The first thing he did when Dan brought him home almost 12 years ago was to rush into the back yard, jump up onto the picnic table, eat all the hot dogs, jump down, cover Nick with kisses, crap everywhere, jump up onto Elisabeth and knock her down, leaving her crying and scratched up, all in a whirlwind of puppy enthusiasm. Only later did we discover the mess he had “expelled” in the back seat of the truck.
Our four year old son hugged his daddy and said “Thank you” with such heartfelt sweetness, we knew we had made the right decision. And then Nick pronounced his name to be Tutter. (Borrowed from a character in a kid’s show called Bear in the Big Blue House. Tutter was the mouse.)
He was instantly part of the family. At no point did we hesitate bringing him places. He adored quad rides, sitting on the back seat with a smirk of pure glee as the wind rushed past his face. He loved the beach, discovering the wonders of fishing for minnows. He was the most pleasant beach dog, never laying on anyone’s towel or mooching potato chips…. Nope, Tutter would fish all day long, and then wander off to lay in the shade for a snooze.
He was great at catching mice and shrews, somewhat confused and disappointed when his new squeaky toy would stop squeaking. He’d bury his face in the snowdrifts to sniff, leaving his rear end sticking up in the air. He’d put up with the kids dressing him up in all sorts of humiliating garb. Always eager, always willing, always with his giant goofy grin.
He was a real asshole at times. Our fence couldn’t contain his eagerness for adventure: he would launch himself over the top with SuperDog ease in the eternal quest for excitement. We used to fantasize about a TutterCam strapped to his head so we could see what he did when we were gone. These escapades usually involved his best doggy friend Sage, who lived down below. I’d often get a phone call from Kristin, so I could yell into the phone to GO HOME TUTTER as she held her phone up to his stubborn ear. He dug a bazillion holes in the back yard and I’d curse his name…. He’d chew through leashes, chew his bedding, chew on picnic table legs, he’d take off, he’d jump on people, he drove me batshit insane…. But then, after about two years, he calmed down. He mellowed. He started to listen. And although I loved him before, I loved him even more as he was becoming in every truest sense, The Best Dog Ever.
He hiked with us, he camped with us, he went out countless walkies with us. He took us on a myriad of adventures, including the great duck debacle. He scared us with a possible nasal tumour five years ago and beat the odds, which we are ever so grateful for. (Impressing us too, with learning how to sneeze on command to clear his nose… ) His exuberant joy at seeing us after a long day lifted my heart every single time. No matter how crummy my day was, his love for me cheered me up.
He liked to cuddle up next to me if I was laying on the floor…. Yeah, my dog and I spooned a lot. He’d place his paw on my hand. He’d lay his face next to mine and sigh contentedly. He adored his kids, wanting to be by their side to play and protect. And for Dan, he was truly Man’s Best Friend. Trips to the farm to fix fences or cut firewood or early morning stints in the boat to catch Kokanee were their manly bonding times. He’d gaze up to Dan’s face, with a huge smile, his adoration shining in his sweet brown eyes.
If one of us took out the back massager, Tutter would run over and push you out of the way to claim his rights to being massaged first.
I can never express how much I love my dog and to those who aren’t “dog people” or “pet people”, I’ll let you in on a little secret….It is so absolutely and deeply fulfilling to have a relationship with a soul who is so completely devoted to you that they would lay down their life for you. The rewards are endless. In return, we gave Tutter the best life a dog could ever ask for.
His cancer grew quickly.Through diet and medication we were able to have a couple precious months with him since the diagnosis. But as he lay on the floor a couple days ago and moaned intermittently, we all took a deep soulful breath together as a family and chose to let him go in dignity and to release him from his pain. Our vet concurred and we spent one last lovely morning together with him. We showered him with love, reminding him again and again that he was the best damn dog ever.
Today, we gathered around, holding him with boundless love as he left his body to run free. Our family unit embraced this death with such bittersweet acceptance. The sadness is deep and undefinable. There is an emptiness in our home now as we all begin to carry forward into the next days, weeks and months, to grieve and remember our Tutter The Mutter.
I love you Tuts. I love you so much. Rest easy, big guy.