Category Archives: Uncategorized

Mandate of Heaven

The American Presidency is an odd institution. Partially political, partially ceremonial and more than a bit symbolic. At the Founding, George Washington was reportedly offered the kingship of the new American nation. He turned it down and became the first President. But there are elements to the American Presidency which owe more to the idea of kings than the ideals of democracy.

The bow tie brigade is fond of pointing out that the United States is a Republic rather than a democracy and, to a degree, they are right. The founders were not especially enamoured with democracy. They saw the states as having most of the power and designed a system in which Senators were appointed by their state and the Electoral College was a deliberative body appointed by the states as well. The Senate arrangements were striped away by the 17th Amendment and the Electoral College has evolved into a rubber stamp. But there remains a sense that the Presidency transcends the hurley burley of partisan politics. “Respect for the Office” if not the incumbent, was an important, non-partisan, American value.

This all changed with the advent of Donald Trump. From well before his election, the American establishment, Democrat and Republican refused to accept The Donald as America’s President. They spied on him, ran the phony Russian collusion investigation, impeached him for suggesting that the Ukrainians investigate Joe Biden and his errant son Hunter, impeached him again for so-called “incitement” and generally refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of his election. The political and media establishment were perfectly willing to trash the Office in their lust to get the man.

Which is why the Biden Inauguration is being held behind 30,000 troops and 12 foot high, razor wire topped fences. This defensive perimeter is not required to fend off irate Trump supporters furious at what they believe was a stolen election. Rather it is required to add some mystique to a doddering, corrupt little man who is being installed as President.

As I remarked to a friend, Presidential campaigns with their rallies and speeches and debates and endless travel are, as the Biden “victory” proves, entirely superfluous to ballot harvesting in a mass media age. In terms of votes a two million dollar ad buy is more valuable than a campaign tour whistle stop. However, campaigns, actual campaigns, serve another purpose: they connect the candidate to actual Americans and, more importantly, Americans to the candidates. Trump established a connection to millions of Americans who voted for him and millions who did not. Biden did not.

Apparently over 80 million Americans cast their votes for Biden. Yet in a deeply Democrat city surrounded by blue states, instead of worrying about how to deal with huge crowds of supporters, the Biden Inauguration is in a defensive crouch.

Now assorted commentators point to the rally of January 6 with a million well behaved Trump supporters and a couple of thousand yahoos as necessitating the security measures. There is no strong evidence that Trump supporters have or had any intention of attacking the Biden Inauguration. No doubt more than a few might have shown up to heckle the man, but that is simple democracy and no threat.

The fact is that Biden’s total lack of campaigning has left him without any connection to Americans. People did not vote for Joe Biden, rather they voted against Donald Trump.

Those 80+ million people (assuming that they actually exist and actually voted) would, normally, have given Biden a mandate, a popular endorsement. However, because Biden did not campaign, took no unscripted questions, didn’t bother to travel much, his mandate, the endorsement of his voters, is very fragile. The current security theatre in Washington is an attempt to buttress Biden’s claim to the Presidency, or rather the legitimacy of that claim.

I very much doubt it will work.

Letter to a Friend

Donald Trump, American politics

A dear friend of mine wrote from England to catch up and send brilliant pictures. More or less in passing she said how much she was looking forward to November 3rd, “am holding my breath for November 3rd, and hope the ghastly man will go. Whatever you and I may agree on, or dispute, on policy matters, he really is a monster, as many of my onetime Lincoln project chums would agree.”

I replied,

On Trump. He is going to win on November 3rd, bigly. Monster or not, the man is a genius at retail politics. And he is running against a decrepit, demonstrably corrupt, fossil. The Democrats had lots of good alternatives but they went with tired Joe and will now proceed to lose. Your pals at the Lincoln project will have to tie the bow ties a little tighter and soldier on. Trump will win because people actually want to vote for him, Biden will lose because his voters are actually just voting against Trump. Poor Biden is now having to hold his 60 person “rallies” at undisclosed locations because his rallies are being trolled by hundreds of good-natured, but loud, Trump supporters. And this weekend, all over the US, there will be spontaneous boat parades, truck parades and car parades (95 miles long in Arizona last weekend) supporting Trump.


A great deal of the anti-Trump animus comes from the academic, media and policy world. A world which simply cannot fathom how a person as gauche and tacky as Trump can possibly be President. And a world which, getting its news from the NYT/WAPO/CNN, is entirely convinced (because polling) that the American nation will swiftly correct this horrendous error. Inside the bubble, Joe is winning and the monster will be sent packing. Outside that bubble, people are doing the math and looking at the cross tabs on polls which were close in 2016. They are also looking at how many voter registrations there have been in battleground states, the improved Trump numbers among black and latino voters and the rather overwhelming enthusiasm gap between Trump and Biden supporters. (There are actually bumper stickers saying “Settle for Biden”). Outside the bubble, the 33% 3rd quarter GDP bounce back, record low black and latino unemployment and no new wars are just a few of the reasons people give for re-electing Trump. There are dozens more.


What is entirely un-noticed in clerisy conversations about Trump is his appeal to ordinary Americans. People who really can’t “work from home” and whose kids have no chance of attending elite colleges and who will never attend, much less give, a TED talk. These are Trump’s people. Last election, for a variety of reasons, a fair number of these people voted for Hillary. Sure she called them “the deplorables” but she was female and that, apparently, mattered. This election these people – referred to by Biden as “chumps” – have no reason at all to vote for Biden. But they have lots of reasons to vote for Trump. Until COVID they were better off which is usually all it takes for an incumbent to win. But you are now dealing with another huge question: the riots and looting. The clerisy is convinced that if we all hopped aboard the critical race theory train and embraced anti-racism the riots would magically end. The chumps are pretty sure that is not going to work and that you need a President with some determination to end the riots.


On COVID, the clerisy takes great glee in pinning every death on Trump despite the fact that it is mainly the states which have power in public health. The chumps, while they may not be all that clear on state responsibility, know that they are badly hurt by lockdowns. They are also deeply sceptical about state-level lockdowns and mask mandates. They are bright enough to recognize that a virus is, itself, no one’s fault (except maybe the Chinese). Biden promising a national (and unconstitutional) mask mandate did him no good. And the red states cannot help but notice that the most draconian measures have been taken by Democrat governors and mayors.


One of the key things to understanding the coming Trump victory is to recognize that there is no longer much buy in to the national media. The internet has meant that people get their “news” and opinions from a wonderfully fragmented array of sources. And they have direct access to the information which interests them. Trump is doing three rallies a day in front of 15 to 30 thousand people a rally. These are barely mentioned in mainstream media, but literally, 100’s of thousands of people watch them online. The boat parades get no MSM coverage, but there are Tik-Toc videos which go viral. A black rapper named Lil Wayne endorsed Trump a couple of days ago, no mainstream coverage but Trump tweeted it to his 80 million followers and Lil Wayne has it as a pinned tweet for his 32 million followers.

Soooo. My suggestion is to take in a generous supply of wine, and a good bottle of scotch, and prepare for a shock. Last election I was rooting for the monster because I despised Hillary. I was stunned when he won. This election I am rooting for the monster again, this time because I despise what the Democrat party has become. I will be well-stocked, but for celebratory rather than medicinal purposes. 

Ah, enough about Trump. I am off to the dog park!


Happily, she is an old enough and good enough friend that our friendship will survive this note. (I think.)

The second shoe

In Western Canada and the Maritimes, COVID-19 is pretty much done. Still lots of it in Montreal and Toronto. There has been no silver bullet cure found and a vaccine, if it can be found at all, looks to be some distance off.

Meanwhile, our American friends have just had a couple of weeks of protests and riots ostensibly about the police murder of a black man, more generally about the frustration of the American left. The very real chance that Donald Trump will win re-election in the face of overwhelming media and elite opposition is creating massive shock. That, in turn, engergizes a small, but very vocal, minority to take to the streets in protest. The target is “systemic racism” and they just know The Donald is at the root of that system. Like COVID-19, the protests and the riots will pass.

The US stock market which used to be a barometer for the relative strength of the economy has taken a vacation from this role in response to the literal trillions of fresh printed dollars flooding the market. Ever upward regardless of such unwoke concerns as price/earnings and actual profitability. Never mind the millions of unemployed and the tens of thousands of businesses felled by COVID. It is raining dollar bills. (The situation is much the same in Canada with government money papering over the collapse of the oil and gas industry, mass unemployment and business failure, plus unprecedented levels of government and personal debt.)

Cementing my status as a grumpy old, white, man of heterosexual inclination and, thus, as unwoke as you can possibly get, I don’t think all this is even a little bit sustainable. At some point the reality of the massive demand destruction created by the COVID shutdown is going to bump into the massive personal and governmental debt and, to make things interesting, the structural unemployment the shutdown has created.

And that is if things go well.

It is just possible that the economy can be restarted, employment recreated, debt paid down and demand goosed; but the system as it stands right now is very, very fragile. It will not take much to turn a manageable recession into a serious depression.

One of the stranger things about modern economics is how much depends on confidence. If Mr. Jones thinks he will have a job next week he makes different choices than if he doesn’t. Repeat several million times an hour and you have an economy.

The reason why this is strange is that Mr. Jones makes his choices in conditions of uncertainty. In a normal, well functioning, economy that uncertainty is constrained in the sense that the past tends to determine the future. If you have had a job on the 1st of the month, chances were very good you would have one at the end of the month.

For many people the real effect of COVID has been to radically increase the level of uncertainty in their day to day lives. Take a look at this chart:

That is the US personal savings rate. When people are uncertain they don’t spend and therefore the savings rate goes up. If people don’t spend 30% of their income there are going to be significant economic consequences.

Of course, the personal savings rate is about people who actually have incomes and assets of some sort. What happens when you have to make choices with no income because your job has been cancelled due to COVID?

There is much debate about whether or not there will be a “spike” in COVID cases because of the lousy social distancing at the protests. And there is quite serious concern that a second wave of the virus in September is possible, even likely. What is not being discussed is the very real economic and social effects of a sudden rise in uncertainty.

Tagged ,

Depression, Inflation, I’m so confused!

The Weimar German Mark…Not just Zimbabwe – Log scale

The numbers are ugly. Something like 1 in 5 Canadians out of work. Mortgages deferred, rent unpaid, bills falling in arrears without a regular pay cheque. The 2K a month CRED money is lovely but it does not actually cover most middle class people’s mortgages, car leases, minimum credit card payments, hydro, taxes, more taxes, and, well, food.

So, economically, I think it is fair to say that we are already in a depression. GDP growth will crater, unemployment will balloon. Cash will evaporate.

But it may be worse than that. The reality is that most Western countries have said, “The Hell with the deficit and national debt, we need to helicopter money in, stat.” The problem with this idea is that to do it you need to print money. Lots of it. Billions for Canada, trillions for the US. Which, if you have your own central bank is easy to do and, initially, costless. After all, what is money? It is a book entry and if you double the total what could go wrong?

If you flood enough money into an economy that economy will look robust. It will look normal even with a fifth or a third of its citizens not actually working but still being paid.

Here is picture of a meth addict:

A country which decides to simply make all the money it needs right now is jumping on the meth train. There is a temporary high where all looks grand and then a terminal decline.

The COVID-19 crisis – if it is a crisis – has given our federal government the social licence to start shooting economic meth. The fact is that the economic meth won’t work. Real estate is going to crash. Asset prices generally will crash. The end of demand is, well, the end of demand. Without demand prices drop and, hey, pretty soon, you have a recession and, perhaps, a depression.

Depressions can be survived. They are nasty and stimulating the demand which takes you out of one is tough.

But now imagine a depression proceeded by a huge currency inflation. Where a government, in a panic, floods the market with paper currency unbacked by any actual GDP. In a matter of a year, the savings of a nation as well as the assets of a nation, can be rendered worthless in paper money.

Here’s a gent buying eggs in the Weimar Republic:

A grand inflation in front of a depression is pretty much the end of an economy. If the government prints money in serious quantities and issues debt in more or less unlimited quantities the game is over. The gold bugs will have won.

A rather smart investor named Rick Rule once said, “We don’t want to live in a world with $10,000 an ounce gold.”

Right now there is a greater than zero chance that this will be exactly the world we live in.

Tagged , ,

Things about to get real

COVID-19

No, not the virus. It is already very real.

The economy.

2.1 million Canadians have applied for EI. On Monday, the doors will open for applications for the CREB. Real estate is crashing. A lot of small businesses are closed and there is a real question as to whether many will be coming back if this goes on until, say, May 15th.

Here’s the thing: to this point people have been able to get by on savings, informal loans and scraps of income. Not well, but ok. That will not be the case for much longer.

On Monday there is going to be the mother of all internet swarms as people try to apply for the CREB. Part of that process is, apparently, setting up a “My Account” with the CRA. My younger sons have been trying to do just that since the Prime Minister suggested it on Wednesday. They have failed because the CRA system is giving them error messages when they try to fill in their information. Not at all an encouraging sign.

My boys will be fine and my older son filed for EI a week and a half ago so he should be ok.

However, if half a million Canadians crash the CRA on Monday, many of them will not be fine. They will be dead broke with no obvious path forward.

How long will that situation remain calm?

The “application” process for the CREB is an unnecessary bottleneck which may turn out to be a break point for the system overall.

Is there a Plan “B” in case the CRA can’t handle the volume. There should be and it should be simple and get money to people who need it.

I have suggested this in a variety of places but I will suggest it again.

A smart, decisive government would have looked for every possible way to get money into the hands of the unemployed, the stay at home moms, the older adults and the welfare recipients by the end of March. No questions asked, no applications required. The Canadian government, through its various programs and the Canadian Revenue Agency, has the name and bank account information for millions of Canadians. Simply sending $2000 to people who receive the Child Tax Benefit, the GST rebate and CPP/OAP would kick start the process. Sending $2000 to every single one of the EI applicants currently in the system, without looking at eligibility would be a solid move. Then coordinate with the provinces to send $2000 to every welfare recipient.

me, a week ago

The whole point of the CREB is to get money into the hands of people who need it. The whole application/eligibility thing just gets in the way. So does the insane requirement that people re-apply every month.

The Federal and Provincial governments have decided that Covid-19 is serious enough that it warrants shutting down the Canadian economy. (I am not sure this is actually the right response but it the response we have for now.) By doing this the governments have created an obligation to ensure that their citizens have enough money to sustain themselves as long as the shut down is in effect. This will be insanely expensive and likely deeply inflationary. But that is a “down the road” consideration. The key concern right now needs to be getting as much money to as many people as possible as soon as possible.

For the next month it likely makes sense to continue with the social distance/stay at home measures currently in effect. More and more people are masking up. By May we should have a) a useful five minute test to determine if a person currently has CV-19, an anti-body test to find out if a person has had CV-19 (and is therefore presumed immune), spreading use of  hydroxychloroquine and other treatments which help speed recovery. We will have, we hope, flattened the curve so that the number of cases stay within our hospital’s capacity to treat.

However, by the end of April we should also be looking at how we can begin to re-open the economy. At the moment we are treating everyone as a potential carrier as well as a potential patient who would have a significant chance of dying if they caught CV-19. With experience, we should be able to be more granular in our approach.

We will also be in a better position to do a cost/benefit analysis of the restrictions government imposes. At the beginning of March, when CV-19 was first seen as a serious problem, the magnitude of the problem could not be pinned down. That meant that virtually any restriction could be justified as the potential cost of not imposing the restriction was, more or less, infinite. In principle, the CV-19 epidemic could have killed us all so stopping it was worth pretty much everything.

Now we know a lot more about CV-19 and what can be done to lessen its impact. It may turn out that a simple cotton mask, (much denigrated by Canada’s Chief Health Officer, Dr. Tam) may have a significant role to play in reducing the spread of CV-19. Cheap, potentially effective and, realistically, masking might allow the resumption of some business activities.

We know that the virus is nasty to older people and often fatal to the many over 80’s in our communities. We know that care homes are susceptible because the virus spreads in communal settings more easily than through casual contact. We know that young children and teens, while they can get CV-19, almost always have light cases.

The more we know the more we can tailor solutions which will allow a bit of a return to normal or a version thereof.

If we had infinite money we could sustain our current restrictive measures for a year or two until we had a vaccine. But while we can print money by Direct Deposit, that money comes with costs. And remember, money is not actually anything at all. You don’t eat money, you eat eggs. Those eggs come from somewhere and there is a supply chain which gets them to the store.

The challenge right now is to control the virus without killing the supply chains which we all rely on.

Let’s see how our Federal government does on Monday.

Bungle

Our American friends are trying to pass an emergency finance bill to deal with the economic fall out of the Covid-19 epidemic. But Nancy Pelosi decided it would be a great idea to add layers of lefty causes to a fairly simple finance measure and, as a result, the bill has been delayed.

Our own Justine Trudeau attempted to put an Emergency Funding Act through Parliament which would have given the Canadian Cabinet the power to tax and spend without going to Parliament for 18 months. He failed. But not until more time had been wasted.

Canadians are losing their jobs. Fast. A million and half of them have apparently applied for EI benefits. The system is not designed to deal with that many applications all at once. While the one week waiting period has been waived, the reality is that there will be no new EI cheques for several days if not weeks.

The Trudeau government has announced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit which is, as far as I can see, a program designed to pay $2000 a month to people who a) apply, b) who lost their jobs, got sick, are under quarantine or have to stay home because of school closures. The application is to be online as of the beginning of April with cheques (really?) out ten days or so later.

Let’s be optimistic and imagine that the CERB goes as planned. The earliest people will get the benefit will be April 15. It is the 25th as I write. I have been broke enough to know what 20 days with no money feels like. But no money and no prospect of generating any because of Covid-19 lock downs is impossible.

Trudeau and his Cabinet lack any sense of urgency. They have not got a clue about how tough the next month is going to be for the million and a half Canadians who have lost their jobs.

A smart, decisive government would have looked for every possible way to get money into the hands of the unemployed, the stay at home moms, the older adults and the welfare recipients by the end of March. No questions asked, no applications required. The Canadian government, through its various programs and the Canadian Revenue Agency, has the name and bank account information for millions of Canadians. Simply sending $2000 to people who receive the Child Tax Benefit, the GST rebate and CPP/OAP would kick start the process. Sending $2000 to every single one of the EI applicants currently in the system, without looking at eligibility would be a solid move. Then co-ordinate with the provinces to send $2000 to every welfare recipient.

There is no time for a bureaucratically perfect solution here. People are being told to stay home. They can’t do that if they have no money. So get them money.

UPDATE: The geniuses at the BC government just announced a program to help people hit by the economic consequences of CONVID-19 deal with rent. Apparently they think $500 paid direct to the landlord is going to make a difference. Have they looked at rents in Vancouver or Victoria?

Tagged

Aftermath and Clean-Up

Five days ago I wrote a post called Peak Panic. I think I called it about right. There was and still is panic around Convid-19 but there is also the sense that the curve can be flattened by people self isolating (even if they don’t have the bug), practicing social distance and by limiting social interaction and group events.

Now comes word that Trump is sending Hydroxychloroquine and Z-Paks to NYC for Drug Trials. There is strong, if anecdotal evidence that hydroxychloroquine has a rapid effect on the virus. Six days and the virus is gone. We’ll see. But we will see quickly as the treatment will be given to hundreds of sick patients and, prophylactically, to front line medical personnel. It will either work perfectly or, more likely, imperfectly but effectively in many cases.

Having a treatment option – and there will be more than one – changes the entire picture. Yes, social distance and self-isolation will still be important for some time but the idea that the medical system will be overwhelmed fades very quickly if an effective treatment can be administered.

The entire world is in the process of shutting down as economic activity is judged too risky. The markets have crashed. Helicopter money is being loaded. (Although I note that the Trudeau government missed a chance when the Child Tax Benefit arrived in the same amount as last month.) Tax deadlines – both for filing and for payment – are being deferred. Employment insurance, pensions, payments to the self-employed, to companies and to institutions hit with the virus and its disruptions are all in the pipeline.

The fact that the virus may be first contained and then controlled is unlikely to have much impact on these programs. Nor should it. The economic disruption of the last couple of weeks is not going to vanish overnight even if the medicos sound the all clear. It will cost trillions.

[My minor suggestion is that governments add a virtual year to all the “monthly” entitlements they currently pay and pay that all at once. In the case, for example, of my pension the government would add one year to my life and send along the full benefits payable for that year. This would give me cash in pocket and would be as taxable as any other pension payment.]

Putting money into the hands of consumers and corporations immediately is likely a good idea. But a better idea is to begin to plan for an economic restart complete with the resumption of air travel, open pubs, non-essential businesses and so on. The exact date of this restart is unknowable at this point because we don’t know when the curve will start dropping like the Dow. However, that should not stop political and business leaders from outlining a 30-60 day restart plan which would kick in when the virus was effectively beaten.

Economies are perfectly happy to crash on their own. But there has never been a genuine economic restart. It is claimed that the Great Depression was ended by the production demands of World War II. That may well be true but, obviously, that is not an ideal outcome.

So what is?

There will be a lot of pent up demand but it will take a lot of work and a lot of money to meet that demand. There will also be a good deal of purely psychological damage which will have to be overcome. A part of the population, perhaps a large part, will be suffering from the after effects of sheer panic.

Focusing the restart on a specific day or week may be the most effective way to marshal the supply chains, employees, and businesses. We’ve seen the success of “Black Friday” in releasing the animal spirits of North American consumers.

Combining massive sales, big discounts on air fares, hotels, restaurants and a day of celebration might well be the best way of kicking the economy back into gear. Parades, Services of Thanksgiving, a truncated knock out tournament for the Stanley Cup, a reboot of Opening Day for a short MLB season, the list of potential events is endless.

Start the planning now, even before we have solved the virus issue, because if the economy continues in “shut down” the effect of that “shut down” could be much more severe than the virus itself.

Tagged

Peak Panic

Are we there yet?

States of Emergency, daily Presidential Briefings, fatality numbers, businesses closing, TP shortages, no meat, social distance, markets yo-yoing and everyone looking to “flatten the curve”: COVID-19 is scary and people are responding with varying degrees of terror and reason.

I took this graph from PowerLine. It is interesting and as John Hinderaker observes there we want to be like South Korea. He was referring to the US. Canada is not even on this chart because we are a few days away from the starting point of 10 deaths. Health Canada indicates 4 deaths as of March 17 at 10:30 Eastern. We’ll get to 10 but, with luck, a little more slowly.

There is a lot of skepticism about the Chinese numbers but, apparently, new cases and new deaths have fallen significantly in the past few weeks. We’ll see if that holds as China goes back to work.

There are plenty of reasons to treat COVID-19 seriously beginning with the fact that we lack infinite medical resources to deal with the very real possibility of broad scale infection. We currently lack effective therapies for people unlucky enough to catch CV. We are at least months away from any sort of vaccine.

Panic has been useful in alerting people to handwashing and staying out of crowds. It has given social licence to people who simply want to stay at home. And those basic things may very well reduce the overall incidence of the infection. We won’t know for a while.

What we do know is that testing for COVID-19 is confirming cases across Canada. Here is the weekly case graph to the 8th of March:

So far, so good. However, I have to suspect that there will be surges in these numbers in the coming weeks as more and more people are tested.

If something like this graph holds, even with surges, Canada will have the time needed to reconfigure its medical resources to deal with the challenges presented by the virus. We will also have the time to test potential therapies: yes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – but it would be helpful to have some cures available.

There are also purely environmental effects to look forward to. We don’t know if heat and humidity will kill the virus but there is evidence that they slow its spread.

Spring is around the corner in Canada.

As we get a better handle on the virus, its spread, its effects and, with luck, its treatment the urge to panic will vanish. It will be replaced by an understanding of what it takes to avoid contracting the virus.

In China it appears people are going back to work and production is resuming. Or so it is claimed. South Korea seems to have resumed a relative normalcy. Europe seems, at the moment, to be in the grip of the first wave where the death count shoots up and the case load is overwhelming. They have hit lockdown and there seems to be some improvement in the number of new cases in Italy at least.

Panic grabs people’s attention but it is useless unless it leads to clam, rational, action. Which is what we are beginning to see in Canada.

Tagged ,

OK, Boomer

My Millennial son, not wanting to be out of step with his generation, referred to his dear father at an “old white boomer” in a chat we were having today. Absolutely accurate. I am an old white boomer and delighted to be one. But for the ageist Millennials this is supposed to be a real slag. And for real ironic cred, the phase, “OK, boomer” is a great comeback when a boomer says something the Millennial has no answer for.

However, it is always fun to shoot back and I tried, Mill – epic fail.

However, pensées d’escalier, I realized I had been close. What Mill lacked was a useful sense of faint derision.

What could do that job?

“Millie”. Just the right note of soy-boi, effeminate, dimness combined with a dash of condescension. And for a hint of Edwardian neo-colonial hauteur in the face of imbecility, “Righty-O, Millie”.

Done.

Our Dog Died

Stoffal

I lost a very dear friend just before dinner tonight.

My old, thirteen and a half, dog Stoffal died lying against a bookshelf, his tail having wagged its last about ten minutes before. He was comfortable, in no pain at all, and had been out in the morning.

Stoffal was a golden doodle that my lovely (and currently devasted) Susan found on Used Victoria when he was three. A very nice South African doctor named Santa had moved to a condo and Stoffal was not a condo dog. (Stoffal is, apparently, a common dog name in South Africa.) So he came to us as a used dog from Santa.

Stoffal was relaxed. He’s moved with us from mansion to slum and back again, city to country, always adapting to whatever came his way. When he was younger he’d swim and fetch sticks – three times, after that you were on your own.

He slept beside my sons, alternating rooms, and when he could, he prowled the dinner table reminding us that dogs love steak but are willing to settle for potatoes.

He managed to steal, not one, but two rounds of Brie we were foolish enough to leave on a low coffee table at cocktail hour. He loved to walk in the woods in North Saanich but, in the last year, his ambition was greater than his legs could support. As he loved car rides this was not a problem.

A dog creates a special place in a family. No matter what is happening there is a big, furry, friendly, creature who wants nothing more than a scritch on the ear or a walk or to just lie beside you.

That is an empty place right now.

Tagged ,
%d bloggers like this: