if cats have nine lives…



Last weekend was a stressful weekend for us and our dog Tucker.

First, a little background:

I adopted Tucker from the Humane Society of Greater Akron shortly after Greg and I started dating.  Greg had mentioned that he really liked dogs. (Now, imagine a cartoon light bulb blinking above my head.  I like Greg. I want him to be my boyfriend.  He likes dogs. I must get a dog.) So off I went to the Humane Society to find my new dog. I didn’t really know what type of dog I was looking for, I just new I wanted to adopt a dog that needed a good home. I filled out the form where they ask you lots of questions about the type of home you have and the amount of time you’d have to take care of a dog. They walked me back to a large room filled with dogs in individual kennels. All the dogs were up, jumping around and barking.  All, that is, except for one dog; a mostly black largish mixed breed dog with some brown highlights. He was just laying there on the floor, pretty uninterested in what was going on around him. For me, it was love at first sight. The volunteer led me and Tucker out to the back yard of the Humane Society so that we could get acquainted. Tucker was very gentle, but again, didn’t express much interest in getting to know me. Later, I found out that Tucker had been adopted and returned a couple of times. He had been at the Humane Society off-and-on for about 2 years. He surely had some trust issues. Those folks at the Humane Society know what they’re doing. You don’t just pick a dog that first visit and take it home.  Nope, they send you home to think about it.  I did, and returned a few days later to adopt Tucker. I was now a pet owner.  I loaded Tucker in the towel draped back seat of my VW and headed on what felt like the longest drive home ever. Tucker paced frantically back-and-forth in the car the entire ride home, hanging his head out one window, then the other.

That first night we mostly just stared at each other, sizing each other up. Oh, and I think I took him outside like forty times, scared to death he would “mark his territory” in the house. I think anytime he got within ten feet of a door, I would take him out. Yep, he was pretty empty by bed time, that first night.

It wasn’t long until Greg was up for a visit to see me, and I guess, Tucker too. They were a match made in heaven.  Greg has some sort of mysterious power that dogs are attracted to. They hit it off instantly, and to this day, I know that Greg is Tucker’s favorite human. It doesn’t matter that I was the one who saved him and brought him home.  But that’s ok. In November of that year, 2001, Greg moved in and the three of us were a family.

A couple of years later, Tucker began having some breathing issues and would occasionally bleed from the nose. We were concerned and took him to our vet.  The vet said it seemed like it might be something cancerous, so he sent us off to a specialist who confirmed that diagnosis. She reported that Tucker had what appeared to be a cancerous tumor in his sinus cavity.  She recommended radiation treatment in Columbus, but still gave him a life expectancy of about 6 months. Devastated, Greg and I decided to make Tucker as comfortable as possible for as long as we could. About the same time we switched his dog food to a different higher quality brand. That was back in 2003, needless to say that 6 month sentence has passed by more than 6 years. He still has occasional breathing spasms, but other than that, and a couple of fatty tumors he’s been a pretty healthy dog.

This all brings us back to last weekend. For four days leading up to last Saturday, Tucker had been very lethargic and had been having some rather awful blowouts in the house. By Saturday morning, we thought we had reached the time we would have to say goodbye to Tucker. He’s around 12 years old now, has nearly lost all of his hearing, and gets around at a pretty slow pace.  We took him on his last walk around the neighborhood. I think I cried through most of it. I’ve never had an opportunity to have “lasts” with a person or pet before. It was heartbreaking.

I made an appointment with our vet and off we went. It was tough; the vet won’t make the ultimate decision for you. He laid out all of the options. At first, he had us convinced that Tucker had led a good long life, and that maybe now was time to let him go. Just as I was ready to go that route, he said we could run some basic blood tests to check on the over all health of Tucker. And then we could decide. That’s what we did. His tests came back mostly good. The vet gave us some anti-diarrheal medicine and we took Tucker back home.

Tucker remained pretty lethargic for a couple more days. He was put on a bland diet of white rice and boiled chicken, which he loved and lapped up in seconds. As of today he’s pretty much back to his old self.  Sure, he’s a lot slower and walks around the block take a lot longer to complete.  But it’s time we get to spend together, that’s just about us and nothing else. Greg and I know that ultimately, there isn’t a lot of time left for us to spend together with Tucker. We accept that, and just spend a few more moments appreciating this wonderfully gentle dog that has brought so much joy and love to our lives.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Carrie says:

    Smiles and tears as I read this. I know exactly where you are.

  2. Greg says:

    Very well said Mike (and Carrie), because I had smiles and tears as I read it also.

    2 things though – you would’ve had me without the Tuckster, and he loves you every bit as much as me…

  3. Ryan says:

    I’ve never known you without Tucker. He’s like part of the family. I looked forward to seeing him as much as visiting you both when I would come for dinner. I’m really happy to hear he’s doing okay now. I can’t believe how old he now looks based on the picture on your home page. Here’s to a few more good years.

  4. Robin says:

    I know how you feel Mike. We didn’t come home for Christmas this year because our 10 yr old Chocolate Lab Zinger has been sick. He kept falling down and walking in circles, and the Vet was pretty sure he had a brain tumor. On the slight chance it was some sort of bone infection, they offered to do a course of meds to see if it helped. Thank goodness it appears to have helped, at least for now, and Zinger is on his way back to his old self. I’ve never cried so much over an animal, but he was the second best thing I got when I met Al.

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