Tucker, 1999 – 2013


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.

Snow at the farm

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.

Weird dog.

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.

The first time Tucker ever went to the prairie, 2003


Decorah had a 5K Color Run today.  What’s a Color Run?  Basically you run 3.1 miles and people throw colored powder at you.  And if you’re up for it, you throw color back.  So everyone gets colorful.  Like this …

My colorful side.


* Technically it wasn’t a ‘real’ Color Run cuz of lawyers and stuff but the organizers did get permission to snag the idea so all’s good.

Damn The Torpedos

Ever since I was a teenager, there have been three bands I’ve wanted to see in concert – The Beach Boys, R.E.M., and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

America’s Band

The Beach Boys

Yeah, go ahead and laugh but the Beach Boys are awesome.  For a kid growing up in the Midwest, the boys from California brought the ocean to my doorstep.  Even today I can’t listen to them without feeling summer.  It’s all light hearted, fun, and actual instruments and music.  Call me old fashioned.

Of course, it’s pretty hard to see a band that started in the 60s, almost fifteen years before I was born.  Then in August of ’93, the Beach Boys did a show in Moline, IL as one of the ‘Concert for the Heartland’ flood relief concerts.  My brother and I and a friend got to go.  We were probably the youngest people there but we didn’t care.  All the classics, a few new, and all around, a great night.


I Feel Fine


I think R.E.M. was the first ‘alternative’ rock band that I ever heard.  Our friend, Nathan, turned us onto it and I immediately found myself liking the band.  Chalk it up to the teenage angst years but even afterwards, their music was great.  It grew up with me and you can’t not like that.  When they broke up in 2011, I marked the occasion with post entitled ‘The World Is Not Ending …

In the summer of 1995, I and a friend drove up to the Target Center in Minneapolis.  We had seats that were behind the stage but the way the concert was setup, we had a near-perfect view and only about 20 rows back.  It was, without a doubt, one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen.


Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

‘Running Down a Dream’, ‘Free Falling’, ‘Learning to Fly’, ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More’.

It’s kind of hard to pick which of Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker’s songs is my favorite.  It goes with the mood, the season.  Running Down a Dream was our anthem in High School cross country.  I constantly played ‘Free Falling’ and whenever it came on MTV (back in the day when they actually played music videos), I made sure to sit my ass down and watch it.  I can’t tell you why I like the music and I think that’s what I like best about it.  It feels right.  There’s something for every day, every mood.  I can’t really ever get tired of listening to it.

I always promised myself I’d go see him in concert but as the years dragged on, the chances dwindled.  A few of years ago he was playing in Minneapolis but it fell on a big weekend here at the college and I couldn’t take the time off.  When R.E.M. broke up, I began to realize that so to, someday, would Petty retire and I might never get the chance to see the concert.

Until last week, that is.

That’s when Steph came into the office and said, “Hey, did you want to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers for your birthday?”  To which I replied, “Uh … duh.”  And thus she said, “Okay.  Tickets bought.   June 29th, 2013 at the Target Center.”  After a few moments of disbelief, I squealed like a little girl.

Yes, I’m in happy-ville.