He managed to get out of our yard a few times, always into our neighbor’s back yard, attached to ours just like the duplex we shared. Once during a birthday party, he burst out the door and took off down the street. Even in his old age, he was the fastest dog we had. The kid’s grandmother led a flock of screaming girls and boys after him.

My most vivid memory involves another attempt at escape. I was picking up some Outback to go food, and I noticed a problem with the order. As I opened the door of the car to get it corrected, Spill shot out and ran toward the restaurant. I was wearing some “I’m not going into the restaurant” clothes: a holey shirt, shorts, and sandals. I ran after him as he made his way to the sidewalk surrounding the restaurant.

Did I mention he’s fast? He rounded a corner and headed for the front door. If someone had opened it, no doubt he would have run inside. Instead, he continued left around to the side. We were near a major road, and quickly running out of sidewalk. I knew I had to end this pursuit fast, so I literally dove onto him, banging and bloodying my knee and hands and arms. Once home, I instructed everyone to not be nice to him!

When we got our other dog, Haunter, Spill was hilarious. He didn’t want anything to do with this visitor. He would not even LOOK at Haunter, averting his eyes and never playing with him.

But then a curious thing happened – we noticed that he would play with Haunter outside, but only if no one was looking. If Spill saw anyone observing his play, he would immediately go back to ignoring Haunter. Funny little guy.

He was always kind of a nervous dog, furiously moving his legs on wooden floors like Fred Flintstone trying to run, slowly gaining momentum. When we moved into our current home, Spill was stuck running around on wooden floors and wooden stairs. He would have to nerve himself to charge up the stairs, sometimes tripping and falling backward as he clawed his way to the top. Often there would be a terrible racket as he scrambled up, missing steps and pumping his legs. He didn’t seem to realize it was okay to take it slow and sure-footed. We put carpet stair thingies down just for him.

When we got our daughter’s puppy, poor Mr. Spill had yet another hurdle to get up the stairs: the puppy would wait at the top and ambush Spill as he came up, barking and playing and blocking his way. This was a nightly headache for Spill, as the puppy harassed him for almost two years as he clawed his way to the top. He seemed to learn to ignore it, or at least nerve himself for it before he began his mad scramble.

Spill could roll over, play dead, speak, give you a high five, and catch popcorn… at least he would catch it until one day when he missed a Frisbee that hit him in the nose. After that, he wouldn’t try to catch anything.

For the last few years of his life, he would get up and go outside, get his canned food, lay around on the couch or easy chair, go upstairs, then go to bed in my son’s room. Sometime during the night, he’d come into our room and sleep on his own little bed.

We buried him on a hill, lying in his bed.

Goodnight Mr. Spill, wherever you are.

6 Responses to “Goodbye little friend”

  • Kelly says:

    We will miss you Mr. Spill.

  • Auntie Pearl says:

    I’m so so sorry for your loss. He was a great member of your family, and it is almost as if you have lost one of your children.

    I feel so deeply for you all.

    Love you

  • Adela says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. He sounds like he was a great little guy. I also have a miniature phantom poodle and he is 18 years old. Our dogs could probably pass for twins! We adopted him at 5 months old and the worker at the shelter said the owners could not housebreak him for anything and surrendered him out of aggravation. Lo and behold, we brought our little guy home and he never made a mess in the house (we also took him out A LOT). I was 9 years old when I got him and he has been the star of our house ever since then. I was concerned when I brought my daughter home from the hospital, thinking that he might be jealous…but he even took her in stride, becoming her first and most beloved companion (she was always taught to be gentle). I know that his time is coming soon and that he has lived a great life, but your story touched me. Four legged family members are so special!

    • Matt says:

      They are special. We decided early on that we would get others, knowing that the time of heartbreak is short compared to the years of joy. We have two miniatures, about a year old each, and hope that they will breed. Popcorn and Caramel will have puppies names Orville or Jiffy, Butter or Kettle, or similar names. Pop is brown and white with brown eyes – an unusual color for a poodle. Caramel is caramel colored with dark, almond-shaped eyes. He is a rascal, the doggiest-poodle we’ve ever seen, burying bones and carrying anything he can snatch outside. Caramel is shy around new people but sounds like a Tasmanian Devil when she plays – literally, she really does sound like one.

      – Matt

  • Daisy Ortega says:

    sorry about your little boy…i found out Candy (my poolde)might not be mixed with a schnauzer like i’ve been told to believe.. a lincensed dog breeder said her poodle had phantom markings.. and when i googled ,,, I found ur dog.. I am so glad they look alike because ur pix of him as a pup gives me an idea o what Candy must have looked like. i got her at a young age, but not as a pup…. if you want to see my dog (ur dog’s FEMALE clone) facebook me or something.

  • Lisa LaCroix says:

    He is the spitting image of my Tanner. We named him Tanner because as a puppy he was black and tan and he was tanner than most black poodles. He was born a grouchy old man however incredibly intelligent. We also got him a playmate and he was always the alpha male. He passed suddenly at the age of 9 after only 3 days of being sick. It’s been just over three years, and I’m still devastated. I’m going to find the picture I have of Tanner in the same position as Spill and figure out how to post it. I’m so sorry for your loss.

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