When you introduce your home and your family to a cute, furry ball of energy, you rarely think about that animal’s final days.
As that puppy grows and chews through everything, it’s lucky to be alive some days after destroying shoes, furniture, gardens and a variety of other items only a cute, little pup can get away with destroying.
As the puppy continues to grow and mature it becomes a faithful, trusted companion.
And it’s only when that old companion begins to slow down do you begin to think of what’s next.
In fact, you pray that you won’t have to see him suffer and have to make the decision of doing what’s best for him.
You hope that in his old age, when it is his time to go, that he’ll just go peacefully.
Die of old age after living a long, good life.
This is the story of Tucker.
I didn’t know Tucker when Dwight and Cindy brought him home.
I wasn’t even in the picture yet.
But from stories, I know Tucker was such a small ball of red and white fur that you could fit him in your hand.
By the time I came along Tucker had survived his youth on the farm–something not every pup can do.
He’d avoided getting run over by farm equipment, kicked by cattle, bitten by snakes, killed by coyotes, and running off to fall in love.
Tucker had made it to adulthood against all odds.
After all, he liked riding on the farm equipment, chasing and nipping cattle, torturing snakes, fighting coyotes, and crossing busy roads to make, Ahem, “love connections”–with a registered Bull Mastiff, none the less!
After a trip to the vet, Tucker decided to sever his ties with his female friend and stayed closer to home focussing his attention on his jobs.
Tucker loved his jobs.
He obsessed over his jobs.
Luckily for Tucker, his jobs and his obsessions were one in the same.
Tucker’s sole purpose in life was to keep the cattle in line and to irrigate fields.
Tucker felt it was always necessary to let the cattle know who was “The Boss” on Baldwin Farms.
He felt cattle needed to be constantly reminded of this fact.
Whether cattle were being unloaded from trailers, being fed in the bunks, being chased back into their pastures, or being worked, Tucker’s job was to remind those cattle that he had supreme reign over them.
During certain times of the year Tucker would have to be put in the house so the calves could be worked peacefully without getting reprimanded by Tucker.
If Tucker was put inside and something was being done with his cows WITHOUT him, Tucker would whine and cry and mope and let everyone in the vicinity know that he was being denied his basic rights.
If the cattle weren’t needing to be ruled over, Tucker would switch his focus to irrigating the fields.
Tucker allowed Dwight to ride the four-wheeler with him to get to the irrigation.
After all, what lowly beast would actually walk to the irrigation?
Tucker would be faithfully by Dwight or Adam’s side as they would open and close gates allowing the water to flood the corn or beans.
Tucker oversaw the flow and control of the water.
Whether it was morning or night, he always insisted on testing the water by plopping his hairy body into a furrow or two and subsequently causing people like me to run far away from him when he emerged in order to avoid the inevitable showering of mud.
It was also mostly during his times irrigating that Tucker also tried his hardest to control the wild toad population. If it hopped, Tucker couldn’t resist torturing and eventually killing toads.
Even though the toads would make Tucker’s mouth froth, and he’d drool incessantly, Tucker just couldn’t resist them.
He was obsessed.
If you couldn’t find Tucker near the cattle or irrigation, you could usually find him napping near the air conditioner while gracing Cindy with his presence. When Cindy worked in her office, Tucker would usually be at her feet waiting until the mailman or the Schwan’s man stopped by the farm to gift him a treat.
Tucker was an absolute part of our family. He was always nearby, if not underneath, the dinner table waiting for Dwight to toss him a sampling of the meal.
Tucker tolerated Rowan, Eli, and Banks. The only time he’d intentionally approach the little boys was when they dropped food on the floor or when they had one of his chew toys. Tucker’s response in both situations was to scoop it up quickly and then to get just out of their reach.
Tucker loved playing catch with anything that was thrown, but refused to let it go once he brought it back to his human. He enjoyed a good game of tug, and would usually prevail.
Tucker didn’t live a life of luxury. He slept where he wanted to sleep–usually on the wooden floor or the pebbles near where the cars are parked.
He never experienced a dog park, a gourmet doggie treat, or a Christmas sweater.
I doubt he ever made a trip to get his hair professionally done–even though he needed it at times.
He was a simple, hard working farm dog.
If he had Dwight to drive him around, Cindy to keep him fed, some water to lay in, some cattle to reprimand, and a snake or coyote to cross his path on occasion for added excitement, Tucker was happy.
Some people say animals don’t go to heaven after they die.
I’m not sure where I stand on that topic.
I just hope that one day we all find out for ourselves if they are there or not.
But one thing is for certain today: Life on the farm for Tucker was heaven.