He lived a good life

Tucker had a good life, including life-saving surgery in 2012, which provided a new bionic back.

As we all know, tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, a day during which we should take a break from outside turmoil, as well as inner strife one might be facing, and look around at those things for which to give thanks.

We have all had tough times the past four-plus years since Hurricane Harvey, albeit some more than others. It seems as if our community has been hit by one emergency after another – some self-inflicted.

I’ve been reminded of something my father always told me, and it’s something that always stuck with me. It went something like this:

“There will always be people that have more than you. There will always be people that have less than you. And, no matter how much you have, or how little you have, that will always be true.”

Maybe it was because of that saying, or just due to my upbringing, that I’ve never really cared about the material things, or non-material things (i.e. –talents) others may have that I don’t.

I honestly could care less. I could have all the material things in the world, or corner the market on talent, and it wouldn’t bring me as much happiness as my family and true friends.

In recent columns I’ve shared about going through my parents’ two houses in New Braunfels, with them by our side - first with two of my siblings, and then with our daughters.

The stories told, tears shed, and hugs delivered are priceless.

This Thanksgiving I share a bit of sad news in my life. However, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m trying my best to look at the bright side of the situation.

As I write this (Monday night), the dog that means the world to me is spending his last night on the floor of our bathroom.

I am scheduled to take Tucker to our friend and vet, who has provided care for Tucker for the past 14 years, for the last time.

My longhaired miniature dachshund has literally been by my side (or my wife’s side) since the day my youngest daughter had to give him up in October of her freshman year at Aggieland (2007).

She bought him at a pet store at the mall, tried to conceal him in her apartment, was caught, and then was told she (meaning mom and dad) would be fined $100 per day, starting a few days after the warning.

The infamous day of the puppy drop was my 48th birthday, and we met our daughters at the now departed Frank’s Restaurant in Schulenburg for my birthday meal.

My daughter was understandably teary eyed when she handed the little puppy over to me before we headed back to Rockport.

She thought it was quite unfair one of the star Aggie football players living in her apartment complex had multiple large dogs, and wasn’t treated in the same manner.

That’s when I got to deliver the “life isn’t fair” lesson, and promised her that everyone reaps what they sow in God’s time, not ours.

As we headed home that night, I couldn’t help but think of happier times at the same restaurant, involving another dog.

It was there that we surprised that same daughter with “her” first dog – a golden retriever, while picking up our daughters after a weeklong stay at my wife’s parents’ home.

I’m sure I’ll shed a few tears as Tucker goes to sleep for the last time. I personally can’t let him depart without being with him.

I’m thankful, this week especially, for the 14 years spent with that crazy wiener dog that brought so much joy into our home after our daughters went off to college, as well as his sidekick mutt buddy Rosco, the “female” half Chihuahua, and half Boston terrier runt. Rosco was probably never expected to live, but our oldest daughter brought “her” home about two years before Tucker entered our lives.

Tucker almost didn’t make it this long. We had him in our home the past nine years, and that almost didn’t happen.

At Christmas in 2012, we had just finished our Christmas meal, and were preparing to open gifts.

I told the family to wait a minute while I let the dogs out to go to the bathroom.

Tucker and Rosco shot down our driveway to the edge of the street like they always did, barking and acting like they were 10 times bigger (and 100 times meaner) than they actually were.

Then I heard a yelp, and Tucker was motionless. Nothing moved behind his front legs.

He sat with me in my recliner while we all opened our gifts. He was not in pain.

The next day our vet tried several things, knowing that surgery on Tucker’s spine was going to be the only answer.

We ended up taking Tucker to Houston, I believe the day before Christmas, and picked him up a few days later. I drove to Houston at least four or five times for checkups.

Had that happened a year or two prior, one or both daughters would have still been in college, and there’s no way we could have justified the expense for that surgery.

Tucker lived another nine years.

I figure the surgery cost us about $500 per additional year he was able to hang around, and it was money well spent.

If you’ve ever been blessed with a beloved pet, you totally understand what I’m saying.

Watching the NCIS series on Netflix one dog short won’t be the same for a while.

Goodnight Tucker.

Until next week, have a good week!

Mike Probst can be reached at publisher@rockportpilot.com.

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