(March 6, 2006 – August 24, 2020)
It’s silly, in a way, to write this. Probably no one will read it, and if they do, he’s just another dog in the life. He was just another dog in my life too, but he rose above the other dogs somehow. I didn’t plan it, and I didn’t look at him and say, “You are going to be with me for 14 years and we are going to leave Maine together and go to the West coast.” I never said that, but we did and he was kind of the thread tethering me to that other life, the one that’s gone, he was the only living piece of it left and now he’s gone too.
I write this about now. About now that the tether is gone and we are in the middle of a pandemic and existential crises of all kinds—economic, ecological, racial, political, educational, everything.
It’s funny how many little things are dictated by having a dog. When I come inside after going to pick up groceries or going to the gym (the only places I drive to these days), I decide whether to take off my shoes depending on how close it is to the time I take the dog out for his walk, at which time I will have to put my shoes on again, so it’s one of those stupid decisions depending on which shoes I have on and whether I have to untie them or kick them off.
I try to arrange to take out the garbage bags or the recycling or the empty grocery bags back to the car whenever I walk the dog. I turn on the sprinkler for the garden when I walk the dog and set my timer to remind me to come back 30 minutes later, or I spend 30 minutes walking the dog so I can turn off the sprinkler before we come in and mount those 37 long stairs to home.
Unloading the car after doing the laundry or going shopping I had to coordinate who went up the stairs first so Tippy wouldn’t howl if he got there first and was alone up here while I was still coming up and down the stairs with baskets and bags. He was happy to wait in the car, and not happy if he was left alone.
Today I don’t have to make those choices, I don’t have to plan what to take out when I walk the dog because there is not dog anymore. I have nothing to take out that can’t wait a day away, and there is no walk to even take.
He never minded if I had to walk him at 4:00 am on days I worked the early shift at the ferry, and he didn’t mind if I went to bed early the night before. He was happy to walk at 11:00 pm if I took him out then.
After 14 years of a wonderful (I think) life, growing up proving he was the master of the sheep (which was a bit more pretentious of him because he was not), through nights at the fair sleeping with me in the back of the car or truck, in a tent or in the front seat of the truck, to being one of the three dogs trying to find room on my bed every night when I was in Maine, to moving way out here to the left coast, riding under the plane in a dog crate while I wrung my hands hoping he was OK and not terrorized or pooping, to being my constant companion whenever I went somewhere, even to meetings in Seattle to which I wouldn’t go unless he could some in with me, to the car dealer waiting hours for the the oil changes, and lying under my desk while I worked at home.
Making friends with strangers up and down the street, wagging his tail util his whole body moved when he saw the mailman’s truck and Saul, the mailman, getting out of it. Saul and Aquilla were his adopted non-stranger true loves, Aquilla who walked him while I worked those ragged schedules at the ferry for five years. He glowed (if a black dog could) when they would pat or scratch or walk him.
Those days are all gone, relegated to everything else in my life before this day, which is in my past, getting bigger each day. It is with such a heavy heart (as the obituaries all say and I mean it) and with all the sorrow there is to feel about a dog I’ve lived with for 14 years, that Tippy was euthanized today, losing his battle with age mostly, internally and externally, his tiny bones and ligaments no longer able to let him walk, his lungs not able to let him breathe freely, and his eyes and ears losing their brightest purpose. He looked up at me from his place on the floor today, while I was trying to decide whether to keep the appointment with the vet, his last appointment, and if I was a dog psychic I would swear he was telling me it was time for him to go.
He was the best dog. There will always be other Shelties, and there were, but he was the best dog of a lifetime of all other dogs and other Shelties. Every one who knew Tippy loved him, if they had every loved a dog.
Oh Tip-Tip I will miss you and those 14 years we had together. Everything is truly gone now. You were the link.
He always knew when the tea kettle water was boiled and ready to click off and he would stand looking at it and at me as if to remind me, and I did need reminding. Even though I could hear it, he always barked like our lives depended on it to make sure I noticed the microwave or oven timer. Such a helper. Now I have to pay attention by myself to when the water has boiled and the toast has popped. How am I going to ever forget him?
When the stove timer goes off, or the microwave notifies me that something is done, there is only that sound. There is no Tippy rushing in to bark and tell me, “Come quick. Timmy’s in the well!” Timmy will be forever in the well.