Digger Portrait II

Digger Brinkman left this world on Sunday for the better treats in heaven. No doubt he is begging at God’s table tonight, using every possible trick to let the folks there know he has arrived and is hungry!

Digger joined our family as a puppy from a Nashville pet store. Always the shopper, Karen scoured the market, looking for the perfect dog. We watched little Digger for weeks, worried about the home he would find and enchanted with his red color. Finally, after one final markdown, Karen brought him home and surprised me on Father’s Day weekend. He will always be remembered as Karen’s best bargain.

Our routine quickly centered on Digger and his training us to be obedient owners. His dedication to train us to perfectly fulfill his needs was inspiring. Digger was a patient, loving, focused spirit. By the end of our training, we knew all of his signals:

  • A scratch at the front door or a bell at the back meant it was time to let him out;
  • Scratching the cupboards (or the lap of an eater) meant it was time to share your food;
  • Throwing a favorite toy at you and barking meant it was time to get out of bed or stop whatever else you were doing to pay attention; and
  • Four paws planted firmly in your back meant it was time to move over and give him his half of the bed.

    The drumstick is mine!

    The drumstick is mine!

When we didn’t learn our lesson perfectly, Digger had his ways of correcting us. If he was after food, the stake-out method worked, waiting until we finally gave in (see picture). For attention, the targets of his tosses went from people to breakable objects, forcing compliance or consequences. As for the consequences of not opening the door, well…we all know the power a dog possesses in those circumstances.

Digger Playing Phase 10 IIDigger also had his favorite pastimes. Helping Karen improve her gaming abilities was one of his best capabilities. It may be coincidence, but every time he sat on her lap and nudged her hand, the winning play was sure to follow. He never helped me much – maybe because he and his “mother” had a secret signaling system set up to foil my normally outstanding play.

Digger Sprawl IILike his Grandma Betty and Aunt Robyn, he remained a lifelong devotee to sun sprawls and lying in the grass. There were very few things he enjoyed more than a long, stretched-out nap in the sun – maybe with a belly rub or ear scratch worked in here and there. He never seemed to tan evenly, but his skin remained soft, supple, and relatively wrinkle-free until the end.

Stephanie the Viqueen!

Stephanie the Viqueen!

He was also a loyal sports fan. His dedication to the Packers was legendary – defying both his mother’s and sister’s unwavering support for the Vikings. A ride in his Uncle’s Packer golf cart (and well timed bites of hot dog) secured his loyalty. He never could understand his sister Stephanie’s desire to wear all the trappings and do all her dances when she heard the call of the mighty Viking horn. Digger was a solid, sensible dog, rooting for his Packers in an enthusiastic, but sportsmanlike way (unlike his father and uncles).

Digger Bucky on RB Sweat IIDigger’s other sports passions were fueled more by food and fun than by loyalty to any team or activity. He savored the Badgers’ Rose Bowl victories, but was also excited about Minnesota’s new stadium (it meant more trips to Grandma’s house). In his participation sports, he was equally happy riding in the back basket of a golf cart as he was chasing turtles at the lake. Digger discovered birds in the last year of his life; never catching one, but experiencing the thrill of the chase and the angry shrills as they flew away. Digger knew the thrill of victory, but never quite understood that you could ever lose when you were doing something you loved.

Digger Unwrapping IIHolidays and special events will all be a bit quieter and a bit more work for the rest of us. Digger loved presents – his presents and others’ presents, big presents and small presents – as long as they were wrapped. Everyone could count on Digger for that little extra help breaking through the ribbons, bows, and paper protecting the inner prize. There goes our excuse for ripping the paper and not just carefully undoing the tape in order to save the paper for the next time!

Digger was the best dog this world will ever know. He was God’s special gift to our household: a heartbeat in the night to ward off loneliness…a warm welcome home after a long day…a co-conspirator in kitchen capers…a loyal companion to anyone with a warm heart (or a treat in their pocket). You made our world a much better place and it was so sad to see you go.

Rest well buddy!!


1 Response to “In Memoriam: Digger Brinkman Jr. (1995-2009)”

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