Lola. We miss you already. You were a most loyal customer from your first days. We grew up together. We enjoyed lattes, muffin crumbs, snowy benches and chill afternoons together. Here's a tribute to you and all your wonderfulness.
A letter from Lola's family:
On Tuesday night, we said a final goodbye to our big beautiful Lola. We miss her terribly.
For eight years, her enormous benign presence drew friends and admirers, literally stopped traffic and, for us, came to define a beloved block, a neighborhood and an era in our lives. Though Jewish tradition calls for prompt mourning, we’ve decided – in tribute to her lumbering pace – to sit Shiva on Sunday, September 18, 3-6 PM (the time of day she typically awoke for a latte at Gorilla Coffee). Below, a brief written tribute. Click here for a short LOLA SLIDESHOW
In the annals of dog-hood, Lola was supremely relaxed. She rarely barked, or even ran. What she did best of all was sit. And she always opted for the middle of anywhere. She sat at the bank, on the sidewalk, in the park, in any doorway, in the street, with total disregard for traffic. At 130 lbs, she was uniquely unmovable. She ignored steak, batted away physical coercion. Around the neighborhood, she came to be known as the dog that refused to move.
Some say Newfies are the "hippies” of the dog world. Lola had perfected an Abbie-Hoffman style of civil disobedience. Faced with any duress, she'd shift from sit to slouch, to lying down, to deep collapse and finally, coma. Passersby would ask, “Is she okay? Can I help?” For years, our answer was: “She’s fine, thanks. She does this all the time.”
For eight years, we worked on the word “Come.” We told her, "Walking is the new sitting," or, "Let's pretend you're alive." Only the prospect of abandonment made a dent. We would say a ritual “bye-bye,” then walk away, and disappear conspicuously. She’d rise and follow -- ten to fifteen minutes later (as we watched and waited from around a corner). The serene and seemingly abandoned Newfoundland became a fixture on Park Slope's streets.
Most often, you could find her slumbering at her lifeguard post on the stoop at 45 Park Place, keeping a half-opened eye on the street. She was, after all, a working dog, slated for water rescue. Only deep into her tenure did we realize that we did all the work.
Then in late July, after two difficult knee surgeries, came the diagnosis of bone cancer.
The vet told us we’d need to put her down once her lifestyle changed, once she’d stopped running, leaping, playing football. We explained, she’d actually been asleep for the last three years. It was hard to tell the difference between Lola sick and Lola well. But soon enough, she couldn’t walk, even if she’d wanted to. We carried her in and out over the last several months – most extraordinarily up and down the steps of a three-story walk-up apartment. It was graciously loaned by a friend after we’d moved out of our old house, but were awaiting a move-in to our new house under construction.
All the residents of that no-dog apartment building a few doors up from our old house granted Lola a waiver because, well, she was Lola. On her last weekend, we took her upstate and watched, breath held, as she hobbled to a nearby pond and stood in the water, weightless for a moment and almost home, it seemed.
We hope you'll join us in her favorite activity, sitting! Again, Shiva will be Sunday, September 18, 3-6, on our new stoop at 623 11th St. (between 8th and Prospect Park West) for coffee, dog biscuits and a remembrance. An e-mail reminder will follow.
Lola's Lucky People (Ken, Katherine, Amelia and Isobel)"