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…