No one to eat the crusts anymore.

Posted: December 2, 2010 in Cool Stuff just for you
Tags: , ,

No one to eat the crusts anymore.
by Rick Moyer

When I was a kid my mom and dad brought home a collie dog named “Shannon” he was a beautiful dog with a great disposition.  Of course I got the scare of my life the first day I got home on the school bus and walked up to my back porch.  There was the dog chained up and he was lifting his upper lip at me bearing his teeth at me.  Mom and dad weren’t home so I stayed just beyond the reach of the snarling dog until my dad got home from work an hour later.  I found out that Shannon wasn’t trying to bite me, he was smiling at me.  Yeah, a dog that smiled.  Who knew?  That began a wonderful relationship with a dog I came to love and enjoy for most of my teenage years.  He was always there for me.  He became a gunfighter, a spaceman, my dinosaur, you name it, he was it.  I even ran away from home with him once with a lunch sack full of his dog food and an orange.  We got as far as the front yard and stood under a holly tree because it was raining.  What a site.  I held Shannon by his collar; we were standing under the tree with my black barn boots and a sob story.  That is where dad found me.

I had no fondness for dogs, until I met Shannon.  When I was smaller, I had a bad experience on my way to Kindergarten at A.J. West.  The folks two blocks down had some dogs that were mean.  Or at least I thought they were.  To a little guy, these animals looked huge.  They were on chains and could run right up to the sidewalk.  One day on my way to school they charged at me and tried to bite me.  I was convinced from that point on that all dogs were evil and wanted to bite me.  So Shannon had redeemed me from my provincialism. Oh, and of course there was Jock and Pierre.  Those were my Grandma and Grandpa Hansen’s dogs.  They were pretty much the most annoying poodles you had ever met.  They weren’t very affectionate, but my grandparents enjoyed them. 

We had other dogs over my lifetime.  There was Puckie, our first dog, and Mona, a stray that my sister brought home.  They really didn’t hold a candle to Shannon though.  He was a fine dog.  After I moved away from home he would wait at the end of the driveway everyday for my dad to get home.  He loved us, and it showed.  I’m not sure how long he lived, but it was a sad day when he left this Earth.  What a great dog.

It’s funny how these animals can grow on you.  They don’t hold conversations with us but they have a depth of emotion that tugs at our heart.  They are loyal, and every time we come home they are happy to see us.  Not like cats.  Cats act like we are their pets.  With a dog, we are assured of a trustworthy and fun pet that wants to go everywhere we do.  With a dog, there is little effort on our part, and big pay back from them.

When my kids were small and we lived in the country out in Raymond WA, I decided it was time.  It was time that we had a dog.  I wanted my kids to enjoy a pet like I had growing up.  We had experienced guinea pigs, cats, a rabbit, goldfish and even tried a puppy once.  It seemed like the time to get a full time, fetch worthy, deer chasing dog.  So my friend at work, Scott, told me of some puppies that were being given away up in the Elma area.  We both wanted one so I got off of work after calling Amy and went up to see what they were like.  When I got out of my van there was the cutest bunch of pups I had ever seen.  They were a Terrier Lab mix.  The mom was hilarious.  She looked like a barrel with toothpick legs, and as she was nursing her chest was rubbing on the ground and the puppies were following her around trying to hook up.  It was so funny.  I spoke with the owners and they said to feel free to pick them up and find the one that I wanted.  I didn’t have too.  As I stood there talking one pup from the litter picked up its head, saw me and came running.  I knelt down and it jumped into my arms licking me in the face.  Well, what was I to do.  I held it to me and laughed.  When I picked it up to take a good look at it I noticed that it was all black with a cross of white fur on its chest.  It was a girl.  I couldn’t put her down.  I said I would take this one since she picked me and it was love at first sight.  Getting back in the van I put her on the seat but she wasn’t going to put up with that.  She whined at me until I picked her up, put her on my shoulder and drove down the highway.  She was small, only a few pounds, but she was so kind.  I drove out the Raymond highway on my way home only to see sheriff lights in my rear view mirror.  I pulled over and the officer came to my window.  “Can I see your driver’s license and registration please?” he asked, as I rolled down my window.   “Sure” I said hesitantly I was hoping I wasn’t going to get a ticket.  “I saw something on your shoulder when I passed by you” he said looking down at the puppy.  He reached in and scratched its ears.  “Did you know you were doing 65 in a55 mph zone?” he asked.  “Yeah, well, sorry about that, I was just getting this puppy home to my kids” He laughed and told me to put her on the seat.  He gave me a warning and told me how much he liked dogs too.  PHEW!  That was a good thing. 

I got her home to the wide eyed children who instantly took to her.  She got the name “Tessy”  and she was our dog.  They loved her, she loved them, but she was a puppy.  Puppies in any form are trouble.  They have to be taught to go potty outside and they need to understand what is “chewable” and what isn’t.  Good luck.  They don’t listen too well.  I didn’t really like her the first few months as she got in to everything.  She would run off, I would have to find her, she would eat stuff she shouldn’t, roll in things that stunk and chase cars and motorcycles like they were cats. 

I have to admit that she almost lost her life about  six months into living with us.   We originally thought she would be an outside dog, but that didn’t last long.  She wanted to be with us.  So even if she was outside she would find a window where we were in the home and just stare in.  She would do this by jumping on things like the picnic table, the hot tub cover, the flower beds, you name it, if it got her closer to the window so she could see us then she was there.  We returned home from church on Sunday to find her sitting in the yard with a guilty look on her face.  Her paws were all green with paint.  I instantly thought of the trim paint that was in the shop.  Yes, it was true, she had knocked if over and walked all through it.  That wasn’t so bad, but what I found in a few moments later is what really caused the problem.  She had somehow figured out how to jump on the hood of my newly acquired red pickup truck.  The whole hood was covered with dog prints in green.  I grabbed her by the collar and picked her off the ground.  I was so angry.  As I turned there were three little kids staring at me with tears streaming down their face.  I thought better of my tirade and set her down, never to treat her like that again.  So not only did she try my patience, she gave me patience as well.  I apologized to my kids, and for some reason from that point on Tess and I became fast friends. 

The same red truck she jumped on she barfed in too.  I had taken her and the boys on a ride to town and she wasn’t used to riding in the truck.  She was in the front with us and we didn’t have enough air on.  As we rounded the fourth corner she looked funny.   Nathan said, “Something’s wrong with Tess”  before the words got all the way out, she barfed all over the boys and the seat.  I pulled over and tried not to gag.  The kids were gagging and laughing all at the same time, and to make it worse, you know what dogs do when they see their own puke.  Yeah.  I don’t need to explain.  I went in the local convenience store and got some paper towels.  We drove home with the windows down and the air conditioning on.  Gross.  She got better with the vehicle thing and wanted to go with us every time we left.  The thing she hated the most was when we left her.  In fact, over the years, our house sitters would say she would simply shut down when we left.  She got sad. When we would arrive home she would perk back up and come to life.  She was our dog.

I’ll never forget the night in December when we were enjoying a snowfall from our hot tub.  The family was sitting in the steaming water and laughing.  I heard some barking out in the woods and called for Tess.  I heard her tromping through the snow, she loved the snow.  Then the pitter patter of her paws on the deck.  All of the sudden she came jumping over the side of the hot tub with a splash and was immersed in the hot water!  She jumped out so fast that she simply a blur!  Running through the yard we laughed our back ends off because all we could see was this black dog on the white snow with big clouds of steam coming off of her!

She loved the fact that I was a meat eater.  She would sit next to the table and wait for bones, scraps and extra finds.  In fact if I had food, she wouldn’t look at anyone else.  That was her favorite thing.  She loved to eat and had a specific place that she wanted scratched.  She would always maneuver around until your hand was just at the base of her tail.  As I would scratch her back she would stick out her tongue and lick her lips in a weird and funny way.  I called her the human vacuum cleaner.  There was never a crumb or scrap of food on the floor.  She loved it when the kids were small as she would just follow them all over the house and clean up after their food follies. 

We tried with all our might to teach her to do tricks.  She only learned one trick all her life.  She could sit, lay and then roll over, but only for a treat.  And this of course, wasn’t individually; it was all three in one. The kids and I tried to teach her to fetch.  She would run after the ball, stick or toy alright, but once she got it she would run back towards you and then past you.  How frustrating.  She never wanted to give it back!  She had the most expressive eyebrows too.  That dog couldn’t talk, but she spoke with her facial expressions.  Many times Nathan and I would talk for her, making a dopey sounding voice and expressing her eyebrow movements.  It was like a bad episode of SpongeBob. 

I never saw her be mean to a child once.  She had a tolerance about her.  Her only nemesis was the UPS truck, which she would race to see who would win.  She didn’t like motorcycles, but other than that she was a pretty even tempered mutt. 

When the kids were very small I would tell them bedtime stories based on her.  They were called “Plastic Pup”  it was about how Tess was a mild mannered dog during the day but at night she was a super hero with powers.  They love the stories and of course Tess always made an appearance licking her lips and being goofy as they fell asleep.

Tess taught my kids the facts of life one day as they were being home schooled.  They were deep in study when Nathan noticed that outside the picture window Tess was mating with the local boy dog Mickey.  My wife’s face turned about three shades of purple as the kids pointed and asked why the dog was “docking” Mickey like a space ship on Star Trek.  Oh oh.  I guess it was an opportunity for sex education, but ewwww.   Thanks Tess.   You can imagine what happened then.  Yep.  She had puppies.  They were so cute!  She didn’t just have puppies in the normal way.  She was only a year old and was scared so as she always did, she came to find me.  Settling in right next to my side of the bed under my night stand she had all seven of her puppies.  She wanted Amy and I right next to her.  She really looked confused after all of them were wiggling next to her.  She looked up at me with the funniest expression on her face.  She was a good mom, and the puppies were quite a challenge.  She wasn’t a big dog, but Mickey was, so her puppies got out of hand quickly.  Poor Tess, we had to feed her so much food and vitamins since she was wasting away feeding them all.  We finally ended up putting them on solid food and giving them away sooner than normal.  After that we had her fixed.  She was grateful I’m sure.

So as we went through life we became used to her being in ours.  There are little things you take for granted, like the clean floors, the barking at strangers, the warm feet on a cold night and so on.  The companionship is really taken for granted as they are always there for you.  They don’t judge you, they love you no matter what and they are grateful for any attention you give them.   They love unconditionally.  I guess that’s why they call a dog “Man’s best friend”  I guess since she bonded with me on her way home from picking me, she always seemed to come to me when she was feeling bad. 

A year or so back she was having health problems.  We couldn’t afford a vet bill so we did our best to take care of her.  I ended up feeding her chicken soup at three in the morning when she wouldn’t come in.  I picked her up out of the yard on the 4th of July and set her on the couch.  I fed her two cans of warmed up soup, gave her some vitamins and in a couple of days she was back to her old self. That lasted a couple of years until the last few months.  She quit barking at strangers, slowed down a lot and started breathing like Darth Vader.  Sometime she would snore louder than me at night.  She had the funniest ritual.  She would wait till I turned the lights of, took my medicine, brushed my teeth and climbed into bed.  Then she would take a drink of water, come into the bedroom, do a couple of circles at the end of the bed and then plop up against the end of the bed with a thud.  I would have to be careful at night, even though in her last few months she had more grey than black on her, not to trip on her.  If I had to get up in the middle of the night I would feel around with my foot to make sure I didn’t step on her.  

As her joints grew sore we gave her glucosamine to help, but she couldn’t get around too well anymore.  I would put her in the car with the help of Andrew and we would take her on trips.  I bought her an occasional cheese burger at McDonalds, and from time to time she was known to frequent Gene’s stop and Go for soft serve ice cream.  I figured I would want that.  She loved any excuse to go in the car. Her last meal was Catherine with a bowl of pecan butter ice cream that she fed her with a spoon.

The last few nights she would come over and just lay next to me.  I would pet her and she would struggle to sleep.  She knew her time was coming to an end.  I wished it wasn’t, but animals have a way of knowing those types of things. I can’t express how hard that was.  I wanted to make everything better.

Like it or not she had become part of our family.  We couldn’t let her suffer anymore.  When she had a hard time walking and then couldn’t breathe correctly it was time.  I think one of the hardest decisions I ever made was to let her go.  There are certain things in life that you just don’t want to get rid of, the old comfy shirt, those cool tennis shoes and your dog.  They become part of you.

Funny how 13 years of mostly fun times can be overshadowed by one moment of loss.  The last few days haven’t been so fun.   It’s not easy to lose something or should I say,  someone, so familiar.  I guess life goes on, but it sure isn’t easy. People that don’t enjoy animals don’t realize the different personalities that they have.  All of them so unique and special in the way they approach the world.    Dogs make us appreciate life.  They pull the good from us and they make us think about love and how we treat others.  I want her back.  I miss her.  Maybe someday we will get another dog?  I’m not sure I’m ready yet, because along with owning a dog comes losing a dog.  Maybe in a few weeks I’ll think about it again.  For now there is a hole in our heart where a pudgy goofy dog named Tess used to occupy.  The risk of responsibility for another life is great, and it’s what we as pet owners take on.  I know some folks who won’t own an animal, but I think they are missing out.  There is something about them that makes life more special with them in it.

Rest in peace Tessy, you were the most kind and gentle soul to ever grace our home. You made us laugh, smile and protected us best you could. If there is a place in heaven for pets, then I am looking forward to petting you in your favorite spot again.  For now though, no more warm spots at the foot of our bed, no more throwing my bones on the floor, no one to greet us at the door when we get home from church, and probably the hardest of all, no one to eat the crust off my cinnamon toast.    Know this though, you were loved and you will be missed. Thanks for the many years of happiness.  You were a great dog and friend.

  1. Amy Moyer says:

    Your memories are sweet Dear, one thing you forgot that just a few years ago, when Tess could jump up into our bed that she would wait until we were settled in bed, me snuggled up to you to get warm that she would get up on my side of the bed and trap me in the middle. I would slowly start to melt like the cheese in a toasted cheese sandwich. You and Tessy were the hot toast on each side of me and I wouldn’t be able to move. I miss Tess too. Not sure I would be up for another dog anytime soon though.

  2. guard13007 says:

    Hey, Rick, how are things going? Sad story, but it’s great you had such good dogs. Except for the end, I was smiling and thinking about how wonderful my dog is the whole post. 🙂

    When did you get a WordPress blog? Am I that far behind? Anyhow, there’s some people who look at my blog who would probably like yours too, so here goes some free advertisement.

    P.S. Nice job, having the snow even though this is a white theme, works well for this case. Also just generally love the style.

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