No one needs the stairs to the couch anymore.
Goodbye Tootsie, our adorsable, baby-faced, sweet-natured, always-underfoot, silken-bellied, ear-flapping, anime-eyed, cocaine-infused tiny Dumbo dog who could bark like a seal on laughing gas and whine like an abandoned orphan. No need for the stairs to the couch anymore, but I can’t bring myself to take them to the garage.
We put Tootsie down on July 7th, 2020. She was 16+ years old, had congestive heart failure, was deaf, going blind, and increasingly couldn’t stand up by herself. She couldn’t begin to get up the stairs to the couch by herself anymore. How many times, while sitting on the couch, did I look down to see nothing but huge, pleading eyes in front of a white, wagging tail tip? “Please would you pick me up and help me up to the couch?” Tootsie’s face, in full begging mode, could melt the heart of a stone. But if it didn’t work, she was fully prepared to switch from “Please, sir, may I have another?” to “PICK ME UP or I’ll destroy your ear drums”. This of course, is on me, not her. I let Tootsie train me without hesitation. Reflecting on her seven years in puppy mill hell, I decided I simply didn’t care if a small, sweet, docile dog was a little spoiled. Someone asked me once if I wasn’t giving her “small dog privileges.” I answered: “Yup.”
She was smart, as smart as any Border Collie. The difference was that she used her intelligence in pursuit of three goals: 1) Food, 2) Getting picked up, and 3) More food. And she was sweet–as sweet as spun sugar, cotton candy, cherry pie. I have never known a dog, and I’ve probably known tens of thousands, who I trusted completely, totally, to never hurt a child at the UW Children’s Hospital, where she was a “therapy dog” with the Pet Pal program. (Note: I still put safety first, both for the children, and for her.) She charmed each and every one of our visitors to the farm with the same happy face and sweeping tail. She had no fear of any dog, and spent every evening in her last few months trying to beat Maggie for the kibble that Maggie had worked out of her frozen Kong. (Maggie was a paragon of patience with her.)
Tootsie had an amazing life, from pumping out two litters a year in a puppy mill while living in a filthy corn crib, to raising the spirits of families in crisis at the Children’s Hospital, to being exactly who I had wanted when I got her–a dear, sweet, lovely little creature, whose belly fit my hand as if they were made for each other. Every night for nine years I have sat on the couch and stroked her silken tummy. She was my very own private therapy dog, and my hand, and my heart, ache for her.
We buried her beside Tulip’s grave, in a small, circular flower garden. We will get a stone that says, Tootsie and Tulip, The Great and The Small.
Goodbye my littlest love, my EverReady Battery Bunny dog, who kept going and going and going. I miss you more than I can say.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: It feels so wrong in the house. Too empty. Empty stairs, empty kitchen, empty arms that have carried Tootsie almost everywhere for six months.
It has helped that the two week nightmare of heat and humidity finally broke on Friday after a two inch rain. The garden is very happy thank you. The photo below is one of the gardens outside of our living room window.
Skip and I got to work on Saturday at a clinic outside of Portage. I’m covered up like an English maiden avoiding the sun because I’m on Doxy due to a bulls-eye rash after a tick bite. Pay attention to the instructions to stay out of the sun while you’re on it: I got a bad sunburn on my back through the shirt. Yes, that’s what I said: Through the shirt.
And finally, this is a grainy photo because of low light, but it’s the last picture we have of Toots, and so I will always treasure it. Goodbye Tootsie, Toot Toot, Tooters . . . We are so lucky to have had you in our life.