April – The Michael’s Dogs Newsletter Missing Issue


Michael Baugh CDBC CPDT-KSA

I am nothing if not fastidious. About mid-month I prepare the following month’s Michael’s Dogs Newsletter. I write two new blog pieces. Sometimes I write one and pull an old one from the archive. Regardless, some time around the 15th to the 20th every month I sit down and put it together. That’s my routine. It’s been that way for more than a decade.

I’ve never missed an issue, not until this past month. We were well into April before I noticed. It’s funny how grief and mourning work.

For more than a decade I’ve written quite literally under the watchful eyes of “Michael’s Dogs.” Stella and Stewie (we used to say their names like it was one long name) were the constant thread in the narrative. They featured in almost every issue, their pictures and their stories.

Stella (13) died last Summer. Stewie (15) died March 16th of this year, right about the time I’d be doing the April newsletter. It wasn’t that I couldn’t write. There was no block, no burden weighing me down. I simply forgot. They were gone. The bowls were picked up. The beds were put away. And, oddly, the newsletter got swept up and put away as well. I’m familiar with mourning – dogs, parents, a sibling. It’s a quirky visitor. You’re okay. You’re not. You forget and of course you can’t. Not ever.

If you’ve worked with me you know I approach cases as if your dog were mine. How would I handle this case if this were my dog? I ask the question every day, not at all lightly. I really am thinking of my dogs. What if Stella had bitten a relative? What if Stewie and she fought? What if this and what if that. They never had those issue. But, they were my inspiration. This is, in fact, how I named the company. Michael’s Dogs, my dogs. My personal relationship with them has always been tied to your personal relationship with your dog. Corny? Yeah. Effective? I think so.

So. Now what? As I write this (mid month, back on schedule) I do not have an answer. Mourning is a healing process and a process I implicitly trust. It visits fond memories on us and unexpected tears. The research is fairly clear. For uncomplicated mourning the hardest part is the first two months. It softens predictably beyond that. For this and other reasons we have decided on a year without a dog. A full year.

Michael’s Dogs, the actual ones, are legend now. Their legacy is our name, but also the questions I will continue to ask. What if this dog, your dog, was mine? Our lives with dogs are intimate things, deeply personal. Their emotions get hooked in with ours. Their struggles become our struggles. When you need help you should expect no less than my asking these essential questions. What if this was my dog? Stella and Stewie, what if this was you? How would we handle this? How would we help set things right?


Michael Baugh teaches dog training in Houston, TX. He publishes an email news letter every month (except that one time).