We had several names for him — Tucker Boy, Big Boy, Big Man. But no matter what the label, he was, bottom line, our Tucker. 130 pounds, give or take a few, he would have turned 13 this December. Unfortunately, he did not get that far.
When my husband Jim and I started dating, he met Tucker with an oh, my God. Upon that initial welcoming, it was questionable we would continue dating, at least it seemed so at the time, until I got to know my husband and how much he is a sucker for animals. Tucker was about a year old at the time, like a ballistic missle gone haywire, bouncing off the walls in my two story townhome much too small for his ten story energy. Part black lab/rottweiler, he needed a ten acre ranch, minimum! But that big hairy lug of a dog got to Jim’s heart. He still lives there as he does in mine.
I adopted Tucker from a Wenatchee, Washington shelter, traveling the distance from Seattle twice before I could take him home for good. He had been found wandering near Lake Chelan. The shelter employee said he would be no more than 45-55 pounds, which was a gross under-estimation. I cried the day I discovered the incorrect assessment from someone who knew better. Look at his paws, she said. This is going to be one big boy. From that point on, he grew, and grew. However, to this day, I will never regret my decision to hang on! When our new dog child, Merlin, came upon the scene with all his wild ways, I recalled Tucker’s entrance into our lives and how he challenged our patience. Eventually, when Tucker became laid back and just a giant bear of a dog wanting scratches, we saw in Merlin’s future a mellow dog! At least we prayed for this to be true.
Sadly, we had to put Tucker down today. It was one of those junctures I knew we would have to cross, but no matter how much you prepare emotionally, you never really understand what it means until you are faced squarely with the reality. Only recently we lost two other beloved senior dogs. How do you cope? Add Tucker and you feel those losses in a powerful way. How do you describe a life involving a giant robust happy boy who stirs the house with joy and chaos? When that energy is gone, it is like a gaping hole you wonder if you will ever fill.
I have a picture in my office of a black lab with grey whiskers, in the garden, with a butterfly on his head. I framed the picture because it reminded me of Tucker and my hope to see him enjoy a ripe old age along with a happy continence. I got to experience all of that. The butterfly never landed on his head in that envisioned moment, but I think of that butterfly now. Perhaps it is Tucker’s wings, the angel kind, where he gets to be all the things we want to be, most importantly, free.