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Monday, June 13, 2005
Take Fido to Work
Flipping around the radio this morning (curse you Star/Oldies 97.1 for dropping Rick and Bubba, I heard on Steve Gill's morning show that it's take your dog to work day.

Now, I don't have a dog to take to work at this point in my life. But thinking about taking a dog to work, cast my memory back to the dog that I had growing up. When we lived in Herndon, Viriginia (a suburb of D.C.), we lived next door to a couple of that no kids and two dogs. They liked my sister and I and felt it was a crime that our family had two kids but no dogs. So, when their dogs had puppies, they told us we could have any puppy we wanted. (I am not sure if they ran this idea past my parents first or not.) The puppies were Cairn Terriers, which if you think ToTo from The Wizard of Oz, you're on the right track. Only our dog was blonde, not dark haired like Toto.

We named the puppy, McTavish, though we called him Tavish for short. Being a military family, Tavish travelled the country with us, though while our family got to ride cross-country in the car, Tavish went in the lap of luxury by getting to fly. Basically, we'd fly him to either set of grandparents who would care for him until we got moved and settled and then he'd fly to join us.

We first got Tavish a couple of months before it was time for us to move from Virginia to Alabama for a year while my dad attended a training school. Since my grandparents live outside of Williamsburg, Virginia (way outside, but that' s a whole other post), they volunteered to take care of Tavish. They lived out in the country and thought he would enjoy having some room to run and enjoy himself while we rode in the car to Alabama. So, we took Tavish down to my grandparents and began the long trip.

Turns out Tavish got a little spoiled while there. To say Tavish was a picky eater is a bit of an understatement. After a day or two of turning up his nose at the Puppy Chow or whatever we were feeding him that he was supposed to eat, Granny got a bit worried about him. So, she decided to make him something that she knew he'd eat. Hence, she fixed him a cheese omlette. Well, Tavish wolfed this down and was pretty excited about it, so the next day she did it again. This continued daily for the time that Tavish visited with my grandparents. Now one thing you have to bear in mind here is that my dad had never once in his life had my grandmother make him a cheese omlette. So, yes, the little dog got spoiled.

Just like the grandchildren, you might say. (Having both parents be single children and my being the first grandchild born into both sides of the family...yeah, just a little spoiled. My grandparents thought I could do no wrong and let's face it--they were, for the most part, right).

Tavish was with our family for 14 years. I'd take him for walks and he enjoying going on runs with my father (it was funny to see them head out, Tavish ready to tear off at the end of the leash and then come back dragging behind, tongue practically dragging the ground with a look on his face like, "And why did I think this would be fun?!?") He was always very loving and loyal. And he was extremely overprotective of my sister.

When my sister started dating, Tavish was a good judge of character. If he liked the guy she was going out with and would wag his tail or let them pet him, that meant the guy was OK. If Tavish didn't like the guy--and there was one in particular in which his insticts were DEAD ON--that meant he was all around bad news.

Also, Tavish felt that my sister needed lots of protecting. One night living in California, a racoon got on our roof. Tavish nearly went through the window to get out on the roof to drive off this invader because it was near my sister's room. Also, one time in California, Tavish was out in the front yard with my sister when a doberman pincher came around the corner and into the yard. Tavish got between my sister and the doberman and barked at the other dog. The other dog blinked and ran off. The owner of the doberman came by a few minutes later to complain that our dog scared his dog.

Toward the end of his life, Tavish began to slow down. He got a bad case of athritis and was slowly losing sight in one eye. He would sleep days in the sun, trying to help his old muscles feel better in the warmth. It was a struggle sometimes for him to come running to see you, wagging his tail when you got home. But, he'd do it--especially after my sister and I both left for college. I really think that once we left for school, he felt like his job helping to raise us and protect us was done and he kind of lost some of his zeal and zest for life.

In the end, we had to put Tavish to sleep. His arthritis was bad, plus my parnets were having to move to Hawaii. We weren't sure if he'd survive the plane trip and even if he did, he'd have to be in quarentine for four months. My mom could go and visit him daily, but we sort of thought that it'd kill him a little each day to see his people coming to visit him but not being able to go home with them. So, we did the humane thing and had him put to sleep, rather than suffer any more.

I will admit that for a long time, when I'd come home, I'd still look for him to come running when I'd open the door. Or more likely to hear his dog tags rattle as he jumped down off the couch, where he'd curled up to sleep in a sunbeam while we were gone. And sometimes, I still find myself looking for him when I come in the door at home, even though he's been gone for a number of years now.

He was a good dog and a good friend. No matter what happened, he was always glad to see him and there is just something comforting about petting a dog when you're feeling down in the world. I remember him as a puppy, when we'd be out at Granny's house and running. He'd put his little ears back and just run. I remember his being overprotective of my sister and to some extent me. I remember him getting very excited on Thanksgiving as he'd walked around the house all day with his nose going a mile a minute as if to say, "What is that wonderful smell?" (Tavish always got his own Thanksgiving meal of turkey giblets cooked just for him).

He was good dog and there is not a doubt in my mind that he's up in doggy-heaven right now, chowing down on a cheese omlette or taking a nap in sunbeam.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/13/2005 07:27:00 AM | |
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