That's a a nice tribute Chris. I didn't know him, I saw his posts from time to time and liked what I read. Its obvious he will be missed by many.Wow. I thought John would give us all a few more months or even years before we posted these comments.
To John's family and friends, I am deeply sorry.
To John, you son of a buck, you really made my RTF experience a treat. You really made me think. You really opened my eyes and my mind to the concept of acceptance and passion.
There was a time when I was furious with John Fallon the pot stirrer on the internet. John Fallon had the unique place on RTF as having been booted from the resource more than once. John had a way of reading me, Chris Atkinson, better than most of us will ever read our dogs. John contacted me privately and agreed, just enough, to "try" to cooperate on RTF enough to be reinstated. I always have, and always will reinstate a "banned" user when they contact me and sincerely communicate about what's been written and what they seek.
After many months of being reinstated on RTF as an active poster, John judged a trial and had to deal with some serious poor sportsmanship and negativity. It was posted against him, and about his trial, although in a generic sense. Through some dialogue with the club, I'd learned that "one of the judges" was having some comfort and health problems. I probed a bit more and learned that John Fallon had a "sore throat" but it was much more than that.
I realized, as winter of 2012 gave way to Spring of 2013 that John Fallon was absent on RTF. I had been thinking about the way a crybaby slammed him on the internet and that I'd heard he had health problems. The retriever community was totally mum about his situation. I called him one day (I wound up keeping his contact info after some spirited dialogue in the past).
John answered, sounding tired, and surprised. His esophagus was in bad shape with a seriously progressing cancer. He was evaluating the options - a serious surgery, chemo and radiation, or all of these in some combination.
I was very pleased to be part of a "networking" deal where John could connect with some other icons of our sport, who happen to be cancer survivors.
John confided in me that he "just wanted to see his 70th birthday". He and I stayed in touch throughout his chemo treatments and discussed on more than one occasion his data gathering to decide on surgery or no surgery.
John made it through the chemo and treatments. He made it past his 70th birthday. He made it through some major discomfort and weight loss. He got through his non-combative internet phase and came out the other side. He was feeling better, done with treatments, did NOT do the surgery, and was back debating on RTF.
For me, I no longer was angered by John's debating. I smiled when I saw what John wrote. We did not talk quite as frequently, but I felt a strong mutual respect and friendship with him.
I regret never meeting John Fallon in person. I hope that John's dogs are being taken care of by a trusted custodian. I did not know John well, but I do believe that he could care less about his "stuff" or his financial property. I do believe that John Fallon cared about his dogs - deeply. And I hope that John is now at peace and is satisfied that his dogs are happy and well cared-for.
Every one of us dog folks deserves to have young dogs that make us happy as we depart this life as we know it. The dogs deserve to have a backup plan, so that if they outlive us, despite their keeping us young and focused on the good side of life here, they are healthy and content when we pass.
John Fallon, I believe you were a good man. I enjoyed you. I consider you a friend. I will miss the phone conversations we had.
I am so glad that last Spring, as I drove from a trial (which some here would say I was not qualified to judge ) to the hotel, I chose to call John Fallon at home and ask about that "sore throat".
Here is a learning: Life is too short to hate. Life is too short to hold grudges. IF we take time to communicate and reach out to our nemeses, we may just find that we are more alike than we realize.
May God Bless you John Fallon. I lay my head on a hotel pillow for a couple hours this morning, in sadness....
Sincerely, Chris Atkinson