In Memory: Spike, a Much Loved Member of the Meister Family

Lauren Meister on her front porch with Spike

EDITOR’S NOTE: It is City Councilmember Lauren Meister who famously declared that “West Hollywood is going to the dogs,” which was a statement of pride as the city opened two new dog parks at West Hollywood Park. Some say it was Spike, Meister’s dog, who died on Sept. 20, that helped her get elected (and re-elected) to the City Council. After all, his smiling face was next to hers on much of the campaign literature. The West Hollywood City Council last week adjourned in memory of Spike, and Meister graciously agreed to write the following essay for WEHOville that tells his impact on her and her family and the impact of our pets on all of us.

The day after Spike passed away, I woke up at my usual time.  The silence of an empty house – no pitter-patter of little paws – unbearable. I went through the motions of my morning regiment (minus Spike) – washed my face, brushed my teeth, put on my walking gear, gulped down my vitamins and left the house for my daily walk to Starbucks and back.

Spike (March 2005)

Later that day, I went out to the backyard to the guest house, where my parents live, and my mom said, “You didn’t come out to say ‘hello’ this morning.”

That was our usual routine.  When Spike and I started our day, I let him out in the backyard to do his thing.  Naturally, I’d go by my parents’ window to see if they were awake, and say, ‘hey.’ They’d ask me about the evening before – how was the meeting/event/dinner.  They’d yell out to Spike, their favorite grandson.  He’d come running over to greet them. Sometimes he’d do a crazy run around the yard – I swear he did it because he knew it made us all laugh. 

I felt bad, and I also realized how our pets bring us closer together, and how they make a house a home. Anyone who says animals don’t have an important role in civilized society has obviously never had a pet.

Before I adopted Spike, a three-month-old Bill Foundation rescue from South Central LA Shelter, I said I would foster him – just to make sure we were a match.  We all knew that was a joke – once Spike was here, he would be here forever.  This was before my parents lived here, and they and my sister came over to meet him.  We all sat on the floor, and he jumped into my sister’s lap, held her face with his two puppy paws and proceeded to kiss her face as if he knew her in another life.  We all looked at each other, laughed, and said, “oh, he’s a keeper.”  It was a memory that would start a five-member family bond that would not end for 14 and a half years.

When we were building the guest house, my parents would stay overnight so they were here to help make decisions about their new home. Spike would sleep with them in the guest room – as if to say, ‘You’re my guest, and I’m going to watch over you.’

Spike with Lauren Meister’s mother and father

Once my parents moved into the guest house, Spike’s life got exponentially better – and, I believe, so it did for my parents as well.  My dad took Spike for walks twice a day.  Spike received lunch-time treats just for announcing to my dad that lunch was ready.  Of course, I didn’t know that was happening until one day, I walked out and observed that not only was my dad chewing something – so was Spike.  If I had only taken a picture of the two guilty faces looking at me – caught in the act – I’m sure it would have been an Instagram sensation! Did I get mad? How could I?  For my dad, Spike was his best buddy.  For my mom, Spike was her grandson – deserving of treats as any grandchild who provided so much joy.

On “family night,” a tradition we started a few years back, he sat in the middle of the room – so happy that everyone was there with him. He loved to amuse us — he would chase his tail – stop, look at us, wait for the reaction (of course, we were laughing), and then continue on in the opposite direction. He knew he was funny and loved being the center of attention. We didn’t disappoint – to us, he was a star. 

There are many stories I can tell, but my point is that pets have a significant impact on our daily lives and our interactions with others.  And in today’s busy “digital always-on” world and the constant need to be on the go, a pet can teach us to take a beat, enjoy the moment, laugh, and communicate with one another.

That’s why, although my heart is breaking with the loss of Spike, I could never be without a furry, four-legged child. While there will never be another Spike, there are lots of rescue dogs in need of adoption, and I know that my house will soon be a home again.

Rest in peace Spike Meister, my sweet boy.  And here’s to future furry four-legged family members – wherever you are.


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Dan
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Dan

Today I cried reading this. Thank you for writing it.

Arthur Scotti
Guest
Arthur Scotti

Spike was a delight and I’m glad to have met him. My heartfelt condolences. 😔

Elyse Eisenberg
Guest
Elyse Eisenberg

Lauren, that’s a beautiful, touching essay that any pet lover would appreciate. Spike was a honey for sure. He had a wonderful life with you. RIP Spike. We will miss you. xoxo

Alan Strasburg
Guest
Alan Strasburg

Jake and Lily join me in sending love to the entire Meister clan and look forward to hearing about the newest member who will have large paws to fill. RIP Spike.

Ruth Williams
Guest
Ruth Williams

My heart truly goes out to you and your family. I know I’m not alone in understanding the loss of a beloved “pet” which is really just a name for a furry family member. I had a 6 week old kitten given to me “temporarily” until a colleague was able to find a home for him. Long story short, he stayed with me and my kids who grew up with him, for over 18 years. Who says cats aren’t wonderful pets has never had one. He had his ways of telling us when he was upset that we’d laugh about.… Read more »

Lynn Hoopingarner
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Lynn Hoopingarner

They call them “rescues” but which direction is the rescue? I believe it is bi-directional. Apropos for WeHo. The unconditional love and affection we share with our four-legged friends is so healing for all. While I am “dog adjacent” (having been a cat rescue person), Spike was always a joyful spirit that brought me smiles and laughter. He will be greatly missed. You are so right about how our pets help us connect and connect with our community–dogs are especially great at that. If nothing else, they drag you out in the rain to pee. Ahh, now reminded why I… Read more »

Larry Block
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Larry Block

Absolutely Beautiful!

Leslie Karliss
Guest
Leslie Karliss

Oh Lauren, I’m so very sorry for your loss.

jimmy palmieri
Guest
jimmy palmieri

Lauren that was such a sweet story about Spike. It served a bigger purpose than just telling about his and your life together. It also let people know that it is OK to mourn our lost pets. When Lilly passed, I called every city dept. asking if there opportunities for memorial plaques anywhere in the city to remember Lilly but also to help a pet non profit. There were none. I always thought the dog parks should have a “Rainbow Bridge”section where all of our lost pets could be remembered. My friend, a tattoo artist said, “Let me memorialize Lilly… Read more »

David Gardner
Guest
David Gardner

Lauren: I remember when Spike came to your home. Your story is wonderful, insightful, and heartwarming. Many of your friends and readers (including myself) of this article have lost our dear four legged friends this last year, and know how you are feeling. I now have a new puppy in the house that sounds like Spike reincarnated. Long live Spikes memory

Robert Kechter
Guest
Robert Kechter

Lauren, so sorry for the loss of Spike. As a proud dad of 4 dogs and a cat, which my partner and I think and treat as if they were our kids, I can know how they affect us, with there unconditional love. Thank you for sharing this story, and the thought that another shelter dog will soon have a loving forever home, which they will not only get love and joy but will return back to you and your family, brings my heart joy. Once more, thank you for sharing your loving experience, and more importantly, thank you for… Read more »

Woody McBreairty
Guest
Woody McBreairty

We’re so very sorry Lauren. What a wonderful life you & Spike gave to each other,
Love to you from Zipper & Woody