My dad, John, loved dogs. It didn’t matter if they were big or small, long haired or short, loud or squeaky, he greeted them with the same enthusiasm that he may have used for me and my sisters when we were little. He got down on the dog’s level. He cooed at them and petted them, even if it was only for a minute as he walked by them on the street.
In my youth, we had one dog who lived way beyond her reasonable years and she was his constant companion. Buddie, with an “ie” because she was a girl dog ,was black and short legged and great at fetch. When she died, a little part of my Dad died too. There were other dogs, and even a few cats, that came along, but none ever came close to Buddie. I am 100% confident that she was waiting for my Dad in heaven when he got there in June, 2013.
My dad met never met Dash. We found this Cocker Spaniel/Golden mutt online through a pet rescue 3 months after he was born in early 2014 and we brought him home to be our family dog. Dash had kinky fur on his ears and slept at the foot of Owen’s bed every night most of his life. But then, only 3 and a half years after we brought Dash home, he suddenly died. The vet said brain aneurysm. Completely random. Nothing we could have done.
In early 2018, we decided to look for a puppy again. It was a risk with a new house and a smaller yard and knowing that pets come the possibility of heartbreak if they get lost or hurt, but we knew we had room in our hearts to love another dog.
And with the death of Motor, our beloved family cat, after a long, happy and lazy 15 year life, our house would be SO quiet and lonely with out a fur baby to love on, so I started to search in earnest.
Enter Tilly: a half beagle/half lab (we think) mutt with giant black eyes and the biggest floppy ears. She was born Christmas week and we brought her home 8 weeks later in late February of this year. She grew…and grew…and grew. And with each week, we knew she was the best addition to the Chapman family. She is 50 pounds of energy and a warm, soulful gaze that could melt an iceberg.
A few weeks ago, we thought Tilly had injured herself. Her gums were bleeding and the vet said she likely had an infection in her mouth from a wound. After removing three teeth, he sent her home with a bag full of medicines and cone of shame.
I know now that he was only looking for the most likely of solutions, and so I guess getting mad that he was wrong is futile.
Tilly didn’t have an infection. She has cancer. She has a big gnarly tumor growing in her nose and mouth at a pace that is staggering. We can literally see it grow over night, protruding from her snout, pushing against her eye and blocking one side of her nose.
Our Christmas cards, ordered early for a change, note proudly that we added Tilly to our family this year It is completely preposterous that before I get them mailed out to our friends and family that she’ll be gone. It is impossible to reconcile that we have to endure the death of a 3rd pet in less than 1.5 years. It is devastating that we are going to have to tell our boys that Tilly will go join Motor and Dash in heaven.
And yet, we will.
If there is anything I am able to find solace in it is that when Tilly crosses the rainbow bridge in the next few days, maybe my Dad will greet her with an enthusiastic pat on the head, and throw her a ball or two. She can cuddle up with Buddie and the two other Chapman fur babies and rest in peace.
Good girl, Tilly dog. You are a good girl.