This post is dedicated to the best puppy I/we have ever had. It's long, full of pictures and definitely might make you tear up. You have been warned.
Thomas "Dewey" was born on May 19, 2000 and became a part of our family that August. He was one of four in a litter - and was nicknamed "Dewey" because he had a dew claw - a distinguishing feature in his litter. We met all 4 of the litter at the breeders house and became enchanted with all of them - this was our first foray with Cairn Terriers. Later, the breeders brought the biggest one, "Bruiser" and "Dewey" over to our house to play. They played and played and played and eventually like every puppy, they wore out abruptly. But instead of us making the choice, "Dewey" made the choice for us. He chose mom, in the cutest way ever:
Luckily for Tom, my parents own their own business, so he came to work with them. Luckily for them, he was a pup of few barks. Tom only barked a handful of times in his life - unlike our other Cairn who barks if a leaf falls. He often spent time on my mom's desk, by her computer. Even as an adult dog, he didn't seem to mind when I put him back up there for 'old time's sake'.
Favorite toys when he was younger included empty yogurt containers and small, stuffed toys, often as big as he was. He was given the shelf that had previously held my books - now it held his toys. What was special about Tom and his toys is that he would occasionally go over to his shelf and carefully select a toy and go and play with it. We never did get him to put them back on the shelf...
Soon, Tommy grew out of his puppyhood/puppy coat and into his handsome adult coat. He also became obsessed with tennis balls. I don't really have a great picture of it but he used to hold a tennis ball between his paws and just kind of mouth it. Not lick it, not denude it of its fuzz, just hold it in his mouth. We called it "meditating".
That wasn't his only unique trait. He loved sleeping on his side or his back - none of our other dogs really enjoyed sleeping like that. He would curl up next to a dresser, or near the arm of the couch, or in his favorite orange chair. It was really adorable.
Because of Tom's un-terrier like demeanor, Mom pursued a Therapy Dog certification with him when he was 2. They were a team for 10 solid years, charming sick children and adults recovering from accidents alike at several medical facilities across the Metro Area.
Tom also had TONS of tricks in his arsenal. He "dunked" tennis balls in a low hoop, he brought mom tissues when she sneezed, he himself sneezed on command, predicted the weather, "read" and jumped through a "hoop of fire". He caught cheerios in midair, he fist (paw)-bumped and also did "high five" as well as dancing. His trick arsenal was absolutely endless. I could go on and on and on.
Tom wasn't without health issues during his life with us, he had pancreatitis twice and an episode of leptospirosis, but all in all, he was a pretty healthy pup. We'd noticed him slowing down a little and startling but wrote it off as him (sadly) getting older. That is why the morning of Halloween 2012 caught us by surprise.
In regular nightly routine, Tom goes out one last time when dad hits the hay around 1:00am and then snuggles up against Mom to sleep for the night. At 4:00am that Halloween morning, Tom fell off my parents bed. Mom woke up and got him back up on the bed, but didn't really notice anything was wrong. Later on that morning, she noticed that his rear legs weren't behaving and that perhaps something was wrong. She called the vet who referred her to the Emergency vet out in Chesterfield.
Later that day or the next day, Tom was officially diagnosed with a brain tumor and put on a regimen of prednisone to help reduced the swelling. We were given lots of options including radiation but ultimately decided that we loved him too much to put him through that torture and would only go the palliative route. This of course meant that his time with us was to be short, and thusly we treasured each and every day.
Days passed, then weeks and then months. Thanks to the prednisone, he actually regained the use of his legs, only having as slight limp from time to time or he'd be slightly unsteady when standing still. The one year anniversary of his diagnosis came and went. It was about then that he started making the decline again, but thankfully it was gradual and not as noticeable.
Around Thanskgiving of 2013, we realized that Tom's body may be seriously failing him once again but he still seemed "all there" mentally. Christmas passed and then New Year's. None of us wanted to make the decision. We were waiting for him to make it for us by showing us that he was in pain, or unhappy.
Shortly after New Year's, Tom declined even further and we decided it was time. Surrounded by those who loved him, he crossed the Rainbow Bridge on January 8, 2014. He was 13 years and 7 months old and it was one of the hardest things we'd ever done. The loss of a pet is terrible, but the loss of a pet who was SO much more than that hurt even more. Considering the bond he had with my mom, she lost a son, as did my dad. And I lost a brother.
I want to borrow the words of a card that was sent to us about our loss of Tom. This card outright made me cry because it is written in the POV of the dog and it just hit home. Hard.
"In Dog Years…
I know you have fought so hard to keep me and struggled to let me go, but the time has come for me to meet my maker and see the world from the other side. My purpose here is complete. I lived my life by example, the way I was designed to live. Showing joy and trust, acceptance and loyalty, simplicity and unconditional love. Remember all of these things I have taught you.
I am so grateful for the life we shared, the feeling of pure joy just being together. There were so many moments that I wished for time to stand still. These moments are forever embedded in my heart.
It was always your job to provide and care for me and my gratitude is endless. Your final decision to end my suffering was a wonderful blessing and your final gift to me. I felt the comfort of your touch as I took my last breath and felt the hand of my Creator as I was welcomed into heaven.
Heaven is such a wonderful place and is all that was promised. I have been restored and feel like a small pup again. I will always be in your heart and you will always be in mine.
Until we meet again…"
I'm tearing up again, copying these words down because they are SO true. We never wanted to let him go. Ever.
But instead of simply mourning his loss (and I miss him ever single day and look forward to the day when it is less painful), I want to remember the good things. I want to remember the gentle kisses that he gave to us, how he delicately crunched cheerios and lettuce with equal fervor and how much he adored his tennis balls. I want to remember how many lives he touched and how generous he was with his love. I want to remember all of his amazing tricks. I want to remember how he would snuggle into one' neck when carrying him back in from the exerpen. I want to remember his delicate little burps shortly after inhaling his dinner. I want to remember him being able to hear the sound of a knife through a banana and then be immediately right there for his morning banana strings. I want to remember him as the "Brindle Bullet" running down the hallway after a tennis ball or around the house when he had the "zooms". I want to remember how he cuddled with me.
This is the Tommy I choose to remember. This is the Tommy who I love. This is the Tommy I miss.
I love you, Tom. We told you this often, but it was totally true: You are the Best Dog Ever. And you can never be replaced. It was always going to be too soon.