The 'Big Dog' is home from the hospital
Randy Knight came home from the hospital Jan. 4, two weeks earlier than predicted.
"I'm glad I'm not any worse," says Knight. "I feel very fortunate."
Knight, who owns the Big Dog Saloon on Crooked River Ranch, collapsed at his home with a brain bleed on Nov. 16.
Once at the hospital, medical workers discovered Knight also tested positive for COVID-19.
"The doctors told us he had three things that could kill him," says Knight's wife, Barb. "COVID, a stroke, and an aneurysm. But look at him now."
Indeed, he looks and sounds like his cheerful self, although he realizes his limitations.
"I can't walk well. I'm way out of balance. I exhaust easily, and I can't focus the way I used to."
Since he's been home, Knight spends an hour or two a day writing thank-you notes to more than 150 well-wishers and contributors to his GoFundMe page.
"I'm flabbergasted by the outpouring," says Knight. "This Crooked River Ranch community is top notch. People look out for each other."
After more than seven weeks in the hospital, most of that in Intensive Care, the hospital bills grew daunting. Friends and customers pitched in nearly $25,000 because Randy Knight did not have health insurance.
"I couldn't afford health insurance for both me and my employees," says Knight. "And I didn't want to be that guy who covers himself but not his employees, so I didn't get health insurance for anybody."
The family says they don't need more donations. Knight says he applied for a federal COVID relief fund that helps hospitals offset the costs of patients who don't have the funds to pay for their care.
"I think we're good."
Looking to the future, Knight says he has no choice but to sell the Big Dog and retire.
"It's heartbreaking. We took that place from a two bedroom, beat up, rundown house we bought as a repossession. We put our heart and soul into it."
Knight says he's kept the saloon open seven days a week. In 17 years, they've never taken more than four days off in a row.
"It's our baby. Our employees are like family," says Knight.
"We call them pups," says his wife. "It's the Big Dog so we call our employees the pups."
Knight says he has two parties interested in buying. He's looking for someone who will keep it the Big Dog.
The Big Dog earned a reputation on the Ranch for hosting fundraisers for people in need and holding celebration of life ceremonies when people pass on.
"I never dreamed it would come full circle," says Knight.
He says he's not ready to retire. He'll need to do something, probably write a couple of books about "the vast things I've done in my lifetime."
Until then, he keeps his pen busy writing thank-you notes.
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