My sister had to put down her dog Tuffy yesterday. They had a vet come out to the house so it was quiet and peaceful. (At least for the dog. The rest of the extended family is completely destroyed.) Tuffy wobbled over to the vet for snuggles and it was over in a moment.
Tuffy was the O.G. A white wiggle bomb of snuffling, tenacious affection. She’d been a rescue and we didn’t know much about her except that the other dog she’d been found with wasn’t rescued in time to be saved. And that she preferred being carried up the stairs to having to walk them. Ditto if there was mud on the ground. Leashes were also an unknown contrivance – at the end of which she’d flail and lurch like a kite in a hurricane.
Everyone was Tuffy’s best friend, whether they knew it or not. Lots of people are afraid of pit bulls, and maybe some who met Tuffy were terrified, but she was ruthless in her perseverance of an exchange of affection. Gluing herself to the side of the nearest human, leaning, snorfling with her face – mouth open wide and grinning. Oblivious to any fear her rows of gleaming teeth may have been inspiring in her victim. It was essential that a hand was put on her, at least. She’d settle for a finger. If you put a finger on the dog, she’d sit there in blissed out ecstasy.
My sister has two kids, neither of which have memories of life pre-Tuffy. Their earliest memories include being caught and dangled upside down, held captive while the adults called for Tuffy to come over and give kisses. Tuffy would gallop over, do the requested slobbering while the children screamed, helpless, trying to keep their mouths closed to avoid getting french kissed by a dog (hard to scream and keep your mouth closed. A skill learned early in our family). Ah. Good times.
Tuffy’s utter perfection inspired my sister to rescue a few more pit bulls (and a boxer named Chompey). She learned to not keep stuff on coffee tables because perma-wagging whip tails would thwak drinks over and catapult things to far off locals. Tuffy taught other dogs to be their best version of normal (including one of my dogs) and was equally happy running around and wrestling as she was passed out in a literal dog pile sprinkled with the occasional child.
Vacations were planned around Tuff. Housing was planned around Tuff. Big life decisions planned around Tuff. When Tuff started to rapidly go down hill, the biggest decision of all was made around Tuff.
I didn’t call my sister yesterday. Figured she didn’t need to cry on the phone when she was probably busy crying with the family. Mostly, I didn’t have the courage. I was too busy crying here on the other side of the country, my boyfriend following me around with a spatula to peel me off the floor whenever I KO’d. It was appropriately rainy and moody all day. Ideal for contemplating a world with one less perfect dog. While snuggling my own perfect dogs, vowing to take them to the dog park every goddammed day and wishing they could live in health forever.
It was rainy and moody again this morning when I bit my lip and gathered the courage to call.
And now I’m taking my dogs to the dog park.