Move Dog

Tami has a habit of bringing home puppies. Years ago she arrived with a pair of littermates. Arlo named his Monkey. Zafer named his Tigger.

Prior to that we had Daphnis and Chloe. When Zafer could barely walk, and was just learning to use his words, Chloe was a giant farm dog. I showed Zafer how to be firm with the dog, and how to say, “Move dog!” whenever Chloe was blocking his path.

That worked well until the playground, when he was waiting for the little girl in front of him to use the slide. “Move dog,” was considered impolite (though effective).

Monkey was mysteriously shy and standoffish. He was a fearful dog, yet he would accompany all of us on many walks and adventures around the land. Last spring he developed a large swelling on his snout, and when the family was out of town, he vanished. Our poor pet sitter looked everywhere for him. Nothing. We like to think that he slipped off into the woods to die peacefully, although we never encountered his remains.For another Sad Dog Story, see Putting Chloe Down.

By the time Zafer died in April, Tigger was a big grey bearded old black dog. He was always the gregarious one. Quick to bark at everything from a squirrel to a luna moth, and always up for a walk on the trails or to the neighbors.

Never in a pen, or on a leash, both dogs lived big, full, instinctual lives. Lots of love, plenty of neglect, and old enough to die. Traumatized by the loss of Z, none of us could face putting Tigger down. By all accounts he stuck around for the past ten months to take care of us.

I was at Summer Shop when I got the call from Tami. Tigger had been foraging in our compost heap when his back legs failed. She and Carol were decompressing from their day together. They fished him out and got him comfortable on a blanket from his dog house.

I rigged up a light and a plug for an electric razor, and Alisa came down with an assortment of drugs and syringes. Tigger looked at me with concern in his deep brown eyes. Not for himself. But for us. He died quietly in Tami’s lap. We wrapped his 80 pound frame in his blanket and carried him to the front bucket of the tractor.

Here’s hoping for a quick dog grave to start my day.

When Trip heard the news he told me that he knew Tigger was on short time a few days ago. He took a break from his busy day to give Tigger a good pat down, scratch, and some loving.

I also knew something was up. Tigger was frequently in the way at the shop—which was not like him. He generally made camp and watched shop activities indifferently from afar, but lately he’s been in the middle of the action. Seeing Tigger in my peripheral vision has made me think someone else was present at Summer Shop. I would frequently look up, thinking Giovanna had arrived, but it was only Tigger. I would think Whitney had schlepped a twin down to do laundry—Tigger again.

Zafer’s presence at Summer Shop comes easily to me. Some of his tools are there. Some of his woodworking projects are there. These days I am cleaning up the shop, and I know that the neat-freak in Zafer would approve.

Who knows? Maybe the people I have been seeing out of the corner of my eye have just been Zafer. Maybe he came to pick up his dog…

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11 Responses to Move Dog

  1. I feel good about Zafer having his dog with him.
    Tigger also waited until after your birthday to die.

    Your favorite mother in law.

  2. Ed Schwerin says:

    From a good place to a better place

  3. Tom Glendinning says:

    Nice, Lyle. Perspective by writing.
    I agree. I do not see imaginary things. I am simply differently gifted. My senses have expanded with my waistline.

  4. Charlotte says:

    I stopped to pet Tigger yesterday morning when I arrived for our meeting. It was the first time he had ever let me pet him and I told him he was a good boy. Such a sweet old guy.

  5. Cindy Perry says:

    Your writing talent serves your grief. I share. Our yellow lab Spirit left us, just a week ago and the chocolate lab left with us, grieves too.

  6. Diane DeBardeleben says:

    Here is there.
    Now is then.
    A folded universe patterns our textured lives.

    Until we meet again.

  7. Carol says:

    It was such an honor to be there to help with Tigger’s passing from this world to the next…

  8. Dianne Ames McLaughlin says:

    I love all of you. Thanks again for being so open with your thoughts and feeling, you and Tami both. I hope that sharing them is as healing for you as receiving them is for us.

  9. Bill O says:

    Damn Lyle, that really hurt to read. Except for the part about Zafer coming back to get Tigger. Dogs have a way of getting past all the walls we put up between us and our fellow primates. I know it’s corny but I really like the old saying, “Someday I hope to be the person my dog thinks I am.”

    We lost two dogs recently, both sweet yellow labs. Molly went unexpectedly at 12 1/2 on Inauguration Day. I told a Republican acquaintance it was a shitty day to begin with, it was doubly hard to lose a dog and my country simultaneously. Two and half weeks later Kate, the older dog at 14 1/2, had to be put down as well. Robin and Erik both left school so we could be with her so she left with her whole family beside her. I haven’t cried that hard in years.

    While I’m not sure where they went it is comforting to know that their kind spirits are on the other side waiting for us. We could all use a lot more of that kindness about now.

  10. brooksie says:

    On sunday when we were walking with you around the field Trigger came up to me several times and nuzzeled his nose under my hand> i remember thinking…this is not typical and i stopped and patted his head. when i heard that he had left the land i felt such guilt and remorse that i hadnt given him more than a few moments of my time when he had come to me to say good bye. another hard lesson.

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