The size of the fight

Pasha captures the ultimate rabbit, spring 2011

Pasha captures the ultimate rabbit, spring 2011

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”
Mark Twain

Our animal friends teach us many valuable lessons, but the trait I admire most in our little Schipperke, Pasha, is his fearless zest for life.  He apparently has never encountered a situation in which caution trumps curiosity.

He finds humans and other dogs equally worthy of attention, but large dogs seem to hate him, though he never barks or threatens any animal or person when he is out walking.  People who know a lot about dogs have told me larger dogs are likely provoked because he does not submit by looking away first as a little dog should.  Instead he makes extended eye contact that many dogs (especially big dominant types) do not appreciate.  Almost always, a big dog will end up growling and then lunging, needing to be restrained by his owner whenever Pasha approaches.  I’ve learned to cross the street when I see a big dog in our path.  It frightens me to see a large animal obviously upset at us, but Pasha never seems to care.

When we took him to our neighborhood Easter treat hunt for dogs in 2011, he was clearly happy to be there among other canines and one enormous creature the like of which he had never seen.  He wasn’t fazed; he posed happily for his photos with the huge Easter Bunny before pouncing on the treats given out.  I’ve heard a lot about how frightened some highly strung dogs can get when confronted with such costumed characters, who are there for the benefit of the humans seeking photo ops, not because the dogs like them.  But Pasha showed no such fear, obviously assuming that something good was about to turn up.

He will be 16 years old next month and his body is wearing out rapidly.  According to the vet, Pasha’s heart condition and lymphoma are indications that he won’t last too much longer.  However, his spirit remains full of the lively joie de vivre that has brought laughter to our days and happiness to our home.  He’s setting a pretty good example for his human family, one I hope we will have with us for as long as possible.


  1. Thank You, Julia! Other than spending time with my first Love this morning; your pictures and meditations are my next search for Joy early in the morning. You always come through. This morning as Pasha & The Bunny picture rolled onto the screen, my heart jumped with Joy. Totally unexpected, JOY! As I was reading your post, my emotions went up and down; because I was falling in love with Pasha and his spirit – fearlessness, expecting & seeing ‘all as good’ – than when I got to the part about his present condition, my heart sank. There were alot of valuable lessons in this post for me. Which amazing connected with my morning in the ‘garden’ : Love fearless, expectingly, don’t let the ‘big-dogs’ take a thing away – look ’em right in eyes, no matter what: you’re expecting something ‘good’ & you’ve got an ‘owner’ who loves you best. I am still sad for you & Pasha & the family that you won’t have Pasha with you forever; yet the saddest part would have been never to have received those valuable lessons in love, courage and curiousity. Helps me put grief into a healthy perspective.
    Thank You, Pasha! agape Love to you & her & the family.
    [Thank You, Papa, for Julia & Pasha for the all the gifts of them this morning]

    • Kate, I agree completely that the most sad thing would have been never to allow a dog or cat into our home because we did not want the good-bye. Pasha has lived a very long life already and has had some dangerous “adventures” (went missing three different times, escaped his run while being boarded and got into some poison, etc.) so we feel very blessed that he is still with us. We are trying to prepare our hearts for that goodbye but of course we are never ready for such things. However, I can say honestly about our dog that the main feeling we all have now is GRATITUDE for all the ways he has blessed our lives. As you say, it does put things into perspective. Thanks for visiting here!

  2. Well, did you? Get some sleep, that is. I understand your excited state over the MRI results. On an ongoing basis, Amundson and Borgan would describe your daily routine as riding an emotional rollercoaster. (first known use of this term was in 1982) Hold your hands high over your head going over the top, so that those of us behind you can see how you’re doing in that lead car.

    • Eric, yes I DID sleep well last night and I think Jeff slept fairly well too. This rollercoaster had been broken down for some time at one of the lowest points on the ride, and it took some doing (lots of mechanics and waiting in the hot sun) to get up that last hill. I have never been one to hold my arms up on rollercoasters but at your suggestion maybe I will start. BTW, this is a wooden rollercoaster I’m on, the kind I’ve always HATED because of the jarring motion – give me the metal coasters and inverted loops every time; I won’t get on a wooden coaster anymore because my spinal column just can’t take the trauma! 🙂

  3. Sheila

    Good sunny morning, Julia. What a precious dog your Pasha is. She doesn’t show her age in her appearance, although it must be obvious in other ways. I’ve never let Salty be very social for fear he might get hurt. I suppose we’ll have to share old dog owners woes one day, but hopefully no time soon. Enjoy this glorious day! Sheila

    • Thanks Sheila! I think Salty is such a cute name for a dog, especially one that lives right on the ocean. Hope you have a wonderful day too!

      • Sheila

        This was such a good post, Julia. I was thinking just now, of the fight that is so evident in Jeff and Bill. May them keep following the lead that Pasha and Salty have shown; never give up the fight.

        • Yes Sheila, our dogs are such good examples because they don’t seem to feel the anxieties that we do. For that matter I have to say that Jeff has seemed less anxious about all this than I am. I bet you can identify with that too! Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  4. I love the Mark Twain Quote, so true!!!! Great Post 🙂

    • Thanks so much, I’m glad you liked it!

  5. Sherrie Cannon

    What were the MRI results Eric was referring to?

    • Hi Sherrie, Jeff’s MRI from Thursday showed his liver tumors less than half the size they were before starting chemo. We are hoping this will make surgical resection possible, which will make a huge difference (statistically speaking) in how long he is likely to survive. I am late getting to these messages because I was at Walter Reed with Jeff today where he had a late CT scan which will tell us more about the lungs and other sites; we won’t know the results of that until next week. I will update everyone when we have gone over all this with the team but in the meantime I did tell family members that the MRI was encouraging after so many dismal diagnostics that seemed to get worse and worse in the beginning.

  6. I can’t believe you have had Pasha 16 years. Hardly seems possible that much time can have gone by. Love the post. Take care. Love, A

    • Were you still on Ascension in ’97? One thing I’ve noticed about getting older is some of the dates start to blur. The neat thing about having all these different locations is that I can usually peg dates within three years just by remembering where we were living at the time! Thanks for being here. Hope you are doing well or at least OK!

  7. What a great post Julia. Pasha sounds like a good boy. I really related to the submission thing. Buddy never did that well either and it’d get us in trouble. I once had to use a giant plastic trash can to block a pit bull that chased us while the owner was in hot pursuit. I was scared out of my mind since Bud was already very old and weak. I think your photo is so precious. What a gift to have him for so long. I read a couple of your other messages on the way down here, that’s really great news for you and Jeff! xk

    • Thanks Boomdee, I am now having trouble with my MODEM and have been unable to access online services consistently – the tech gremlins have invaded my homes! But thanks for hanging in there with me. It is a real gift to have had Pasha for as long as we have, every day is precious now and I can see that much more clearly than I had before. We are so excited that Jeff’s prognosis appears somewhat brighter. We will know more when we meet with the doctors on Tuesday. Thanks for being here! I really miss everyone when I am unable to be online!

      • Darn technology, it can be so frustrating. We’d miss you too Julia, hope the gremlins work it out.

        • They’re laying low as of now, so maybe the worst is behind me. I hope.

  8. Finally have some catching-up time again. So glad, your posts always help me. My son was killed in 1992 while serving in the USMC and I’m still fighting with it. Of course, Twain would have the perfect remark.

    • I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your son; I can imagine it’s something one never completely gets over. I pray that you will continue to find healing and peace. I’m so happy that you like the blog and I hope it will continue to help you. As a military wife (husband has almost 28 years active duty so far) I feel a bond to other military families that I’m sure you understand. Thanks for being here!

  9. Rene

    I was struck most by the mental picture of a doggy treat hunt, how fun! I just discovered a dog park in the next town with play structures that I’m hoping to take my dogs to soon.

    • It was a lot of fun. I haven’t heard of them doing one this year, but I thought it was clever. Dogs are naturals at sniffing things out. I have never heard of a doggie park with play structures – let me know how your dogs like it!

  10. Time can be a great healer, but the wound of losing a pet never quite goes away entirely I think. I’ve wondered if I would get another good boy like Jasper and Buddy. Can one girl be so blessed three times in a row? We both know how the love of a pet can make the sun shine on a dark day. I think what I miss about having a dog too, is looking into each others eyes so deeply. Of course I love my kitties, but it’s not the same in that regard. They’d tend to look away. Dogs are so special, I’m so happy they’ve been part of my life. Thinking of you all, gentle hugs on this sad anniversary, xo.

    • I so identify with your anxiety about whether a third dog could ever even come close to Jasper and Buddy. Sometimes I think we should get a totally different breed when we do get up the nerve to adopt a new puppy, just so we won’t be endlessly comparing. But we love the Schipperke. The only other breed we have considered is a Shiba Inu, but we keep coming back to the Schip. But they are very hard to find. In my heart I wish we could just adopt or rescue a mixed breed dog, but I also am afraid of getting into a situation where we were dealing with more problems than we can handle right now. For now, we are content to be grateful for our memories of Pasha. Thanks for understanding. ❤ ❤ ❤


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