Tucker is an English Springer Spaniel, the third Springer that I have been proud to house, feed, and love. Tucker was also my third Springer rescue, this time from the amazing people at ESRA, the English Springer Rescue America organization. There is little point in getting a dog if you do not rescue it. There are so many that need to be rescued, from a pound or a rescue group, and too few people to do it.
Tucker had somehow wound up out on his own for a long time, and then went the limit of time before death at two animal shelters before being recognized as a Springer and saved by ESRA. I adopted him after they had already cleaned him up and groomed him, though he was so, so thin. A dog that weighed 60 pounds when things were going well, even after a week of good ESRA food and the ridding of some intestinal parasites, still weighed just 45 pounds.
He responded quickly to love and a steady diet. He had separation anxiety in the worst way; he did not want to be left alone once he had discovered love and regular meals. He did not want his people to leave him, ever. He was soon back at 60 pounds and happy, perhaps for the first time, though he was seven or eight years of age.
He would occasionally wander off, if you were lax and let him. This was not running away, it was each time a slow jaunt into the surrounding neighborhood. He would quickly make a human friend that could read, who would call my cell phone number from his tags. I would then go get him and he was always overjoyed to see me, his adopted dad, and ready to go home. His new friends were always sorry to see him go.
A year or so after we adopted Tucker, I was diagnosed with cancer. It turned out to be very serious indeed. After a very long time in surgery, and after two weeks in recovery with numerous complications, I finally got to go home., though I was far from well. Cancer had aggravated my multiple sclerosis mightily, and I was not anything close to well. Tucker, his sad eyes always on me and always staying as close to me as he could get, did not leave my side for 75 days except to eat and eliminate.
Tucker, now 12 or 13, was diagnosed today with leukemia. There is not much that can be done. A few medications to ease his final journey, perhaps better food than his usual health conscious dry meals, because Tucker does like his food. A little more attention, if that is possible. More hugs, more rubs, more scratches. I can expect more sleeping, and less movement. I can expect him to be puzzled, because he cannot possibly understand why he feels so weak or why he is in pain.
My job now is to do for Tucker what Tucker did for me. My job is to see that my good boy is happy, and that he is well fed, and loved in the time he has left as a living organism. My job is to take as good care of Tucker as he took of me. My job is to recognize that point at which Tucker’s life is no longer pleasant, and to take him gently on his last ride to the vet. My job is to hold him as he gets that final injection, and as the pain and infirmity are finally over. My job is not to cry where he can see me, because that would make him sad.
My job is to love him as much as he loves me.