Biker Dogs MC International
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Founded September 27th, 2000 - As of today: 139 Biker Dog members, 20 Guardian members, 4 Defender members in 12 Countries on 4 Continents!
World's first 4%-er club (4% = Four-paw scenter. Arf!)
Buddy from Oakland, California
in Fourth of July Parade
(plus more photos below!)
We're sorry to report that Buddy passed away in early 2007,
Buddy with Pack Guardian Jesse Lane and Pack Leader Houdini
Buddy and Pack Leader Houdini
Buddy with Guardian Ray Karno and Pack Leader Houdini looking on
Buddy has passed on but if you wish to send condolences or an important message,
Type the above email address into your email program.
|Dear Friends and Family,
As you know, Buddy is one of the truly great dogs of all times. He always will be. He always was . . . Sadly, Buddy died early this morning.
The purpose of this letter is not to share our sadness. In fact, his passing was relatively painless and peaceful -- almost as good as could be hoped for after what can only be described as a spectacular, long and healthy life. The purpose of this letter is to tell Buddy's story. Read it when you can sit back comfortably, spend a few minutes, and smile.
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The day was Super Bowl Sunday, 1996. I found Buddy wandering on a residential street in Walnut Creek , CA . I thought I was being a Good Samaritan, returning this skinny, dirty dog to his rightful owner. He had no tags. The only thing on him was a flea collar. He was starving. He was lost. I tried hard to find his owner. Arbitrarily, I decided 10 days would be appropriate. But the fact was I fell in love with Buddy within the first hour, and as each day passed I became more hopeful I could keep him. On the eighth and ninth days I was a wreck, riddled with fear that I would be successful in my quest to find his original keeper. On the 10th day I celebrated. I couldn't have imagined then what a remarkably lucky person I had just become.
Buddy and I shared an amazing decade together. Many of you got to know him pretty well. Speaking for the two of us, we appreciated every kindness you ever showed him. Believe me, he deserved them all and more. Some of you came up with your own special names for him: Budster, Bud Man, Bud Dude, Bud Boy, Butter, Budder, and The Budmeister. Thank you all so much.
By the way, here's a question for you: have you ever known a dog with a more fitting name? Sure, "Buddy" has become the most common dog name there is. And after finding him, our own President Clinton introduced the world to his new family dog with the same name. But our Buddy truly lived up to his moniker. Part of the reason, I'm sure, is he had a severe case of "separation anxiety" and would never want to be out of my sight. Truly a "buddy." The bigger reason, though, was his incredibly immense doggie heart. The biggest, friendliest buddy-kind-a heart any dog has ever had. And that's saying something, I know.
Buddy got his name the very moment I found him. I was riding a bike when I spotted him. He was leery of me and wanted to keep his distance. I laid down my bike and crouched low. He continued to stay away. What finally worked was when I whistled softly and said, "Come here, Buddy. Come on. Come here, Buddy." Once that happened, there was never another name for me to consider. And there was a very nice side-effect: for the next 10 years, many of the strangers who patted his head would blurt out from nowhere: "Hi Buddy." Somehow, they knew exactly what to call him. I never got tired of saying: "Hey, that's actually his name!"
The vet determined Buddy was between 1 and 2. So I split the difference and decided he was 1 1/2. (I figured that way we could share our birthday celebrations together in mid-July.) I can't say for sure, but my guess is Buddy's first owner was a homeless person because he seemed to have had no training whatsoever, other than being housebroken, which I believe comes naturally to a dog who's past early puppyhood. And like I said before, he was dirty and starving. Once he ate, he was full of youthful exuberance. He remained remarkably rambunctious most of his life. And he went from the worst dog (and owner, I might add) in obedience school to the very best after just a few classes.
Case in point: I often tell the story that when I first found Buddy, I decided to walk him around the town of Walnut Creek in the hope of finding his original owner. So I attached a makeshift leash to his collar and discovered HE HAD NO IDEA WHAT IT WAS. He sort of freaked out having this thing tied to him. Well, I'm happy to report that within a couple of short months of focused training, he went from not knowing what a leash was to NEVER NEEDING ONE. Honestly. He would wait for me outside a store, a restaurant, a supermarket, whatever, and people would marvel that he could behave like that without being tethered. When we walked, he healed. No leash. Even if our walk found us on a busy San Francisco street, he knew his place was by my side.
Buddy and I went EVERYWHERE together. Well, not on airplanes, but everywhere else. At the time I found him, there was a way-super-hot property of a dog appearing on public television and numerous videos by the name of Wishbone. Do you remember this ultra cute dog, Wishbone? He had his own series for kids on PBS. I bring this story up because Buddy looked just like Wishbone, only bigger. Wishbone was a Jack Russell Terrier, and they're pretty small at around 16 pounds. Buddy weighed about 60 lbs., but he had that same adorable look with the brown eye patch and the brown ear. There were so many times that we were walking on a trail or down a street and approaching us would be a small child with a parent or two, and sure enough the child would start yelling, "Wishbone! Wishbone! Look, here comes Wishbone!" I became really good at spotting this activity and in response mouthing, in harmony with the parents, the words they would invariably say in return, "Yes Honey, that dog does look like Wishbone. Only he's bigger . . ."
I guess now would be a good time to talk about how insanely cute Buddy was. Yes, of course, he was just a mutt. A good ol' American mutt of unknown canine ancestry. But what an exceptionally great looking mutt! Over the years, I've heard people throw in their two cents of what MUST BE the makeup of his lineage. With no lack for conviction, these nice, concerned strangers would protest that Buddy's parents must include everything from a Pit Bull to a Dalmatian. It was always a source of amusement for me to contemplate their picks as to what could possibly produce the wondrous markings and body shape and athleticism of Buddy. My response became pretty standard: I told people he was a Jack Russell Terrier on steroids.
Okay now, here is where the fun begins. It's the story of how I lost a million dollars. Ready? Here goes: It begins with me thinking Buddy was really really cute. And friends of mine would echo my sentiments. (But of course, friends are SUPPOSED to say that). So, lacking a wife and kids, I carried pictures of Buddy in my wallet. One day I was sitting on a flight to Portland , OR and next to me was a very friendly gentleman who was on his way to visit his ailing father. We struck up a conversation and discovered that although he was married with two daughters, the only pictures he was carrying in his wallet were those of his two Golden Retrievers. So simultaneously, we shifted in our seats, reached for our wallets, and shared our treasured dog pictures. His dogs were handsome Goldens, to be sure, but I was pretty much aware of what I'd be looking at beforehand. By contrast, he took a look at Buddy's photos and practically gasped, "Oh my God, your dog is really cute. I mean REALLY cute. Have you ever thought of getting him into movies or on television?" It turned out this gentleman was a VERY prominent San Franciscan, who knew practically everybody, and he asked me if I would like an introduction to the woman who ran the Bay Area's most successful animal talent agency, All Star Animals. I accepted immediately.
When I met Kathleen Sidjakov, the owner of All Star Animals, it was nothing short of surreal. Buddy and I drove 1 1/2 hours to her ranch-like facility up in Petaluma . She came out to meet us, but did not say a single word. Not even a hello. Buddy jumped out of the car and began to romp around. I tried to start a conversation with Kathleen but she remained perfectly silent, arms crossed, and with a fixed stare on Buddy. She was a rather strong woman, with the air of someone who had been working with animals for many years. Not knowing what to do, I spent the next 5 minutes or so running Buddy through his minimal repertoire of tricks (hey, what would you do?): sitting, laying down, fetching (minimal success with this one his entire life unless it involved swimming to fetch the stick), and staying down for extended periods. That was it -- that was everything he could do. Finally, with some degree of shame for having wasted her valuable time with this nearly trickless dog, I asked Kathleen, "Well, what do you think? Does he have a chance of being used for anything?"
Kathleen remained silent with her arms folded for another long, painful 20 seconds. At last, she spoke. I remember our exchange nearly word for word:
KATHLEEN: (In a slow Southern style drawl) "I can't believe you showed up here with that dog . . . and you cut his balls off."
RAY: (Incredulous) "What? What do you mean? Of course . . . why of course I had him neutered. I found him, and he was a mutt. Wasn't that the right thing to do?"
KATHLEEN: "I tried for over 6 years to breed a dog to look like that. You show up here with the exact dog I was trying to produce all these years, and you cut his balls off!"
RAY: "Ooookaaaay . . . I think I'm getting the picture . . . ummmmm, but here he is. Right? Buddy has the look you were trying to achieve. So everything's good, right?"
KATHLEEN: "Young man, you just don't understand, do you? You have the perfect dog, but you can't breed him."
RAY: "But he's right here. If he's the perfect dog, terrific! You can use him as much as you want!"
KATHLEEN: "You still don't get it, do you? Let me explain this situation to you. Your dog will get plenty of work. He's perfect. He is exactly what the directors and producers are looking for. But understand this: he will never be in movies, and he will never be in a TV series. All he will be able to do is commercials and print ads. Nothing more than a one or two day shoot. Tops."
RAY: "Really? Why's that?"
KATHLEEN: "Because in order to be in a movie or a TV series, they have to have at least six look-alike dogs. Think about it. Movies and TV series take a long time to shoot. It can be months. Years even. What would happen if the dog got sick or died, or just didn't feel like performing one day? Do you understand now? They must have a slew of back up animals ready to go at all times. You have a one-of-a-kind animal. No one is going to want to risk more than one or two days of shooting with a one-up dog."
RAY: "I see."
KATHLEEN: "Good. I'm glad you see. And although your dog will get plenty of work, he'll earn only 100 to 200 dollars per day. That's it. If you hadn't neutered him, he would have landed a movie or TV series. Guaranteed. Trust me. You probably lost yourself a million dollars by cutting his balls off."
RAY: (Gulp. And pretty much speechless.)
As it turned out, Kathleen was right on about Buddy being popular with the producers and directors. He did get plenty of work. I can remember him in the following TV commercials and print ads:
Bank of America
Toyota Rav 4
And at least 3 Dot.com companies which were becoming all the rage for running fun ads
As a lowly dog in commercials and print ads, Buddy never got to be truly famous. And it was like pulling teeth to get a copy of the video tapes and print ads for the work he did. I was only successful a few times. But Buddy had a ton of fun. They would pick him up from our home in a specially outfitted truck. He would have his own handler. And if I showed up at the site, I had to stay far away and watch through binoculars because they didn't want him to be distracted by my presence. Every time the handlers would return him to me, they would tell me that Buddy was the greatest dog they ever worked with. So eager to please. So cute. And if I ever wanted to get rid of him for any reason, they would take him in a heartbeat. Yeah, like that was ever going to happen . . .
Buddy's 15 minutes of fame did not end when the producers and directors stopped picking him because he had gotten too mature. There were other chapters to be written:
Dogs on Bikes. Check it out: http://www.bikerdogsmc.org/members/BuddyKarno/BuddyKarno.htm We're not talking bicycles here. We're talking motorcycles. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered seeing a dog riding on the back of a motorcycle. When I found Buddy, I thought: "Now there's a motorcycle dog!" Although I had owned numerous motorcycles over the years, I didn't have one at the time. A girl I was dating introduced me to her friend whose husband had recently hit it big in the high tech industry. He was the epitome of nouveau riche, and I amused him as he showed me all the toys he had just acquired. The prized possession, of course, was the gleaming red Ferrari in the garage. Yes it was beautiful, shiny and brand new. But what caught my eye was the old rusting motorcycle in the corner. It had a flat tire and cobwebs. It was an old '81 Kawasaki KZ1100 shaft-drive that hadn't been used in years. What most interested me was the beefy luggage rack on the back. I asked him about the bike and guess I sort of annoyed him by shifting his attention from the Ferrari. I brought his spirits back up when I said, "I'll bet you want to get rid of this old bike and buy yourself something brand new, right?" He agreed. Two days later, I was towing away my new five-hundred dollar KZ1100.
It cleaned up nicely and didn't take much to get it running like a top. Buddy would howl when I would drive off without him. I knew one day he would be riding with me, so I didn't let his howling break my heart. For about a week, I came home with a wide variety of rectangular boxes, tubs, old ice chests and buckets to test out on Buddy. One by one, he had to endure getting into these containers to see which one fit him best. I finally decided a big Rubbermaid bucket would do the trick. What I hadn't figured out was how I'd get Buddy in and out of the bucket once it was mounted on the bike, but I decided I'd solve that problem later. Maybe a ramp or a special ladder extension? Anyway, the moment had arrived -- it was time to engineer how to mount the bucket onto the motorcycle.
I put the bucket on the ground for one last fitting with Buddy; he seemed to fit in the bucket just right. I had all my various tools and hardware with me. This was going to be a big project. Step two, after the fitting, was to temporarily attach the bucket with rope to get the proper positioning. Once I completed this task, I turned my back to the motorcycle in order to start sorting through my tool selection. A moment later, I heard an unexpected noise behind me. I turned to find Buddy in the act of jumping up onto the seat of the parked motorcycle. My mouth gaped open. Before I could say anything, he jumped from the seat and up into the bucket, turned himself around, sat down and looked at me. Problem solved. He was good to go.
Buddy loved riding on the motorcycle. We entertained thousands of people. We appeared in parades in Piedmont and Berkeley . Kids would go crazy when I would stop the bike in the middle of the parade, get off, and let Buddy jump out onto the seat, then down to the street, run up and greet (sometimes lick) the kids on both sides of the street, before jumping back onto the seat and then back into his bucket. The applause was spectacular. I should mention that I never pre-registered to be in a parade; I'd just pull up with Buddy on the back, ask the Marshall if he would like to have a dog on a motorcycle in the procession, and we were never turned down. It was incredibly fun.
Back then, I thought I was the only person in the world riding with a dog on his motorcycle. Then I met someone in my village of Montclair who told me there was another guy named Jesse Lane who did the same thing, and that Jesse was organizing a club, Dogs On Bikes. I contacted Jesse, we met, he informed there were other biker dogs, and Buddy become one of the very first members of this new club. We've had annual rides ever since, and some special runs. One was filmed for TV, and there is some excellent footage of Buddy. You can see it here: http://www.bikerdogsmc.org/news/EveningMagazine/EveningMagazine.htm
Another important chapter in Buddy's life has been his lead position in forming an online support group called Montclair DOG (Dog Owners Group). Buddy is Montclair DOG #1. You can visit the site here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MontclairDOG/ Please take a moment to read what this group is all about. Even though Buddy has passed on, my plan is to keep this group going. Definitely. It serves a great purpose. The birth of the group is interesting: my friend, Kelly Zakis, and her dog Jessie, had decided to move away from Oakland . Kelly had been dropping Jessie off at my house every workday because she didn't have a yard and Buddy enjoyed having Jessie's company. Suddenly, with the two of them leaving Oakland , I had to find a replacement companion for Buddy. I made up flyers and spoke to dozens of people in my neighborhood with dogs. In my search to find a replacement, many of the people I met expressed their own needs for finding help in other ways -- things such as help with pet sitting and various levels of doggie companionship. Ultimately, Buddy found a new daily visitor in Lucy, a beautiful Lab/Greyhound mix belonging to John and Kris Brophy. But with all my new-found data of dogs and their people in this area needing to be matched up with one another, I decided a virtual community would do the trick. Thus was born Montclair DOG.
Did you see the picture on the Montclair DOG homepage? Another great episode in Buddy's life has to do with this unusual picture. I took the photo in a series of Buddy in the ridiculous pose of sitting up high on a dinette chair (don't ask how much Buddy had to endure with me as his keeper!) It was a complete accident: I didn't even think about the fact that there was a laptop in front of him. And I certainly didn't realize I had captured this shot of him looking at the screen. But capture it I did, and we ran with it. I used it everywhere we could (does anybody remember our Holiday card a few years ago?) and it won the YAHOO! 15 Seconds of Fame Photo Contest. As a result, I flew to NY several years ago and joined some close friends as we watched Buddy's image portrayed for 15 seconds on the giant screen in Times Square . It was freezing cold, but the warmth of the crowd and their cheers made it all worthwhile.
The biggest chapter in Buddy's life has been the huge number of people and other animals who have shared in his quest to have fun. Most notable has been the wonderful woman in our lives, Hillary Milenko, my fiancee. She moved into our home this past April Fools Day, with almost no dog stewardship experience and some skepticism. It didn't take long, however for her and Buddy to form a special bond. I mean a truly special relationship that was just what Buddy needed in these last six months of his wonderful life. Hillary has been completely magnanimous in helping me care for Buddy, and it is she who has shed the same tears I have shed these final hours in Buddy's life. For all of you who have loved Buddy, be sure to say thank you to Hillary for the incredible care she has given him.
I know I'm going to be leaving some of the key people and dogs out of this document, so please accept my apologies if you weren't mentioned. In no particular order, here are the folks who are on my mind:
Stephanie Maguire and her beloved Jethro. Great friends. Great neighbors.
Kristy Brinkley and Kevin Layden and Abby and Gabby, their wonderful Briards.
Kelly Zakis and her amazing Red Healer, Jessie. (The inspiration for Montclair DOG)
John and Kris Brophy and their loving Grey Hound/Lab mix, Lucy.
Jesse and KC Lane and all their Schipperkes, especially Pack Leader Houdini.
Patti Brazel for her undying love for Buddy.
Julia Geller for her love for Buddy and the beautiful portrait she painted.
Dudley Knill and his great Basset hounds.
Naomi Low for all her love for Buddy.
Joe and Juliette Sehee and their fantastic lab, VZ
Jerry and Juliana Carroll, their new dog, and of course, Jax.
Bonnie Darves and family and their continuous thoughts of Buddy.
Jennifer Allen and her absolute love for Buddy.
Dianne Lamendola for all the love she showed Buddy.
Karen Wilson for her love for Buddy.
Laura Roden for her love for Buddy.
Jeri Zukoski and her Rat Terriers, Roo and Tiger Lilly.
Reenie Raschke and her Austrailian, Ricky.
Mark Goldin and his big yellow lab, Art.
Kendra Catalli for her love for Buddy.
Mark and Michelle Berger and their late great mate, Jackson.
Barbara and Ned Rowe for being so kind and loving to Buddy.
Barbara and Herb Phillips for always praising Buddy as their favorite dog of all time.
Joe, Stacy, Emily and Aerielle Karwat for taking such good care of Buddy.
Kim Tackett and Steve Barbaria and their daughters for taking such good care of Buddy.
Dr. Richter and the fine staff at Montclair Vet.
Thank you to everyone who ever patted Buddy or rubbed his tummy.
A final thought: Buddy always did his best to have fun, be good, and smile. He really did smile! We would all do well to remember him fondly and follow his lead.
Liberate a Dog !
We'd like to remind people that there are
a lot of wonderful dogs waiting to be adopted at your local animal shelter.
You can also offer to volunteer to walk sheltered dogs while they await adoption.
The dogs love getting to leave their cages for a walk!
Please visit our adoption page for featured "Shelter-of-the-Month" and list of places to adopt.
Also visit Dogs On Bikes a website dedicated to motorcycle-riding canines!
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