They’re In Your Life For A Reason

Posted: September 17, 2015 in Hunter


So I’ve had a couple of days to reflect on Life With Hunter, and whenever he creeps into my mind–which is often–one thing sticks up head and shoulders above the rest.

They choose you. You don’t choose them.

Hunter came to me in a past life; different personal circumstances, a different time. I had never owned a dog before, but I had always wanted one to call my own. Little did I know what kind of commitment it was — from the early morning feedings, to the overnight ER visits, to the barking-for-no-apparent-reason-at-nothing-in-particular, life as I knew it completely changed.

When he showed up, I was selfish. Life was all about me. If I wanted to go out, I went out. If I wanted to stay out late, or sleep in on the weekend, I did. If I had a 14 hour workday, I stayed at work and didn’t care much about what was going on at home.

But he changed all of that. Now I had to make arrangements for someone to let him out, make plans around his feeding and bathroom schedule, and plan to walk him –and allot the time — once or twice a day. No matter how cold or hot it was, I still had to do it, or he’d be a complete maniac in the house from all of his puppy energy.

He gave me a sense of purpose.

I like to think that it’s because I needed that sense of purpose, that reason to get up in the morning, and think about a living being other than myself. And you know what? It worked. For over 13 years, as long as I wasn’t traveling for work, I was up by 7AM at the latest. Until he got older and wasn’t able, we walked, and I threw his ball, or his toy, and he made me laugh.

He chose me. To be his guardian, to take care of him when he needed it, and to be by his side for his entire life.

It’s been strange around here for the last week. Hunter’s not scoping out what I’m eating for dinner. Or watching what I’m doing as I go into the fridge.

And he’s not snoring softly as Rebecca and I watch TV at night. But he is in a better place, with no more pain, no more struggling to get up off the floor, or difficulty navigating the step from the patio to the grass.

He’s at peace.

Miss you, bud.

Hunter: 4/29/02-9/10/15

A Piece Of My Heart, Forever Gone

Posted: September 11, 2015 in Hunter

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Hunter came into my life on a sunny day back in 2002, all legs and floppy soft ears and puppy breath, an entire life ahead of him as he ran around the yard making snuffling sounds and exploring the world.

And explore the world we did, together. Over the years we’ve lived in three states, moved to seven different houses, and covered countless miles in the car. Thirteen years, four months, and 14 days. 4,884 days, 117,216 hours, 7,032,960 minutes, and 421,977,600 seconds. When you boil it down to the bare elements, time is all we have.

When Hunter forced his way into my heart, I was an immature 28-year-old punk who thought the world revolved around me and only me. Boy, was I wrong!

From cleaning up after him when he didn’t know that potty meant “outside” to making sure that he ate on a regular basis, everything I thought I knew was turned upside down and inside out. He taught me that picking up after myself was more important than picking up after him, because if I did, then he wouldn’t eat the things I left on the floor, or on the coffee table, right at nose level and ripe for the chewing. Those antics landed him in the emergency room more than once when he was young, on the X-ray table to find out if whatever it was that he deemed tasty would pass on its own. Luckily, he never required any surgery to clean him out.

But he did require surgery on his spindly little legs at only nine months of age. I discovered that he had a disease called Osteochondrititis Dessicans, which basically means that the cartilage in his knees wasn’t in decent shape, so $6,600 and two knee surgeries later, he became my bionic puppy.

Hunter had an unbreakable spirit. No matter what life put in front of him, he took it and kept on ticking. The day I brought him home from the knee surgery, with a cast on each hind leg, he jumped up onto the couch. Over the years he was introduced to dozens of other dogs and cats, and never met a face–or butt–he was unwilling to sniff. He met countless friends of mine and loved on every single one of them, and they him in return.

When Hunter was young, I was looking for answers on how to train him, what to feed him, and how to deal with his insanity, and that led me to an online message board dedicated to Labrador Retrievers, where I made friends with other people all over the country who were in the same situation. Those friends are still friends to this day–we’ve loved and lost so many furry hearts together.

Without Hunter, Tracker wouldn’t be in my life. I rescued Tracker in 2007, and with Hunter’s help, he has grown into an incredibly loving boy who has a different piece of my heart. Tracker is the one who initially stole Rebecca’s heart, and now I have my person by my side, forever. The cycle is complete.

From the doors he chewed up to the toilet paper he dragged throughout the house, Hunter’s fun-loving spirit is the one thing I will never forget about him. He’d always look up at me after I caught him doing something he wasn’t supposed to do, and I could swear the thought running through his mind was “Live a little, Dad! Don’t be so serious all the time!”

Simply put, there was always a smile on Hunter’s face, even when Rebecca and I made the heart-wrenching decision to let him pass on and be pain-free, forever chasing his ball in a field full of sunshine and smelly things.

And that’s one of the life lessons he taught me. Be kind to others, and they will return that in spades. Hunter gave unconditional love freely for his whole life, and last night we gave it all back to him. Although my heart hurts so much today, the love we shared will keep me going forever.

Thirteen years, four months, and 14 days worth of love.

RIP, Puppydog. Run like the wind.


Hunter 4/29/02-9/10/15



Since I’ve posted here last.

But there’s a reason for that, and her name is Rebecca. As with my last post, there is lots to be thankful for on this day of giving thanks in 2013.

Rebecca is easily the greatest thing to ever happen to me. Never thought I’d take the plunge and get married again, but I can’t wait to make her my wife on August 2, 2014. Every single day I’m blessed to share with her is just..Great. With a capital G.

I used to be a self-centered jerk. Well, I’m still a jerk sometimes, but thanks to Rebecca I’m not so self-centered anymore.

She’s taught me what it really means to love someone and to put their needs above yours, and the meaning of a true partnership. For that, I am thankful, and very appreciative. I try to show her every single day how much she means to me.

And I’ve gained a great second family – Becca’s mom and dad, and her grandmom and aunts have accepted me as one of their own.

Thankful that this year, I’m back at home.. finally. After five long years in other places, moving home to the Philadelphia area in June was a good idea. Even better that Rebecca came with me.

Knowing that I have the greatest parents in the world, who love me and support me in every single thing that I do, can’t be measured. Mom and Dad…I love you. Thanks for always being there.

I’m thankful for our little family of furry faces. They make me laugh every single day with their antics. Although my boys are getting older, they are still full of life and love. They make me realize every day that life is short, and you have to make the best of it while you’re here.

And the cats…I couldn’t imagine going to bed at night without the Cooperman climbing on my chest to be petted, often before I can even get fully under the covers. And Audrey, who curls up on my shoulder each night and purrs me to sleep.

2013 has been a great year, easily my best yet. I’m thankful that I got a second chance at life, because – honestly – I didn’t realize what I was missing before.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in 2013, it’s that you should be thankful every single day for the blessings you have.

Whether those are great or small, you’ve been blessed with the opportunity to live your life…so get out there and live it. Don’t let anyone hold you back. Chase your dreams, they might just become reality. I know mine have.

lots to be thankful for.

Posted: November 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

2012’s been a rough one for me. It has been full of ups and downs, job changes, relationship changes, life changes, and health problems. Looking back I don’t know how many more obstacles I could have hurdled this year…my legs are tired.

But I have wonderful parents. Parents who have taught me the meaning of hard work and are always there for me, no matter how badly I try to screw up my life. Mom and Dad, you are truly a gift to me, I don’t know what I would do without you. Sometimes it stinks living so far away, Mom, I wish I could give you a hug very single day. But at the same time, my heart is full knowing that makes you happy to see me following my dreams. Thanks for teaching me how to be a man.

I’m thankful for my sister Emily. Em, you and I haven’t always gotten along (what brother and sister do?) but these days our relationship is pretty damned good. I know I don’t call enough but I’m always thinking about you. I’m so proud of you for sticking with it and turning yourself into one hell of an artist and an incredible young woman.

Happy to have my health. If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that stress can be a killer. Or…almost, in my case. Learning to open my eyes and appreciate the little things has been a humbling experience.

I have the greatest friends a guy could ask for. Some of you have changed my life. All of you are a part of my life. For that, I am thankful.

My dogs are happy and healthy and keep me on my toes every day. Going to work every day doesn’t feel like working.

I don’t have much money, and I could use a new pair of boots, but I am alive. That is the most important thing of all.


my heart breaks for you…

Posted: October 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

Autumn Leigh Pasquale (and Paco)
10/29/1999 – 10/20/2012

We didn’t spend a lot of time together, you and I.

But your mother and I are best buds. I still remember the day I found her on – it had been years since we’d spoken, ever since she moved to New Jersey in high school. From the very first time she and I spoke after that long break, I could tell how proud she was of her children. Of all the things that she’s done, bringing you and AJ and Natalie into this world are the three proudest moments of her life. She loves the three of you and everyone else in her life like only a mother can.

She’s being strong now, Autumn. So strong that nobody can see the cracks. She’s being strong for you, because Mom doesn’t really know any other way to be. She’s the one who always takes care of everyone else, because that’s just who she is. And now, people are taking care of her. Because of you. Because of all of the hearts you touched in your incredibly-too-short life.

You tested Mom. Tested her patience, tested her resolve and will, tested her love. And you passed, each and every time.

You’d be proud to see how AJ acted like a man at your prayer vigil. How he stayed together, even with hundreds and hundreds of people expressing their sorrow to him. And Natalie – she looked so grown up, yet so vulnerable. Crying for you with all of her friends there to give support in her time of need. All of the people from Clayton and hundreds more from all over the area were there for you. The police officers, the searchers, everyone was there, to pray for you, Autumn. To grieve and share stories about you and how you had touched everyone in your own special way.

You’d be overwhelmed at how many people from your community came together to look for you when they knew you were missing. And blown away at how your story touched so many hearts and lives across this country. Thousands of people sharing your photo and information, asking for help to try to find you. My friends are grieving for you even though they’ve never met you. People all across the country, and the world, are thinking about you.

Your community came together for your Mom and Dad and the rest of your family. They were out searching by the hundreds in all of the areas you used to go. People who would drive by each other and give a wave suddenly were shoulder-to-shoulder as they looked for you or any sign of you. No sleep, no food, no rest – just Autumn, and where you were. I am sorry I could not be here to help look for you, but I am thankful for all of the people who could.

You and I have more in common than you might think, Autumn, despite the large difference in our ages.

There was a time when my BMX bike was everything to me – I spent hundreds of hours just practicing tricks, riding around with my friends, being a kid. And I had a bike stolen from me, not long after Mom and Dad gave me a great new set of wheels for it for my birthday. I knew who did it too, but I could never prove it because I didn’t see him do it. I know you put up a hell of a fight when those two scumbags tried to take what was yours.  Perhaps it’s Mom’s greatest achievement – teaching you to stand up for what is right and true. And you did so, admirably. So…I get it. I know why you tried to protect what was yours – because it was everything to you.

And you’re everything to us. So many of us are hurting right now, knowing that you are not here anymore to grace us with your smile and laughter.

But you will never, ever be forgotten. I promise you that.

My heart hurts for you today, tomorrow, and forever, sweet girl. Rest in peace, Autumn.

Information regarding Autumn’s memorial services can be found here.

Those who wish to make donations in Autumn’s memory can do so by mail or bringing donations to the following bank –

Autumn Pasquale Memorial Fund
C/O Fulton Bank of New Jersey
35 N Delsea Dr
Clayton, NJ 08312



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Gallery  —  Posted: October 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

tap tap tap…is this thing on?

Posted: October 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

Wow…so it’s been a really long time since I’ve written for pleasure. So much has changed in my life I don’t even know where to begin, so I’ll just bring you all (all three of you who read this blog and probably know this anyway) up to speed. I now live alone in Seekonk, Massachusetts in a cozy little cottage with my two dogs, Hunter and Tracker.

I have been through a couple of jobs since I last posted, and currently (and for the foreseeable and long-term future) I am working as a freelance writer/photographer covering the automotive performance industry. Most of my work at this point is being submitted to the great guys at PowerAutomedia, mainly for their Dragzine and StangTV titles. I am also submitting some work for their CorvetteOnline, StreetLegalTV, and ChevyHardcore websites from time to time. You might think that would be enough, but I’m back in the fold over at ProMedia writing for their Race Pages and FSC print titles. I am also working on a couple of other projects at this point that are keeping me busy every moment that I choose to work on them. Not such a bad problem to have, right?

Well…there’s a backstory to this. In July I had a heart attack, which really scared the living shit out of me. I’m only 38 years old and although heart disease runs in the family, I (like most other men in this world) always felt invincible. Never had any indications that I know of that one might be imminent, but…it is what it is. That event left me sitting in the hospital for three-and-a-half days on a forced vacation, and then another ten days at home recuperating before I was able to go back to work. At that time I was working for a good friend at a local shop as his parts manager, and we were really doing great things to build up the business. And while I was really enjoying it, something felt like it was missing. Back when I started working there, we were so busy (10 hours a day six days a week) that I had to give up the last little bit of freelance writing that I had been doing due to a lack of time and energy to put forth what I felt was my best work.

So while I was sitting at home on my “vacation”, I had a lot of time to think about my life, where it was headed, what I was doing, and where I truly wanted to apply my talents. Despite the great thing I already had going at the shop, I really missed putting my thoughts on paper, and working with my camera. I missed my Canon.  As I recuperated, my thoughts began to coalesce in a direction I hadn’t expected…I thought I wanted to go back to writing for a living. As my own living circumstances are different now, I figured  that there was no time like the present to take a chance and make that happen. Over the next couple of months I did a lot of soul-searching to be sure that this was the decision I wanted to make. I had conversations with some great friends, my parents, my sister, and all of them told me one thing – follow your heart.

I reached out to some of my former colleagues (the aforementioned PowerAutomedia and ProMedia folks) to see if my talents were still in demand. I was assured that they were, and I sat down to crunch the numbers and weigh the pluses and minuses and realized it was doable. My Capricorn tendencies had me examining all sides of the equation to make sure that this would be a truly viable future for me, and I was finally able to make a decision a month and a half later. Talked to Mom and Dad, they agreed to invest a bit of their hard-earned money in my venture, and off I went. I’ve been writing fulltime since September 10th and I am honestly amazed at how quickly I’ve been able to get back up and going again. I guess for me writing is like riding a bicycle, you never really forget how to do it. Sometimes you need to adjust the chain and tweak the brakes, maybe apply some WD-40 to the rusty spots, but after a couple of pushes you’re off and rolling.

I am off next weekend to Indianapolis to cover the NMCA World Finals for Dragzine and am really looking forward to getting back in the groove. The last race I covered was NMRA Columbus in September of 2011 and I’ve been jonesin’ to get some race cars in my viewfinder. I have some new camera gear and want to put it to the test, I will be off later today to take some practice shots with it and make sure I’m still on the mark.

On the homefront, I really miss Mom and Dad.  And my sister, Emily.  My parents were here right after my heart attack but it’s been almost a year since I’ve seen Em and I miss her a lot. I am glad to have my health back (I’m just on a bunch of meds, I didn’t even need any surgery) and I am attempting to work out for the first time in my life. I could really use a motivator on that end but I am giving it a shot. I feel better than I have in a long time (maybe the meds?) and I’ve been taking a lot of time to do for me. I’m eating healthy and learning how to cook again (with mediocre results) but I’m not starving, either. Turkey and roast beef sandwiches and salads are easy to prepare. It’s been a while since I’ve been single and it’s been refreshing to discover so many things that I used to enjoy doing and neglected for one reason or another.

The pups are driving me crazy as always but I wouldn’t give them up for anything. Hunter is getting a little bit older now (he’s almost 11) and it’s tough to watch him slowing down. He’s such a great dog, though. Smart as a whip and still making me realize on a daily basis that this is his house and I’m just here to make sure he’s fed.  Tracker just had his fifth “birthday” (me rescuing him from the shelter) and every minute of that five years he’s tested my ability as a dog owner, but he has also taught me the meaning of patience and understanding. He was a very hand-shy dog when I got him and now he loves on anyone that comes through the door. Every day while I am working he lays right beside my chair (or on my feet, great in the winter) to make sure I’m not going anywhere.

Life is pretty good these days. I’m still working on being a better me, but who isn’t?

Oh…and this is my first and only draft of this entry. It really is like riding a bike. I’ll be back…