Blocker The Dog

Your Memories…

These are some memories that people have sent in to honor Blocker’s life. Please, we really encourage you to give that gift to him and his life by sending any memories or anecdotes, no matter how short or long. Just add as a comment or send them to Thank you very, very much!


From Karl W…

One of my favorite memories (of all time, not just having to do with
Blocker!) was when you left Blocker and Bella with me and Maestro
when you guys went out of town for a few days. If you remember, it
was when I was living in that tiny little half a double over on
Longview. There was an awful lot of dog in that small space, and
there was no yard. Walking them to the park, with Maestro being his
usual bubbly self; watching them run like crazy around Clinton-
Como…it reminded me of that old Warner Bros. cartoon with the big
tough dog and the little yapper “So whaddya wanna do toDAY, Spike?
Huh? Wanna we should go beat up some cats? Huh?” The best was
coming home really late one night and having all of that doggie
goodness there to greet me. I rolled around on the floor with the
three of them for a good long time…it was just a great feeling. I
had been pondering getting Maestro a playmate, thoughts of which were
often followed by “What are you, crazy? There’s no room here for
another dog, etc.” When you asked me to watch Blocker and Bella, I
thought that it would cure me of those thoughts, and it actually had
the exact opposite effect. I brought Daphne home about a week
later. I also got it in my head at some time that Blocker and
Maestro shared the same birthdate. Whether or not that’s actually
true (Maestro was born 10/17/98), we always thought of Blocker as a
twin brother around here (well, at least I did…Maestro just always
gets really excited anytime I say Blocker’s name).

[Blocker was born 10/19/98. That’s twin enough! Tom]


I loved walking into the studio seeing Blocker chilling in the corner. I loved how he just loved my boy Sabbath. One of the most well behaved dogs I ever met. He will be missed!!!

Rick Abate

From Liz P:

Hello, fellow Blocker-lovers,

One week after Blocker stepped into the Blessed Beyond, I sent TGB an email with some memory snapshots of Blocker. He’s asked me to add them to the blog, and I’m honored to honor his request. I thought it might help to add a little (okay, a longer) historicizing preface, though, perhaps something more comprehensive, just to help explain–and to give me the happy opportunity to narrate–Blocker’s precious, unique role in my life and in the lives of my boys. While this is a story about and for Blocker, the story of Blocker’s place with us depends upon many furry loved ones, so, here is the story, through them and their lives with Blocker.

Although I had met Tom at shows, our dog connection and our expanded friendship began when Blocker was six months old, when Tom and I ran into each other at Goodale late one night when I was walking Barkleigh, my 6 year old shih tzu. The two boys became an instant pair, complementing each other in every way. Blocker was large (on the way to quickly becoming massive, at 120 pounds!), dark, strong, dignified, stable. Bark was tiny, at 10 pounds, physically vulnerable, white, sweet, playful, stubborn, and much sassier at times than his size should have allowed. Our boys were quite the pals around Goodale, meeting regularly, sometimes daily, and what a sight–the largest and the smallest dogs of Goodale, ambling along, with mutual trust and affection, with their goofy guardians tagging behind, or sitting in a people-dog clump in the sunshine, adding to our extended discussions about philosophy, culture, politics, life. Barkleigh would carry along the ball my mom crocheted for him, Blocker would lope along with various sticks, most of them the size of flag poles. That group, that world, its powerful presence in my life and in Bark’s, its comforting routine, was such an inspiring, healthy and healing force for me, especially when my world had shrunk significantly as a result of a serious battle with Lyme disease and some dreadful complications thereof. That blessed green world of Goodale, with this pack, was made possible by our dear Blocker, so central to the pack.

As the years passed, the pack expanded, through various life changes and trials, all centering us around Big Little B and Little Big B. Sometimes, Blocker would be joined by his family– his mom, Tara, and sister Bleu; and their guardian, Stephanie. Other “B”s joined our pack. First, there was “little Beecher,” a 15 pound, very sweet and silky terrier who was in terrible condition when Bark and I found him running for his life at 4 a.m. one day. (The vet estimated, from his condition, that he had been a street boy for a month or longer.) I could not gain his trust that morning, but he could not resist Barkleigh, whom I used as a tease. After a week with us, we were at Goodale, where, Beecher had blended fully with the pack, but where he had remained on leash because of my fears that he would get lost, again. What a drag for a very curious dog with very strong legs! With the magnetic pull and the alpha presence of Blocker, I dared, with some trepidation and with Tom’s support, to unleash Beech. He darted off quickly, exploring, and when he got beyond my comfort range, Tom called him firmly by his new name, and he darted back immediately, I am certain, because of the healthy, strong pull of the pack, led by Tom and Block. That moment, enabled by the smart, big boys, gave Beecher a new freedom–the freedom of running away from, and back to, his folks!

Then, there was Blacky, a very old, very sick Cocker Spaniel, such a suffering old boy I scooped up off of 5th Avenue at noon one day when it was 90 degrees. He was in rehab with us for 7 weeks–physical and psychological rehab. Although he could not hear a thing (his deafness caused by gross neglect of his ear infections), he, too, readily was welcomed by our little big pack. He learned sign language quickly, and he learned immediately that he was safe with Bark, Beech, and most of all with and because of Blocker, who towered over the little ones, but who was always gentle with and protective of them. Blocker’s wisdom was patently clear. He was the voice of calm amidst whatever ruckus would emerge. The boys were truly complementary. I believe that Blocker helped smaller guys feel safe–and that the smaller guys showed other dogs and people at Goodale that Blocker was, albeit a hugely alpha dog, a pal–a gentle pal, there to be at peace with all, to support peace among all. Blacky was able to leave us for his new home, and I feel certain that Blocker helped him return to joy, to health and to a state of adoptability.

For two short periods, the pack was joined by Baron and Bruno, my brother’s two California Shepherds, both just shy of 100 pounds. On Ray’s two cross-country drives with his canine kids, Blocker provided the very best times for Baron and Bruno. With Blocker, they were among kin, and Blocker gave them the rare chance on those trips to play and romp energetically, wildly, and without fear, with an equal. Well, Blocker was a little more equal . . . .

Finally, Bella joined the pack–Bella, whom you all know already, adding her dark color, her frisky love to all. She was irresistible to Beecher. Truly hysterical, seeing Beecher flirt with her. During those moments, something was bigger for Beecher than Blocker: his desire to procreate with Bella! On several occasions, but especially in our back yard, Beecher would try to hump Bella, really try, with Blocker right there, being patient and tolerant, for several minutes, until after a while, Blocker would just say, “Okay, Squirt, you ain’t got it. Now, back off from my gal.” Blocker would need to growl a few times, and, finally, Beecher would give up and be satisfied with just following Bella around the yard. Bella was the last to join the B-pack, and somehow her addition to Barkleigh’s and Beecher’s life seemed destiny, of sorts. I had never known a “Bella” before, and, yet, just as Bella Boyer joined our world, we bought a house that had been occupied by a dog named Bella. One day, that Bella was romping in the yard, the next day, Bella Boyer was. It was like she was just meant to be here.

Blocker and the Boyer pack have meant so much to me and my boys. I can’t thank Tom enough for sharing Blocker with us, for letting Blocker enrich our lives the way he did for so many years–and the way he continues to, through the ongoing lessons and love I gain from Blocker. And I can’t thank Blocker enough for sharing Tom with us (because, we all know, if Blocker hadn’t approved, it would not have happened!). I believe that you can tell a person’s soul by how they treat others, especially non-human animals, and Tom’s soul revealed itself through and in Blocker–and vice-versa. If anyone can come close to understanding my bond with Bark and Beech, it is Tom–because of his legendary ability to be empathic and understanding, because of how he shared his canine kids with my canine kids, and because of how he has, with Blocker beside him the entire time, witnessed and participated in our lives for so long. Blocker was, for these packs, a conduit of understanding and compassion: through him, and through knowing him, I was able to see the depth of Tom’s compassion for others, to learn from Tom and Blocker about dogs and humans (and to learn that my tiny shit had it all over me, and that I didn’t care). Through Blocker, I came to trust Tom–with far more than my questions about doggies. By knowing Tom and Blocker, as a team, my boys and I benefitted from their shared joy, their playful distractions, and their quiet support. When work was causing me so much stress I was ready to lose it, Blocker’s floppy ears and his “fresh water” lust, his ability to drink four times the size of Bark’s body in water, made me giggle, just when I thought I would never be giggling, again. Seeing my tiny Boo sit beside Block, whose head was the size of Bark’s body, well, it just put the world in balance for me. When Beecher was what the vets thought was deathly ill, as Beech was covering from “a procedure,” and I had to return to work, Tom came over with Bella and Blocker to keep Beech and Bark soothing, watchful, caring company while I was away–compassion, in action.

And that is the briefer : ) version of how we ended up with the big-little Bs, with Barkleigh, Blocker, Beecher, and Bella romping around with each other in various parks and yards, jumping whimsically into Lake Little Pool out back, prancing through the flower beds, loping as a lopsided line of friends, up and down the stairs, sharing their food and space and play and people.

Blocker was Barkleigh’s and Beecher’s earth angel, and he remains their heavenly angel and guardian. My grief over Blocker and my sadness for Tom, Suzanne, and Bella, remain tremendous, compelling. I am with them in spirit daily. And, even as I cannot imagine losing Barkleigh, who turned 15 last month, I know I must try to imagine it. While very few things ease my thoughts about that moment, and while I would have done anything to help Blocker have the long, healthy life on earth that he so deserved so that my beloved, old Barkles, in a more natural state of time-progression, would be welcoming Blocker into the peaceful beyond, I am also working to understand, accept, and make some sense of Blocker’s last year with us–if there is any sense to be made of what has happened. I know, all the past aside, that when my Boo and later my Beech glide into that mystery of life and energy beyond this place, that Blocker will welcome them, oversized stick in his oversized mouth, that he will continue to protect and accompany them, to play with and stand by them. Blocker, you are precious beyond words. You are irreplaceable. We thank you for being there with us, for giving us joy and comfort in the past, now, and down the lane. Romp on, Big Boo. Romp on.

And, now, here are some of the memories I wrote to Tom, little glimpses of just one of Blocker’s many communities:

–This is a large, wonderfully engulfing memory compiled by the countless episodes of walking with Boo and Blocker at the park, a kind of hugely collective memory that is the epitome of truth, because of the repeated instances of it: Blocker, 120 pounds, walking the park with Boo, 10 pounds, and Barkles walking beside Blocker with no sense of fear, competition, anything, just mutually okay, strolling with the pack. Given the various, unpredictable, vicious attacks poor Boo has experienced, having Blocker only a couple of feet away from him amidst those other dogs, well, it made me feel much better, and i must think that it also made Barkles feel safer, too.

–On one New Year’s day party, my friend Fred, quickly coming up to me in the kitchen, alarmed, “Did you know there’s a dog in the house, a big one?” and in walks Blocker, virtually filling up my tiny kitchen, between Fred, Block, and me. And Fred’s look, like some kind of cartoon character– alarmed, but trying to be polite, his glasses slipping to the end of his nose, pulling his hand, with his wine glass, up toward his face, looking down like an awkward Normal Rockwell, like a guest who had just seen a stripper appear. And Blocker taking a huge, lapping swig of the water bowl and looking up to say, “Hi, Lizzie. How ya doin’? And who’s this guy I’ve never seen before?”

–And later, either at that party or a similar one, with you [Tom] and Blocker sitting by the fire, and a moderately inebriated Carmela throwing the ball back and forth to Blocker, until, her aim compromised, she tossed it right into the fire place. Remember that? And, as we all gasped and darted a reach to collect the ball, Blocker, in his infinite wisdom and self-restraint, stayed put, as if to say, “Now, do you think I’m crazy? I’d never head into a fire for a ball. YOU go get it out.”

–Blocker being able to wander through this house, eat Bark’s and Beech’s food, go up stairs, etc., without any of the excited ruckus and cacophony that usually erupts when visitors arrive. Just the friendly, calm Blocker, coming in to have an easy visit, his calmness blanketing the whole dog pack. Amazing. Huge love-bug who never ever, ever in any way was aggressive to my little rambunctious shits, who always had a calming effect on us.

–Taking Beecher and Bark into the Whetstone ravine for the first time, with Bella and Blocker and you, creating a nice, large, magnetic pack that made me believe that my scout dog, Beecher, my adventurous, curious dog whose legs and curiosity had him on the road for a month before he landed with us, that he somehow would feel more inclined to return to me and to the strolling, familiar pack than he would be inclined to lose himself chasing squirrels. In that way–and just like at Goodale, years earlier–Blocker, by giving me courage and by setting a strong grounding for the canine kids, gave Beecher the freedom of being in Whetstone unleashed. What a lasting, healthy, gift, and who else in Beecher’s life could have done that for him?

–These are just a few of the reasons why I celebrate Blocker. Words don’t begin to say it. They are insufficient tools for describing years of compiled feelings and experiences, and the emotional density, size, and depth of them. It is like trying to describe a cloud, an iceberg, and an ocean, all at once. But somehow the little bits of details give us specs of water, of earth, and of crystals that remind me of what the whole is.



From Sue MM…..

I remember one night at the studio around 2001, when Blocker needed a walk during a break…he and I took to the streets and found the most beautiful, fluffy snow had fallen while we’d been holed up inside…I remember Blocker’s calm spirit and regal posture as we walked…

I also recall seeing Blocker and Tom walking on High Street and Blocker was unleashed…Being someone who’d grown up with dogs who were only walked on leashes, and a screamer when they’d get away, I was in awe of Tom’s “control” over Blocker…come to find out it was profound devotion all this time…


from Alison K…

My most vivid memories of Blocker are of course at the studio and how he was so protective of you. He is such a big part of my memories of that time (Poor Bella, she gets short shrift having to live in the shadow of such a big personality!) I remember particularly the night we were all there and he was sick and Becky took him to the emergency vet. It was such a time when we all became a real community, united not only in making music but in the more important reality of a sick family member. I remember then seeing so clearly how important he was to you and how he was so much more than just being your dog. You tried so hard to supress it and act “professional” carrying on with the session but it was so clear that he was at the top of your mind.

I also have vivid memories of you bringing him to the house and he and Lucy connecting. There is hardly a time that I watch my “boys” playing that I don’t think of Blocker. My Segen has that same kind of quiet strength. The male dog has a different kind of personality from the female and I am sinjoying that part of him.

I have very sad news which you will understand better than most. My beautiful Rosie had her foal and he was the most gorgeous thing. Big, black, adorable. I got to see him being born and did all the imprinting stuff with him so I was in the stall with them all the time, playing with him and handling him. I have the most vivid physical memories of the softness of his coat, his furry little ears, his long strong legs. When he was 48 hours old he got some intestinal scourge, probably Clostridium which kills many calves and lambs but has not been so prevalent in horses. We did everything we could but he died at about 72 hours of age. It has really been hard for me. It was a little girl dream to have a colt so the feelings that I have experienced have been very intense. People out here are pretty philosophical about animals dying. It just happens so much. I had no idea that colts die so often but when something like this happens all the stories come out of the woodwork.

You know, I want to value people as highly as I value my animals. I am so prone to judgment, to disdain, to anger towards humans, holding on to imagined slights, being paranoid about what people think about me. You just don’t have to deal with any of that crap with animals and they so bring out the child in me.

Anyway, my beautiful Rosie is handling it well. I have no idea how an animal processes a loss like this. She was an amazing mother. To watch that instinct kick in in a first time mother was the most amazing thing I have every witnessed. So if i ever work up the courage to try again I know she will be awesome. The birth was amazing too, and I am very grateful to have witnessed it. It was a God thing. She had the baby at 3:30 in the afternoon, I was just getting home, if I had been five minutes later I would have missed it! They always foal at night! So that was a sweet gift. I am just focussing on the wonderful horses and dogs that I have and mourning him in intense bouts.

I have really suffered some difficult animal losses here. You really get the feeling that this is a harsh country and you have to be willing to live with the dangers. OH just never felt like that to me. But it is a wild beauty that I find irresistable. I hadn’t even named my little colt yet. But God knows his name and I imagine him proud an huge and strong galloping around in a better place, probably with Blocker barking at his heels! And Lucy of course. And Davey but he wouldn’t be able to keep up.

I love you Tom. Hang in there.



2 Comments so far
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Blocker was the biggest and coolest shepherd I’ve ever seen!! I remember him laying down and taking up just about the whole room (and Tom in a calm voice saying, “Blocker, no!”) at the studio with his companion Bella. He was a very wise and noble pup. Blocker will be always be in our hearts and the spirit of Tom’s studio.


Comment by Jesse Counts

Loved walking into the studio seeing Blocker chilling in the corner. I loved how he just loved my boy Sabbath. One of the most well behaved dogs I ever met. He will be missed!!!

Comment by Rick Abate

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