Sue Sue, No Sissy Poodle

Sue Sue was my grandmother’s black Poodle. She was devoted to Grandma. She was no sissy poodle. She loved to retrieve things. She’d play ball all day long if you had the time. She’d jump into the swimming hole to fetch a stick or a rock (we were mean). She could also jump pretty high to grab a ball out of your hand.

Sue Sue even won a ribbon in a dog show. One fall, when I was about 10 years old, someone suggested I enter her in the dog show at the Highland County Fair in Monterey. I guess they didn’t think I’d do it.

The next day I found myself lifting her up onto a table in the show ring. It didn’t matter that she had not been groomed in about a month. When the announcer said over the loudspeaker “Here’s Susie and her dog Sue Sue”, I heard many chuckles and “oh how cute” from the audience. I was naive of the fact that the other dogs were prepared months ahead and probably did many shows in a year. They were professionals and I watched them until our turn came up. I positioned her and held her head & tail up like I saw the other handlers do. We won 6th place in a field of 6 entries. OK, it was a gimme. I didn’t realize it at the time. I just knew that we had won a dog show ribbon. That and a new expereince.

Strays Prayer

Stray’s Prayer

Dear God, please send me somebody who’ll care!
I’m tired of running, I’m sick with despair.
My body is aching, it’s so racked with pain,
and dear God I pray, as I run in the rain.
That someone will love me and give me a home,
a warm cozy bed and a big juicy bone.

Pearl the Stray Dog

Pearl the Stray Dog

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Aunt Josephine and Snookie

I just had to share this. Aunt Josephine, actually my great aunt, was the youngest of 4 sisters. I loved it when they all got together. They seemed to have such a rich history, immigrating to the USA, Poppyseed Bread, Halupki and they way they spoke to us kids  in slavak when we got in the way or into trouble. Carrie (born in Checkloslovakia), Helen (my Grandmother and 1st born in the U.S.), Anna (who had so much faith) and Josephine. She was always ready with a laugh and seemed to enjoy life so much.

Aunt Josephine*She Opened Her Heart to Pets (One in Particular)*By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 11, 2008;
Josephine Bensack Czapp, 89, who died of kidney failure April 6, grew up on a farm in Manassas and raised many kinds of pets, including horses and goats. In recent years, she became so close to her parakeet, Snookie, that she wanted to spend eternity with him.Her request was to be buried with Snookie. If the bird went first, she
wanted him stored in the freezer until she died. She appreciated the
family comeback that if Snookie outlived her, a relative would buy a
large freezer in which to keep her.Snookie died in September after having served as Czapp’s winged
companion for about 10 years.

Czapp had formed a strong attachment to Snookie, often refusing to do

anything without him perched on her finger. They ran errands together
and visited her relatives. They exchanged confidences and traded pecks.
Czapp did not like to leave her feathered friend alone.Snookie the Parakeet

She asked him, “Who’s grandma’s baby?”

The family joked that they would have her committed if he replied.

Snookie had entered her life in 1993, after the death of her husband,
Michael J. Czapp. The couple had been married 56 years. The Czapps grew
up near each other in Manassas, and they began dating after meeting at a
dance. She spent much of her life as a homemaker; Michael worked as a

Although Josephine Czapp had a passion for polka, pets were the love of
her life. Her menagerie included horses, goats, dogs and a lizard. She
had raised parakeets when she was younger, but Snookie, a handsome male
with white, blue and gray feathers, captivated her like no other.

“After her husband died, she was on her own, and we bought her a
parakeet cage for Christmas,” said Cheryl Czapp, Josephine’s
daughter-in-law. “She balked at that, but somewhere along the line my
sister-in-law took her to the store and they bought a parakeet.”


For a time, he competed for Czapp’s affections with Pickle, a parakeet
that had belonged to a grandson. But Snookie became the enduring favorite.

The family placed a sign in her bedroom that said, “This place is for
the birds.”

It was “very traumatic” the day he died in September, Cheryl Czapp said.

Josephine Czapp called her son Robert about midday. Alas, he couldn’t
leave work for several more hours. When he did, Robert Czapp found his
mother with the bird still cupped in her hands. He had to pry it away
from her.

After Snookie’s death, Josephine Czapp was inconsolable. Crippled with
arthritis, she prayed nightly that she might die soon, Cheryl Czapp
said. She was no longer the spry lady who, into her late 50s, would camp
out with her grandsons in the wilderness or in the tree house behind her
brick rambler in Manassas.

Cheryl Czapp alerted family and friends to her mother-in-law’s death by
an e-mail. Shunning a sappy tone, the subject line read: “It’s time to
defrost Snookie.”

Celi Clark, a spokeswoman for the Wisconsin-based National Funeral
Directors Association, said she knew of no state or federal regulations
about animals being buried with owners.

Such arrangements, Clark said, are usually made at the discretion of the
cemetery owner.

She said the issue “doesn’t come up a lot,” and that trinkets, letters
and other non-organic possessions are more commonly buried with people.
When someone wants to be interred with an animal, pet remains are
usually cremated and placed in an urn inside the coffin, she said.

Josephine Czapp was buried April 12 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, the
church started by her parents with other Slovak farmer immigrants near

Snookie, reposing in a tin box, was placed by her side. Cheryl Czapp
wrote in an e-mail, “We put his small coffin under her rosaried hands
for their mutual final resting place.”

Truly, My Best Friend


Best FriendIn the summer of 1976 I was 17 years old. I was about to enter my Senior year of High School. It was in the beginning of big changes and decisions. One day I was at Park Road Shopping Center thumbing through records in Ernie’s Record Store. I then wandered up the sidewalk & into the pet shop. Being naturally drawn to animals I would often cruise through the pet shops though I never bought anything. Toward the back of the store I found 2 puppies in a cage. They weren’t any particular breed, maybe a shepard mix. The store owner started up a conversation about the puppies and before I knew it I was handing her $2.50 and walking out the door with one of the pups in my arms. It took me a while to find the right name for her. I think it was at least a week before I named her. One night I was laying in bed listening to the TV show my parents were watching. A new guy by the name of Barry Manilow was singing a song called Mandy. And yes, I liked it. So my new pup became Mandy.Immediately we started bonding. I could tell that she was an intelligent dog. This was the first time I actually trained a dog so we learned together. I must say she made it easy. She learned quickly and we became fast friends and constant companions. She would go everywhere with me.

When she was small she would ride in the car under my legs and then in the backseat when she got too big for the floorboard. She would wait in the car patiently for me even with the windows rolled down. There weren’t many places I couldn’t take her. When I had to leave her at home she would wait patiently with no separation anxiety. She was such a good dog.

I remember a fun time when a friend and I took a spur of the moment trip to Myrtle Beach. We had no room reservations, but it was in the winter so we were sure we could find a room. We just hoped they’d let us take the dogs in with us. Well, we did find an ocean front room and the clerk let us slip the dogs in. It was great walking the beach with Mandy & watching her have fun in the waves.

I graduated high school and had no desire to jump into college so I took a job at the airport and registered for a few classes at the community college. After about a year of working I was ready to think about college. I decided to go to a Technical College in Western North Carolina and study Fish and Wildlife Management. The only available place to live was a one room apartment across from the college. It was obvious that Mandy couldn’t live with me there. So, for a year, Mandy lived at home and I’d go home on weekends.

Finally, in the second year, I found an old farm house to share with a roommate. Mandy came to live there too. The landlord didn’t want the dogs in the house so Mandy would sleep on the front porch under my bedroom window. She never ran off. There was a big field behind the house where we’d take our walks.

One day I made the mistake of taking her for a walk to my school a few miles away. The next day I told her to stay as usual (she always stayed in the yard). I got in the car and drove to school. It was warm so I left the windows down while I attended class. I came out to the car to go home and found Mandy sitting in the backseat waiting for me. Because of our walk She had figured out where I went every morning. She did this several times. One time she found me while I was sitting in class. My instructor was nice enough to let her stay under my desk until class was over. After that I had to start leaving her in the dog pen when I left and couldn’t take her with me.

This is the paragraph were I was going to tell you how I lost Mandy. But I can’t. Even today, 28 years later, it’s hard. She was my best friend. I still miss her. She touched my soul.