On Saturday, June 14, 2008, our dear Teddy came into our lives to stay. He was our neighbor’s dog from across the street and was 9-years-old at that time. Before that day, he would greet us at the road when we checked the mail, but otherwise always stayed in his yard. That day in June, he showed up and would not leave, no matter what we did to try to make him leave. His master was not home, and we were afraid he was hungry or something. We could not figure it out. We later found out that his daddy had been gone for several weeks, and while another neighbor was feeding Teddy, he was caged and lonely. He got out and came to us. I guess he heard us in the yard talking and laughing. The day after he showed up, our Miss Wilbur died. We believe God sent him to fill the hole in our hearts.
My girls had not had a dog since they were very young, and loved having Teddy over to play. We poured our love on him every day. We could not wait to see him come over. He would stay all day until his daddy whistled for him to come home. He was such a good dog and friend. He would scoot on his tummy on the ground with the girls or they would roll over with him. He played hide and seek in the dark with the girls. He went on long walks with us and never tired. Teddy was part Chow and part Labrador, and looked like a big scary bear. But he was not scary or mean at all. He was indeed a Teddy Bear. Teddy loved us so much that his daddy would ask us to feed him when he needed to be gone. He said he could look the whole world over and never find better care for Teddy.
We later found out that Teddy and his daddy used to live in our house. After they moved across the street, Teddy would still visit the pond behind our house, but he would cut through the woods and go swimming. He was too polite to go through our yard.:)
A year after Teddy started coming over, we decided we wanted our own dog, too, so that we could have it in the house, sleep with, take on rides, etc. We knew that Teddy was our neighbor’s dog and kept a line there. So we got our Missy, who is a Boxer-Lab mix. She was just 6 weeks old when we got her. Oh, how she loved her “Uncle Teddy”! She so was crazy for him!
Teddy was so patient with Missy. He let her pull on him and play, with some occasion growls and nips. She was always underfoot, and got wet a few times until she learned to stay out of Teddy’s way when he was pottying.:) When she was afraid to go into the pond, he taught her to swim. He taught her how to howl (sing) at sirens and horns. He taught her how to eat blackberries right off the bush without getting stuck. When she got older, he would take her on his morning and evening rounds as he marked the properties. He taught her how to be a good dog.
We loved Teddy so much that he, along with Missy, got bones every grocery day, and he always had a Christmas present at our house. Teddy always wanted to be near us and would nudge us constantly with his cold wet nose so that we would pet him.
Teddy was a good hunter, actually too good of a hunter. He brought me raccoons, squirrels, countless ducks, many rats, and bunches of armadillos. We have taken many injured armadillos to the wildlife lady. He even killed a fawn once. “Miss Janet” got so aggravated with Teddy and his “murders”.:)
Teddy brought several dead cats home; they were already stiff, so I hope they were already dead when he found them. He would chase other cats, but not our Autumn. Autumn quickly put Teddy (and many other dogs) in his place. (We have laughed and laughed watching Autumn ride offending dogs’ backs.) Teddy would whine after him, but would never touch him. He knew that Autumn was tough and, of course, he knew we forbade it.
Over time, Teddy began to slow down. One day 3 noisy geese landed on the pond behind our house. Teddy swam for at least a solid hour chasing the geese all over the pond, while he whined for them the whole time. We told him we had us fooled into believing he was an old man.:)
Teddy was with us 95% of the time, but sometimes went off with his daddy to their beach house. Those times were so sad for us and for Missy. We missed him so. He was once gone for three months. What rejoicing we all had-Missy included-when he came back late in the evening on a Saturday night. The first chance he got, he came to our house.
Teddy once had to have buttons sewn onto his ears! He had to have some sort of procedure done on them and the buttons were there to keep the sutures from tearing. As his daddy said, Teddy was “stylin’”.:)
During the last year and a half, we noticed Teddy was getting stiff in the mornings, and we would bring him in on freezing nights when his daddy was gone. We got him an orthopedic bed to help cushion his joints. He slept so much better.
This summer, Teddy could no longer go on 1-2 mile walks with us. He got to where he would only walk 1/3 of a mile (one time around the pond) and go home. In July, he was crying out in pain when he moved, and so we took him to the vet. The doctor said he had severe arthritis and would deteriorate during the next year. He was put on Rimadyl and did so well with it. It was like having the old Teddy back. A few weeks later, we took him to have 3 bad teeth pulled. We did all we could to take good care of our boy. He lost his hearing more and more, and learned to read Miss Janet’s signs.
Teddy ending up having a bad staph infection in his skin and we had to shave and wash him and apply ointment, and give him more prescriptions. In the course of taking Teddy back and forth to the doctor, we found his birthday was recorded as May 25, 1999. We already knew that Teddy was a “pound puppy”.
Teddy ended up being on 19 pills a day in November. In early December, I noticed Teddy was not doing well and was whining, so a different prescription was tried. After a week, he was worse. I had to take Teddy back to the vet, where he stayed for 2 days to rest and received a steroid shot. He was better, but I knew he was not doing well. He was not hurting, but he was not where he should be. We had to help him up and down the steps, using a sling to lift his hind quarters. He was such a big dog, and it was so hard to help him. He didn’t wag his tail anymore, and would hardly eat. I would not let him freely roam as he was used to, and he looked so unhappy. I kept telling the girls that he was not well, and I was afraid he’d have to be put to sleep. On Tuesday, December 18, he could not even get his hind end up. He scooted in the house and on the ground outside. My youngest got Teddy to walk briefly, but he collapsed onto his bed when he got back in the house. He could not hold himself up. He didn’t potty at all. I was crying when I called his daddy. He told me to do whatever the doctor felt was best to do.
My oldest gave Teddy his Christmas present, just in case he didn’t come back home. It was a bone for senior dogs with nutrients in it for his joints. He politely took it and put it down. We got Teddy into the car, and the girls told Missy to tell him goodbye. Teddy seemed happier than he’d been in weeks when we took him to the doctor that morning. We don’t know if he knew it was time.
When we got there, the doctor did some tests and said she did feel it was time. He was numb in his lower back, and it was affecting his bladder and bowels. Oh, how we all cried, but we knew it was for his good. The doctor gave us all the time we wanted with him, and she even hugged and cried with us. She said that arthritis is one of the cruelest things because Teddy was himself, but his body was not well. We stayed with our boy until he was fully sedated. We petted him, kissed him, and I told the doctor many stories about him. My youngest asked for his collar. We didn’t want to be there when his heart stopped, but wanted to be there when he needed us the most. She assured us that after the sedation, he would not know we were gone. We wept, and cried all the way home. We cried all day long off and on. Autumn, who is not a lap kitty, heard me crying and wanted me to hold him. He loved and loved on me to offer me his comfort.
My oldest put this on her Facebook wall that day. “Heaven has just received an amazing addition. We miss you Teddy Bear!! I’m soo glad you are not in pain or misery anymore. I love you!”
Three days later, I had to go by the vet to get Missy’s pills (she wets the bed!) and took Teddy’s old pills for other dogs that may need them and to get a refund for Teddy’s daddy. (Before I left the house, I found that one of the labels on his medicine was gone; my middle daughter had saved it to remember him by.) I was not prepared for the tears that overcame me to be in there again and to be giving away his things. When I got home, there was a card in the mail box from the vet. Three of the employees had signed it, and there was a copy of Rainbow Bridge. Teddy’s doctor had a handwritten note inside that made me cry again.
Dear _________ Family (Teddy’s adopted family),
Even though you weren’t looking for him, Teddy knew and chose to be with your family. He knew he was always loved there and would be taken care of. Thank you so much for all you have done for him. He had a better and more fulfilled life because of you all, and I know y’all will miss him tremendously. Teddy was a special boy, and I am so sorry for the loss y’all are feeling. Y’all are in my thoughts and prayers.
We were very worried about Missy, because she has always moped around when his daddy took him somewhere, and when Teddy was in the hospital for those 2 days. But oddly, she’s not grieved for him. We wander if Teddy told her he had to go? We don’t understand. Today for the first time she has seemed lonely. We may have to get her a companion, although we know we cannot replace our dear Teddy.
We believe with all our hearts that we will see our boy again. We thank God that he’s not hurting now, and on that day, will be a young, happy dog again. We believe he is waiting and watching for us.