Note: I wrote this post as therapy for myself. I just lost my dog, who I loved terribly.
A post for my family and to Sid.
I never cared about my legacy but this week I think I’ve officially changed my opinion.
My beautiful dog Sydney died two days ago. He was 14 or 16 years old (I’m not sure). But my heart is gutted. I don’t think I’ve ever been this sad.
His food bowls and bed are still here next to me as I write this. I get both sad and happy seeing them. Normally, he’d be at my feet as I type this. I miss him. He’s all I think about.
I posted his picture on Twitter and Facebook and told my followers that he died. I got thousands of messages about him.
For the last 15 years I shared hundreds of pictures of him online and I think people got to know him. I didn’t post to make him popular, more so because I loved him and thought he was funny and part of my life.
I got Sid my sophomore year in college. Winter of 2010. I had just gotten back from Sydney, Australia. A friend of a friend asked if I could watch their buddy’s dog who had been arrested. Everyone knew I loved dogs.
I was told it’d only be two weeks. But six months later I still had him. I tried calling the guy who’d been arrested, his family, and friends but got nothing. So I assumed the dog was mine. Eventually, 8 months later, the guy got out and asked for the dog back. By this point I owned the dog longer than he had, got him neutered, trained him and fallen in love. So I said no. And gave the guy his cage and he went and got another dog. (This was legal btw and the guy and I are on good terms!)
His name was Casper at first. But I renamed him Sydney because I loved that city. And he seemed like a Sid.
He was a big, scary looking dog. A white pit bull. At the time I thought he was a year old.
He was horrible on walks. Would lunge at other dogs, chase birds, and not pay attention to me. It was stressful. He was friendly with humans. But people were already afraid of him because of how he looked so the fact that he didn’t listen made it worse.
I bought a book on how to train him. Things got better but he still was bad with other dogs and wouldn’t pay attention to me on walks.
I went to an accounting club meetup at my school and won a $150 attendance prize. With that money I bought a one on one session with a dog trainer. It was a game changer. He taught me how dogs can sense your energy. And how to lead. When to be stern and sometimes rough, what behavior is acceptable and what isn’t.
Sid became my best friend. I was proud that I took this beast and made him calm and to trust me.
We hung out constantly. He ate what I ate. I’d even pour beer in his dog bowl when I was drinking. He got drunk a few times and peed in the house to punish me. What a stupid thing to do, but we had a blast.
Eventually I moved to a small house in the hood. We slept on a mattress on the floor because I was poor. My neighbor was this 50 year old black man with gold teeth named Rydell who’d spent 10 years in prison. He was like Sid, super tough looking but really soft.
Rydell and I became best friends. At first he was so afraid of Sid. But after showing how well behaved he was, Sid and Rydell became great buddies.
Even though I was the nerdiest white guy ever, everyone liked me in the hood because I had this gangster looking dog who could balance food on his nose until I said it was ok or would come to me when I called him.
One time I got a DUI and spent 24 hours in jail. When I came home Sid had shit in the house. He looked so sad. I was devastated and upset that I let him down. That’s when I got sober, so I wouldn’t let him down again.
Later we moved to San Francisco to work at Airbnb. I shipped him out there in the cargo part of Delta a few days before me because I thought that’s how to transport dogs (no one should ever do this!)
Instead of flying him from Nashville straight to SF they sent him to Miami (this was in July!). I put dog food and water in the cage just in case. When I noticed the error while tracking him, they sent out someone to get him from the heat and give him water. Then they sent him to SF.
We did a bunch of wild stuff together.
I didn’t want to leave him home while I worked. But there wasn’t much parking near my office. So I bought a motorcycle and built a platform so he could ride with me and I could park in tiny spots. That’s how we got to work.
One time I came home and Sid was passed out, surrounded by puke. My stoner roommates made weed cookies and left them on the coffee table. Sid got to work.
Sometimes my wife took Sid to her office which was near mine. Often when Sid and I were walking in the streets people from her work, who I didn’t know, would just walk by him and casually say hey Sid. He had his own friends ha!
We took tons of road trips together. Mostly for fun but also out of necessity.
He was too big to fly. So my wife Sara would fly to wherever we went and I’d drive with Sid.
I specifically bought a station wagon because of this.
We drove cross country close to a dozen times. From SF to New York. And lots of trips from Austin and New York.
I’d stop at restaurants, get takeout for both of us, then Sid and I would sit in the grass and eat.
I never felt alone with him because he had such expressive eyebrows. Felt like he was nodding along.
Sid had a weird way of making people like him. He had a huge head and was super scary looking.
But he was so needy.
If I left him with my parents or a sitter for a day he’d sit at the door whining for me or my wife (but I was his favorite) so they’d have to entertain him.
Once my wife had Sid at her office. She tied him up at her desk to go to the bathroom. Sid busted through the leash to go find her. Everyone laughed at how this tough looking dog would do anything to be near her.
It made people like him more because he was so loyal to me and also because they had to work for his affection. And, of course, because it’s fun seeing scary dogs act soft.
So, how did Sid make think that legacy is important?
Because I changed my behavior for the better because of him. I wanted to be great owner and for him to be proud of me.
Not staying out late so I could feed him. Working hard so he had a nice house with room and a yard. I worked so hard to learn to train him and make him well behaved. Just taking care of my responsibilities, which was mainly taking care of him.
I’m only 2 weeks into fatherhood and I can already feel that this is how I feel towards my daughter. I want her to be proud of me. Sid prepared me for that.
My in laws told me they knew I was alright because the first time I met them I demanded they come to my crummy house to show off Sid and his tricks.
I could put three treats on the ground and his paws and say ok you can only have one and he’s just eat one.
Or I could throw a treat across the room and say ok just take one step forward and he’s slower creep to the treat.
Starting at 12 or so I had to carry him around. He could walk. He was just slow and couldn’t go far. So I carried him over my shoulders. I’d throw him up there and it’d shock people seeing this 80 pound dog get lifted above my head. But they’d see how comfortable he was up there because he trusted me. His favorite thing was just being close to me and this was as close as it could get.
Eventually I got him a stroller. People would stare at us and smile. Is he hurt, they’d ask. No, just old. But very happy. Sid rarely got hurt or sick. He was a tough junkyard dog and never showed any pain. He’d only yelp when I’d barely pitch his butt to get his attention.
Whether though my little audience or through some of the jobs I create via my work, Sid gets some credit. If people are impacted by what I do, Sid is part responsible.
I used to make fun of people who said dogs were family. Toughen up! They’re animals. Man, was I wrong.
I’m so sad about him not being here. I saved his chain, some toys and his bed. I find myself looking like a freak and smelling his bed.
My daughter Naomi was born ten days before Sid passed. My wife and I were so excited for Sid to meet her. For months we just kept saying we need to keep Sid healthy so our family could be complete. It was all we talked about.
I’m so happy we got to do that. He got to see my whole evolution from party boy idiot to a successful and responsible family man, even if only for ten days.
I don’t have many friends from my crazy days because I was a jerk. So he’s the only one who saw how I was and what I’ve become.
When he died people wrote and said nice things like man, I felt like I knew him! And how great of a relationship it looked like we had. Or how they loved seeing how I cared for him and carried him around.
So, maybe legacy is important. I used to think hey, when I’m dead I don’t give a shit what people think. But now, I see that how you live can really make an impact. Maybe just one person gets inspired by you and they go on and do big things.
Sid kept me from becoming a degenerate. Taking care of him made me grow up. And his unconditional love inspired me.
A man in his 20’s and his dog is a special bond. 20 something men are idiots. We’re figuring it out. And our dogs are the only ones there for the entire thing. The bond is unconditional.
I love you Sid! You were my best friend and I can’t stop thinking about you. Hopefully I feel better with time. But right now I’ve never been this sad. And I’m honored I got to have you and be your owner. You made a huge impact on me and left a beautiful legacy.
Sydney Parr 2008-2023.