One Year Ago.

5 05 2016

I stood in the kitchen that day, numb and empty. My hands moved, wiping counters, prepping food, washing dishes. The silence of the house was marred only by the ticking of the clock and my son’s breathing as he sat, iPod buds in ears, listening to his music.

Was it only a few hours before that our sweet Tutter lived and breathed? I had shed no real cathartic tears when his life left his body, as his head drooped heavy into my hands and his eyes closed. I gently held him, knowing his body was all that was left.

I was so proud of my kids that day, how they fiercely and defiantly wanted to be there, to be present for their sweet dog’s last moments. So that Tutter would know he was not alone, that he was loved and adored beyond measure. My motherly instinct to protect them from hurt was honestly understandable. But…. Oh how proud I was….That my kids, regardless of how heart-breakingly devastating it would be, knew that they both needed to be there.

We had all returned home after, and buried our family pet. And we all went our somber, separate ways for a while, to assess and try to begin to mourn.

I stood, looking about my sparkling kitchen and felt the dam break. I cried and cried. Nick stood in front of me, simply there, all that I needed at that moment while I wailed and sobbed.

I remember saying “I didn’t know it would be this hard.” And Nick nodded and came to me, arms outstretched to offer me love and comfort.

None of us knew how hard it would be.

For days, weeks and months, we healed slowly. We heard Tutter from time to time, pawing at the door, walking down the hallway, or scratching himself. I smelled him too and one time, while sitting by his grave that is tucked up under our birds-nest bush by the fish pond, I swear I felt him lean against my thigh.

Ghost Tutter was there and we celebrated that. As the hurt lessened, we began to feel lighthearted about the idea that his kind spirit lingered in our home.

Tutter, you were a good goddamn dog. You were one of the best. Not a single day goes by that we don’t think of you, mention you or just have you in our hearts. Thank you for giving us unconditional love, idiotic goofiness, tender protection and the sweetness of your devotion.

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Tutter The Mutter 2003-2015

6 05 2015

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.

 

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Once upon a time.

20 05 2014

About 15 years ago, a sweet little soul strolled into our lives and claimed his spot in my parent’s heart and home, and ultimately in our little extended family’s collective hearts.

His name eventually became Charlie. My dad had brought him home one day after finding him wandering all alone: a cute rough-haired fully-grown Jack Russell with dark golden blonde markings along white fur. Little patches of rough fur sprouting every which way, like wayward wizard whiskers. His dark eyes took it all in as he strolled, self-assured and confident in his stocky way as if he owned the place. He brought smiles to my Dad’s face and tenderness to my Mom’s. He just fit. Instantly.

Our family dog had died a couple years before then, and I had just began my own family with the birth of our son Nicholas. Ultimately, my parents both concurred that the real test of keeping this fully grown dog was his behavior around our young son. They had found Charlie’s owner, who was willing to give him a new home with my parents and the only caveat was this pooch’s behavior around the baby.

Charlie (who was previously named Harley) and Nick were introduced to each other. I’d like to tell you it was love at first sight, to recount every minor detail in their first meeting, this wee terrier and my own wee terror. But I can’t and you know why? It’s because Charlie was already a part of our family. In some strange foggy haze, it was like he had always been there. There was a sweet indulgent gentleness from this dog, despite excited baby antics and hair-grabbing fingers. It looked like Charlie was a keeper. Nary a growl from him when he was irritated; rather, he chose to vacate the premises if the baby (and the three more that followed) got out of hand.

He was the endless boundless bullet of speed. If you dared to throw that ball, well, buddy, be ready to throw it all day long. He’d push a frisbee along the ground with his nose, warranting wonders of how on earth he had any skin left there. Garter snakes met their Maker via Charlies’ vicious attacks. He once buried an earwig-infested bone deep within my sister’s newly born son’s bassinet. You can only¬† imagine the new mother’s rage at discovering that particular treat. He despised baths and would disappear when Mom would take a towel out of the closet, inspiring curiosity that maybe he could actually read minds. You could hold him like a baby and he would eagerly kiss your cheeks with typical canine love. He was kind and gentle, his antics inspired guffaws, he adored quad rides in his own custom-made seat, he was the boss of the two dogs that eventually came along in my own and my sister’s families, he played with the kids, he chased anything he could, he gave all of his love freely every chance he got and in turn he was loved fully and completely like any Good Doggy should.

Today he left his little worn out 16 year old body behind in a peaceful way, wrapped in love by the two people who cared for him the most. He leaves behind a legacy of sweetness and charming flagrant cockiness. He will always be loved and always be missed.

There is no sweeter and pure love than that of a dog. And boy, did Charlie ever deliver.

We love you Charlie. You were a mighty good dog.

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