I've had the honor and privilege of owning a this dog since October 21, 2000, though it's more of a partnership than an ownership. I named him Kirby after my favorite baseball player, Kirby Puckett, who led the Minnesota Twins to two surprise World Championships in 1987 and 1991, retired in 1996 after going blind during spring training, and made the hall of fame in 2003. My Kirby has interesting ways of getting into trouble, like the time he hopped on the shift and put my car into neutral just as I was entering an intersection. One of his favorite culinary delights is mierde del gato. He has amazingly direct ways of introducing himself to people and animals from which we could all learn.

Kirby doesn't bark often, only a handful of times since I got him - but he picks his spots carefully. One evening he decided he didn't like the statue of the founding fathers of TCU and barked at that; when the statues wouldn't leave Kirby alone, he finally ran off to get away from them. On many occasions plastic garbage bags have alarmed him, causing little surprised barks.

It doesn't take much to spook Kirby. I was once walking along a sidewalk when a couple of joggers approached. Kirby had an attack of paranoia, thinking they were after him - so he ran the other way with tail between the legs. Each time he turned to update the status of the situation, he found that those joggers were still after him, so he kept running. It was more than 20 minutes before I could track him down. He once ran with tail between legs when he saw his shadow in his peripheral vision, he's funny that way.

When I return from work in the evening, I can see that Kirby has been at work: his toys are scattered all over the floor and I count myself lucky if he hasn't remembered how much fun it is to unwind toilet paper. His favorite toys are squeaky balls that he will happily entertain himself with. Of course, he prefers it if I'll play tug of war with one of these slimy balls or if I throw it for him to chase down or (more often) snatch out of the air. I often find one of these treasures tucked under my ear when I awake in the morning.

In July of 2009 I found a strange growth on Kirby's back and had it removed. By Christmas he had two more, on the shoulder and ear. In February of 2010, the lab said that these were caused by a hemangiosarcoma, a kind of dog cancer typical in shepherds. This was horrible news for me, and I made great efforts to make Kirby's last days happy ones: I skipped my spring break to spend it with Kirby and my mother, I cooked him chicken and fish, not to mention some lasagna. I bought him soft french bread, which I soaked in chicken broth. Kirby might have been happy enough, but he was losing energy. His morning walks decreasing from more than a mile over an hour to just around the house in a few minutes. I brought him to the vet on April 16th, and given his weakness was surprised that he had the strength go get into the car - but Kirby always did the best that he could under any circumstances, I think he understood that life is short. His red blood cell count was less than half what it should have been, and the vet said he would live at most two more weeks. Unfortunately I had to go to a math conference that weekend down in Austin. I got back around 6 pm on Sunday the 18th and got the report that Kirby wasn't able to hold down his food that afternoon. As I walked into the porch where Kirby was and greeted him, he didn't evenhave the energy to wag, but just plopped his tail down once on the tiles. A few hours later his breathing became labored and I called the vet, who had left me her cell phone number. She must have known that he was on the way out, because she generously volunteered to come out and help with him. I hugged him and told him what a great dog he was, but then he went rather still in my arms. He began to gasp several times, but he may have already been dead at that point, and it was just his body reacting. Then he was still. I listened to his chest, but could find no heartbeat. Just in case there was still some brain activity, I told him several more times how much I loved him. The vet arrived minutes later and we carried my precious dog out to her van. It was the saddest moment of my life.

Back to:
Meet The Faculty
Mathematics at TCU