Goodbye Lunchbox

Written by Pat on May 14th, 2019

Shit. I wish I had a good way to start this post, but I don’t. I tried about 10 different things, and they all suck. You’d think that somewhere in the last week (or months) a good lede would have come to me, but nothing has. Pretty much as long as Shae and I have been the Lorigans, Lunchbox has been a part of the family. He’s been with us through everything: the good, the bad, and everything in between. And now he’s not. Shit.

I apologize in advance for the length of the rambling below. Lunchbox has been a huge part of our lives and I have a lot to say. Hard to believe, but Lunchbox is more than just a hilarious name even if that’s pretty much everyone’s initial reaction upon meeting him.

Back on April 28th, 2007, Shae and I were focused on a little event called our wedding. While we were busy with BBQ, beer, horseshoes, and a margarita fountain (and that whole ceremony thing too, I guess), we had no way of knowing that about 400 miles away there was a completely separate event that would also shape the next 12 years of our lives. We wouldn’t find out until three months later, but while Shae and I were saying our vows and partying, the dog who would be named Lunchbox was being born in Ramona, CA.

Like so many other things Shae and I have done, the decision to get a dog was made with almost no planning. From the day we’d moved into our house we had talked about getting a dog “someday”, but were never really serious about it. Then, one evening in July we saw a couple walking their dog and said, “Pretty dog! Screw it, let’s get a puppy!” An hour or so on Craigslist searching for Labrador puppies and a couple of emails later, we had an appointment to look at some pups. We drove to Ramona the next day to look at the Lab puppies and, shockingly, they were adorable. The smallest of the pups was ridiculously skinny, and clearly the other dogs took all of his food. Of course, as we interacted with the puppies the little guy was the one who came up to us and instantly bonded with Shae and me. There was no question, we’d found our dog. I wish there was some great story about the dog’s name, but honestly his name comes from a movie where someone called another character a “Tubby Lunchbox” and I thought Lunchbox would be a great name for a dog.

We knew Lunchie was really scrawny, but it wasn’t until we looked back at photos that we realized just how dangerously skinny he was. It was a good thing we adopted him when we did, or who knows what would have happened to the guy. We started him in training about a week after we brought him home, and our trainer was appalled at how thin he was. Once we explained that he’d actually put on several pounds since we got him she decided not to report us for puppy starvation, but she still made sure to monitor the little guy’s growth. The first puppy class was somewhere between sad and hilarious. Lunchbox wanted so badly to play with the other puppies, but he was also terrified so he hid out under our chair and peed a lot. A week later he realized he was missing out on a great thing and he became the wild dog of puppy class. He’d go on to be a 2x Top Dog and get his Canine Good Citizenship certificate, but I’ll never forget his cowering under the chair the first day.

For the first year and a half of his life, wherever we went the Box went with us. He was well known at Jitters (our neighborhood coffee shop) and Trolley Stop (our neighborhood deli). He was a huge “help” around the house on all of our projects, especially painting. We even took him with us on our annual camping trip to Death Valley. Because the rocks and ground were so hot, we got him some special hiking boots. He looked completely ridiculous, but for whatever reason he thought they were fun and just went crazy running around whenever we put them on him. Back in those days, Lunchbox was an occasional contributor to this blog (with a pretty foul mouth) and had his own Twitter account. Mr. Box would have been happy for things to continue on the way they were, but then in October of 2008 his life was thrown into chaos by the arrival of two tiny little people.

From the day we brought Ella and Jackson home, Lunchbox was obsessed with them; they were HIS babies. He guarded them while they slept, and would sleep by their crib if they were crying. He even got to go on lots of walks around the neighborhood with the kiddos riding in their stroller. Sadly for the pup, over time the kids took more and more of our attention and he got less. Lunchie didn’t get to go everywhere with us like he used to, but I think he was happy with the trade to have his kiddos. Jackson, especially, had a special bond with his yellow dog and we could always count on Lunchbox to calm Jackson down if needed.

We still aren’t entirely sure what happened, but in the summer of 2014 the Lorigan humans made a trip to Disneyland and left the Lorigan dog at his normal kennel. We don’t know if it was bad food, the ridiculous heat, some combination, or something completely different, but when we picked up LB from the kennel he was in awful shape. The kennel spun some story about him being sick when he got there, but that was complete bullshit (we obviously never took him or any dog back there and made sure to recommend against them to anyone who asked). He was severely dehydrated, and had several other issues. We took him to a 24-hour vet and got some fluids into him, but he still wasn’t great. Over the next few days, our pup seemed to get over the initial issues but he was having serious problems. Based on discussions with our vet, we were fairly certain LB had some pretty serious issues and only had a few weeks or (best case) months. We basically decided to just enjoy the time we had left, while also starting the search for our next pup. We thought if Lunchie could hold out until we got the puppy maybe he could pass on some of that great training (did I mention he was a 2x Top Dog?)

Of course, we had no idea what was in store for us when we brought Whiskey into our home. I have no idea why, but bringing home a new pup seemed to completely revitalize Lunchbox. The second we brought her into the house he started jumping around and playing with her like he was young again. Shae and I were both shocked, it was like he jumped in a time machine. Over the next couple of weeks, LB was still our grumpy old man-dog, but most of his health issues just magically resolved themselves. I still have no clue why he turned around, but we have enjoyed the past five years with him.

The move to Colorado was an adjustment for Lunchbox. He loved his new yard, but the stairs were not his jam (I’ll miss a lot of things about the Box, but the barking at the bottom of the stairs until he realized he could just walk up them won’t be one). Then there was his battle with a deer. Well, battle may be giving LB too much credit; the deer went after him while he was…ummm…relieving himself…and gave him a nice puncture in his side to go with bruises from being dragged around the yard. And, of course, the snow…oh the snow. Our San Diego dog had no interest in that white stuff. While Whiskey would run around having the time of her life in the snow, Lunchie just gave us his snow look, turned back around, and ran back in the house.

Several times since the incident five years ago, Lunchbox has seemed like he was on his last legs and then managed to bounce back. About once a year we were prepped for the end and then a few days later he’d be back to his normal grumpy self. This time, he didn’t bounce back. After a rough week or so, last night Lunchie’s rear legs completely gave out and he was extremely uncomfortable all night. This morning, we took Lunchbox into the vet and had him put down. The vet was amazing at helping us deal with things, but Shae and I were still a complete mess.

So, I guess that’s it. Lunchbox was an amazing member of our family and the perfect dog for us. Today is tough: the kids are crushed, Whiskey is confused, and Shae and I are just trying to hold it together. I can’t imagine life without him, but I guess we’re going to figure that out. I’ll miss him running to greet us with a sock in his mouth, even though the sock was buried under 10 of his toys. I’ll miss the looks from everyone around me when I yell out Lunchbox’s name in a crowded dog park. If I’m being honest, I’m even going to miss his stupid barking at the bottom the stairs.

Thanks, Lunchbox. Sleep well, buddy.

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