A Well-Traveled Dog

We had to say farewell to our very good boy, Opie, last week. He was 14.5 years old, surpassing our wildest dreams and staying with us for 13 years before leaving. Opie is the end of many eras for us: the last LRR.org dog we fostered (and adopted); the dog that made it through 7 years of RV’ing with us; and the last dog that gets to sleep on our bed!

Opie came to us at 18 months old and with high energy. We loved him so much as a foster dog that we just had to adopt him, even with all that energy. His original name was “Panther” but we were determined to change that! After trying a multitude of names, Mike flippantly suggested “Optimus Prime” which I nixed immediately. A friend of ours then suggested O.P. mostly as a joke, but then when said out loud, it turned into Opie which we both really liked. The name worked perfectly for all generations since he could have been named after the Andy Griffith Show’s Opie, or Optimus Prime of the Transformers, or Sons of Anarchy’s Opie.

Do these Doggles make me look cool?

This dog LOVED to chase the ball but he did have one quirk. Once he chased one ball, he would “lock” onto that ball and would not chase any others. That became a hassle at dog parks when another dog would take his ball and Opie would REFUSE to play with any other ball but would stare at us eagerly for us to throw the right ball. If we got his original ball back, he would refuse to retrieve it because it was now contaminated. Opie was also our most fanatical water dog. When we first got him, he jumped right into the hot tub with us because it looked like a pool to him. We set up a kiddie pool in our backyard and he was always in it. Even if the pool only had a few inches, Opie would lay on his side and kick and wiggle to get as wet as possible and come out with a big grin on his face. No matter where we were, if there was water (including mud puddles), Opie would wallow on it.

Cherry Creek State Park has the best mud

During our RV travels, Opie loved all the places we visited. It gave him a chance to sniff many new spots and mark so much more territory. Opie’s higher energy made us take longer and longer daily walks; however he would still get restless so we started to hike with him. It started small, just a couple of miles maybe once or twice a week which settled him down. But we made a terrible miscalculation! Instead of tiring him out, we increased his endurance and stamina so we had to increase our hiking distance and frequency. Before we knew it, we were taking 5-8 mile hikes a couple times a week and his daily walks had also increased. Mike also planned our campground stops either at county or state parks with a lot of walking trails, or nearby hiking trails. Due to Opie, we visited some amazing hiking spots like Sedona AZ (one of our favorite hiking spots), Ouray CO, and many national forests. Thanks to Opie, Mike and I found a new appreciation of National Parks by hiking their many trails.

Wilson Creek Slot Canyon, Cannonville UT

One of my favorite Opie hiking memories is climbing Mt. Bierstadt, one of the “easier” 14’ers in Colorado. A 14’er is a mountain with a peak over 14,000 ft in elevation. Due to the higher elevation and lack of oxygen, Mike and I had to take lots of breaks to catch our breath. Opie had no such issue, he would happily find random other hikers and walk with them for a little while before coming back to us to see what was taking so long. By the time we finally reached the peak, the hikers there recognized and greeted Opie like an old friend. I’m sure Opie walked twice the distance that we did and ended up only half as tired as us.

Prairie Dogs Beware!

Unfortunately Opie’s heart had no space for squirrels, groundhogs, and cats. His favorite activity at Tucson campgrounds were to find groundhog burrows and dig furiously until his muzzle and paws were coated in dust. I’m sure the groundhogs had a great laugh at Opie’s expense. Even as Opie got much older and slower, a squirrel’s chirp would still immediately catch his attention and he would frantically look for his arch-enemy.

It’s about time!

Opie was our first (and hopefully last) “Boop”-ing dog. One day, Opie gently touched my leg with his nose while we were eating. I looked down and he was staring at me so cutely, I did the natural thing… I gave him some food. His food-motivated brain realized he had hit the jackpot so the booping dog was born. Opie’s booping (increasing in frequency and force whenever I ignored him) became a regular fixture in the RV, house, and car. I’m surprised his nose never developed calluses from the amount of booping. If I ignored him, he would get desperate enough to boop Mike which sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. Opie’s booping still makes me smile.

Opie’s favorite window

When we settled back into a house, Opie was thrilled to finally have full-sized windows to stare out of. He loved to lounge on the dog bed in Mike’s office and watch the neighborhood’s goings-on. In his golden years, Opie was happy to relax and take life at a slower pace. He still loved his daily walks and would immediately rush over doing a little happy dance when it was time to go out but he was also happy to be near us, nap on a comfy dog bed, and boop us if we had food nearby. Opie made so many friends on our travels—dogs and people alike—and many people still ask after him even after we’ve settled back down.

Taking a break in Cape May NJ

Over the past six months, Opie’s health began to truly decline. He had a lot of hind end weakness and muscle atrophy, but his GI issues were also getting worse. Opie caught pneumonia (for the second time) and vestibular disease (for the second time) and his body just couldn’t fight anymore. We put him to rest on August 21st. Opie added so much to our lives and we will miss him terribly.

4 Comments

  1. Gary & Colleen   •  

    Lovely Tribute to Opie Kathy. Remembering the times we met Opie and you guy on our travels.

  2. Roger   •  

    I’m so very sorry for your loss! He lived quite a life.

  3. Joodie   •  

    I was archiving old posts and came here to refresh the link to your blog from our time at Catalina in 2018/19. Naturally, I am heartbroken for you both at Opie’s passing. What a great doggo he was, and how privileged we feel to have met him. Thank you for sharing him in such a beautiful tribute. Peace to your hearts

  4. Bryan Seitz   •  

    So sorry for your loss. He looks like he was the best boy! 15 years is a great run for a lab!

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