Cuzin Bridger’s at the Bridge

Here on my bloggie we’ve talked about my Cuzin Bridger quite a few times (as you can see here, here and here).

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Well, we are Most Sad to tell you that, after 14 years with our family, he had to leave for the Bridge on Friday. And our hearts are just broken all to pieces. Mom wanted to say some stuff about him and I said that was A-OK by me. So here she is…

My family is pet-crazy. Always has been. We take care of them like children, fuss over them, spoil them, write blogs about them (cough, cough). And no matter which branch of the family the pet belongs to, the rest of us love them like our own.

But there are certain pets whose personalities and antics are so much larger than life that they become something of a legend and find their way into family lore.

Bridger was (and is) one of these.

camping blanket

He came into our lives almost 14 years ago. My sister had just started medical school and decided she wanted a dog. However, she knew that it would take a certain type of dog to deal with the life of a medical student and eventually resident. The dog needed to be loyal and friendly, adaptable and independent but not crazy high-energy. A tall order. And so my sister, being who she is, threw herself into researching dog breeds. Finally she decided on a breed none of us had ever heard of…an Italian Spinone.


Spinones are gun dogs popular in, well, Italy. But they are not well known in this country and at the time, there were only a few breeders. And that also meant that there were none in rescue. So after more research, my sister found a wonderful, reputable breeder in Iowa and drove hundreds of miles to retrieve her new best buddy. She named him Bridger Teton, after the National Forest near Yellowstone where she had worked a blissful summer as an RN.

At the time, the entire family thought she had lost her mind.


Of course, it didn’t take long for us to fall for this gangly, goofy, sweet guy. Over the next several years, Bridger was the one steady constant in my sister’s life amidst a sea of change. He helped her finish medical school, and then moved with her from Oklahoma to New Mexico where she started and completed her residency. They hiked, went camping and took road trips together. He was there when she met the man she would eventually marry (and Bridger’s likeness, of course, graced the groom’s cake). And he was by her side when our dad died. A couple of years ago, they traveled full circle when they once again moved back to Oklahoma.


During all these years, the Bridger Lore grew and today, we can all repeat Bridger stories. Like when he…

  • Broke away from my sister, jumped into a pond full of ducks, retrieved one, swam back and deposited the bird, startled but unhurt, at my sister’s feet while horrified children looked on.
  • Wandered, uninvited, through a neighbor’s open patio door and made himself at home.
  • Hid behind my sister when my 8 pound cat charged him.
  • Discovered that the gate was unlocked, left the back yard and then deposited himself on the front porch to await my sister’s return.
  • Deftly snagged a PB&J sandwich from my 3-year-old niece as he walked by without even slowing down.
  • Ate 120 chocolate chip cookies in a matter of a few minutes and didn’t die.
  • Ate a 5 pound bag of sugar and didn’t die.
  • Broke into the food closet at doggie daycare and ate all the other dogs’ food…and didn’t die.
  • Ate a bag of potting soil…and didn’t die.

Hmmm…there might be a running theme with those last few.

What? No. I had nothing to do with the steak that may or may not still be on the grill.

What? No. I had nothing to do with the steak that may or may not still be on the grill.

Yes, Bridger’s appetite was huge. But then, he was huge. When he walked through a room, children, smaller pets and adults learned to get out of the way or be knocked down. He wasn’t doing it to be a bully. He truly didn’t comprehend his size and seemingly had no sense of his body in space. We often joked that in Bridger’s mind, he was a teacup poodle.

Happily, that big appetite and big body came with a big heart to match. He was a sweet, sweet boy and, without a doubt, the most gentle, even-tempered dog I’ve ever known. Nothing seemed to phase him (well, except dinner being a few minutes late).

bridger cake

He was such a presence, that dog. A humongous, furry, bearded reminder to love life and the people in it no matter where you are, to be gentle with and accepting of others and, most importantly, to eat well and often.

We all appreciate how lucky we were to have Bridger for as long as we did. But as we all know, it’s never long enough. He leaves behind a hole as big as his appetite. And of course, no one feels it more deeply than my sister. My heart aches for her.


But I have no doubt that when Bridger got to the Bridge, my dad and the Pirate Cat Ripley and Zero (another family dog o’ lore) were there to greet him. After that, they probably all went for a swim, rounded up a few ducks and then finally sat down to an all-you-can-eat buffet of chocolate chip cookies, PB&J sandwiches and assorted 5-pound bags of sugar.

Enjoy it, big guy. Until we meet again.

bridger closeup

Thank You

mayzie ears thanks

We just don’t have the right words to tell you how Most Appreciative we are for all the kind words and green papers you sent our way yesterday.

Mom says that even though we’ve been a part of Blogville for four years and she sees it over and over again, she’s always amazed and humbled by how good-hearted and generous-like the residents of our community are.

My Auntie Candice is now only abouts 300 green papers from her goal. Yesterday morning when we posted, she was about 800 away. Holy Whack-a-Moly! She says she can’t thank you all enough and neither can we. We are so proud and grateful to have you all as our furends.

From me to you…BIG BRINDLE SMOOCHIES and TUSHIE PATS all around!

A Personal Note from MayzieMom

Hi…MayzieMom (Amber) here. As you know, we try to keep things light and happy here because, well, Mayzie is light and happy. We want this to be a place to come to forget the rest of the world and smile even for a minute. I also rarely get personal on the blog because A) the blog isn’t about me and B) I’m by nature an extremely private person.

However, I’m going to share something intensely personal today. I don’t write this to ask for your pity or to feel sorry for me or my family. We’ve had plenty of that. However, this subject is important to me and so I’m stepping (waaaaay) outside my comfort zone to share with you.

Almost three years ago, I lost my sweet daddy suddenly and shockingly. Within a year while I was still reeling from the loss of my father, my mother was diagnosed with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease.

She was 66 at the time.

My mother today is no longer the mother I knew. The mother I knew loved planting flowers, and rescuing and restoring discarded furniture. She collected original artwork from local artists, not because she thought they were worth something but because they touched her. She adored dogs and impressed upon us that they were members of the family. She held a degree in theater, and taught middle school English for almost 30 years. She introduced “Romeo and Juliet” to thousands of students, and while she literally knew every line, she never grew tired of Shakespeare’s prose. She was wickedly funny, infuriatingly stubborn, sometimes difficult and always passionate.

mom me wedding

Today my mother is 68 and in a memory care facility. A year ago, we thought we were going to lose her to pneumonia and even admitted her to hospice. But she’s a fighter and surprised everyone by rallying. She’s now entering the end stages of the disease and has trouble communicating, eating and walking.

I thought losing my dad was the most difficult thing I would ever endure. But watching what’s happening to my mother is a whole different kind of hell.

And so we come to the reason I write today. My youngest sister Candice is running in the Chicago Marathon on October 12, 2014. She has entered as a charity runner and is raising money for Alzheimer’s research. Her goal is $1,500.

My mother and sister

My mother and sister

I’m not used to being on the asking end of things but today I’m asking you to consider supporting my sister in this. A new study suggests that Alzheimer’s may be the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. We know nothing can bring our mother back. But maybe, with the proper research, we will eventually be able to save millions of other mothers…and sisters and brothers and cousins and nephews…from the same horrific fate.

No amount is too small and all donations are tax-deductible. If you are interested in joining our fight and helping my sister achieve her goal, please click on her personal fundraising page.

Thank you so much! Your support (whether it’s financial or emotional) means the world to me and my family.

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