One year ago today, I said goodbye to my best friend. He found me when he was about two months old, and spent the next sixteen years making sure I was okay. He died two months before his seventeenth birthday, and although we had a twenty year contract, I was -and still am- grateful for those sixteen years. I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world.
It has taken me a year to be able to not only watch the videos we took of Tank's last day, but to share them with anyone. It was too difficult for me. It still is, but it felt right to watch them, and I'm glad I did.
This is video I took coming back from my mom's house, where we'd brought Tank to say goodbye to my mom and sister, and my sister's dog, Jackson. My mom gave me a little dog figurine she'd found at the thrift store and purchased because it looked just like Tank.
One the way home, we stopped at A&W and my husband bought Tank his first bacon cheeseburger. He spent the ride home, constantly sniffing the bag, drool pooling at the corners of his mouth. When we got home, I fork-fed him the burger, and afterwards followed it up with two pieces of cheesecake. He was bright and alert the entire time, but I could still see in his eyes that he was ready to go. You don't spend every day for sixteen years with a dog and not know what's going on behind those soulful old eyes. I could suffer the pain of losing him if it meant giving him the peace he deserved. You can kick me out of the vegan club, too. I don't regret buying a burger for my dog. I did the same thing for my old golden retriever, Chester, the day we found out he was diagnosed with liver cancer.
I haven't had cheesecake in over 20 years, but I happily fed two pieces to Tank and watched his eyes light up with every bite.
It's getting harder and harder to keep writing about him. I'm at a coffee shop right now, using their internet, with no dogs around me. It's hard to stay sad with Bummer climbing around on me and Curly Joe flopping around at my feet, but here in this cold, public place, I can feel the absence of dog. Of my dog. I love Curly Joe and Bummer with all of my heart, but there will never be another Tank. I will never feel the way I felt about him again. I have come close with those two, but there is no sense of "He is my dog, and I am his person" with them. They love me, for sure, but even when I had seven dogs in the house, Tank was the one who always looked out for me. He was always there. It's hard to explain if you've never experienced it. But it's hard to live with sometimes. Their lives are so heartbreakingly short compared to ours. I've said it before, all the years I'll live with the pain of losing Tank, I wouldn't trade for anything, because no matter how much it hurts, there's so much more love behind that pain, I will never want for it again. Sure, Curly Joe and Bummer love my husband more than me, but I had Tank's love and devotion for almost seventeen years, and he had mine. It was all worth it. And I can keep honoring that love by continuing to rescue dogs. I will continue to be a shepherd on the Island of Misfit Dogs.
I'm still working on it, but someday soon I will have a massive tattoo done up in Tank's honor.
And so I'll end this now with a Neil Diamond song that I can't listen to or watch without sobbing, but completely sums up my relationship with Tank. As does my favorite, "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp," which follows after Neil.. Please listen and enjoy. And then go take your dog(s) for a walk, which is what I am going home to do.
I miss you, Tanker. I will always love you. I believe in a heaven if it means I'll be with you again someday.