Isn’t Being Irreplaceable The Whole Point?


This weekend I had the chance to hang out with some good friends, some of whom I used to work with (the happy occasion was a party following the baptism of my buddy Tom’s daughter). It had been several months since I’d seen some of these folks, and I noticed a trend that has accompanied similar circumstances: after asking how I was coping with life without my best friend, they wondered if I was in the market for a new pup. It is a question I’ve been asked more than a few times, and I try my best not to recite what has become an almost reflexive (and robotic) response. But in the interest of truth, I invariably provide a reply along these lines: “I am definitely a dog person and I can’t imagine never having a dog again. But…”

And it’s that but that illustrates where I am right now. It’s pretty much where I’ve been since February. And April. And July. The but precedes the following sentiment: I’m not even close to thinking about another dog at this point. Indeed, the loss still feels fresh, almost unbearably so at times. In fact, in some ways (at times inexplicable, at other times obvious) it is harder as more time passes between today and the last day of Leroy Brown’s life. It’s not just that I don’t want to get over the loss –whatever that actually entails– but that I know I never will, and the most useful attitude going forward will be to reconcile that understanding with an appropriate sense of perspective. Put more simply: I remain grateful that I had such a great companion and am humbled that I had the opportunity to share time with him for just under ten years. Also, there is no doubt in my mind that if or when another pup came into the picture, I would love him without reservation. That’s what dog people do. So perhaps it’s at least in part due to this acknowledgment that I am simply not ready, yet. And I’m cool with that. And, if it happens that I never do live with another dog, that is cool, too. For now I’m content to mourn the loss but celebrate the memories. If and when the right time comes, I’m quite certain that I’ll know it, and act accordingly. Just like I did in April 1999.


These pictures came to me from my good friends Beth and Jim, who were with me when I picked up LB (we called him Meatball that first day, while I waited for the right name to come, an epiphany that still amazes me, considering how perfect a name Leroy Brown is for a brown schnauzer). They were in the regular rotation for dog-sitting duties, and Leroi (or Le Roi) enjoyed hanging out with his cousins Otis and Quinzy, pictured below. To accompany this series of photos, I thought about “dog songs” as well as famous tributes. Are there any good “dog songs”? If so, how could they possibly avoid being mawkish or sentimental (as I’m painfully aware this particular blog post is edging dangerously close to becoming)? As always, it is a safe bet to turn to Charles Mingus. His masterful tribute to Lester Young, “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” (from the immortal Mingus Ah Um, discussed here) could not, in my mind, be a more respectful and meaningful composition to invoke for these purposes. And so, each picture is accompanied by a different version, beginning with the original.



Mingus, Live in the ’70s:


The incredible John McLaughlin:


Guitar god Jeff Beck’s homage:



  1. Sean,

    I lost my 15 year old lab to cancer less than a month ago. While it was time to let him go, it was still really, really hard. I’m surprised at how much I miss him and how quick tears still come. He was with me for most of the major moments of my adult life. Like you with Leroy Brown, I feel fortunate that I was blessed with 15 years with such a loyal companion. We have two other dogs so I don’t receive the “when are you getting another dog” question. But I agree with the point of your post. You can’t replace what is irreplaceable. When the time is right – you’ll know.

  2. Sean Murphy says:

    Thanks for sharing that. There is definitely a certain solidarity that exists amongst pet-owners, and particularly people who have lost a beloved pet. I also am well aware that nothing I’m experiencing is unique (and that nobody who gets a new dog ever thinks they are “replacing” the last one…). I knew it would be hard, and it is, but it’s definitely easy to remember all the good stuff, and that puts the loss in better perspective.

  3. Don’t have much to add. Leroy was a good dog.

  4. Great post, Sean. Leroy was a special boy and a great friend. Nothing will ever replace that.

  5. When I read stuff like this , I can’t decide how I feel about the fact that I don’t feel much for dogs.On the one hand, it gives me one less thing to mourn, and on the other, one less thing to cherish. I haven’t decided which is worse


  1. […] who has read this blog for a while knows I am a big fan of all dogs (even the occasional […]

  2. […] first we lost our beloved Otis in September, 2008; then in Febrary, 2009, my own best friend Leroy Brown. Just before Labor Day that fuzzy-eared rascal, Trapper, went to that great kennel in the sky. And […]

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