While I revel in the joy of life changed with the introduction of my newish dog Felix, my calendar bittersweetly reminds me today is the day 23 years ago I put down my first dog, Dominoe.

She too was adopted, though not via a shelter, but via co-workers of my friend and them apartment-mate, Kevin, who found a run away dalmatian. Last October was 30 years to the day on a mountain where I lost her and she found me, and taught me a lesson. Her story is my most viewed YouTube video, the basis for maybe my most popular storytelling thing, and also the namesake of my first internet domain:

During my round North America trip in 2011, I return to the scene of the story, than on it’s 25th anniversary:

And it was 30 years ago this summer Dominoe was my travel partner for my first long road trip adventure, driving from Baltimore to Arizona to start in August 1986 my Masters in Geology at Arizona State University. Technically, I did not start the trip until July 28, 1986, but close enough. I do have a hand written journal of the trip, down the east coast to visit family in Florida across Texas, a stop in Denton for a friend’s wedding, and a monumental drop into the real Southwest west of Amarillo, Texas.

It was she and I and all my possessions that would fit into a 1973 Ford Maverick. I can see in that photo things I still have and cherish, the guitar I took lessons on at age 15 and my Dad’s old drafting table.

I’m cringing a bit reading my old hand written journal notes. I complain a lot about people camping in giant RVs (that’s not changed). My selective memory erased this part, but it’s there in the notes- Dominoe cried and whined a lot. Why don’t I remember that? The car apparently stalled a lot and was hard to start, and thus made me worry. It was someone at a New Mexico campground who showed me how to flip the choke in the carburetor. I was of course nervous at age 23 of what all this life change meant.

From August 5, 1986 in a Baton Rouge KOA campground (I have in my notes the odometer reading, 98699.0):

Electrifying beyond adjectives. It is raining. Big deal you say? Maybe you are inside by the fireplace. Or in a recreational vehicle watching TV while you are “camping.” Oh yeah, I’m a real camper, that is with a “c” not a “k.” I’m inside my Timberline Eureka green tent with water flowing underneath and thunder in my ears. Oh this is survival, although safety in the car is less than 5 feet away.

Oh yea, I am worried / frightened. I’d tell Dominoe “it’s all right… I think” with the wind whipping and lightning flashing it is almost like the time in the Badlands when the old blue tent got demolished.

My main concern is the water under the tent, it is starting to soak the floor down at one end. The other end where we are sitting is in the lee of a tree, so water is not running under our end. Dominoe is shaking, we had one really strong thunder clap when we both jumped.

I cringe a little because my trip of camping was staying at highway side KOA campgrounds, my equipment was cheap and primitive, and my experience was pretty nil. We survived the rainy night in Baton Rouge fine, and made it to Phoenix safely. And had many more trips after that, California, Utah, Nevada, all the way to Mount St Helens.

So long ago. I am writing now to the sounds of a dog happily focused on the chewing of a bone, oblivious of my warbling memories of a dog I had in my life 30 years ago. Thirty.

The photo at the top was where Doninoe and I camped in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains above Santa Fe. Yet again, another calendar reminder has be digging through old photos and journals. Looking for… who knows? Maybe just to try and imagine the space I was in so long ago, so not even remotely aware (thankfully) of everything to come.

I do know I cannot imagine not having that Dominoe in my life. This now would not be now at all.

Top / Featured Image: my flickr photo of Dominoe https://flickr.com/photos/cogdog/9354174619 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Animal companions share the best and truest part of our hearts. After death, their spirits inhabit our dream space and in memory are always with us. I put a hug on both Dominoe and Felix for sharing their lives with you.

  2. So nice to read the memories of another who marks life in “doggy eras.” Our puppy companions definitely evoke memories and shape who we are. We’re fortunate to have had these special partners. Thanks for sharing!

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