I have had many pets in my life and they have always grabbed my heart. I love animals, always have.
Last week our dear Boxer, Tank "Tankers", left this world.
I think Tank's death was more emotional for me than any other pet I've had because Tank came into my life as an adult and actually lived with us in our home. The pets I had as a child were outside animals, as I lived on a farm. Living with a pet, caring for them in our homes integrates them into our lives. We have this feeling when they are young that they will live forever. We know in our mind that is an impossible reality, but push those thoughts away.
I think the difference with "Tankers" is we didn't go out and look for him or actively say we want to go get another dog, especially a stubborn Boxer mix. We already had two dogs at the time, Abby and Daisy who are Lab mixes. They were about two years old at the time. A family member couldn't take care of Tank any longer. They loved him and wanted him to have a good home and we thought, "Oh, this shouldn't be a problem. Abby and Daisy are two years old and have calmed down a little from their puppy-ness." So, Tank moved in. He was about 8 months old.
Okay. Boxer owners are probably laughing because we did not understand that Boxers are puppies forever! We had our trials and tribulations with this stubborn dog and in the mean time his antics and clowning attitude melted our hearts. He got the Labs rowdy again and terrorized our cats, but would sit right in front of one of us with a kong stuck sideways out the side of his mouth and growl for playtime. The kong acted like a megaphone. Then he would shake his head and paw the ground playfully. "Pay attention to me!"
Tank was also a lover not a fighter. Any attention he could get made him the happiest pup in the world! There wouldn't be a moment he wasn't leaning on my legs, or begging to snuggle in my lap. Now, he was a small boxer (mixed with Boston Terrier if you can imagine) so he was about 40-45 lbs. So, yes he was a lap dog and soaked it up! He was spoiled.
When our baby boy was learning to crawl and walk, Tank was the most patient of buddies. The baby loved the dogs and thought they were all the most hilarious creatures he had ever seen. One day, Tank was just sitting, watching and not doing much of anything else and the baby couldn't stop laughing when he looked at this dog. It was adorable.
When Tank started losing weight, I feared the worse. It didn't make sense that he would be the first to go. The Labs are older than him by two years, but he became more frail as the months went on. He didn't act his playful self. The vet couldn't find a mass and blood work was normal, but last weekend after months of decline he looked so tired. He was losing vision and getting skinnier every day. He had trouble walking up the stairs and frequently ran into things. His body was failing him. He followed me every where I went and it pained me to leave him alone. When it was time I didn't leave him until he left this world.
I hope he is at peace now. I know he's not suffering, but I miss him. A lot.
Photos by Fiona Riplee