The Time I Met Elvis


It was the seventeenth of May and I was minding my own business when I noticed a little Chihuahua on the drive-way camera.   The lighting being what it was, I thought I was just looking at a silhouette of Cha Cha.   So, concerned she had gotten out into the front yard I threw on some more appropriate outside attire to retrieve her.

Except in so doing, she poked her head around the corner, revealing she was indeed inside the house as I had thought she was.

But, I decided to go out anyway and say hi to our visitor.   By this point he was on his way out of my yard and on to the next.  He seemed friendly, coming up to me when I called him over.   I let him sniff my hand and he let me pet him for a few seconds before resuming his exploration.    I heard my neighbor building something next door, and knowing they had at least one little dog, wandered over to ask if the little guy I had just met was his.    He told me no, and not seeing anyone else around he might have wandered off from, decided to put him in my back yard.

Little black dogs shouldn’t be out in the street.  Cars and all.

I grabbed the camera, went out back and took a few pictures of him, which I then forwarded on to the local animal control along with a found dog report.    Authorities notified, I set to making a found dog poster to print out and put up around the neighborhood.

I figured I’d have his owners located within the day.    But alas, no call.   For the next two days I kept checking with animal control for any missing pet reports that fit his description, also with no results.

So I start concluding that maybe he got loose from the motel up the street here and his people weren’t actually my neighbors.   So I’d have to take some additional measures.   Since micro-chipping of pets is common enough, I took him down to an animal hospital to have him scanned for one.

Here’s where the story morphs from a routine found-dog-trying-to-be-reunited-with-his-owners to the slightly-bizarre.

Shortly before leaving to do this, Gabe and I had been chatting.  He had been with us for a couple days now and we still didn’t know what to call him.   He threw out a couple of ideas, but he has this under-bite thing going and I say “He looks like an Elvis.”

So we’re in the lobby of the animal hospital waiting for a good fifteen minutes for them to come tell us if he had a chip or not.   Finally they emerge and one of them hands the dog to Gabe saying “We’re going to give Elvis back to you…”

Gabe and I look at each other.   We never mentioned any guessed names we had come up with, or anything to identify him by name for that matter.    Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks of the King when I see that under-bite.

“There’s some confusion.” they tell us, and then proceed to explain the conversation they just had.   He does have a chip, but its not registered with the service.  So they had to get ahold of the animal shelter who did have a record of it, from when they adopted him out.   So they call the people of record, only to find out they had given him away to another family some six months ago.   They try getting in touch with the girl they gave him too, but no response.

I’m put on the phone with what would now be the owners prior to the owners I’m looking for.   We talk  a minute, they’re at their son’s graduation dinner, but tell me about how they gave him away and had been getting frequent updates on him up until a month or so before, and then haven’t heard anything back from the girl.   Said they’d text her again and see if she answered.   Otherwise, they’d get in touch with me after the dinner to come pick him up.

So a bit later in the evening they call again and I’m trying to get them my address and ask what Elvis’ story is.    They are Chihuahua rescuers that do what they can to put them into homes so they aren’t euthanized.   Elvis was one such rescue, but they decided they’d give him a home.    Unfortunately he is a very playful little guy and their other dogs are more lethargic.   They felt he wasn’t getting the kind of interaction he needed from the pack and might be happier in a home with more active dogs.  So they found him one.    Now they’re second guessing that decision as ‘obviously she let him get loose’ and ‘we haven’t heard from her in a couple of months and she’s not answering our messages that he’s been located.’

Discussion continues around what his fate is.   It’s a mutual feeling we don’t want him winding up in the pound again.   They’re quite willing to take him home, but if I want to give him a try and see how he adjusts to my dogs, they’re okay with that and if for any reason it doesn’t work out, I just call and they come get him and take him back home.

So now I have four dogs.  He’s getting on well enough with the rest of the pack I know they’ll all integrate just fine and I won’t need to be making any calls.   So I go and register his chip to my name, because now his owner of record has given him to me.

Then he escapes my yard, finding a hole in the fences that actually both my existing little ones could have exploited but apparently have not.   I find him walking down the street and retrieve him.   I note where the hole is and make a temporary patch until Gabe can get home and figure out a more permanent solution. (I leave most of that to him since he’s far more adept with power tools than I.)    Meanwhile, I’m actively monitoring all potty-excursions to the yard.

Gabe gets home from work and I tell him what happened and he goes out and makes a fix.   We let Elvis out and I watch him closely.  He runs right to where the hole was now whenever he goes out, so I know he’s trying to get out.  (Most likely wants to go home, I figure, but we don’t know where that is and I don’t want him getting hurt looking.)

While observing it I conclude he could jump over the board, but hasn’t yet realized it.  So I tell Gabe we need a do-over on that repair.   He’s in the middle of his next project so will get to that shortly.    Meanwhile I need to start dinner.

So I’m doing that and Gabe is going in and out of the garage a lot.   And not being mindful of the dogs going out with him.   I, however, am and after retrieving Elvis three or four times in the middle of cooking go tell Gabe to be more careful as we’re both distracted and not watching closely enough… and Elvis can get out.   (In one of those retrievals it was discovered he realized he could get over our barrier and sure enough, he did.)

Sadly my instruction didn’t work out.  Elvis slipped out back again, and then out front, and by the time I noticed he was gone.

Gabe and I take off exploring the neighborhood looking, fruitlessly.    Little guy is now missing again.    We figure he found his way home, as there wasn’t enough time for him to have gotten very far, and with no trace of him… he either found his home, or another person didn’t want him getting hit by a car and did the same thing I did, take him in to find his people.

After a sleepless night worrying about him, the next morning I get up and tour the neighborhood again looking for him.   Then I go home and make up some more posters, this time about a missing dog, and go out and plaster the neighborhood with them.

I’m pretty upset by now and worried sick about this little dog I just met a few days ago.   We bonded pretty quick.

Finally a get a phone call from an unrecognized number.  Which I answer and it’s a lady telling me that that dog I’m looking for, it’s hers.    She goes on to explain how he was stolen from her yard (but then mentions she has six kids), and that some red truck apparently slowed down next to their house the previous evening and released him in front of her kids… thus getting him to his house.

Yeah, this is where we go from slightly-bizarre to bizarre.   Some random red truck dropping a dog off for kids.    “They must have recognized him and knew where he lived.”  I said.   She dismissed that notion as they has just moved here and didn’t know anyone.

Whatever I think.   At this point I’m experiencing several emotions.    I’m disappointed he’s not coming back to my home.   I’m relieved he’s safe.  I’m happy he has been reunited with familiar faces.   Yet I’m also kind of pissed off because I know this lady was just bull-shitting in her story, and felt she was accusing me of stealing her dog.

I call BS because I too was talking with animal control on a daily basis, even after I was given him by the previous owners (who, being the owner on record associated to the permanent ID be who the State of Nevada would decree is the owner… so at this point he is legally mine… not that I really want to take anyone’s dog from them.)    If she had been calling them every day like she claims, that first call would have had animal control taking a missing dog report, which I would have seen.

Never mind that due to a glitch in their online software there are actually three entries in their database for him being found.   Two of which have pictures.

So I’m not buying that aspect of the story, and if you have six kids, I find it far more likely he snuck out with all the traffic in and out of the gate on their yard.    Plus, once I figured out the house he lived at, was even more annoyed because I know for a fact my “I found a dog in my yard” poster was put up on the street light directly across the street from them.     Why didn’t anyone come looking for him?

I decide to just let it rest and get over it.   He’s where he wants to be and after I walked by to go retrieve my ‘lost dog’ posters, got to see him and confirm he really was okay.   Not that I was all that happy with what I saw.   He was outside on a hot day and with little shade and no water around I could see.    Still he was clearly healthy and well cared for when he arrived in my world, so I figured they took better care of him than that moment implied.  Besides, I felt I was getting a bit judgmental because I was sad he wasn’t coming home to me.

A week goes by and I get another call saying she had seen a lost dog poster and it was her dog I was looking for.    Now we’re crossing into bizzaro world.   After some precision questioning I figure out she is the ‘daughter’ of the lady I spoke to previously and the one that had actually been given Elvis by the previous owners (associated to the chip).   So I explain again what actually transpired, why he was in my care, and why I was looking for him.   I also reiterate I’m just glad he got back to his people.

Still, my mind keeps telling me this isn’t over.     As you may recall, I have his chip in my name now.  I’m still unsure what to do about it.    In my mind, I’ve now shown a higher degree of ownership and responsibility for a dog that wasn’t mine to begin with, when they have not.   Gabe figures he just gets loose a lot and they stopped being concerned about it.  The whole ‘he was stolen’ thing is just a cover story for when people start asking questions.

Great, I think.   He’ll get out, get hurt, get help and I’ll be the one called to come pay for his repairs.    A bridge to cross when we get to it.  I mentioned three times in the conversation with the ‘mother’ that he had a chip registered to the wrong people.   She didn’t seem all that inclined to care about that detail.     I call the previous owners I had spoken too and give them the update.   Not sure yet who would get that call as animal control has one set of owners and the HomeAgain service has me.   Just in case they should get a call if he gets out again.   She’s very appreciative of me taking the time to do that.

So as the days pass I make my peace with it all and am carrying on with the three dogs I have.

Then memorial day hits and I feel my phone vibrating in my pocket.  I don’t get it out in time but it’s a missed call from “Elvis’ People.”    Then I note another missed call from them an hour earlier.     Great, I’m thinking, he’s out and about again.    But that first call had a voicemail, so I listen to that and now it’s a guy.   The dad I assume, or at least the mom’s boyfriend.     “We have to give up Elvis and you’re the first person that came to mind.”

So I call to see what’s up and get this story about how they have to move and can’t keep him and if I want him, it’ll just be a $40 re-homing fee.

Gabe thinks I’m being scammed for money and I’m inclined to agree, but at forty dollars, I think that’s a small price to pay to ensure Elvis has a good home and won’t be bounced around anymore.

So I go to the ATM, get the money, and then go get Elvis.     I feel pretty good no one can challenge my ownership now.  His permanent ID says he’s mine and the only party that could contest it is sold him to me.   (Probably should have gotten a receipt, but I did some homework on how Nevada handles pet ownership and having permanent ID with my name associated to it protects my interests quite well.)

And that is the story of how I met Elvis, and added him to my pack.


Although as my neighbors I frequently am passing their house and they don’t seem to be moving at all.  Which makes me wonder now why they really gave him up.   I really hope he wasn’t sold for drug money.  I don’t want to be a party to that.   There were also kids involved and its sucky enough I’m the guy that came to take their dog away from them…   they were old enough to grasp it all, but still obviously sad.    Even ran into the guy at the gas station the other day.

To further the oddities of this story… the house Elvis came from is the same crap-hole house that Gabe and I seriously contemplated buying as a fixer-upper for ourselves.   We ultimately opted against it due to this massive pit in the back yard that someone had been a swimming pool at some point.    Ultimately we decided we’d be getting to far in over our heads with that place.

All in all, after a story like this, its difficult to not conclude it’s the Force’s way of making what needs to happen happen.    While I didn’t really need/want another dog, I’m quite attached to the little guy.   Now to teach him Dog 101 – how to sit, lay down, etc.

Only a week…


It was a week ago today that I had to make that very tough decision.    Sunny was not doing well.   It had been several days since I had seen him eat anything (and months since I had seen him eat more than a few small bites).    He wasn’t drinking as much water as in the previous days.

His was time was coming.

What did it for me was walking into the bedroom and finding him on the floor.   Gabe and I had just been having another shouting match on the phone.   So I was rather angered, but that all turned to dispair when I saw him.    He had obviously fallen off the bed and was laying on the floor a bit twisted up.     I honestly thought I was going to pick up a corpse…that it had happened and he was gone.    I literally jumped when he moved.    I got him all righted and took him out to the living room where he could have a comfortable place to lay without having to get up and down off furniture.

That had been our fear, that he’d fall and hurt himself and at that point would be suffering in pain.

I broke down again.   Got ahold of Gabe, told him what was up.   Told him I thought it was time to make the call.   He told me to go ahead with it.

I procrastinated for several hours.   Logically I knew it was the right thing to do.   But my heart didn’t want to lose him.    Felt selfish for wanting to keep him around when he clearly had a low quality of life with no chance of improvement.  Felt selfish for wanting to give him peace, because I kept having that thought of “I” don’t want to see him like this anymore.

But it was the right thing to do.   Gabe finally prodded me into action and I scheduled the euthanasia for that evening.   While I was waiting to hear back on confrimation, I took Sunny outside to lay in the sun for the last time.    While we were out there he started having some problems.   Wanted to walk somewhere, but couldn’t lift himself.  I helped and we made it a few feet.   Then he laid back down.  I picked him up and held him for a bit.   Was going to bring him back inside where it was warmer.    His back arched and he pee’d on me.   Then was having difficult breathing again like when I got him straightened out from his fall.

Gabe came home and Sunny’s breathing got better.   At that point I had confirmation.  Sunny only had a few more hours with us.

HIs dad held him the whole time.     Those were the hardest hours… knowing that each tick of the clock meant it was that much closer to having our kitty forcibly put to death.    I don’t want to use euphemisms here.  I scheduled his death and it was a very difficult thing to put myself through, even knowing it was the best thing I could do for him.   I don’t like having that kind of power over something.    But I know it’s a situation I’m going to face again… at least three more times in my life.

The sick feeling in my stomach when the vet’s van pulled up is something I won’t soon forget.   The couple hours spent petting the cat and watching the clock did not prepare me for the inevitable consequence of my decision.

She was here, and Sunny would not be much longer.      Props to the vet though.  She was very kind and thorough.    Gave me a hug when I offered my hand to shake.

The rest went pretty routine.  She explained what to expect, what she was gonna do, and gave us a few moments to prepare.   Then came the injections and Sunny finally didn’t have to be trapped in a failing body.


Today is the first day I’ve cried about it since we buried him.    I find myself avoiding my own back yard.   Everytime I look out the window I find myself looking for him.    I want the trees and plants to mourn is absence, but nature isn’t like that.    The backyard goes on unphased, but the cat that ruled over it is no more.

I miss him.    I hate my back yard for not sharing that sentiment… ridiculous as that is.

Rest in Peace


We laid our Sunny to rest today, alongside his sister Cher.      Always have him in our hearts.   It was a beautiful day today… the perfect day for him.

I’ll miss my little buddy.   


Sunny the Cat

November 1999 ~ February 23, 2012

Sunny and the Case of my Alleged Twin


Don’t ask me how… but Sunny is still alive.    The cat hasn’t eaten anything (to my knowledge) in over a week now.    Still drinking water.     I don’t think he’s pee’d in the last two days though, so that’s not good.

Somehow… he persists.    Toughest cat I think I’ve ever known.     Unfortunately his body continues to fail him despite his perserverance.     He’s been having a real hard time moving around the past couple of days as well.

So far, he seems relatively comfortable though.    I don’t imagine he feels all that good, but he isn’t showing any signs of pain or anything.      Still, I sense his time grows ever shorter.    I’m just glad I have the opportunity to be with him during the day and not having to leave him alone while both his ‘people’ hide out in an office.   Working from home is a significant advantage I’m grateful to have the option of.



I have received yet another report that someone encountered my twin.    Now, for the record, I don’t have a twin brother.    Though the frequency of which I’m told someone saw him is starting to make me wonder.     Parental units?   Anything you want to tell me?

This has been ongoing for years.     I think the first instance was in an airport with my brother who, while walking with me to a gate, spotted someone sporting striking resemblance to me boarding a different plane.     Apparently in an outfit similar to stuff I wore at the time as well, furthering this theory of me having a twin.

I was approached in a Shop-Ko once, when we still had those, by someone who thought I was my brother.    He and I do look a lot a like, so its easy enough for people to mistake us if they don’t encounter us regularly.    But that’s different from what other people have been telling me.

There is a guy, apparently in Carson City (or at least a frequent visitor down that way) that apparently looks just like me… as I’m either asked if I was out and about in Carson City or just told outright “I just saw your twin!”   (such as the text message from my friend Zach yesterday evening).

I really want to meet this guy and see for myself.    

One day at a time…

These are rather dark times for the House of Burks.    On the other hand, every day I wake up and find Sunny lounging about is a gift.   I remind myself that many cats his age spend much of their time asleep, even in good health.

Since we had such a beautiful day yesterday we took him out in the backyard for a bit to enjoy the sun and fresh air.    He hung out on his favorite tree stump for awhile, ate some grass, and even sharpened his claws on said-tree-stump before settling down on the grass for a brief nap in the sun.    I wish today wasn’t snowy and overcast, so he could spend a little more time out there.   We’ll have good weather again for him though.

I wish it were under better circumstances, but going through the same thing as we are, has allowed G and I to make a little progress on sorting things out between us as well.    I feel that wall between us starting to come down via our shared grief.    I feel so terrible for him.   His buddy, Sunny, has been a bit of a rock for him over the years and now he’s slowly slipping away.

Got some info on mobile vetrinary services, and should it come to it… Sunny will transition peacefully to the summerlands here at home.   From there, he will be taken to an undisclosed location to be laid to rest alongside his sister, Cher.

Tough day…


I think I have shed more tears in the past 24-odd hours than I have in the entire first decade of the twenty-first century.



Sunny, our cat, is dying.   Complications from early in his life, coupled with well-meaning neighbors, have ultimately cut his life a few years shorter.    His kidney’s are shutting down.   It’s progressed far enough that his red-blood cell counts are low.   His body isn’t filtering out toxins well enough and they are building up in him.

How much time he has is anyone’s guess.   He’s a fighter, so I expect he’ll stick it out.   That prognosis from earlier in his life basically stated that if his food couldn’t be controlled, meaning the junk cat food most people feed their animals, than due to the damage his kidney’s suffered he wouldn’t live more than a few years.

Well he has certainly defied those odds.  He’s twelve years old today, possibly thirteen (assuming the one document I have suggesting his age is accurate).   Not quite as old as I’d hope he’d be, unfortunately.   Nevertheless, I can take comfort in the knowledge that he’s not in any pain.   He’s tired.  He’s weak.   He’s still full of love and affection.

So we’ll keep him comfortable.  We’ll keep him safe.   We’ll love him right up until the end.


It surprised me too.


I met a guy over the weekend who I think may just be more into Halloween than I am.   Shocking!    At the very least he gives me good competition for dark-holiday obsession.   :)     Needless to say we hit it off extremely well, geeking out over skeletons and gargoyles.   Three of my gargoyles are also his.

Seems we have a lot of common interests too.    For you Radcliffians, I think its safe to say I have a new Jaffa to add to the ranks.    I may be getting ahead of myself, but I’m already anticipating an extra set of hands for next year’s setup.


Speaking of which, just some finishing touches to be made and the photo shoot can begin!   I’m particularly pleased with how the bathroom came out this year.    of course every time Leia barks (it was her five-year birthday yesterday), she sets off some sound-activated horror.    I, of course, can’t help but giggle about it.

A long overdue check-in…


Well it has been a bit since I’ve graced the pages of my own blog.   I need to get myself back into the habit of more frequent updates.

What has life been throwing at me?    Mostly just work.   Been dealing with lots of performance issues with our database server.   Getting any reports to run has been really challenging.    But we’re making some progress, it would seem, as we actually got through last night’s updates before the start of business today.   For the first time in at least two weeks.

I’d like to think I had a hand in that, but aside from pushing two resource-hogging reports out to later in the day, I don’t think I really did.

Efforts continue, though, because while today went smooth, we’re not at a point yet we can consider sustainable.


On the home front not much is going on there.   Took Leia into the vet a week or so ago for her vaccinations.   She’s no longer rabid.   :)   Okay, well, she’s got her booster shots to ensure she never becomes rabid in the first place.    Along with canine distemper, porvo (or whatever that disease is called), and whatever else they injected her with.

She’s a trooper, but terrified of the whole affair.  Wouldn’t eat any of the treats she was offered.   Only wanted to be where I was holding her.    The look in her eyes while they were giving her the shot was kind of heart-wrenching.    I don’t like the “Daddy, please save me!” look.

After that, though, we stopped by the pet shop to get her food, and she got to take her first trip inside with me.   I’ve been reluctant as I was always worried she’d bark at everything and generally embarrass me.    She showed me just how well-mannered she can be.   (So now I know!  No excuses for misbehavior… much like you let it slip that yes, do you know how to sit and lay down!)     While we were there I checked in on grooming prices and decided to schedule her an appointment for later that day.

So we went back, and she was all happy about it until it was time to turn her over to the groomer.   Then it was back to the “Daddy!  Pick me up and Save Me!!” shenanigans.

She was, needless to say, quite thrilled when I came to retrieve her a few hours later.

For having no idea what I wanted her hair-cut to be, I think they did a great job.   Wish I had pictures, but she won’t hold still long enough.    (And now she needs another brushing.)


This past weekend I finally got all my Halloween stuff out of storage and to the house.   Started putting it all up, but it’s the 21st already and I’m really far behind.    Gonna be tough as I need to devote time this weekend to emptying out the rest of storage so i don’t have to keep paying for it.     This is my last weekend before my Oct 1 deadline.

On the plus side we figured out the tree situation for this year.   It’s stand was broken, and remains unrepaired.   Gabe insists he can fix it, but it’s been two years and he doesn’t seem inclined too… although I guess in a way, it kind of built me a new stand for it last night.   At least it has something to hold it up this year.   Won’t work outside Halloween though.    It’s black and is supposed to represent ‘space’ for my Star Trek Jewish Christmas Tree that goes up around yuletime.


The below photo (in addition to proving that I am indeed alive) I think best captures my reaction to the notion that I’ve been making any progress whatsoever on this Halloween thing:

Apparently the orange glow is flattering, as I was told this was a ‘hot picture’ of me.   So there’s that.   🙂

Dream Log: Stolen Puppies and Big Rigs


Two dreams I recall:


One dealt with me driving a big rig on unfamiliar, and overly complex, freeways.   Had three other passengers.  One looked like Jenna from work, but wasn’t Jenna in the dream.    Kept missing exits and ended up on a ramp to a different freeway.    It had all these massive screens around it broadcasting some football game.    I was feeling overwhelmed by it all and didn’t think it was safe for me to drive.    At least they had it worked out so i could park on the side of the road, let the Jenna character take over.   Just had to wait for the supervisor to come official-ize the change.   He showed up, noted my miles and that the other person was taking over, and we were on our way.


Another dream, I think before the above, had all my dogs lost, although we were thinking they were actually stolen as we couldn’t figure out how they got loose.

Several days went by.   Gabe seemed to be dealing with it better than me.   I was particularly upset over Leia.    Kept screaming her name out into the neighborhood, calling for her.    Remember I attempted some form of conjuration spell to bring them all home to us.    Don’t think I actually finished that though.    I was kind of crying on the couch when I looked out the window and saw Leia across the street.   Opened the door and called over to her and the other two dogs came running up to me.   Pushed them inside as I kept calling to Leia (who eventually came running over and into my arms).

Woke up snuggling with her.