We lost Tucker a year ago.
I still can’t believe it’s been that long. In the few weeks after he died, it seemed like the wound opened up every day when we got up and he wasn’t next to Morgan and again when we got home and his sweet face and vicious tail weren’t waiting for us.
The ironic thing about Tucker getting stick and us having to put him to sleep is that the McHusband and I would say to each other from the time Tucker was young, “We just love Tucker so much, nothing can ever happen to him.” Not to say Morgan’s chopped liver because we love her, too, but she doesn’t give or love back the way Tucker did so, well, I guess we did have a favorite child.
Tucker was funny, protective, sweet, handsome, skittish, cute, loving, eager to please, and full of personality.
He thought he was big and brave until you came in the house carrying something unfamiliar, or he crossed paths with a kid. He wasn’t too sure of anyone under 4 feet tall.
He took his cues from Morgan and would bark at neighbors in the cul-de-sac or at the doorbell, whether it was for real or on TV. He took his job as our guard dog seriously and while the barking was annoying, it was also funny to watch him bark so ferociously that it literally lifted his front feet off the ground.
And speaking of him lifting his feet off the ground… He was like the teapot: short and stout. Poor guy, he was just a touch too short to really see out of the windows on the first floor so I’d catch him with his head on the windowsill and he’d literally do a chin-up to be tall enough to raise up to where he could see outside.
If the McHusband went for a run, Tucker would settle on the floor in front of the sidelight windows next to the front door so he could watch for when his daddy made it back to the house. And he knew when the McHusband got home in his car (so did everyone else in the neighborhood), and he’d get all excited and run over to the garage door to wait for him to come in.
I don’t know if mastiffs are fetching breeds, but Tucker loved to chase his Frisbee in the backyard and would do it until he was exhausted. Once he was a little tired, his way of prolonging the game would be to run after the Frisbee, trot back then lay down with it a few feet away from you so he got a bit of a break between throws. But he could never resist going after it if you threw it again.
Tucker loved being out in the yard with the McHusband, and I know the McHusband misses having that big lug follow him around with the Frisbee in his mouth, silently pleading for a game of fetch. It wasn’t too often that the McHusband could resist spending a few minutes with him when he got off the mower to empty the bags.
Besides us, Tucker loved Morgan and peanut butter. Our dogs don’t get people food, but they did get peanut butter in the Kongs or with any medicine. Tucker would have a conditioned response to the peanut butter jar coming out – drool. It’s like I had to get the jar out and open it and get peanut butter on the knife in 0.2 seconds to avoid the mess and, well, I’m just not that good. Luckily that was the only thing that elicited that wet, messy response from Tucker so at least it was manageable in that we could plan for it and clean it up right afterward.
Tucker’s last day was probably the hardest day of my life. We knew we were doing the kindest thing by putting him to sleep before his gall bladder burst (something the vet school said was inevitable), but he was having a good day and it was hard to believe he was sick enough that he needed to cross the rainbow bridge.
We knew we didn’t want Tucker to suffer any more than he already had from the cancer that had invaded his body so we scheduled for the vet to come out to our house late in the afternoon on Monday, November 5th. While we awaited that dreaded phone call, we took the dogs on a long walk through the neighborhood then loaded Tucker up in the truck and took him to lunch at a pizza place with outside seating in Fuquay.
Tucker got his first pizza crust there and it sure seemed like it was second only to his beloved peanut butter. When we got back, after letting Tucker nap for a bit, we went out back for some pictures and a few final Frisbee throws.
When the vet called, it was almost unbelievable that we were about to do what we were about to do. Other than being yellow from jaundice, Tucker didn’t seem sick, which made it that much harder to say goodbye to him. We couldn’t help but hold out hope that he’d get better, but that was us thinking with our hearts and not our heads. The x-rays didn’t lie – Tucker was very sick and there was nothing we could do for him except ensure he didn’t suffer any longer.
Our final gift to the dog we loved so very much.
By most people’s scales, Tucker wasn’t the best dog. No one was going to make a movie about how perfect he was, nor was he IMperfect enough, a la Marley, to inspire a book (thank goodness!).
But we thought the world of him, and we will never forget our Tucker-bud.