Jeff Astrof has 100 days off. See how he spends them.

Day 27

with 6 comments

The great thing about living in LA is that LA is never, ever not a cliche.  I moved to LA on April 8, 1991 and within three years I had experienced two earthquakes, a dozen car chases, a mudslide and a race riot.  Even talking about that is a cliche.  Last night I turned on the 11 o’clock news after an 80 degree and sunny day (cliche) and the perfectly tanned anchor announced the Breaking News that one of the biggest earthquakes in history struck Japan and they had live footage of the tsunami.  We (the anchor and I) watched in awe as this massive flood engulfed an entire town as if a pipe burst at Legoland.  Then, after five minutes of watching this carnage, the anchor effortlessly switched to the lead story: Police invade Charlie Sheen’s home!  This time ten minutes were dedicated to an equal disaster– a celebrity gone off the rails.  Thankfully, after almost 20 years, I have not become an LA cliche.

Anyway, so my trainer at my private gym happens to be an avid reader of my blog.  My trainer, who shall remain anonymous at his request– admitting to being my trainer at this point is commensurate to admitting to being Charlie Sheen’s therapist (cliche reference)– is extremely invested in my well-being and fitness: if I die, he loses $120 a week, although my wife will train harder to meet a guy, so it might be a wash.  In any event, after reading my 25 day update about how I’ve actually gone up a size, he has recommended that I go on something called the Paleo diet, which is basically eating like a caveman (because they were notoriously fit).  I think in terms of diet, not manners, but I may be wrong.  I’m pretty sure it involves eating a lot of meat and avoiding grains, sugar, beans– I’M GETTING SO ANGRY JUST THINKING ABOUT IT!   I’ll probably do it because I love a challenge (and because I tried squeezing into a pair of size 34 gray cargo pants yesterday at Bloomingdale’s and they made me look like I was wearing a Civil War uniform).   He asked me if I wanted to accompany him to get “our” body fat tested today and I refused.  First of all, I didn’t fall for the “our” part– he’s hovering at about 6% I’m guessing, and second of all, I don’t want a bunch of health techs gathering around the body fat testing machine, hitting the side of it, thinking something’s wrong.  I immediately pictured the muttering, “78% is that possible?”  As of now, I’m going Paleo.  GOD, I’M STARVING!

Now, for the sad part of my post.  Please don’t read any further if you don’t want to hear me be sad.    Okay, you were warned.

Today is the two year anniversary of putting my dog, Tahoe, down.  I don’t like people who think dogs are like people because dogs are not like people: a dog has never put a person down.  But Tahoe was a great dog, the best I had before or since.  I got Tahoe after winning a lot of money on a trip to Lake Tahoe (my other dog’s name was Bellagio– I used to have a gambling problem).  I had just broken up with my Crazy Ex and one of the ways I was going to re-establish myself as a man was to get a new dog.  That and to date a lot of chicks.  I mean, a LOT.  And by a LOT I mean: one.  I started dating my wife six days after I broke up with my Crazy Ex: my wife is my one oat that I sowed while single.  Anyway, after winning my small fortune in Caesar’s Palace, Lake Tahoe (like my dog, no longer around), I told my girlfriend at the time– one in a long list of… one– that I wanted to get a dog.  Shawni told me her sister was a dog rescuer and she could find me the best place to go to get a dog.  It turns out, that that place is the South Central shelter– a shelter with a high kill rate (then why call it a “shelter” you might ask?  I didn’t.)  Shawni said she wanted to go with me but couldn’t until the weekend because she worked.  I told her I had to go tomorrow.  Shawni, “Why do you have to go tomorrow?”  Me: “Because I can’t go today.”  I am impulsive.  I dated ONE girl after my ex and married her, why did Shawni even have to ask?

The South Central shelter looks like a barracks– or worse– squat industrial buildings surrounded by barbed wire fences.  It was pouring the day I went to find my dog.  I didn’t know what I was looking for, my best friend at the time (who now hates me, but not for this) told me that the dog would pick me and I would know which one.  The most important thing was not to be impulsive.  I walked in the building and pointed to the first dog I saw: “I want him!”  The problem, the Dog Pound Lady said, is that this dog was a found dog.  The rule at the time was if a dog was found, it had to stay there a week before it could be adopted and then would be, well, killed.  If a dog was turned in, it had five days or it suffered the same fate.  “How long would I have to wait to adopt him?”  “Five days.”  Five days?!  Are you kidding me?!  I can’t wait that long.  I’ll keep looking.

I went past cage after cage of dogs, thinking, “the dog will pick me”, not knowing what the hell that meant.  Then I came to a back room.  This was death row.  All the dogs here had only a couple of days left before they would be taken into the back room and go away.  The last cage I went to was filled with puppies.  An adorable beagle wagged his tail at me and started kissing my fingers.  Just then, another, larger puppy, barked and nudged the beagle out of his way.  He then stood up on his back legs an started furiously licking my face.  That was Tahoe.

For the next ten years Tahoe was part of every important occasion in our lives– he was there when I asked Shawni to marry me (and when she screamed Nooooooo!), his picture is buried in the wall of our first house when we did renovations, he’s featured on our ketuba (Jewish marriage document– he didn’t sign or officiate, but his picture is there as one of the important parts of our lives).  He was obedient, kind, soulful, extremely loyal and struggled with his weight.  I remember one time when we went to the vet and he sat on the scale the crowd of people in the waiting room went “WhooooAAA!”  (see my reason above for not getting fat tested).   When he was 9 and a half he started walking funny.  We assumed it was because he was overweight, but several thousand dollars of testing revealed that he had a disease called Degenerative Myelopathy– or DM.  It was a degenerative spinal disease similar to ALS.  I referred to it as “Lou Gherig’s Dog Disease.”

We probably kept Tahoe around longer than we should have.  He didn’t suffer but eventually wound up in a wheel chair and, well, other things…  It was a year ago today that Tahoe and I completed our journey.  On the car ride to the same vet where he got his accupuncture and massage therapy– maybe I am a cliche– I said my tearful goodbye and apologized for everything I had done wrong as a dog owner.  That conversation prolonged his life an extra hour.   He was in my lap for his final moment– a moment I prefer not to remember but will never forget.  Instead, I remember the little puppy that ran to the front of the cage and claimed me on a cold, rainy day in February.



Written by 100daysoff

March 11, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

6 Responses

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  1. Best. Dog. Ever. I miss him still.

    Shawni Astrof

    March 11, 2011 at 5:22 pm

  2. Thanks, Jeff. I love ending each week with tears rolling down my face, with my dog, rescued from the same shelter, sleeping by my side.


    March 11, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    • Jeff and family, I know the heartache of having to put a family member down. I am still crying and will for a long time. This also was a beautiful cocker spanial that Candy sent to me. I fell so much in love with that handsome dog. He was my shadow. I had him at the vets for seven days but they could not make him well again.I was with him crying my hart out as they put him down.He will always be a big part of me.

      Linda (Modrell) Rice Gallant

      March 19, 2011 at 7:50 pm

      • heart that is

        Linda (Modrell) Rice Gallant

        March 19, 2011 at 7:52 pm

  3. I just cried….


    March 11, 2011 at 6:16 pm

  4. It sounds like you two had a good run. This was a fitting celebration of him.


    March 12, 2011 at 7:19 am

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