After nearly fourteen years, Tucker has left our side.
A couple of days ago, Tucker stopped eating. He had a terrible, hacking cough that was not getting any better. A visit to the vet revealed that he had a host of other issues. One was a large amount of fluid in and around his lungs. Another was that his heart was enlarged and there was a possibility of a mass in his lung.
We tried some medicine but in the end, it was his time. Anything else would be prolonging it for our sake and not his. This afternoon, the vet came to the house and we let Tucker go. We’ll be burying him out at the farm, one of his favorite places to visit and run.
You can’t take 14 years and condense it into words, especially not when your vision is all blurry-like.
We got Tucker about a month after we got married (this Friday would have been his birthday). At the time, he was a scrawny little thing and we were a bit worried how our cat – Tim Tam – would handle the new arrival. Turns out, there wasn’t a problem. Tim Tam established himself as the Alpha Dog and proceeded to chase Tucker around the house. The day we knew they were brothers, though, was the day I made Mac n’ Cheese.
I left the pot in the kitchen while I ate in the dining room of our old home in Cedar Rapids. When I came back for seconds, I spotted Tim Tam sitting next to the stove and Tucker sitting on the floor right beneath him. Tim Tam would grab a noodle, clean all the cheese off it and then drop the clean piece onto the floor where Tucker would eat it up. They carried on like this while I watched too stunned to say anything. I’m not sure who was the bad influence here but hey, they had each other.
When Steph and I were involuntarily separated due to jobs and moving, Tucker was our go-between. She’d have him for a week, then I’d bring him up to Decorah for a week. Right after we bought the new house but before we had any furniture, Tucker would sleep next to me while I lay on a mattress in the middle of what would be our bedroom. Most importantly though, when the nights got lonely, I could give him a hug because it was the nearest thing to Steph that I had.
Tucker loved strange things. He loved to bark at the air or maybe he was barking at a leaf blowing by or something us humans couldn’t possibly see. He could sigh like no other dog I’ve ever known. Sometimes, in the middle of the night while he was sleeping beneath the bed, he’d sigh. Steph and I couldn’t help but laugh at our sighing bed.
He had a thing for shoes too. He’d chew up Steph’s – straight out devour them. But mine? He’d only chew the aglets and left the rest of the shoe alone. Snow was his paradise. There was no better thing for him than a huge mound of snow. He’d eat it, play in it, lay in it, whatever. And the bathroom door was his domain. No matter who was in the room beyond, he made sure to position himself outside to guard it.
But he was our dog. Faults and all. That might be why we’ve spent most the night dreading today but knowing it was the right thing.
I miss my puppy. But he’ll be waiting out there with all the others – Mandy and Theo. Fudge and Sheba. Dusty. Sebastian. All the rest. Waiting to play fetch and to beg for pizza crust or a carrot and bark at air and eat all the snow.
Thank you, Tucker.