The Circle Of Life

Our ‘Prince of April Wind’ – Bear

I’m sad to share that our puppy Bear, who was nearly 17-years-old, passed away on Saturday.

He’d been on medication for a heart condition for the past few months but was doing well. Thursday night he was fine, occasionally taking the time to bark at a friend’s basset hound we were dog-sitting.

But out of nowhere on Friday, he stopped eating food and barely took any water and couldn’t keep the water he did drink down. Listless and a bit disoriented, he was very quiet and basically slept all day.

In the past, he also experienced brief seizures that began coming more often. He’d had them before, but usually weeks between episodes.

Friday night, he was very restless and couldn’t get comfortable. We were up most of the night watching him.

On Saturday morning, we were already very concerned, but then the seizures came again. He had six episodes throughout the morning – each more violent than he has ever had. Heartbroken, we knew what we had to do. We had to be his “humans” and take his pain away.

Michael with Bear

Our ‘Prince of April Wind’ crossed the rainbow bridge – on his favorite blanket that he slept on every night – with the help of two very compassionate veterinarians who came to the house.

I took this photo of Bear looking out the front door just days before his passing

Bear was born last in Michael’s hands, and over the years his timid nature put him down the pecking order in terms of alpha-dom. But in the past seven months, being the lone dog of the house, he flourished and grew confident. Even in his last moments, when the vets came into the bedroom on Saturday, he stood up and barked ferociously defending us from what he perceived as a threat. Our prince had become a knight.

Me with baby Bear getting some water during the puppy days

With the passing of any loved one comes grief, but in addition to losing Bear, we find ourselves at the end of our wonderful 23-year adventure with this beautiful dachshund family.

We began with the mama, Sabrina, in December 1997. Daddy dog Bruno joined the family in 2002, and in July of 2003, their puppies Tyler, Bandit, and Bear were born.

As our friends know, the dogs ruled in our house. For years, the house was full of boundless dog energy.

The dogs help Michael take a break from work

Everywhere we look, the dogs’ presence is undeniable. Five water dishes spread around the house, six beds, the pantry full of treats, their blankets on our bed…

For all these years, this furry family has loved on us and brought more joy than words can describe. We realize that, as adults, for the past 32 years, we’ve both always had dogs in our lives.

But in 2011, we lost Sabrina. Bandit passed in 2017, Bruno followed a year later, and this past November Tyler departed.

Me with all five doxies

As we lost them over the years, there was always the surviving pups to love on and pour our hearts into. Now, just silence.

We are heartbroken and the pain is so deep we are both literally numb.

Rest in peace our little teddy Bear – your family is there waiting for you on the other side of the bridge. It’s the end of our Doxie Dynasty.

Bruno being daddy with the puppies as Sabrina looks on

Looking Back As Our Tyler Crosses The Rainbow Bridge

Tyler as a puppy in 2003, and on our last day together
Tyler as a puppy in 2003, and on our last day together
Tyler as a puppy in 2003, and at 16 and a half on our last day together

Michael and I helped our prettiest, Tyler, cross the rainbow bridge Friday evening.

She was diagnosed with Cushings Disease last week and we started medications, but they overwhelmed her causing her to throw up for about four days.

We stopped them, with vet’s advice, hoping they’d work out of her system and she would bounce back.

But by Friday, she hadn’t taken any water or food for three days. No treats, nothing.

At sixteen and a half, she was very weak, and we had to be ‘the adults.’

Sad doesn’t begin to describe where we are emotionally. Numb is about all I can come up with.

When we moved to Las Vegas 15 years ago, in the spring of 2004, the house was full of dogs.

Moving into Vegas house, dogs in the backyard (L-R Bear, Bruno, Sabrina, Bandit, Tyler)
Bruno and the puppies nap in the sun
Life at Casa Caprio

When Michael and I met, he had Olivia the chihuahua, named after iconic pop goddess, Olivia Newton-John.

About a year and a half after I moved from New York City to Los Angeles to be with Michael, he gifted me Sabrina at Christmas 1997.

L-R Olivia and Sabrina in 1998

In 2002, my friend David and I walked into a pet store on the Upper East Side of NYC, and I met Bruno the wonder dog for the first time.

‘It only takes a moment, for your eyes to meet and then…’

While I played with him, David went to the front of the store and paid for ‘the Brun,’ who would become my best friend.

Bruno the wonder dog

In spring 2003, the night before Bruno was going to be fixed, he clearly sensed ‘a disturbance in the force.’ We heard yelping and ran to the kitchen where he and Sabrina looked like guilty teenagers.

Sixty-two days later, their three puppies – Tyler, Bandit, and Bear – were born.

I was on tour with Chicago the Musical (for a change). Michael and I agreed we’d give two puppies to friends and keep one. But when I returned home, there were still six dogs at Casa Caprio.

So, life went on – with six small dogs and two adults making up our unexpectedly large family. And it just worked.

Michael and the kids in his office
L-R Bandit, Tyler, Bear, Bruno and Sabrina
Randy and family

As I mentioned, we moved to Vegas in 2004.

Olivia passed from old age in the summer of 2005, and Sabrina – the mama – passed in 2010.

Bandit (who knew he was a supermodel) crossed over in February 2017 after a six-month cancer journey.

Bandit, who always knew deep inside he was truly a super-model

The Brun, my bestie, left us a year later in February 2018, after a long bout with Cushing’s disease.

And now, Tyler joins her dad, mom, brother and Olivia.

Bear, who entered the world last on July 19, 2003, is still with us. He licked Tyler’s face after she passed and has spent the day on the pillow where Tyler always slept.

Bear at Tyler’s pillow

Circle of life. This is what happens. We certainly get more from them than we could ever give back.

It’s definitely been a rough day.

Tyler’s passing has triggered a trip down memory lane, and I’m struck by how quickly a generation has passed as this family graced us with their lives.

It feels like this amazing doggy adventure has gone by in the blink of an eye.

As I walked through the living room today I was keenly aware that I wasn’t being followed by a herd of dachshunds.

Thank god for the advent of phone cameras and video. They all continue to live so vibrantly, not just in my memory, but on my computer screen in bold, bright living color.

I step back and say thank you for the blessing, joy, laughter, and love from these spirited, furry family members.

We are sad but immensely grateful.

Tyler, “the prettiest,” leaves her paw print on our hearts forever.

Tyler (in front) napping with brothers Bear and Bandit

It’s National Dog Day! Celebrate!

Me and The Brun

Today is National Dog Day! Celebrate!

National Dog Day was begun in 2004 to recognize the massive number of shelter pets looking for a good home and to encourage their adoption. If you’re looking for a companion of your own and ready for the responsibility, take a look at the ASPCA adoption site or to find a shelter near you.

Here’s just a few pics of our furry family members over the years including Bruno (daddy dog) and puppies Tyler, Bandit and Bear (who are now 10 years old but we still call “puppies”).

I can’t imagine life without dogs.


Handsome Bruno, the wonder dog

Michael with the kids

Michael had been away a few days when this was taken

Tyler, Bandit and Bear posing for a picture (kinda, sorta…)

Sleepy puppies

The puppies turn 11

Today is the puppies’ 11th birthday!

We still call them “puppies” because we always have and they respond to that when we call.

The dogs are such a huge part of our lives here at Casa Caprio/Slovacek.

I couldn’t get a picture with just the three puppies – and why exclude daddy dog Bruno anyway?

In the pic above – the best I could do – is (left to right) Bruno, Tyler, me, Bandit by a nose and Bear.

Happy birthday puppies!

The puppies are 10 today – happy birthday puppies!

Back in the day – (left to right) Bandit, Bear and Tyler

Ten years ago today, our mama dog Sabrina and daddy dog Bruno brought “the puppies” (the only way we’ve ever referred to them) into our lives. Michael and I love these kids with all our heart.

Their personalities are so different and specific and funny and dear. I couldn’t love them more.

To share a little: Tyler (first born) is the only girl and a little ‘challenged.’ So, often, she’ll want you to pick her up then stare at you because she’ll forget what she wanted.

Bandit (second born) was the smallest as a puppy, and then his appetite developed.  He’s always first to eat his food and always wants more.  He can’t get enough attention, and if you pet him with one hand he wonders what you’re doing with the hand that isn’t busy since you COULD be petting him with both.

And Bear is the baby, and still acts like it.  He’s the shyest of the three but every now and then shows some courage.  He generally likes to be alone more than the others.  He’s “the prince of April Wind” (our street).

Happy, happy birthday Tyler, Bandit and Bear!

Bear, Tyler and Bandit

Bandit next to the food (for a change) while Tyler and Bear hang out

Sabrina at feeding time while Bruno does the Daddy thing

All photos by John Genovese

Happy Father’s Day Bruno!

Bruno in the middle of it all (2003) playing dad with the pups as mama Sabrina looks on

I would be seriously remiss to not include “super daddy-dog” Bruno in the Father’s Day wishes.

From the day the puppies were born, he’s been a great dad.  He was serious “jungle gym dad” from the time they could play, as you can see from the pic above.  Click either pic to view larger.

Happy Father’s Day Bruno!  Thank you for helping bring the puppies to us!

Bruno babysitting so Sabrina could get some quiet time after having the puppies

For animal lovers – the animal odd couple – very moving

This just kills me every time I watch it. The animals around us are far more advanced and sophisticated than so many dream.

A very moving story about two friends.

The friendships and relationships between animals is often very powerful.

In 2006, my daddy dog (and best friend) Bruno had a severe spinal cord injury. He had spinal surgery, but for ten days he couldn’t walk. He had to stay quiet and on his own for weeks in our master bedroom to help his recovery. His anxiety was so high when I left the room that finally I stopped leaving the room. For weeks I barely left the room. I helped him do exercises for physical therapy, we watched TV, often I just sat with him. But he missed the other dogs. He loved being part of “the pack.”

Finally, when we thought it was safe, we let Sabrina (mama dog) in to see the Bruno. Both were so anxious having not seen each other for weeks. It was so moving to see Sabrina sniff and inspect everything about Bruno until she felt he was ok. Then she laid down next to him. And the two laid there for hours. The most calm I had seen either since before his accident. It was very emotional.

Sabrina has been gone 9 months now. But there are times I still see Bruno look for her. 

He is so special. All of them are. And they teach me everyday.