Sunday, May 29, 2011

RIP Our Blue Byrd of Happiness

Blue Byrd Hamm Skolnik, a Dalmatian, died Friday after a long battle with degenerative arthritis. She was, well, pretty old for a big dog but no one was really sure.
Blue was adopted by Catharine Hamm in February 2004. Her previous owners used her to capitalize on the popularity of Dalmatians after the 1996 remake of "101 Dalmatians." When her mothering purposes were over and her family moved, she was kicked to the curb and ended up with Dalmatian rescue. Catharine Hamm found her online--"we should have called it D-Harmony"--and it was love at first sight. The deal was sealed in Santa Monica, where Catharine took the unimaginatively named Perdita on a walk that would be like many of their walks--very slow because no blade of grass remained usniffed.
As part of the agreement with SavetheDals, the renamed Blue--for her blue eyes--had to participate in obedience training. In a class of 10, she graduated No. 10.
"She was a little conflicted," said her teacher. "She wanted to please, but she wanted to do her own thing. When I told her she couldn't have it both ways, she decided to have it her way. She essentially learned nothing, but she did enjoy the car ride to the park."
Blue soon gained three roommates--Maridith Ramsey, Catharine's niece, and two cats, Golde and Brigitta, in addition to the cats Bella and Beau who were already in residence but who preceded her in death. She showed a genuine statesmanship by largely ignoring all of them except Mari, whom she enjoyed tormenting. Later, she (Blue, not Mari) was adopted by Catharine's new husband, Carl Skolnik.
"She wasn't very bright," said Skolnik, adding, "She couldn't have spelled C-A-T if we had spotted her the C and the T. But she had a good heart."
Besides walks, Blue enjoyed breakfast, dinner, puppy treats and naps. She was especially close to Catharine's mother, Genevieve, because they identified with each other: Both were moms who tried hard to raise their children, although Genevieve, to our knowledge, never sold any of her children. Both suffered the ravages of age, including deafness (selective or otherwise), poor eyesight and mobility issues. And both expected to be treated like princesses because, dammit, they earned it.
Blue is survived by cats Beatriz Cecelia and Barnie Louise, and a host of family and friends who all helped make the last 7 years of her life as wonderful as the first few were awful.