first generation of companion animals were all named after great
professional wrestlers. There was my silver Miniature Poodle,
Buddy; named after Nature Boy, Buddy Rogers, the first dual National
Wrestling Alliance/World Wide Wrestling Federation champion. There
was Nicki, a Black Lab-Shepherd female who was named after Nick
Bockwinkle, the American Wrestling Association champion; and there
was Rickie, a female marked Maltese - all nine pounds of her -
who was named after Ric Flair, the 16-time NWA/WWF champion.
there was my black Standard Poodle, Moolah, the Standard of Excellence.
Moolah was named after Lillian Ellison, who wrestled as the Fabulous
Moolah. Lillian is probably the greatest female wrestling champion
known to date. For 27 years, she was the champ and she trained
all the subsequent female wrestlers for many years. I picked Moolah
from a litter of 11 puppies. She was such a fabulous dog that
I named her "The Fabulous Moolah - The Standard of Excellence."
October 29, 1999, I brought Moolah in for her annual rabies shot.
At that time, I asked the vet, "Can we not do the three-year
rabies vaccine - like we are doing the three-year parvo and distemper?"
I was told. "Arapahoe County [Colorado] still requires the
annual rabies vaccination."
Moolah, at the time, was not in the best of health to begin with.
Secondly, she was 11 years of age. I would later learn that both
of these are critical concerns. I would later learn that the rabies-vaccine
label typically states "only administer to healthy dogs."
I would later learn that the research is pretty overwhelming that
older dogs do not need the vaccination - especially if they are
kept in a confined area and out of the woods.
at that time, I was not aware of those points. Nor was I aware
that Colorado had passed, in January of 1999, a bill allowing
the three-year rabies vaccination - or that it had been enacted
into law in July of 1999, four months prior to Moolah's shot.
Moolah developed autoimmune illness.
guardian knows his or her dog. Moolah wasn't herself. Normally
upon my calling, she would be up instantly. Now she wasn't. Moolah
always ate very well. (Once she got into my Werther's Original
gold-wrapped butterscotch candies, devouring them. When I looked
for them and accused her, she gave me a "who me?" look
even as the wrappers dangled like tinsel from her ears). Now she
wasn't eating well, either.
Moolah was always at my side. Now, she was in the cool hallway
- panting and panting and panting. Her gums became pale. Her blood
platelet counts dropped like a rock; Oxyglobin was used, special
medication requiring me to wear gloves. Her platelets continued
to drop. Her dosages of the steroid prednisone were increased.
She still wasn't eating -- not even Good Times hamburgers with
I was advised to leave her at the vet's for a 24-hour watch. It
went on for days; I visited her several times daily. The last
day she looked at me as if to say, "Take me home to die."
I didn't. I can still see her face as she went back into the cage.
Then came the call: "You ought to come down."
Five-six-seven thousand dollars later - all to no avail - she
could hardly get up; she could hardly breathe. Hearing my voice
when I entered, for the first and last time that day, she raised
It was time. I had promised my late-friend Fred Burke to do what
he had done: "I bring them into my life," he said, "I
will be the one that takes them out."
I sang to Moolah and held her. The vet sedated her. I kept my
promise to Fred Burke.
Sadly, The Fabulous Moolah's case is not isolated. It unfortunately
happens every day.