Did you know soft sided insulated lunch boxes are hard to tear with teeth? How about the types of doors easily opened by a hungry Lab desperate to raid the trash? Twelve years with our yellow Labrador Retriever Tucker has taught our family many lessons.
First, love and food are the only ingredients really needed to be happy in life. Tucker didn’t care if our wallet was full, only that we had hands to rub his ears with.
Second, you are perfect just the way you are. Sweat pants and messy hair is just the same as a three- piece suit and shower (although getting dog hair on a suit seemed to be more fun to him).
Third, be happy in the moment. Tucker didn’t worry over the future or stress about the past. He only knew the present and was happy in every single moment.
Lastly, life is too short. We knew someday we would lose him, but the day always seemed so far away. Even as his health failed we clung to the permanence of his presence. Imagining a life without our gentle soul just wasn’t possible. Recently, we were faced with every pet owner’s worst nightmare…deciding when quality of life outweighed quantity. Our boy struggled with standing, and his labored breathing made us fearful he would die alone and scared. We said goodbye to him as a family, and he spent his last few hours on this earth surrounded with love and pizza.
The first day back to “normal” after Tucker’s death came too soon. I made it through my yoga stretches despite missing the cold nose shoved in my face. I even walked by the dog leash still hanging in its spot on the wall without crying. Then I packed my daughter’s lunch. As I opened the faded green lunch bag, I was met with hundreds of teeth marks on the inside. The teeth marks I scolded him for, and he would hang his head as if sorry…or at least sorry he had gotten caught. One of Tucker’s gifts was his ability to find that lunch box even if hidden inside a sealed backpack. Almost nightly, I would find it on the floor with bits of chewed plastic containers and licked clean food wrappers scattered around.
Tucker’s influence is still all around us. Like the teeth marks in the lunch bag, his spirit is permanently indented in our souls. Our hearts burn with pain, but we are grateful for the beautiful years we spent with him. A dog’s life may be too short, but their impact will last forever. Rest in peace sweet Tucker, you will live on in our hearts.