early years were spent in total dog-like bliss. I worked at John's Palms. His attractive pit-bull labrador bitch Odie and he ran in the Florida backwoods from 9 to 5 every day. In his idyllic youth, Satch chased rabbits and lizards, swam in the Gulf of Mexico and went fishing with the boys. He had a litter of pups with Odie and another with a giant white college poodle who lived in the Oaks apartments near the university.

He and I moved from the ghetto apartments into a two story house right next to Interstate 75 at the end of 115th St off Nebraska Avenue. Our neighborhood was full of rednecks, prostitutes and baptists. Gone were the days of cheating girlfriends, bad drugs and the Banano brothers. I went back to school and worked at the farmer's market boiling lobsters and filleting fish. Our nights were full of Santaria rituals, hanging out in bars and strip clubs and seeing reggae at Skipper's Smokehouse. We were happy. Things had finally settled down to normal.

His hobbies at this time consisted of chewing up all my roommates shoes and playing poker with other dogs. He made friends with the neighbors and it was during this time that the Mighty Satch would take off during the days when I was at school. One day I was stealthy and followed him as he sniffed around the homeless camps, crossed Nebraska Avenue, hung out at the Butcher Shop next to the Pawn Shop where many of my possessions were, and barked at some gangsta German Shepherd who was behind a fence on a leader chain.

When I had one class left to graduate, we moved to Sarasota so I could finish school at New College. Satch worked at the liquor store and fell in with the wrong crowd. He began staying out late nights, hanging at Sullivan's Pub, drinking and smoking with the Scots. He began cavorting with all manner of loose women and wasting away in the summer heat of that Florida sand bar. His lifestyle began to take its toll.

He lived at my parents' house with Max and Honey with whom he would spend the days sleeping off his hangovers. He was nailed by a Lincoln while crossing the street and miraculously he came away unscathed. After several run-ins with the law, he and I decided to go live with our friend Rick in California. Within two months we were in my van headed for the West Coast.

b a c k NEXT