I found Tucker on a Wenatchee, Washington animal shelter web site. His name at the time was Scooter, hardly fitting to the dog I know now. He was six months old, 45 pounds, all black. He was found wandering the streets in Chelan, a popular lake resort town. When I saw his photo on-line, particuarly the soulful brown eyes, something pulled me.
I had just lost Cheetah, a 90 pound, eleven year old greyhound that I had adopted six years earlier. It was a tough loss for me. Cheetah had been my constant companion. He went everywhere with me. Losing him left a large hole.
I decided to go for a different kind of dog. I was fond of the black labrador retriever breed. I wanted young and exuberant, a dog that could hike with me and would hold his own on a trail. When I first met Tucker, he was the quietest dog in the shelter. I thought his mellow demeanor perfect. We hung out together in a small holding pen. It was love at first sight for me. I delighted as the dog jumped all over me. I was ready to take him home. The technician believed he wouldn’t get much bigger, perhaps another ten pounds, a nice medium sized dog. Perfect, I thought.
I picked up Tucker the next week, after he had been neutered. My mother came with me as the trip was a couple of hours from my Seattle based home. I sat in the back with Tucker as my Mom drove. I was barely able to calm him. He was panting and drooling. I knew he must be nervous by all the excitement, but it was a sign of things to come.
When I headed to the pet shop that day to get some food, I brought Tucker in with me. The owner of the store kneeled down and took Tucker’s paws into her hands. He is going to be a big boy, she said. Bigger than 45 pounds? I ask. Oh, yes, much bigger, she replies. I cried that night. What was I going to do?
Today Tucker is roughly 130 pounds, a black lab/rottweiler mix (while he looks a lot like a lab, you can see the rott in him on occasion). He has tested our patience often, but he has brought a special touch to our life. He was never quiet like Cheetah in terms of his exuberance, but like I hoped, he held his own on the trail. Jim and I have both chased him down a street too. Nothing like watching Tucker turn around and look at you as you try to catch him. He’s like, just try. Jim will tell you a tale of chasing Tucker on a dark night on Whidbey Island, only to land in a hole, Jim that is. Tucker has devasted a few garbage cans also, only to turn upwards at us with a happy smile while coffee grounds, bones and who knows what else sprawls the floor. Upon first meeting him, Jim wondered what he got into by dating me. Tucker ping ponged the walls and hyperventilated in front of us. Despite all this, Tucker found in place in my husband’s heart. Tucker loves the view from Merlin’s Garden. We had a special deck built for him so he could do so without devastating the landscape. We call him the Big Man. He fills so much space we can find no better term. I love how he comes up to either of us, sits and asks for a hug. Tucker is so large in spirit and love, we can’t imagine life without him.