Our little guy, charming sweet prince, rapscallion and profoundly adorable best friend, Pavlov, has dispatched this mortal coil at 8.20p, 16th August 2014. He was healthy until the last two weeks of his life, and those last two weeks were filled with love, fun, consciousness, and absolutely no pain.  We were there, all together, as a family, when it happened.  It was incredibly sudden, but as Pavlov is wont to do, he’s been making the decisions around here for us, for about 15 years.  He didn’t want anyone suffering.

It’s been 2 weeks, now, without our Pav.  Reconciling how powerfully he still exists in our hearts, minds, and youtube clips has not been easy… then we turn to see empty corners, or hear lonely hallways, shellshocked of broken schedules.  In life, you begin to find familiar comfort in these (those) old routines, so taken for granted, because they become waypoints of grounded intimacy, keeping your head above water in the churning seas of life.  Those routines fall victim to the temporality of things, and as such, routines become victim to entropy and the fallen.  In this, we can only begin to celebrate what Pavlov has done for, and brought to, us.  We will collectively shuffle past this painful grieving into a celebration of a life, brilliantly experienced.

I feel so lucky to have found Pavlov…. But the truth is that he was *so* lucky to have found me, and all of us.  “When I saw you I fell in love and you smiled because you knew”….  I wish you all could have been there when this 2 month old puppy *picked* *ME*.  Pav has been bound to some of the most inexplicable, nearly spiritual, experiences of my life, and I will never be able to show him how grateful I am.  We did our best, and our best was a world class job of friendship fulfilled.

Pavlov didn’t just anchor me, but guided me through life and nature, adventure, and calm. He helped me to breathe peacefully, finding a connected peace between me, Pavlov my companion, and every living thing between and around us.  He stripped ego, bolstered our goodness and kindness, and linked Lauren and I with this meaningful celestial clock, with systems that irrevocably fuse all of us into one entity of creation.  Without those walks in nature with him, I am a vessel to fill.  He bonded me, he connected me, he completed my role as a random, lumpy, organic mass.  Pavlov was kind enough to provide to me the ultimate key to living…. He selflessly shared everything that he was, knowing it would shape me to have context and profound, ultimate connection in this cold, expansive universe…. He simplified and accentuated every moment of *my* life with the gift of his existence.  With him, I had purpose, and without him I am not but a man.  Pavlov saw me at my most objectionable and downtrodden, but still welcomed me back into his home and our lives.  He loved us when we were at our worst, at times when no other human would suffer us… he sat patient, expectant, healing us with a pat to his head, or letting our guards down until we were a puddle of giggles and growls and fun, on the carpet, or in the bed.  No matter the moment, he knew what to say to me, and he knew how to say it.  Forever my shadow.

Pavlov…. A fuzzy professor, a wizard, a warrior.  He touched every heart, whether cold or stone, and melted it.  There wasn’t a person who could resist Pav’s patient, empathic gaze – he reminded us just how much we want to be loved, and brought out in us a purity in how a human could even conceive of love or how to wield it.  He loved in a way that we could only hope to love, and we always fretted that we could, in no way, display our love for him in the same manner.  It felt so ineffective, trying to show him just how profoundly he changed us, and made us better.  It’s ironic, for a dog to make a man more human.  But, these were his skills, and this was his being.  Pavlov knew not to take anything too seriously, especially the things we thought we were meant to take far too seriously…. He kept me from floating off in a bubble of panic or dread.  One little sigh, a little lap of the tongue on my nose… and I was snapped back into this lulled existence of connection, comfort, and love.

In the last 5 years of his life, his dirty blond hair had turned as golden as the grains we have blowing in the open space by our house.  He would play in the tall grasses and disappear and reappear… standing defiantly against a zephyr, daring to sniff for endless minutes, bolted in place, just to take every wisp of breeze into that sniffer of his.  Tiburon was heaven on earth for that guy, and he would eagerly run those trails, hesitating only to give us peering looks back, from the whites of his eyes as he joyously bounded forward into the terrain.  But the way he looked and flowed, he just became part of the landscape… part of the rolling hills, the endless beauty.  He was, exactly, the filter with which I see all the beauty in life, and the constant that was how I perceived existence.  So I sit here, remembering him precisely to my right (always to my right), donning a self satisfied glow of contentment, as his hair vibrated, pulsing in the air to the beat of his heart, as he sunned himself… He was always trying to teach us how to relax and live well.  Lauren and I have taken many lessons.

He was “the”, constant – if not our immediate experience, he was always with us, captaining our lives and memories.  He taught us well, and we take those lessons forward.  We have an emptiness to fill in our home, and will take more than memories, and more than time, because we need to fill it with his spirit and energy, and constantly champion him as a force of goodness and love.

“Love is space and time measured by the heart”…. Such true words Proust!  It is important to realize why the first pup is so important, and why your first can never be replaced, or forgotten:  That creature was the first animal to open your heart up to a world that is bigger than humans, or petty self interests…. And for unlocking that special part of your heart that can love so purely…  you will forever be in your first dog’s debt.

Humans are not capable of crawling outside of the prison of their minds; trapped alone in a dark room, looking for answers.  But an animal such as Pavlov is not bound by these absurdities, and he was able to give so much of himself, purely and wholly, that he unlocked in us a desire and emotion of selflessness, and purity.  A 30,000 year old relationship will start altering genetics between species, and it’s pretty obvious to me that the symbiotic relationship between humans and dogs have born in humans a different type of loving emotion, and understanding or connection.  I believe dogs touch in us an empathy and unlock a sympathetic side of humans that would have never been developed or advanced.  If not strictly ontological, it certainly has, for myself.  He’s helped me grow outside of myself and realize it isn’t just about me…. It’s about me in context of every living system on this planet, and how I choose to interact and learn about those things around me.

Pavlov, in the end, was the greatest experience of my lifetime so far.  He helped me realize that one can be a pure entity that solely gives of itself, and that I can choose to try and do the same.  As they say, “May I be the person that my dog thinks I am”.

To close, I think the way I feel about this dog is concisely summed up in the spirit of Maude’s love, at the end of Harold and Maude.  Pavlov opened me up to a love and bond that I had not been previously open to, aware of, or rewarded with.  Whenever I think of my dog, I will think of him as Maude, telling my broken heart to love more.  Thank you Pavlov. We love and miss you terribly. We’ll keep bringing you home, and back to life.


               But Maude, you don’t understand.

               I love you. Do you hear me?

               I’ve never said that to anyone

               in my life before. You’re the

               first. Maude. Please don’t

               leave me.


               Oh, Harold, don’t upset

               yourself so.


               It’s true. I can’t live without


                       (smiles warmly)

               “And this too shall pass away.”


               Never! Never! I’ll never forget

               you. I wanted to marry you.

               Don’t you understand! I love

               you. I love you!


               Oh! That’s wonderful, Harold.

               Go – and love some more.

What you can do?

So now, we’re tasked with a challenge… he’s not here to energize and motivate us, but that’s the point of not becoming lazy with his memory.  His blankets, his trails, his moments in time… they all exist, and they should be celebrated with abandon, and lust.  I’ve never known a more perfect entity deserving to be treasured, cherished, championed, and remembered. Constantly, and aggressively.  One person cannot do this, just like it takes a village to erect a statue and cause communal memory.

So please, review his favorite place, the Peak of St. Hilary Nature Preserve, now called “Pavlov’s Peak”.  Please review it on Yelp *&* Tripadvisor.  It would be lovely to anchor Pavlov, forever, into the place he loved more than anything. I know it’s a small gesture. I will link Tripadvisor as soon as it’s up.

Also, please do share these fun videos and photos, or spend some time watching with friends or family.  If you know anyone that likes cute things…. Share away! I love the idea of Pavlov reaching more people…. It’s been profoundly helpful to see so many people *still* finding Pavlov on youtube, and discovering him for the first time.  It’s really like he keeps coming to life for people, and it thrills me.











And…. a playlist for you!


If you made it here…. this photo says a LOT.  He’s in the hospital, Lauren is hugging him, and he’s looking up at me… while near the end of his life… saying “Seriously… Are You Guys Going to be OKAY?”

Selfless furball. Love him so much.


About Uncle Fishbits

I'm.. just this guy, you know?

14 Responses to “Dear Pavlov; an insufficient note to your life.”

  1. gemma puglisi


    how beautiful. what a moving tribute…Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos and memories of our Pavie.
    We were so lucky to have him in our lives. xo

  2. Terri and Beamer

    I’m so sorry to see this about Pavlov. I have his twin, Beamer (he really looks like him). I enjoyed the Pavlov posts very much. When I posted to you a week ago I didn’t realize Pavlov had passed.

    • Uncle Fishbits

      I just saw this! THANK YOU SO MUCH! I love it… your kind words brought him back to me this morn. I would love to see pics of Beamer if there are any. Give your pup a big hug from us! =)

  3. Joe

    Sorry about Pav. Was it his heart? My cairn Oliver passed at nearly 15.5 years. All of the sudden he started coughing..I had no idea that it meant heart trouble. There is no joy like a cairn. Luckily, we adopted a 2 year old cairn when Oliver was 8….so I am not alone. I hope you rescue one from Colonel Potter. Thanks for the videos of your boy, I’ve watched them often on YouTube. Kindest regards from the Adirondacks!!!!

    • Uncle Fishbits

      I cannot thank you enough for the kind comments. You bring him back to me. =) The end is so painful it’s clouded the 14 and a half years I did have with him! I want to get back to celebrating him, and I think that is sharing our love! Thanks for you post. So much. Cheers from NorCal!

    • Uncle Fishbits

      Cheers to you in your neck of the woods! I cannot remember if I emailed or commented back, but I love that you left a thought, and appreciate. It was his renal system with some chronic kidney stuff that turned acute after a burst cyst that had been undiagnosed (it happened while at the vet, sadly). That spike is heart rate, and a few weeks of fighting, he had a stroke. He was the best friend, the bravest, the strongest…. he was healthy his whole life until those last two weeks… went without pain. We were SO SO Lucky… so lucky.. to have him, and to have an experience of being with him, caring for him, and making sure he went out as peaceful and beautifully as any living creature can, when it is time. I am very thankful it wasn’t drawn out like it is for so many.

      We are rescuing from Col Potter, and cannot wait. So thrilled to have a wonderful group like them. YAY CAIRNS! It’s time for two!!! =)

  4. Donna Bowling

    Hi Michael — Donna from Atlanta, GA here.

    Stumbled across some of your Pavlov posts and pics earlier today. I lost my Cairn, Butch in 2011. My heart still has a huge hole. So very very sorry he’s no longer there, with you, everyday.

    After I saw your album, I simply had to upload these images. Out of context, in a few of the pics, I would almost bet that your Pavlov was my Butch. Some of their expressions and looks are quite uncanny.

    Hopeful some of these images will make you smile. I know your images of Pavlov made me:

    Take care,

    • Uncle Fishbits

      They never let you go, do they?? My wife and I simply loved and cherished your pics… and your brought Pavlov back to us for a bit… and your dog just roared back to life….
      I hope +1’ing most of your photos as I pranced through them was ok! I tried to comment on a couple but google wasn’t having it. The happy pics, the playing pics… that one of him curled up like a ball, and the one of him in the sun, etc…. it all reminded me of not just my dear friend, but that powerful vibration of love that they send through you. They’re a perfectly divine extension of our humanity… as if we were flawless.

      Your pup is still hear… there’s that saying that when you remember them, it’s just they’re excited tail wagging in your heart.

      Your note made my wife and I SOO SO SO happy. Thank you. Hugs from across the states in the sunny Bay Area.

      I am really glad my little guy got you to go through some old photos of your little guy. I have a bunch of Youtube vids of Pav that haven’t been uploaded yet. A *LOT*. I’ve waited because it was too hard, but now I think I will go through them and find some cute memories to re-experience.

      Thank you so much. Cheers! Let’s get another pooch!

      Did you know there is a Cairn Terrier Rescue group that is AWESOME? We just got approved for adoption…. now just waiting for a few bits of travel until summer and it’s time for a new friend. =)

  5. mike byers

    I can relate with you guys in so many ways. After having our Cairn for over 15 years you do get so use to the every day routine loving them. We lost little ‘Squirtie’ (Moxie) on May 11th 2015. She was my best friend ever and some days feel so lost since she passed. She left a huge hole in our hearts. Although I just found your videos recently, they made me recall the deepest love I could ever have for an animal. She was a great Cairn and was so similar to your Pavlov. The pain of our loss is so great that I sometimes cannot bear to go through each day without her. I Thanks for sharing.

    • Uncle Fishbits

      It’s a profound sadness, because it was that sweet little dog that opened up my heart to see the world in a different way. That’s a lesson that can never be repaid…. He also opened me up enough to love more, and again. But I sort of refuse to “live without him”… and it’s almost like he’s alive in me, in a way. Reminds me of that wonderful poem/prose about a dog wagging it’s tail in your heart:

      But I sort of refuse to live without him. That’s why I did the videos… and when people watch them, comment, etc… he’s back to life in the middle of my day, etc. It’s marvelous. Now that we got this sweet rescue from Col Potter Cairn Rescue, it’s like he’s still with us, smiling, enjoying the love he brought us, and the love we are giving to someone new, all because of him. As long as you are thinking about Moxie, she’s right with you. =)

  6. Ned

    Beautiful words and commentary on the mysterious power of love and companionship, through the lens and context of a very, very cute Cairn. My family and I have only ever had Cairn terriers, and when I stumbled upon Pavlov on YouTube, we shared endless laughs at his antics.

    Thank you for all

  7. Matt Eland

    Thanks for the well-written tribute. I discovered Pavlov while looking through YouTube on different dog breeds as I eventually came to the decision of getting a Cairn of our own. While ours will likely be born next week, it’s lovely to see the extent to which you two loved your dog. He’s a truly adorable and lovely animal and what a special impact he left on your lives. I’ve never met him and a week ago I’d never even seen a picture or video of him, but I love that dog and I shed a tear at his passing. Kudos to you for opening your heart to him. I can’t wait for my little guy to get here.

    • Uncle Fishbits

      THIS… made my day! I am SO excited to know the energy and intelligent loyalty of a new Cairn pup is whisking your way. This is so cool…. very happy for you, and thank you for having me take a word day break to have my pup come back to me. We’ve got a sweet new Cairn Terrier rescue from Col. Potter…. she was a puppy mill mom, and had a really hard life. She’s the sweetest, and so different from Pav, but a wonderful addition, and one of the cutest pups ever. for a few cute shots. I’ll post others. CHEERS and thanks again!


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