Rescue dogs live two lives. The first one is usually not a particularly good one, and Tex was no exception to this rule. The story is that he was beaten and abused in his first home, then taken in and neglected by a hoarder. From there he went to a cocker spaniel rescue organization.
We were not planning on getting another dog at the time. We had adopted Bob, also a rescue Cocker, about two years previous. The daughter of one of my coworkers was working at a doggie day care. They were fostering Tex there at the time. My coworker's daughter asked her mom if she knew anyone who was looking for a dog, and for some reason she volunteered me. The next thing I know I have a Facebook message with a picture of a little dog who needed a home. It wouldn't hurt to just go look and meet him, right? We don't have to adopt him, we said. Right....
He was known to them as Tux, for the snow-white patches on his feet and chest amidst the otherwise black fur. My younger daughter had a hard time pronouncing it and kept calling him Tusk. So we changed his name just a bit. It didn’t really fit him except ironically. The name Tex calls up a taciturn and rough cowboy, and Tex was just an exceptionally fuzzy bundle of sweetness.
He was not the brightest dog. Because of this, or possibly the early abuse, he was never completely housetrained, and averaged at least an accident a day, usually in a specific spot in the kitchen near the garage. We gave up and started lining the area with pee pads, which he somehow managed to miss a good percentage of the time. Whenever one of us walked into the kitchen an “Oh, Texie!” was commonly heard seconds later.
He could mangle any toy you gave him. I triumphantly returned from the pet store once with a toy that proclaimed its indestructible ballistic nylon construction. I gave to him, confident that Tex had met his match. It was ripped to pieces in under an hour. He would leave toys in various states of shredding all over the family room. If we cleaned them up and put them in the toy box, he would fish them out and scatter them around again.
The one toy he wouldn’t destroy was his beloved squeaky toy, which he would carry all over the house, drop someplace, and then need to search for frantically when he couldn’t remember where it was. If we stepped on it by accident, he would drop whatever he was doing and rush to play with it. He liked nothing more than playing with it with his people.
Our backyard abounds with wildlife, and Tex would bark insanely at every squirrel, deer, raccoon, and possum. He once got so worked up, that he tore through the screen and jumped out the window to chase a raccoon. The window is a good 15 feet above the ground. Tex survived the jump with nary a scratch on him. There is no record of the look of surprise that the raccoon must have had when the Tactical Air Assault Spaniel came hurtling at him.
And then, a few months later, he did the same exact thing. No more open windows in our house.
About a year ago, one of our other dogs was sick with a stomach bug. I blew up an air mattress and slept with her on the family room floor, so I would a least have a chance of getting her outside if she had a bout of diarrhea. I made the mistake of not taking the mattress down for a few days, and during that time, Texie decided that it was a fine place to nap during the day. It has been sitting in our family room for the last year, a blue blanket that was a Christmas gift to me on it for his snuggling comfort.
The great tragedy of the long friendship between human and dog is that their lives blink by in a faction of our own. Tex was probably around three years old when he joined our family nine years ago. He was not young. The fur around his face had long gone grey, and his hips were visibly stiff when he got up from a nap. But he was still a fuzzy puppy at heart, and the happiest little guy you could know.
On Tuesday this week, he got out of his room at 6 in the morning, took four steps, and collapsed to the floor. His belly was visibly swollen. He had been panting a bit more than normal the night before but nothing else had been wrong. I rushed him to the animal hospital, where an ultrasound showed a large mass on his spleen that had bled into the belly. The staff there were candid that his chances were not good, the mass was most likely malignant, and of an aggressive type, but that surgery had at least a small chance of saving him. For Tex, we rolled the dice. I don’t think I could have lived with myself without at least trying.
The luck that had saved him from his abusive first owner and two window falls finally ran out. Tex had multiple complications after surgery, and his sweet, loving heart just stopped.
Goodbye to my little furry child, my buddy, my friend. Wait for us at Rainbow Bridge. Your forever family will be there to join you someday. Just try not to make too much of a mess of the place until we get there, okay?