Wednesday, March 12, 2008

the simple and the difficult

life offers up the most ludicrous, ridiculous situations sometimes.

no. often.

i’m supposed to be in milwaukee right now, directing “a year with frog and toad” for a great theater company called first stage milwaukee. at the “meet and greet” today i had very little to say, except that one of the things i love most about the original “frog and toad” stories by arnold lobel is how beautifully simple they are.

in the midst of that simplicity comes the difficulty of life.

instead of listening to a wonderful group of actors, young and old, learn and sing the music from the show (which is what i was doing an hour ago) i’m flying home to new york to see my partner rob, and spend a final evening with our dog reggie.

rob called me at 5:00 a.m. last sunday morning to say reggie had lost the use of his back legs, and couldn’t stand up. reggie has had health issues since we moved to new york, but nothing insurmountable. until now.

reggie has been with me since he was eight weeks old. in dog years, he’s now 92. when i went on tour with “mamma mia,” reggie joined me, traveling the country, living in hotels, and seeing more of the world than most human beings ever get to see.

he’s been lucky enough to have had three dads. steve, his first dad, died when reggie was just over a year old. rob’s been his dad since 2000. and me.

reggie and i have been through more together than most people i know. in terms of time, my relationship with reggie is surpassed only by my relationship with my mom and dad. i’ve put him through some tough times. and he’s put me through some too.

reggie’s also been unbelievably lucky to have an extended family like no other. so many people have taken care of him, loved him, stayed with him. picked up his poop. i wish i could name them all, but i know i’d forget that one person, and i don’t want to do that.

in the end, it was rob who carried him down the stairs of our fourth floor walk up, to our friends tim and michael’s waiting car, to take him to the dog hospital, where he’s been for the last two days. reggie couldn’t ask for a better dad than rob. rob has been the one in the thick of things, not only now, but many, many other times. cleaning up. taking care. of reggie, and me.

i’ve said goodbye to my fair share of people in life. my grandma clements. my friend lou hammer. steve. my mom.

this is so, so different. anyone who’s been there knows. anyone who has only looked in from the outside has no idea. none. losing him is like nothing i’ve ever experienced. he’s been my buddy, and my pal. and my good ol’ reggie. and i’ll miss him every day.


  1. I'm so sorry, Tony. I know what you mean - the death of a pet is something different. Not worse than losing a person, but unique. Something to do with the ultimate trust, the dependence, the loyalty, the sheer niavete of animals. Whatever it is, I know I still miss my little cat, Kuma, more than I can even understand. I'm crying now, for heaven's sake.

  2. Dearest, dearest Tony. You are in my thoughts and heart. Having a partnership with an animal, who in return gives so much, is such a privilege. Reg has been there for so many chapters of your life, I'm glad you are able to return to be there for this chapter of his. You are loved. God speed.

  3. I'm so sorry to hear about Reg. You and Rob are in my thoughts. Much love.

  4. tony,

    hang in there. be strong. rob, too. don't be sad about Reggie; be happy you shared the times (to steal a quote). and take the time to grieve.


  5. I dreamt about you, out of the blue, Tuesday night. I wonder if it was because I felt your pain across a country. Dogs are the unconditional love we could never dream of finding anywhere else. That's a huge, huge loss. Remember to breathe--that's my best advice.

  6. hi tony. i don't know you, but i know what you're feeling. i lost my dog cooper in october and still ache. it does get better, but missing them never goes away. i still cry every night, but it's a good release for the loss i feel. it comes out in different degrees, sometimes just a few tears, sometimes sobs. i just tell coop how much i miss him, ask him to come to me in my dreams and let it all out. then i can sleep. someone wrote me when cooper died and said that dogs don't need to be on earth as long as people do, because they arrive already wise, and perfect, and we humans have to learn all that the dog already knows. i am thinking of you and wishing you peace. i am so sorry about reggie. all the best, victoria

    all the comments are what got me through - you can read more thoughts on the loss of your beloved pet here:

  7. Dear Tony and Rob....

    Randy and I send our love to you both. It is a deep grief we know, and our hearts ache for you. The memories will help. You have been blessed to have had Reggie in your lives. Having a dog made me a better person. I know you understand. I am so thankful that Randy and I had the chance to know Reggie. Molly Girl will look after him.

  8. Dear sweet Reggie -- Perry & I will miss taking you to the dog park in Laurel Canyon. There you were, telling everyone who was boss -- loudly and firmly. We think of you often and smile.

  9. james...

    you'd be happy to know that we followed your lead. reggie had an entire hershey's chocolate bar moments before we said goodbye.

  10. My deepest condolences on your loss. Their one fault is that they live such short, sweet lives.

    Hugs to you and Rob.

  11. Just saw this post... As a dog person I know how difficult is to lose such a friend, the kind that is always there for you. My belated condolences.

  12. Overwhelming pain and grief are the price we pay for loving deep and unconditionally. Would I give up a chance at love if I knew I had to face sadness so excruciating that it was crippling at times? Never! I would choose to love no matter how long or brief...or painful. Love is worth dying for.

    I lost my sweet wonderful dog-friend over 12 years ago. I still think of her every day. Love like that is truly a gift and I am blessed to have known her.

    I hope you find peace.

  13. So sorry to learn of your loss...He must have been an amazing dog. I had to put down my dear lab Molly 18 years ago...I still miss her!

  14. Tony and Rob,

    We're so terribly sorry about Reggie. We've had to deal with the loss of our wonderful pet, Sam, and we know the pain you're going through.

    The wonderful memories of your pal will sure help.

  15. I;m so sorry for your loss. I feel your pain and your love for Reggie. Peace be with you.

  16. Tony: Elaine Lazar here. Mark Lazar's wife and good friend of Steve.

    I'm sorry I'm coming to your blog so late, and to this post so very late, but Mark and I just had a similar experience last week. However, our Ralphie, who is 14, still lives, thanks to some arthritis medicine. The second he's in pain though - pain that won't be quelled by meds - will be our time to go through what you and Rob did with Reggie.

    I'm so sorry about Reggie. Mark met Reggie, in Milwaukee, when he drove up from North Carolina to have one last visit with Steve. My deepest sympathies.

    Elaine Lazar


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