Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Koby the Awesome Dog (...and The Rare Barrel - Map of the Sun)

I've never really gotten people who think that they have to be either "cat people" or "dog people." Why does it have to be one or the other? Cats vs. Dogs isn't exactly on the same level as Axis vs. Allies (at least in my mind), so I've always tried to remain as neutral as possible. If you really must know, here's where I stand: There are jerk cats and there are jerk dogs. There are awesome cats and there are awesome dogs. I am firmly pro-awesome animal and I've seen I've seen enough of both jerk cats and jerk dogs to know if you're lucky enough to end up with an good pet (cat or dog), you should feel fortunate. Currently I have an awesome cat. And up until today, my family had an awesome dog. And that awesome dog is the reason for this post.

Koby Vanos was born (we think) around the year 2000. She came into our lives as a puppy, along with her brother from another mother, Reggie, that year by complete chance. A family friend found Koby and Reggie abandoned, but together, huddled under a tomato plant in their yard. Hoping someone else would want them, our friend brought the puppies to a Christmas party and we ended up with them.

Koby and Reggie came together, but they couldn't have been more different. Reggie is a half dachsund, half chihuahua who is proud, rambunctious, intelligent and just a little bit paranoid. He can be sweet, but he has always shown signs of abuse from before we knew him. If you try to pet his head, he ducks. If you offer too much attention, he shrinks away. We've always loved him, but he's not the kind of dog that reciprocates it the way many pet owners would like. He's not going to show up at your feet while you're watching TV and snuggle you. He's not going to get excited and spin around in circles in front of you, hoping for your approval. He's just not that kind of dog. If he had a celebrity doppelganger, it would probably be someone like Janine Garofalo. Kind of a downer, sarcastic, a little dumpy, but also likeable in a weird way. That's Reggie. And that not Koby at all.

Koby came to us an unbridled, irresistible, and undeniably fun puppy of questionable lineage (she looked like a miniature dingo and no vet could pinpoint what mix of breeds she occurred by). Goofy, optimistic, maybe not as well endowed in the intelligence department as most dogs, and impossible not to love, Koby was as fun as any dog I've met. If you showed up at our door, it didn't matter if she had seen you a hundred times or if it was the first time you two had met, you were her best friend. Tail wagging, tongue out and barking excitedly, she greeted everyone who came to our door like they were her favorite person in the world. She loved being pet, loved attention and loved people. And it was really, really hard to not love her back.

Years and years passed and Koby began to show the effects of age, but her personality never wavered. Even though her hips started deteriorating long ago, causing her to move like Keith Richards after a long night out, she would always rush to greet anyone who came to the door just like she did when she was a puppy. The last few months, she was sustained by pain pills as much as food and was breaking down faster than a twenty year old Pinto, but her energy and happiness still couldn't be contained. She was undeniable, she was so much fun to be around and she was beautiful until she finally passed away today.

I don't know what an appropriate way to celebrate the life of a pet looks like (especially a pet as great as Koby). It's probably not in the form of a beer. But, through a good friend, Eddie, I happened upon a beer that's as good a reminder of Koby as anything I've come across in recent memory, so it just felt right to open today.

Rare Barrel's Map of the Sun is a sour blonde ale aged on apricots that pours a beautiful golden color. The nose sparkles with ripe peach and tart apricot flesh notes. The flavors in here are bright and beautiful. Juicy apricot and nectarine, a touch of lemon meringue and some light acidity. The finish is smooth with just a touch of underripe apricot skin tartness. It's a bright, clean, tart and very delicious beer that I can imagine Koby the dog loving if she had been born Koby the person.

So here's to you, Koby. Your energy and goofiness was contagious, your outlook on life was enviable, and the amount of happiness you brought to our family was unquantifiable. You were an awesome animal and an awesome friend that we were so lucky to cross paths with. And I won't forget you for as many more trips around the sun as I may be fortunate to have.

Final Grade (for the beer): A

Final Grade (for the dog): A+

Top 250 Beers Tasted: 107