Ode to an Irish Terrier

On the Record

Lloyd Mullen
Posted 7/3/19

It was Karen who eventually noticed something was off.

Our cheesepuff-loving pal, the puppy with boundless energy, seemed down.

The unwavering love of a dog may be the greatest gift one can …

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Ode to an Irish Terrier

On the Record


It was Karen who eventually noticed something was off.

Our cheesepuff-loving pal, the puppy with boundless energy, seemed down.

The unwavering love of a dog may be the greatest gift one can receive and Ronin, a goofy-looking Irish Terrier, has been my best friend for six years.

A fuzzy companion made for adventure had been my goal for the 22 years prior and this four-legged friend of mine, who many of you have had the pleasure of meeting in our office, is a great dog, and adorable to boot.

If you have never had the pleasure of raising an animal, let me tell you, I was immediately determined to be in it for the long haul.

We would wake up two hours before work so we could walk the canals of Phoenix, Arizona off-leash. Ronin would be the perfect dog.

During lunch, I’d rush home from the office to let my new pup out of the kitchen for a midday stretch and some obligatory belly scratches.

Ronin was gifted to me when he was about eight weeks old and this little fuzzball did what all little fuzzballs do - he chewed up my tennis shoes, the corners of furniture, and had the occasional accident on the floor.

Interestingly, he grew fond of hot peppers.

We used this knowledge to lure him into swimming. With a bag of flaming hot cheese puffs at my side, Ronin went to water like mozzarella to pizza.

At three months old, Ronin knew every trick in the book. Sit, stay, jump, roll over. My boy could even turn on the lights. Lassie, watch out!

When Karen first noticed his lethargy, we thought it was a cold.

“It’ll pass,” I said. It didn’t.

After the third day, we called the vet and took him in for testing.

If your vet is any good, they’ll ask you about your dog’s environment.

Living in Arizona and spending most of our free time outdoors, the most obvious thought was tick-bite. So we did the blood-tests.

The Doc recommended taking a day to see if he got better. He didn’t.

Another week went by and we saw no improvement. Six appointments and two veterinary clinics later, Ronin wasn’t getting any better.

Karen was lucky enough to work for an employer who shared our love for animals and they let her work from home for about two weeks to keep an eye on him.

When she returned to her office to work, I came home to check on Ronin.

He was lying on the kitchen floor, the coolest spot in our Phoenix home, but he didn’t get up to greet me as he usually did.

“Maybe he’s just tired,” I thought. So after trying and failing to coax him up with a treat, I slipped my hands under his body and lifted him up. He immediately dropped to the floor.

Ronin, my four-month-old Irish Terrier puppy could no longer stand on his own. The back half of his body was paralyzed.

By this point his sickness had emptied our bank accounts. Two tear-filled phone calls later, both my brother Louie, sister-in-law Lisa, and my parents all loaned me money (it was in the thousands) to save his life.

That afternoon, we were given the contact information to a pet neurologist who was going to be able to see Ronin the next day. Karen took him in and I followed, a few worrisome minutes behind.

Within half an hour we had a diagnosis.

It was meningitis. My four-month old puppy had meningitis?

Over the four weeks of his illness, it had crossed my mind.

According to the Doctor, Ronin had shown all the tell-tale signs. He offered to run a cat-scan (not that we could have afforded it) but he was confident in his diagnosis.

After a one-week dosing of prednisone and antibiotics, Ronin, the happy-go-lucky terrier was back.

And today that boy can carry a stick three times his size through the waters of Discovery Bay.

(Lloyd Mullen is Publisher of The Leader. Ronin is News Terrier. He roams the Fowler Building in search of new friends and snacks surreptitiously fed to him by Leader staff.)


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Karen Currie

Dear Mr. Mullen,

Bless you for sharing your heartwarming story of Ronin. I held my breath until the last two paragraphs, praying for a happy ending.


Karen J. Currie

Lover of dogs and a 1971 PTHS Graduate.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Funny to see this piece just after I visited the Leader office to get pricing on advertising. I was at the counter when I felt an ever so light touch on the back of my calf. Sitting there gazing up at me with paw still lightly touching me was a most unusual face, smiling as dogs do and quietly greeting me. No pressure, the next move was mine. So, due to the Leader taking strong positions and showing leadership I will be advertising for the first time ever. My ads will carry the theme of Term Limits on City Council, and an elected not appointed Mayor. If Ronin gets a side benefit of a treat here and there and I can visit again, I'm all in. You can tell a lot about an owner from his or her dog. Ronin is A grade. Buy some advertising or a subscription. You have a voice, don't let it languish.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019