01/13/2011 9:58PM

Badger Popeye, 1999-2011

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Badger Popeye, the retired racing greyhound who was a poster boy for adoption and made many appearances on this blog, died Wednesday at the age of 11.

The Oklahoma-bred, black-and-white son of Minaki Zeke and Iron Episode made over 100 starts at the now-defunct Plainfield Greyhound Park in Connecticut between 2001 and 2003. Early in 2004, he was retired and reunited with one of his littermates, Badger Pluto (Badge), whom we had adopted 18 months earlier. 

Popeye died from the same disease that claimed Badge (right) two Januaries ago: osteosarcoma (bone cancer), the leading cause of death among older greyhounds and believed to strike over 35 percent of them. He was diagnosed with the disease 10 days before Christmas, and spent his final weeks at home seeming to enjoy the company of his humans and especially his other greyhound companion, 6-year-old M’s Giterdone (Donnie).

Badge and Popeye appeared in several advertising campaigns promoting greyhound adoption tied into the sport’s twice-a-year Night of Stars, where profits are donated to national adoption efforts.

 Whereas Badge and now Donnie were bold and mischievous alpha males, Popeye was a shy and quiet companion, except when the doorbell would ring and he would bolt into action in his self-appointed role as gatekeeper. He would rush the door on Halloween, terrifying and delighting neighborhood children, who sometimes asked if he was a Dalmatian or, in one case, “a milk dog.”

Popeye underwent surgery in 2009 for an abdominal growth that turned out to be a massively engorged spleen, which had swollen from two to 17 pounds. After the surgery, he developed an entirely new demeanor – playful, bright and interactive, instigating backyard races with Donnie and demanding a vigorous nightly headrub.

He will be sorely missed. Donations in his memory may be made to Make Peace With Animals, an exemplary non-profit adoption and animal-welfare group.

Turk More than 1 year ago
Sorry for your loss. He'll be hanging around the Rainbow Bridge for you.
Unitas More than 1 year ago
Sorry to hear of your loss Steve. I remember seeing & reading of 'Popeye in many of your blogs, and I am saddened to hear of his demise. I think we can all agree he had a great home, great owners, and always had a companion by his side. Again, condolences to you and your family.
Ryan G More than 1 year ago
I'm sorry to hear about the loss of Badger Popeye. He was lucky to have such a good home with you. He will be missed by the readers of the blog.
SamG More than 1 year ago
I'm sorry for your loss Steve.From the pictures he looked like a happy dog.
Bubba More than 1 year ago
Rainbow Bridge Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.... Author unknown...
sstone620 More than 1 year ago
Steve, Sorry for your loss, my wife and I are "dog people" and we know the feelings that are possible towards a wonderful animal, our condolences. I apologize for writing about racing at this time, if you could possibly put this to the side and if it interests you, provide an answer. Not much surprises me at the races, most things are explainable, but this one I don't get. I have been following the dime super for years now, and pretty good at predicting range of payoffs. Please look at Gulfstream 6th, on Saturday Jan 15th and tell me how that super paid what it did. By my calcs there were nearly 50 tickets cashed for a dime in a race where the only four horse taking play were off the Super entirely - and the next to last choice at 70 to 1 ran second. I would love to see the cashing pattern nationally of that race, and if it was just 50 random smart or lucky people, then so be it.....I could recite dozens a day that pay the same for the super and the odds pattern of the result is never anything like this one. My sympathies again on the loss of your good friend, thanks for any illumination you can shed on this. Sam
Bernard Downes More than 1 year ago
Steve, can I offer from 3,000 miles away my great sympathy for your loss. I love all animals to pieces, but dogs are different - the friendship they provide is unique. Your Senator George Vest put it so very eloquently in his 19th century speech. I am afraid the death of my last dog 20 years ago hit me so hard I don't dare have another one. Cowardly I know, but its the truth.
Jason In Thailand More than 1 year ago
Steve, There is nothing that soothes in moments like these except knowing you gave a good life to an animal. In 1998, I was living in the first 2 floors of a brownstone just off Flatbush Ave, slightly below Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn. The weekend I moved in, I found a 'left behind' feral kitten under the stoop leading to the parlor floor. I brought him in that night, hoping to drop him at the SPCA in the morning, hoping to find the mother and litter there as well. That idea went out the window that night and I kept him. Only 5 days old, I got him to take a bottle the first day and schlepped him to work me with me on the 2/3 line to 111 Wall St. where I worked at Citibank. He needed feeding many times a day, so he stayed in a box, incognito, under my desk. He is now my mother's cat as I live in the far east, but he did live with me in Austria, he is a great traveler. Unlike your canine, this feral monster is a mean son-of-a-bitch to everyone but my mother and myself, and he turns on us too from time to time. But we put up with him because his good days are that good. We dread losing him, because he is like Popeye- a character through and through. Nothing pumps me up like your posts from the spa in early August when you go 'downstate' to fetch the hounds for the few weeks before the Travers. One of your pix I cherish- Badge and Popeye crashed out on their beds with a form under them. Take care, I am home for March-May, maybe I will see you at the Derby. Jason (was in Austria) in Thailand
crstyn More than 1 year ago
Steven, Not a person in my household nor my "extended circle" wasnt saddened by the loss of Popeye and we all hurt for you and your family....and know you will remember him amongst the Crist gatherings with such a special love - there is no doubt he'll be there in greyhound "Spirit". He did get to experience such a wonderful life...as he bonded and was graced with the wisdom and a gentlemanly soul that is fortunate enough to bestowed upon any creature being "claimed into your shedrow". It is said that man and wife grow alike as years go by...how much more so does man and his beloved dog.
crstyn More than 1 year ago
Steven, Not a person in my household nor my "extended circle" wasnt saddened by the loss of Popeye and we all hurt for you and your family....and know you will remember him amongst the Crist gatherings with such a special love - there is no doubt he'll be there in greyhound "Spirit". He did get to experience such a wonderful life...as he bonded and was graced with the wisdom and a gentlemanly soul that is fortunate enough to bestowed upon any creature being "claimed into your shedrow". It is said that man and wife grow alike as years go by...how much more so does man and his beloved dog.