Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Tucker the Wonder Dog

LETTING TUCKER GO was heart wrenching. The actual decision was easy - we think he may have had a stroke the night before, and he had been going downhill with congestive heart failure. Sheryl called our vet, the amazing Jodi Markle, and she came to the store Friday morning. I was a blubbery mess and kissed him goodbye, and Sheryl put Tucker on a couch in our back room and told him how much we loved him as he went to sleep. I couldn't be in the room until after he was asleep.

He was 13 and he certainly had his share of adventures. He was loosely taken care of as a young dog and he wandered around Mendon, eventually becoming the town dog. One day he was finally removed from his owners, and I'll never forget the day nearly seven years ago seeing his Border Collie face on a social media post. Sheryl was entertaining the idea of making an expensive road trip to the Milwaukee area to get another dog. This made more sense.

Tucker's first day in the music store.
"Hey Sheryl, look at this," I said.

"I want him," she said. The first Tucker blog is right here.

When we picked him up from the Quincy Kennel Club, he was terrified. His tail was tucked between his legs (hence the name Tucker, we think). He weighed maybe 22 pounds, and was skin and bones. Initially we'd have to watch him in the backyard because he was an escape artist, wedging his way through the narrowest of fence spaces, but he quickly settled down and learned to roam around in the backyard.

He loved his long cemetery walks. He got good at destroying moles and chasing and occasionally killing a fat squirrel. He adapted to the other dogs and cats. In other words, he fit right in. Tucker the Klutz blog.

On his first July 4th with us, I was walking Tucker in the cemetery and he heard fireworks and bolted. I'll never forget seeing Quincy Police officer Bill Calkins on routine patrol and flagging him down - he started cruising around searching for him. Sheryl finally found a shaking and confused Tucker after about four hours at Third and Maine - another half hour and it would have been dark, the sounds of bombing would have intensified, and we probably would have lost him for good. So many great people helped us that night. Tucker was happy when he heard Sheryl round the corner on the scooter. Thankfully cell phones made picking him up easy for me in the car. He never got over his fear of fireworks, here is a blog we did with a cute Tucker photo.... and another fireworks tale.

Not long after we bought the building, Tucker jumped out of an upper floor window, landed on the roof of the building straight east of us, and broke his leg. A neighbor in the WCU building came over to ask if we had lost a dog on the roof....  It was an adventure getting him back through the window. He got fixed up and bounced right back, and he stayed happy and healthy for the rest of his life, eventually topping off at a weight of 45 pounds. Perfect for a Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix doggo.

In November of 2017 he started wheezing and hacking, and he was pooping in the house. The heart murmur didn't seem that serious at the time. But a few months ago it started up again. Jodi said he had congestive heart failure, and we knew the end was near for our beloved Tucker. She helped us plan for what would happen "later" when he was worse off. He miraculously bounced back and we saw his joy running in the cemetery.  Last Thursday night, when he threw up three times and went catatonic, we messaged Jodi and told her we thought it might be time. He didn't even run the next day, just sort of meandered in the cemetery. Not normal for Tucker at all.

I had two makeup lessons Friday morning and he slept in the lesson room while we learned a Hound Dog Taylor song and Hair of the Dog. He was ready.  But it was so hard to let go. It's more than just a big dumb dog - Tucker was a family member and it cuts deep.

Kennedi with Tucker this past October.
Tucker was the first to bond with our new puppy, Malcolm, and they were buds. Dogs are pack animals and Malcolm has learned to stay close to the other dogs on our walks - Tucker was a good influence on Malcolm.

Tucker was good at getting right under Sheryl's feet and I tripped over him a time or two. If you needed a hug or just some companionship he could snuggle with the best of them. He was the best hugger ever.

Sheryl is still mourning the loss of Lucy the Border Collie. The loss of Tucker will be even harder on her.

I miss him horribly, especially at night. He'd jump on the bed for a scratch for a minute or two, then find a place to flop with a big sigh and eventually fall asleep. Toward the end he did tend to roam around and wake us up with his wheezing and coughing.

He had a great ride. Rock on, Tucker. I'll hopefully see you again and we'll go on another long walk, the sun in our face and nothing but miles of open space to roam.

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