The first thing most people commented on about Onca was how big she was. I mean, the dog was fucking huge and most people had never seen her breed before making her that much more mysterious. The second comment was always about her ears. The loser that had got her as a perfect puppy had taken it upon himself to wack them off on his own so she had these hysterical little diablo ears that crossed when she was trying particularly hard to be good.
Tomorrow is the one month mark of losing our girl. Thank you all so much for your thoughts, support, laughter, and stories of her. She was a force, a huge presence, and the house is sorely lacking of her big rumbling bark, her couch leaping jumps, and her oh so cute and oh so odd little wiggle of her sausage tail.
While very sad, the weeks have also been filled with wonderful stories and memories of Onca that friends near and dear have shared. Thank you for that. I’d like to share just a few here:
NY,2004: Matt and I were heading to Massachusetts and Vermont for an epic Christmas tour. We had my Mom’s, my Dad’s, Matt’s Mom’s, Matt’s Dad’s, my Grandfather’s, and Matt’s Grandparents to hit. That’s right, six Christmases in 24 hours. I don’t know what we were thinking. We did at least have the wherewithal to not try to bring Onca and Lucky along with us, so we found the most expensive, most discerning doggy spa possible and dropped them off, promising to be back in 24 (okay 28) hours. When we returned they gave us a glowing report card on Lucky. Everyone loved him. They had an odd expression on their face about Onca. When we pressed it, the sixteen girl manning the desk finally spilled the beans. It turned out that Onca had gotten out of her suite being quite the escape artist that she was (we don’t call them kennels when we’re charging your $50/night) and had proceeded to let Lucky out. The caretakers hadn’t taken too much offense to that, so they were letting the two roam around, but they quickly realized that Onca was letting all the dogs out and that chaos was soon to ensue. She was marked with a bright orange stamp as a rebel, and not welcomed back.
Seattle, 2009: Our friends Angela and Harrison are sweet, dear friends. The kind that you can truly be yourself with, that you can sit on the kitchen floor and drink a bottle of wine with, that you can show your least flattering side to. They knew the best of Onca, and the worst of Onca, and they loved her fiercely in spite of it. They also had a new baby Wesley and would bring him round whenever they could, not caring that Onca would put her big slobbery face in his and give him a kiss. She was wonderful with kids, a true gentle giant, and Angela and Harrison trusted her explicitly. One night when Wesley was about one and learning to walk they were over. We were all talking and eating and loving that we had such good friends so close when Onca lumbered by teetering, tottering, just walking Wesley. The mere brush of her knocked him over and produced a massive howl out of the little guy. Within a split second we all gasped, Onca immediately sat down (that being her patented moved whenever she got in trouble, which was not infrequent), and Wesley’s howling immediately got muffled. Onca was, quite literally, sitting on his face. His little body was kicking and screaming like a little Oompa Loompa and Onca was just sitting there looking confused like, “What? What’d I do?” (Fear not, Onca and Wesley would go on to have a great friendship of shared goldfish, PB&Js, and an endless tolerance for occasionally being smacked in the face).
Gee Point, 2006: The boys pulled into the driveway from their weekend camping trip, and as was customary I went out to greet them, welcome the dogs back home, and carry in a load or two of gear. They jumped out of the car, and talking over one another and interrupting like 8-year-old siblings they told me of the adventure they had just experienced. They had climbed up a mountain, over boulders and through snow to get to a favorite and coveted mountain peak. They had set up camp without a soul in sight and begun the evening ritual of building the fire, tending the fire, cooking tubular meats on the fire, and reminiscing while drinking beer and whiskey. Onca was particularly unsettled all evening, pacing the parameter of the campground with her low rumbling growl on repeat. They couldn’t figure out what it was and after enough beer and whiskey, they didn’t care anymore. A few hours later, as the sun was just setting, Onca leapt from her spot by the fire, and they turned to see a black bear less than 100 yards away. Onca immediately took off after it howling for all she was worth, while Matt howled after her. The bear took off running, and Onca chased it until Matt could no longer hear or see her. Pacing at the campsite and wondering what to do next, within a few minutes he heard the clink of Onca happily trotting back into camp, sausage tail wagging, and a grin on her face as if to say, “Ha! I told you there was something. We sure showed that bear who was boss.”
Salty Dog Cocktails
And with that I will remember that this is a food blog after all and share with you my new favorite cocktail, compliments of my friend Ila who knew exactly what I needed the first weekend alone and showed up with fixings for Salty Dogs and never mentioned that I was still in my PJs at 3p and my eyes were so swollen shut I looked like I’d been stung by a bee.
Admittedly the combination of these is a little odd at first glance, but they are delicious. And dangerous…watch out! I like to serve them in big old-fashioned glasses with one large ice-cube to make sure I don’t get into too much trouble. Don’t skip the salt, it’s the best part.