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.

This post was originally published seven years ago today. Pasha died just a few months after this was written.  Jeff’s weeks of hospitalization, during which I stayed at the hospital in Bethesda with Jeff, meant that Pasha was unable to take our treasured 2-mile daily walk.  The lack of exercise took a fatal toll on him and his failing heart. But he was lively and quite active up until the last few days of his life. I still miss him every day.

The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Rene

    I have always loved this photo! We lost our precious Buster at the end of last summer. A month or so ago, Johnny went out and got “Brewster,” whom he thinks is a poodle/basset hound mix. Our remaining poodle, Trixie,” gets along with him well. I should try to post a picture.

    • Thank you, Rene. Brewster is a great name for a dog! So is Trixie. If you send me a photo I’ll be happy to post it here, or if I can’t figure out how to do that, I can post a link and upload it to a separate page. One can never have enough dog photos!

  2. Rene

    Johnny had joked for some years that our next dog would be Brewster (the one before Buster was Booster). When he went to the animal shelter & found this one, it had already been named “Bruster” by the shelter staff. The Kinder teacher in me had to change the spelling to be more phonetically accurate. 🙄

    • Wow, it was meant to be! That’s such a fun story. I would have changed the spelling too. 😀

  3. mike c. Bertoglio

    Brave little Pasha. Pets give so much to us and expect so little. One thing I have learned in hospice is how these little guys are so much part of the family and are family. My son’s beloved puggle Bodhi has a shrine in his backyard.
    The virus has not stopped the dogwoods on our block. I think some of these are natives.

    • Yes, those of us who are wise enough to welcome an animal into our home are paid back exponentially. One reason I hate to leave our York home is that Pasha is buried there. He loved the York home so much and was always excited when we went back for the weekends after moving to DC. We don’t have shrine or anything but I do have a lovely mosaic stepping stone to mark his grave, which is in the back corner of our azalea garden. My dogwoods at York are blooming now, and the one in northern Virginia has started to bud. I do think Atlanta must certainly have some native dogwoods. Hence the annual Dogwood Festival, which may have had to be cancelled this year.

  4. mike

    I see very few of the pink ones” Florida Dogwoods” Maybe it is too early. The Wisteria are spectacular and i picked a bunch yesterday. They don’t last too long.

    • Mike, my pink dogwood is in full bloom — I’ll try to send you a photo or post one here — but the nearby wisteria are just now starting to leaf out again. Both were planted within days of each other, though the wisteria is just beginning to climb over the top of the pergola. I’ll keep you posted. The pink dogwoods are gorgeous but the primary reason I wanted that variety is that the fall leaves are so dazzling.

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