Beethoven was my very first dog and the absolute BEST friend in the world. He went to the Rainbow Bridge today, passing in my arms at 7:11pm. He is deeply missed, but always in my heart.
Every year on his birthday, I sent an email tribute out on his birthday celebrating his life. Below is the one I wrote for his 9th birthday back in 2004.
Today, December 15 is Beethoven’s Ninth! He is a truly remarkable dog that has lived a very full and fun-filled short 9 years with his dad.
Beethoven is the most wonderful dog. He’s all encompassing; sweet, loyal, protective, enthusiastic, hilarious & always utterly indiscriminate about what, when, where and why he will eat. To have gotten to know Beethoven has meant understanding more deeply the yin and yang of life.
How are we celebrating?!? This will be a day of song, culinary canine delights & lots of fun. This gala will be catered by only the best – Galloping Gourmutts! The "piece de le resistance" will be a double layer carub cake decorated like a Dal served with Frosty Paws. Yummy… Beethoven will also be sung Happy Birthday whenever the whim strikes today. Besides the cake, Beethoven got some yummy treats, a CD of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, a very nice Dalmatian Calendar, a nice Christmas scarf / festive hat (that brings him MUCH attention on walkies) & a cool CD full of Songs for Dogs that are tailwaggin’ good!
In these 9 years, he has achieved canine academic excellence, made many wonderful friends, lived life as a celebrity Dal, made contributions to some of the most successful professional sports teams in history that will keep his name forever linked to the NFL and NASCAR, given generously to local great causes as a philanthropic dog, has made his mark in athletics in his own right and has woven all this into life lessons we can all learn.
Here’s a tribute to a truly remarkable Dalmatian on this Beethoven’s Ninth.
Beethoven was whelped (that’s doggy talk for being born) on December 16, 1994 as another member of a long lineage of decorated champion Dalmatians known as the Bellringer Dalmatians. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia. His champion parents, Tappy and Tarot, were rightfully proud of this bundle of spotted joy and knew he had the stuff to make the Bellringer clan proud and carry on the tradition of excellence.
They, with the help of their human companion and Beethoven’s godmother Maria Zorka, groomed and socialized the young Beethoven so he would have the qualities that would take him far in his calling, being a wonderful, loving companion to me!
On February 12, 1995, he was ready to spread his Dal paws and we were introduced. It was a very funny introduction. Beethoven barely had any spots and had that cute puppy smell. I gently, but tentatively reached out to hold him. Without a bit of shyness, he just gave me a big lick on the face and we knew we were meant for each other.
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony
Beethoven’s full registered name is Bellringer Beethoven’s Ninth. The maestro, Ludwig Von Beethoven, his namesake, was also born on December 16, albeit in 1770. Beethoven’s name was selected before I knew this connection. This is the sort of coincidence that makes one believe in synchronicity.
His Ninth Symphony stands out as the world’s foremost symphony to me. It possesses powerful symbolism of the brotherhood of man, technical genius, and emotional beauty. Furthermore the conditions under which it was written make even more wonderful.
For those reasons, I named this wonderful dog after such an awe-inspiring work by one of the world’s foremost artistic geniuses.
Beethoven’s Formative Years
One barking puppy
Beethoven’s early puppy months were marked by incessant barking – at all the wrong times, for a human anyway. He found 3:00 AM to be the most opportune time to test his awesome lung power and let me know how much he loved living with me! Those were the months that made me wonder if I really was a dog person.
All ears and heart
Beethoven’s most notable characteristics as a puppy were his ears. He had full adult size Dalmatian ears that hung down almost to his feet on a puppy size head. The way he carried himself was rather comical and certainly brought many a smile to my heart.
Memorable Things Beethoven destroyed
All puppies must learn in doggy heaven that the first lesson their human companions must learn is to not focus so much on material things because it seems that is their initial focus. Beethoven was a master at this!
His first love was learning and he digested it all from politics, applied psychology, social science, physics, calculus, and Internet trends. As such, he chewed on works by Ayn Rand, Machiavelli, Carl Jung, Isaac Newton, Einstein and Bill Gates. Interestingly, he had no affinity for Hemingway. "Hemingway was a cat person, dad! Besides, that book was always on the top shelf." Yes, Beethoven, you are correct.
Surprisingly, Beethoven also nibbled on my Gore-Tex hiking boots and he loves to hike. "I did that so you will always think about me when you go for a hike and never go without me." Good point, Beethoven!
Beethoven’s Educational Achievements
At 8 months, Beethoven started his education with lots to learn, but with an eager heart. His dad did too! His favorite friend in class was a chocolate lab named Hershey. These two went onto become voted the class clowns and Beethoven further was nominated by his puppy peer as most improved!
Doggy Training 101
At 14 months, Beethoven took another step in his advanced education – Puppy Dog 101, or Intermediate Training. Here, he began showing the smarts for which the Bellringer dals are so renowned. He completed this class as co-valedogtorian.
His favorite canine pal was a bulldog (reminded him of his southeastern conference childhood roots – Go Georgia Bulldogs) named Auggie.
Anyway, Beethoven would complete his exercises with a sense of confidence as if to say to the rest of the canine class, "Hey, look at me! This is how you do a Sit Stay, right dad?!?" Beethoven was even asked to be an example dog for Puppy Kindergarten. At the ripe age of 1.25 years, he was already a role model and leader!
Canine Good Citizen Advanced Class
At the age of two, Beethoven had shown he was one very smart spotted wonder.
I like to think he was taking after his dad! He then enrolled in the Advanced Canine Good Citizen class – Graduate School for dogs!
He again excelled; showing the right amount of discipline, work ethic, but never ever taking himself overly serious like the German Shepherd in the class.
Beethoven as Athlete Extraordinaire
Beethoven is also an athlete of some accomplishment in his own right. He is a chiseled athletic Dal of remarkable endurance. He just loves to run.
His favorite road races are Chicago’s Bark in the Park & Run for Their Lives – 5 km road races.
He has also completed a 26.2 mile marathon! He ran with me for 22 miles of the Charlotte Marathon and then did a 4.2 mile cool down run afterwards.
Go, Beethoven, go.
One of the funniest moments in Beethoven’s career was in the Charlotte Symphony 5k. I entered Beethoven as a human with his own race number, using his human age. He took first place! He gave his trophy to the boy that came in second, but was soon surrounded by the press that wanted the story of "Beethoven’s wins one for the Symphony."
Beethoven as Jack Kerouac
Beethoven is also a well-traveled "International Dog of Mystery". He has tinkled in the Atlantic and piddled in the Pacific.
Beethoven has hiked in the Appalachia, explored the Smokey Mountains, ran through the prairies of Oklahoma and Texas, travailed the Grand Canyon and the Painted Dessert. He has also marked cacti in the Mojave Desert. He’s stood on a corner in Winslow, Arizona. He has even encountered a Sea lion along the beaches of the Pacific Coast Highway. He’s traveled the entirety of Route 66 & the Pacific Coast Highway.
He is also a city dog – having played in Berkeley, ran through San Francisco’s Fort Funston, Chicago’s Wiggly Field and sneaking into a "No Dogs Allowed’ hotel in Los Angeles.
All in all, he is truly a remarkable Dalmatian and is loved tremendously.