Cicero: 17 December 1995 -- 8 April 2006

The sweetest of goldens, Cicero was the thinking and sensitive member of the family; fun-loving, but careful, cautious, large and gentle. At four months old he had greater focus, concentration, self-discipline and determination than then 7-year-old Ptolemy, but, as he grew up and grew large, he lost his happy self-confidence and became a clumsy and anxious couch-potato. At some point, I commented to a friend how I wished Cicero were a little more active, and Ptolemy a little less so: her response "Well, you named them Ptolemy and Cicero".

Acquiring the first (lower) Shugart property in 1996 when Cicero was still a puppy, he never enjoyed the camping and hiking holidays that had been so much a part of Jason's and Ptolemy's lives. Although he became a sturdy hiker, discovering hikes in the Lake Wenatchee area, first with Ptolemy, then briefly alone, and finally with Joshua, he really preferred a sedate walk. Or better yet, just hanging out on the upper property at Shugart Flats, carefully taking the big pine cones apart, scale by scale. He loved his soft toys, but sadly seldom got to enjoy them, as to Ptolemy and later Joshua the joy was in shredding them.

In Fall 1999, we started Agility, both to meet Ptolemy's need for constant activity and to combat Cicero's retreat from all activity. With Cicero it was hard work for us both, involving long struggles with his fears of weave-poles with guide wires, things that just might move, and (even worse) things like teeter-totters that did move. However, with the help of wonderful instructors Andrea and later Monique, after four years Cicero was reliable, confident, and (most importantly) happy, doing agility. He needed a constant boost of praise, but over-enthusiastic encouragement was "pressure" and a reason to shut down.

Cicero was far more worried by Ptolemy's blindness than Ptolemy ever was. Ptolemy as ever took life as it came; Cicero could not understand what was wrong. But he learned to stay well clear of flying furniture during Ptolemy's wilder rampages, and at other times looked out for his blind "brother". Having lived until then, rather in the shadow of the much more exuberant Ptolemy, Cicero finally started to come into his own.

In North Carolina for 7 months in 2002-3, Cicero enjoyed long walks (after a short one first, with elderly Ptolemy). We practiced obedience on our walks; he liked to show off his understanding of hand signals. And he finally mastered weave poles at an agility center there. Home again in Seattle, Cicero watched over aging Ptolemy, and then in 2004 benignly accepted energetic puppy Joshua who gave him little peace.

From January 2004 to January 2006, Cicero ran happily in several trials as a large veteran novice. Although too slow to "Q" under the old NADAC rules, he had quite a few clean runs, and taking for his best placement in each trial gathered a good collection of blue (1st-place) and red (2nd place) ribbons. Finally, in January 2006, under the new rules, he won his "Q". Sadly, this was to be his only one: shortly before the next trial he was to run in, he was gone. In April 2006, recovering from what had been thought to be gastroenteritis, he died suddenly and unexpectedly at home one night of an undiagnosed hemangiosarcoma of the spleen. He was only 10 years old.