A collection of blogs and musings from the people that work at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum - Florida's Finest Lightstation.

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The Passing of an Old Friend

Posted by: Chuck Meide in LAMPosts

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On Monday night my wife Amy and I had to say goodbye to Noaa, the best friend and most faithful companion that anyone could ever ask for. Noaa had been a part of my life for almost fifteen years, and as an archaeologist's dog he often had to live temporarily at a friend's home while I was away in the field--always knowing I would return whether it was a week or a month--while many times he was able to accompany me, so that he was a waterdog familiar on board research vessels, at marine laboratories, in rivers, springs, and of course the sea. Our adventures took him places that no dog before him had been. Most notably, as the official mascot of the La Salle Shipwreck Project in Texas, he was the only dog in history to have walked on the seafloor fully seven miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.

He will be sorely missed, not only by my family but by many archaeologists across the U.S. and abroad, and I wanted to take this chance to share a few memories and photos of this extraordinary friend.

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Noaa, a black lab/chow mix, was born in north-central Florida around the start of 1994. He had been abandoned shortly after birth along with his brother, left in a cardboard box in the woods near Ginnie Springs, where one of the workers there came across him. I was on a FSU dive trip to the Springs, and we saw a sign at the dive shop offering free puppies, and the rest is history.

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In addition to archaeology, Noaa enjoyed going for drives . . .

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. . . and helping with the gardening.

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But like all labs he loved the ocean and swimming. Here we are in Texas, swimming outside the cofferdam built around the wreck of La Salle's ship La Belle.

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Back on the state of Texas' research vessel Anomaly. In his youth (this project took place in 1996-1997, when he was 2 and 3 years old) he had no problem scrambling from the water up the transom to get back on the boat.

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The cofferdam was constructed to encase the ship, wrecked in 1686 and lying in about 15' of water, so that archaeologists could travel to the site by boat, tie up, and then climb down a staircase so as to excavate the shipwreck as if it were on land. This made for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, whether you were a human or dog. As stated before, he is the only dog we know of who has tread upon the seafloor of the Gulf of Mexico.

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These photos were taken after we had completely removed the ship's artifacts and timbers from their resting place. At this point we were finished with the excavation and the cofferdam was allowed to slowly re-fill with water.

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The cofferdam provided a great public archaeology opportunity, as boatloads of visitors could come tie up and look down to watch a shipwreck excavation that would otherwise be inaccessible to non-divers. Here Noaa is on our research vessel greeting a tourboat.

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A group photo with some of the Belle's archaeological crewmembers.

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Still frisky in his old age, at play with Amy in our last house in Williamsburg.

Having lived 14 years and 9 1/2 months, Noaa had a long, fulfilling life and had lots of adventures on the way to that ripe old age. He lived in Tallahassee, the Florida Keys, Palacios, Texas, Williamsburg, Virginia, and finally in America's oldest port, St. Augustine. He participated in archaeological projects, enjoyed legendary road trips, and marched in anti-war protests. He could escape from any fence, no matter how high, and once even made it to the top of a roof so that he could have the best view in town (fortunately he was too old for this kind of thing once we were associated with the Lighthouse--if any dog could make it up to the roof of the tower, it would be this one!) He was uncannily smart and had a heart of gold, a fierce guard dog but a gentle soul. He had nothing but love for his family and his extensive extended family of friends across the U.S. I know lots of folks in the archaeological community, and many other friends and family, will miss him. We sure do.

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We invite anyone who has a good Noaa story or memory or comment to post it below to share with all of us. There are lots of good Noaa stories out there . . . he sure will be missed.

Comments (23)

Very nice tribute, Chuck. I sure do miss him :(

Hey Chuck, sorry to hear about Noaa. If you remember my dalmatian jasper, we had to put him to sleep earlier this year. He too was 15. We have now adopted 2 dobermans. One is a rescue from Hurricane Katrina and the other is a rescue from Hurricane Gustav.

take care

Layne Hedrick

He sounds like a wonderful dog. Wish I could have met him.
My heart goes out to you and your family.
Teresa Reasor

Noaa was a good dog - what more can you say. We'll never forget him.

Awww :(

My sympathies to Amy and you, Chuck.

Oh NOAA. He was wonderful. He WAS (in)famous for his fence climbing skills! He was also tolerant of cats, baby squirrels, and all kinds of other critters. I'm so sorry.

I first met Chuck and Noaa in the fall of 1994! My earliest memories of Noaa? Going to Chuck's apt. close to the FSU campus to study and having nowhere to sit as Noaa spent the better part of his time "teething" on Chuck's couch. Noaa was also the first dog I ever took on a walk (I was raised a cat person)!

I know Noaa will be missed, but you gave him one of the best lives a dog could have. We are very sorry for your loss.

I thank Rich (gilboy)
for sharing Noaa's beautiful, unique story with me....I'm sorry that I didn't know him...fellow dog lover, Joann Avery
(hs classmate of rich)

I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am to hear about Noaa’s passing. I lost my 16-year old cat Tristan last year this time and it really is just like losing a member of the family. I’m so sorry and you and Amy have all my sympathy and hugs.

I remember how Noaa would get a mouthful of food from his torn-open bag and bring it around to eat in the living room at your place in Tally. He liked to be around people. He was just the most laid-back dude, especially for a chow-mix.

Very sorry to hear about Noaa. It's always tough to lose such a good friend, and dare I say, colleague. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to hang out with him, albeit briefly, at you place last summer. Again, so sorry for your loss.

Hey Chuck and Amy and Atticus,

I'm so sorry about Noaa's passing. He was a good, faithful, funny old dog. Although you must think about him dozens of times a day and have to stop and remember he's gone, the truth is, of course, that he'll be with you forever. Eventually, when the rawness of his death and absence eases you'll find your hearts full of his presence and his love, and be able to summon that throughout the coming years. That's been my experience, and I've found it profound and sustaining.

This is a hard time for you all. We're thinking of you.

Rest in peace Noaa.

Chuck, although we haven't met (unless it was at one of the ACUA scotch
parties...in which case I have an excuse) my thoughts and prayers are
with you. I always have dogs (plural) around, and every time one goes,
its like losing a family member. They truly are noble creatures.

One day I want to hear about his walk on the seafloor. Sounds like Dogs
in Space.

“Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really.”
-- Carlotta Monterey O'Neill

So very sorry about Noaa, I certainly know what it's like to loose that sort of friend...
Peace

Sorry to hear about your faithful friend, I know what you are going through. My lovely German Shephard Ezekiel (Ezek for short) passed away 2 years ago at great age of 17 and I still grieve. I had him since a pup, a rescue from a broken home (couple had split and were arguing about the dog). He was, like Noaa, my canine soul mate and archaeological buddy, including watery adventures, though not achieving the great feet of Noaa and walking on the seabed!. However, his claim to fame, unlike any other dog I know in Ireland anyway, was that he came up close and personal with a piece of hull sheathing from the RMS Lusitania! His passing was peaceful but I wanted him to live forever.


My consolation was, like Noaa, that he had a full, happy and adventure-filled life. He left this life for his canine heaven with dignity, repose and gentility that was his way in life here always. I suspect from your website, that Noaa was the same. There is a site I visited when Ezek passed called Rainbow Bridge. It is by those who have lost an animal friend. Though it can be over the top at times, it is worth checking out if only to grasp the concept that there is a Rainbow bridge (http://www.indigo.org/rainbowbridge_ver2.html), at the end of which all our furry buddies are now playing together and one day when our turn comes to pass, they will recognise our footsteps, will smell our smell and hear our familiar voice and will cross that bridge to greet us with the same bounding energy that we remember and we will finally cross that bridge together forever.

I shed a tear now for Ezek - and for Noaa, 'cause their presence and affect on us never passes.

Keep the cuddles in mind.

Chuck -

Is that the dog that ate my book?

George

The past few days have been very hard and I don't think a day has gone by that I haven't cried for Noaa. I know some people think this is silly, but from the kind words I've read here, I know that there are others out there who understand. Thank you all so much for your kind words and emails and reminding me of things, like how he used to eat straight out of the bag and take it into another room! When I came into the picture, the bag got taken away and was replaced with a bowlful of food left on the floor. Once we got Atticus, though, Noaa had to be put on a regular feeding schedule like most dogs. It's been years since I've thought of him grabbing a big mouthful of food and just dropping it in whatever room we'd happen to be in. Thanks for the memories, folks. He'll live in my heart forever.

Hi Chuck,

Sorry to hear about Noaa.

I mentioned this to the board of the Institute of Maritime Research and Discovery, and I thought you would be interested to know that they have decided to name a grant in honor of Noaa. Basically it will be for the purpose of taking care of researchers' pet(s) while they are out of town on a project/conference/etc.

I know this is no consolation for the loss, but every year someone somewhere will have Noaa to thank for helping out at home.

I’m really sorry to hear about Noaa. My 2 memories of him are him going canoing with us on the Shenandoah (Chuck, you were in Ireland at the time), and him filling his mouth with food and then dumping it out in whatever room he wanted to eat in, in Williamsburg. Such as sweethart!

Dear Chuck and Amy,
Our dogs are more than pets. They really become a member of the family and contribute significantly to the culture of a home. Each dog we had brought a new perspective to our lives and much unconditional love. We only met Noaa a few times but are reminded of the difficulty of losing a true friend. He will live in your hearts and spirit for all your days.
Tom

I've been neglectful of the ol' SUBARCH for a while (been a bit busy with the move to Aussie Land, Ph.D. research, teaching, etc.), and just read your post about Noaa. I'm completely bummed to hear of his loss, and offer my and Emily's heartfelt condolences to you! I only met Noaa once, but I remember how gentle he acted towards that orphaned kitten that Em and I picked up while in St. Augustine for the Flinders practicum. He was truly a good fella, and will certainly be missed.

Hang in there, and feel free to fire me a line when you have the time. It would be great to hear from you!

Cheers,
James

Chuck and Amy,

Though I met Noaa during his more mature years, it was quite clear that he was a groovy, sweet and loved dog.

As I tend to my "old man" of 17 years, I know how much dogs are part of our families -- and us.

My thoughts and love are with you both.

Hi Chuck and Amy,
What a great life you gave Noaa! My favorite memory of his antics on the Belle project was the day he absconded with a roast (or was it a rack of ribs)... I thought that might just drive ol' Bill Pierson off the deep end, and figured he'd climb a tower with his nail gun and take as many people with him as he could! Noaa was a good soul, and it was a pleasure sharing the La Salle Lounge with him...

Oh, and then there was the memory of him looking at you when you were "supine"...

Oh, and then there was the memory of Noaa wondering why you were passed out on that pizza...

Good times!!!

love,

Greg and Amy

NOAA - that crazy, darling dog! I still remember the first day we set eyes on him... and all the times he soiled FSU's ADP's carpets! If Greg Stanton only knew...

One of my fondest NOAA memories was when I changed my oil in my old pickup truck and left for just a few minutes. When I returned NOAA was covered head to toe in oil! What a loveable spaz!!! I could never get mad at him. I'll miss him... and appreciate the happy memories he conjures up for me!

So sorry for your loss Chuck and Amy.

Love,
JD

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