My Dog, Petra

March 20 2017

Hi, I'm Michael. I'm a technologist & social scientist.

I planned to write about my list of very important things everyone should know about technology, but yesterday I found out that my dog, Petra, has a very large abdominal mass, and we're not sure how much longer she'll survive. So instead of a bunch of important things you really should know about technology, I'm going to tell you about my dog:

We got Petra when she was 11 months old, from the Oregon Humane Society. She was a 60+ pound boxer/ridgeback (listed as a Lab mix??), and whoever was doing intake was naming all the female dogs after Disney princesses, so her name was "Jasmine." She was obviously not a Jasmine. She won us over by destroying a squeaky toy, then climbing (literally) into our laps.

Neither my girlfriend (now wife) nor I had owned a dog before, and we brought home a big, loud, food-motivated ball-of-energy, with a tendency to bolt. Eventually we figured things out, but not before she destroyed a lot of shoes & underwear, ate a bag of Hershey's kisses, and got hit by a car (just scrapes, amazingly).

For a long time we tried to keep her off the furniture, but finally conceded a large armchair, the futon, and—on special occasions—our bed and the couch. Petra maintained a preference for human laps (particularly guests) until she was about 10 or 11 years old, when her hips didn't seem up for the task. She doesn't jump on the bed anymore, but she still climbs up on "her" futon for naps and to sleep at night.

She doesn't chase small animals anymore, but her hit list includes 6 opossums, 1 squirrel, 1 rat, and 1 skunk. She treed a raccoon once, and didn't seem to appreciate why we wouldn't let her wait for it to come back down.

For a dog from Oregon, Petra hates the rain, and water in general. She was super game to move with us to Davis, CA, where she could enjoy lots of 90+ degree weather, and a backyard that had lots of trees and squirrels. She's also enjoyed our move to Oakland, where her futon is next to a window with an aerial view of the street.

She was never a howler, but all of a sudden, at about 8 years old, she started to sometimes howl along to sirens. The first time she did it, we were totally shocked, and anytime there's a loud siren now, we watch her hopefully. One morning, a couple years ago, she surprised us by "singing" along to a Neko Case song. I managed to get a small video of it, and shared it with Neko Case on Twitter. She responded, and I can thank Petra for connecting me to one of my favorite musicians.

Petra is 13 now. She still smiles, especially if she can relax in a sunbeam. She moves a lot slower than she used to, but still makes her way around the house to be near us, and still prefers a futon for sleeping. She still loves people, and is super excited to meet them and check their bags for food.

I love her so much, and I'm going to miss her like crazy when she's gone.

Thanks for reading,


Michael F. Weinberg
Oakland, CA
[email protected]

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