Young and Hungry

RIP: Coltrane ‘Meatsack’ Carman, the Best Eater I Ever Knew


On Friday, while I was deep in the weeds putting together this year's Young & Hungry Dining Guide, Carrie and I had to do something that will leave a bad taste in our mouths of years: We had to put down our beloved pooch, Coltrane, a.k.a, "Meatsack." He was old. He had cancer. He was a good dog.

I don't want to get all maudlin about this, but I did want to pay small tribute to the one creature in our household who loved everything we brought home from restaurants.

Carrie and I used to joke what a great food critic Coltrane would have made. Because of his beagle nose, he'd parse out all the nuances of a dish. He'd catalog every single ingredient that went into a complex sauce, down to the exact location where the carrots were pulled from the earth for the mirepoix. He'd tell you the species of grass that the New Zealand lamb ate before it went to slaughter. He detect every little off note from fish that had turned, vegetables that had lost their sweetness, steaks that hadn't been aged properly.

And he'd give everything four stars. That was part of Coltrane's charm: He had 200 million more scent receptors than either Carrie or I, enough to find a mouse in a one-acre field in a minute, but he didn't give a damn if the mouse was dead, alive, or deboned, braised, and paired with a port-wine reduction.

Yes, Coltrane was an eater, the best one I ever knew. How big of an appetite did he have? Consider:

  • He once tore into my computer bag to gobble down a half bottle of Advil, just because the pills were sugar-coated. (Long story, very expensive.)
  • He used to routinely climb onto the dining room table during parties to hunt for scraps after our guests had assembled in the kitchen or the living room.
  • He served himself first at last year's Thanksgiving feast.
  • He'd clean the kitchen floor as we cooked.
  • He once snatched a baguette from the kitchen while we were gone and buried pieces of it in two different couches. This may have been his best ploy ever; he clearly knew that once we found the first cache of bread, we'd consider our search over.
  • When he was ready for breakfast on weekends, as I lingered in bed and read the Times and Post, Coltrane would push his way through the newspapers and stand on my chest. And just stare at me.
  • He was known to eat not only meats and vegetables, but occasionally the stray article of clothing left on the floor. We'd routinely find half eaten pairs of underwear in his crate.

Yes, Coltrane had his fetishes, and some days, they annoyed the hell out of us. But today, I miss him so much more than any of those pants or undies.

Photo by Carrie Allan

  • Kelly in the Big Blind

    Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

  • Darrow Montgomery

    RIP Coltrane.

  • Mike Riggs

    "If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans."

    James Herriot wrote that. I think it's fair to say that you and Carrie gave Coltrane every reason to feel all of the above. Even in sadness, I hope you and Carrie find solace in the knowledge that y'all were as good to Coltrane as he was to you. No small feat, considering that dog's capacity for affection.

  • Mark Athitakis

    Sorry to hear this, Tim. My best to you and Carrie.

  • Joshua

    So sad to hear it. I can't imagine how I'll feel when that day comes for my pup. Loki sends his regrets and condolences.

  • Michael K. Wilkinson

    I'm sorry for your loss, Tim. Having done the same thing for my dog Hattie in December, I know how hard it is. Your love for the dog lasts for years, if not forever, after he's gone. Funny, just typing, I get tears welling up. Dogs are love. I'm looking forward to clicking on the links in this posting and learning more about him.

  • Dave Jamieson

    My condolences. He was a fine dog and I'm glad I once had the pleasure of meeting him. RIP Coltrane.

  • Cisneros

    Coltrane was such an awesome little dude.
    Sending you guys maximum love vibes right now.

  • Rachel Saslow

    I'm so sorry!

  • Amanda Hess

    RIP Meatsack.

  • Mike and Elizabeth

    So sorry for your loss, Tim. Coltrane was a lucky pup, and it's clear you guys loved him. Great tribute.

  • deangold

    We had a dog names Simon who loved cheese and would do anything to get it. One day, I stupidly left a 1# block of butter on the counter, unattended for just a moment and Simon somehow ran up the side of the cupboards and gulped the block down in a single bite. He crashed into the corner of the counter and lay there. He looked like he was choking and I rushed him outside where he calmly spit up the butter, put a paw on it and growled at me to say "Yeah, its mine now, what you gonna do about it you two legged whatever?". Then he took a bite of it and realized it was not his favorite cheddar, and, with a quizzical look, he ate it anyways. The next two or three days were interesting as he seemingly couldn't keep anything in his well buttered digestive track. Although accustomed to sleeping in my bed, usually half buried under me, we turned him into an outside dog for that period of time. For at least a week after his recovery, cheese left out was safe. 40 years later and I still miss him and his cheese stealing ways!

    I will gladly lift a glass tonight in Coltrane's memory.... and Simon's.

  • xcanuck

    A great tribute, Tim. Our condolences to you and Carrie.

  • Kim Chi Ha


  • EatMore DrinkMore

    So sorry for your loss. Dogs are the best sous-chefs, dishwashers, tasters, and floor moppers you can get.

  • Paul Ward

    After Angela and I had finished eating at your home one night, Coltrane did indeed get onto the table. My first thought: my god, he's nimble. My second thought: Did we actually LEAVE ANYTHING ON THE TABLE? Everything you and Carrie cook is worth devouring, every gram. My third thought: To Coltrane, the existence of table scraps is less important than the belief that they might exist.

    His pig-like silhouette and happy concentration inspired us all - and by "us all," I mean me - to be enthusiastic about life.

  • Tim Carman

    Thank you, everyone, for your good words and support. I can just see Coltrane now, wagging his tail at all the compliments. Of course, what he'd really want is meats, lots and lots of meats.

  • Arlene

    My heart is broken for you :( Many condolances.

  • Terry

    Oh no! it's always hard losing a buddy like Coltrane! Perhaps a worthy tribute would be a memorial feast with all his favorites? - um, minus the advil and underwear.

  • dan riley

    My heart goes out to you and your family, Tim. My wife and I just experienced a similar thing for the first time. RIP Coltrane.

  • Mookie

    Sincere condolences, Tim. Sounds like a lovable little guy.

  • Jackie Greenbaum

    Aww, Carrie and Tim, so sorry to hear...

  • Caitlin

    Sorry to hear this. Losing a pet is like losing a member of your family. My thoughts are with you at this difficult time.

  • Laura

    So sorry to hear of your loss!

  • Jess

    What a total sweetie. May he rest in peace.