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Michael Larizza

November 30, 2006 @ 3:01am

Niki and our favorite kennel owner Michael were extremely close. When she called the kennel this afternoon to check on our dogs, his assistant Alex said he had some really bad news. We never would have guessed that the news was that Michael died of a heart attack three days ago and that his funeral is tomorrow.

I'm in shock.

He used to watch our dog Duncan when we'd go away and Niki fell in love with the cute King Charles Cavalier Spaniels he bred, but he wouldn't sell them to just anyone. When we tried to get one, somehow I failed his "good dog owner" test and we had to wait until his next litter to try again. I had a ton of respect for him. He was super direct, very blunt. I loved him.

A heart attack, damn. His dogs were his life. He worked all day long every day of the week. When other people were on vacation, he was there watching dogs. He spent decades as a trainer and groomer and had walls full of Westminster and other dog show ribbons.

On the outer edges of town, his kennel is probably the closest business to our house. Almost every time we drive in and out of our neighborhood we pass his kennel, which Jack calls "Michael's house."

He had no partners in his business. It will surely close its doors and we're going to drive past it every day and be reminded of this great guy who died in his late forties, early fifties at age 47 who never took a break.

At least he loved the dogs he spent every waking minute with.

UPDATE: Although Michael was the sole owner of Stonybrook Kennels, Michael's family and Alex -- who worked with Michael for 22 of those 30 years, effectively his partner -- are keeping Stonybrook going. That's fantastic news because Stonybrook is popular and a lot of people had booked holiday boarding for their dogs way in advance.

Newer: Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think

Older: Retired at 36