Wednesday, January 21, 2015


What I'm going to write about today is a true story and one the only a few people have heard until today.  I wrote this my senior year when I was 18 years old.  My teenage years were hard for me and not a time that many people get to hear about.  After almost 10 years, this is still on of my favorite pieces I have written about.  I got an A+ on the assignment so the teacher really loved it too.  So, here goes nothing!


          What do you do when you have to give up your dog to save your family?  This is my story about a Silkie Terrier named Tucker and how he changed my life forever.

          In September of 2004 my life was a wreck.  I was emotionally depressed and had no friends.  Anxiety had taken over my life to the point where I couldn't even leave the house.  My anxiety finally got so bad, I even dropped out of school.  Emotionally I just couldn't do anything.  I had gone to many doctors and every diagnosis was wrong.  They had diagnosed me with Bipolar first, then Asperger Syndrome.  All I wanted was to know what was wrong with me.  Then everything changed the day we got Tucker.

          On October nineteenth of 2004 my parents brought Tucker home, having rescued him from a family that didn't know how to care for a dog.  His hair was only about two inches long with beautiful colors of light brown and silver.  Underneath the small tuft of hair in his face were the most gorgeous black eyes I had ever seen.  When he came out of the kennel for the first time you could just see the helplessness that surrounded him.  He was eight months old and being fed adult food, which caused him to be skinny due to improper nutrition.  The previous family put him outside all day so he wasn't house broken.  Because he wasn't neutered, he always escaped out of the yard to find neighborhood girls.  The kennel he came home in was about two sizes too small, so small that he couldn't even stand up straight.  Even though he was so scared that night, he still seemed perfect for our family.

          The first time we really took him outside of the house was on Halloween.  We took him along with our two other dogs when we went out trick or treating.  He did so well with all the children we met, so it was expected that he loved everyone.  A few days earlier we took him to the pet store for a pet costume contest; he went as a clown.  With all the other dogs and people around, he interacted with them most of the time we were there.  In early November he was taken to obedience classes for several weeks.  My mother did most of the training since he was supposed to be her dog.  The classes ended just a week or two before Christmas, so my family was excited to get all the dogs presents and stocking stuffers.  About a week before Christmas my mother and I took all three dogs to get a picture with Santa; it was crazy!  Every year our dogs get a picture with Santa, but this year was special.  This year our family was complete for the first time in almost a year.  It wasn't until after the New Year that everything about Tucker started to change.

          Late January was when Tucker started to get more attatched to me and more aggressive towards small children.  My mother watches a toddler named Elias on Tuesdays and it wasn't until Elias and my nephew Owen began to crawl and walk that Tucker started to show behavior changes.  Most of the days, when Owen and Elias were at our house, were spent in my room under my bed.  By this time he was practically my dog, so my mom was willing to give him to me.  Everywhere I went Tucker was always right behind me; sometimes he would be so close that I would accidentally kick him.  He was called "My Little Shadow".  I was willing to do anything to keep him in my life.  There were some days where I thought he might be getting better about being around children.  What I didn't know was that he would get worse before he ever got better.

          April was when Tucker first bit a child, and it just happened to be my nephew, Owen.  The bite on Owen's wrist wasn't as bad as it could have been, but it was pretty swollen.  After that first incident Tucker would snap at most children that got too close to him.  When I took Tucker on long walks, I always took a muzzle with me so if there were any children around, I could use it on him.  The only problem was that he absolutely hated to wear it.  What else could I do?  we had tried just about everything and by now it seemed that the only thing to do would be to find him another home.  It made me so heartsick to see Tucker so upset whenever there was a child around, and I understood the danger he posed to all children around our neighborhood.  At the same time there was a part of my soul that just didn't want to let him go.

          It wasn't until June that we finally contacted a Silkie Rescue.  We got to the point where the only option left was to find Tucker a new home where there were no small kids around.  I needed a dog that was good with everyone.  Originally Tucker was going to be used as a service dog for my anxiety, but now it was too risky.  My mom was the one doing all the contacting because I just couldn't do it emotionally.  I was the one having the hardest time mostly because he was my baby.  There were some nights where I would be fine because I knew I was doing the right thing.  Other nights I couldn't even sleep because I didn't want to face the fact that something would have to be done to ensure that no one else got hurt.  I felt like I had saved him from a family who didn't care about his needs, and in truth I was right.  I was wrong about the fact that I believed he was meant to be my dog.  The decision to give him up was all up to me, but I took my anger out on everyone else.  I would yell and scream at my mother because I blamed her for having to make him get out of the house, when in reality she had nothing to do with it.  No matter how upset I got, I tried to keep a positive attitude around Tucker; I just knew he could sense something was wrong.  There was no way I could keep going from yes, he needs to be found a new home, to no, he's mine and I just can't give him up.  I knew I would have to make the toughest decision of my life.  

          One option I had was to keep him as my dog and just try to work around his hate against children.  I knew that in a year or two I would move out of the house and could take him with me.  This would be a hardship on my family, knowing that Tucker could strike a child at any moment.  However, I knew in my heart that Tucker wouldn't be happy or social if he were away from my family, and his emotional state would probably worsen.  Having thought about this for a while, I also knew that I could never let any of my nieces or nephews over to my house or apartment, which was upsetting to me.

          The other option was to give him up to the Silkie Rescue and let them find a new home for him.  Knowing how strict rescues are about adopting families, I knew he would find a great and loving home, one where there were no small children.  The only problem was that I still couldn't stand the thought of not having Tucker there in my life.  He needed me like I needed him; I just knew it.  The truth is I thought I couldn't go on living without him in my life.  I must have cried myself to sleep for two weeks straight just thinking about the decision I had to make.  By the end of June I knew what I had to do.

          After weeks of thinking about my two choices, I came to realize I loved him enough that I had to find another home for him, and his well being.  What kind of mother would I be if I didn't try my best to do what was right for my baby.  All I wanted was the best for Tucker and up until then I don't think I gave it to him; now was my chance to give just that.  My mom and I kept in contact with the rescue and it wasn't long before we had a bite.

          It was after the fourth of July that the Silkie Rescue contacted us, my mom and I, to let us know that there was a couple interested in adopting Tucker.  I was a little skeptical at first because I wasn't sure I was ready to lt him go.  I reluctantly decided to make contact with the couple, Melanie and Gary.  My mother and I scheduled a day for them to meet Tucker, and when that day came I could tell that it was love at first sight.  Sometime in the days that followed they decided to take him for a test period of about two weeks.  My mother and I had the honor of taking him to his new home.  The house is right off of a lake and there is a park next door; I could tell he was going to have a great time.  It wasn't until the car ride home that the reality began to sink in.

          When I came home that day I felt as if I had just lost my best friend.  Sometimes to ease my pain I would think of it as putting him to sleep; meaning he would never come back to me.  I don't think it was real effective, but it did help a little.  The first week or so were the hardest on me.  I started to go back to my old habits where I was very secluded in my room, in my own world.  Going out of the house was something I felt like I had no strength to do.  I deprived myself of going out with the family to the park or the movies because I was just too depressed.  On and off during the day I would have spurts where I would cry for three to four hours at least.  Nights were the worst for me; many nights I didn't go to bed until the early hours of the morning.  I took everything out on my mom, and I always regret that.  Every night it was like someone else was controlling me; I never spoke rationally and half the time I didn't mean what I said.  Often I was so depressed that I would threaten to end my life because I felt like there was no reason to live.  Then one day I received an email that changed my whole perspective around.

          I received this email from Melanie:

Hi Kathy,
Well, we survived the first full day with Tucker!  What a jewel.

Tell your mom that he absolutely goes bonkers over the new green ball.  Of course, when he gets it in his grip, he hates to let it you well know.

We are borrowing a crate from my friend Rebecca.  We'll try having him sleep in it at night.  I have a few questions.  It you can answer them- great!  Otherwise I'll call to get some "canine" advise.

Does it take two people to brush Tucker's to hold and the other to brush?  What the secret in getting his mouth open?  It was a comedy of errors as Gary and I made our first effort as tooth brushing this afternoon!!  Tears were rolling down our cheeks from all the laughter.

Did Tucker usually stay in his crate all night?  If he had to "go"...did he have acces to the litterbox at night or just have to wait until morning?

It's obvious, Kathy, that Tucker has benefited from all your love and attention.'re welcome to call anytime or come by and visit.


In another email she wrote:

Wow...Tucker has had quite a workout.  One of these photos shows him walking with Gary at Kirkland Park Marina.  The others were taken this afternoon as Waverly Beach Park.  He acually went into Lake Washington and got completely wet.  He met lots of other terriers and fortunately there were no unpleasant exchanges.

Kathy, we hope you're not feeling too sad.  I know it's tough because you love him so.  He loves you too!  We'll keep updating you on his progress and as I've said before, please call or come and visit.  You are always welcome.

Take care,

          As I read I began to become overwhelmed with happiness for the first time in days.  There were even pictures of Tucker playing in the park and just hanging around.  You could tell they really cared for my feelings.  From that day forward I knew that I had chosen the perfect home for Tucker, one where he is loved unconditionally.  I can honestly say that Melanie and Gary are the best family I could ever give Tucker.  I couldn't ask for a better one.  They still keep in contact with me and even allow me to visit.  Everyday I check my email to see if there are any new photos of Tucker and hearing new stories of what he has been doing.  In return I send them photos of our family and dogs.  I have even started a scrapbook of Tucker for them to know what he was like while he was still living with our family.  Around the middle of August I received a package in the mail from Melanie.  When I opened it I was overjoyed to see a dog scrapbook kit inside.  Just knowing how perfect Tucker is for them gives me a tingly feeling inside.  They are perfect for each other.

          Tucker was my life, and I will never forget him.  Even though I have another dog, Oscar, that I love dearly there will always be a part of me that goes to the little dog that saved my life.


It is amazing how much has changed in the last 10 years and a few things that are still the same.  I still get to see my little Tucker every once in a while and he always remembers me.  I know that I truly made an impact on his life.  The couple aren't together anymore but both still get time with him switching every other week.

I also have to say that all those doctor's visits were for nothing.  There was and is nothing wrong with me and I was just going through a difficult time in my life.  I am so glad that I had this little guy to help me get through the worst times during that period.  I know I wouldn't have the wonderful life I have now if I had kept Tucker.  I would never have found Oscar, never have gotten Sadie, and I would have waited to have kids until Tucker died.  I truly believe that everything happens for a reason.  Tucker was meant to be in my life for just the amount of time I needed.  I say this because I brought Oscar home less than a month after Tucker went to his new home.  Had I waited longer, I would not have the dog who is so amazing and funny.  It made giving Tucker up a little easier and my life so much better.  Oscar was able to pick up where Tucker left off and helped me overcome my anxiety.  I went back to school the month after I got Oscar and I graduated at the end of that school year.  I was able to get a job where Oscar was able to go with me everyday.  With Oscar's help I gained my confidence back and went out into the world.  I was able to meet a man who loves me for who I am and now we have a family and I am the happiest I have ever been.

And it all started with a little silver dog...

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