Me and my Shadow

20131128_104136 It is difficult to imagine that Michelle adopted Tank 10 years ago.  We had only been dating about 8 weeks. It was holiday time and a Thanksgiving journey to visit Mom and the family in Texas was on the schedule.  In fact I had begun to be the holiday meal chef, instead of Mom,  so I had much on my homeward bound plate.

Michelle (Shelly) would not be joining me… she was not a “take home to meet Mom” kinda gal at that time.  We had really just met.

Shelly lived alone in Santa Fe, NM.  I lived 2 hours North in Colorado.  She would be spending Thanksgiving 2003 with her family, I with mine In Austin, Tx.  She had a little Yorkshire Terrier.  Niles was his name.  I had mentioned to her at one point in our new dating life, that I thought a second dog would be good.  A companion for Niles. I don’t recall exactly when or why that was said, but I did expect it might mean at some point there would be a second little pooch in her home. .This was truly out of character for me.. a life long bachelor, and a man who would not even commit to house plants because of the care factor involved.

My annual Thanksgiving trip to Austin was always for a week, usually weekend to weekend.  So at some point there was the obvious goodbye and departure.  And the even more obvious hello and return.

The short version is when I returned to Shelly’s on the Sunday after Thanksgiving 2003, I opened her front door to find my girlfriend and her Yorkie, playing on the floor with a big old Black and White 50 pound mutt…. Shelly looked up and smiling, exclaimed with glee “his name is Tuffy!”  My reply…”His name is Tank.”  And so it would be.  But I must confess, my love for Tank was far from immediate.

Shelly and I married 18 months later, July 2005.  Eventually there would be Niles and Tank, and then Charlie, the rescued Poodle.  And Tiffany, Oscar, and Sunflower, the rescued cats. Sunflower was the first to fall to the Coyotes, then Tiffany.  Shelly would rescue and save any and all she could.

Tank is a Bassinger.  Basset Hound/Springer Spaniel.  It took me a year to discover he was not black and white, but liver and white.  In his youth he could jump a 4 foot fence, and escape into the night.  He was arrested 2 times in Albuquerque, NM.  And was nearly destroyed because he was a constant barker and a nuisance dog.  I hired an attorney to protect him.  I moved to a different jurisdiction to protect him.

And then I discovered the dog park.  My life and his changed.  We would visit the park daily, often twice a day.  And that continues to this day.  ONLY the very worst of weather prevents the journey.   Well over 6000 visits together during the last 8 years since I married into his family.

In November 2009, Michelle had a horrible accident.  I came home to find her drowned in our bathtub.  Like so many she died far too young.

Eventually I left New Mexico.  Before leaving I  found wonderful new homes for Niles and Charlie and Oscar.  But not for Tank.

Tank was our dog. When Michelle died he became MY dog.  He is goofy and loving and affectionate.  He snuggles and licks and lets me use him as a pillow.  He will ride quietly for hours in the passenger seat of my car.  He has shared my bed for nearly a decade.  He still will play fetch, though not for the hours he use to spend chasing balls.. and he befriends every two legged female he meets.  I believe in his own way he knows that a woman saved his life.  And so he rewards all he sees with a stolen kiss and a his shoulder rub to their legs.

He will follow me anywhere.. except when he won’t.  He is half hound after all.

20131128_104232Shelly is  gone, but Tank remains.  A friend, a reminder, just a dog.. well maybe not just.

Thanksgiving holds many great memories for many.  People look back and share the best of family stories.  I have great stories also. This is a wonderful time for me.  It is my last great living anniversary.

Thanks Michelle for saving Tuffy.  Thanks Tank for saving me.

3 thoughts on “Me and my Shadow

  1. I am speechless with tears streaming down my face over your moving, beautiful story. All we beasts, human, canine, feline, are blessed to know you, Bob. Give Tank an extra special hug from me today.

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