Saturday, May 15, 2010

It really, really hurts.

This has been a really rough week, and while writing about it would be good for me, I haven't really felt like posting. I just couldn't do it. There are several things I need to post about, but I can only tackle one thing at a time.

We lost our beloved dog Tate this week.

Anyone who has a pet knows how difficult this is-- You adopt a shelter puppy, bring him home, and he becomes a part of your family. Much like a baby, once he comes, you can't remember what life was like without him.

I adopted Tate from a shelter in Charleston in 2005-- he was an adorable energetic mixed lab with black and white tuxedo coloring. I saw him and instantly fell in love, but walked away that day, wondering if I was ready for the responsibility. When I woke up the next morning, I couldn't believe that I had walked out of there and left him behind-- I was desperate to bring him home with me. It was a Sunday and the shelter was closed, so first thing on Monday morning I went back and got him.

He was a difficult (but typical) puppy-- he took over a year to house train, chewed up all of my shoes and generally drove me crazy... but one look at that sweet face and all was always forgiven. He had a fantastic and sweet personality, and his small size made him seem like a new puppy, even when I'd had him for years.

Tate was a great companion-- the year I brought him home, I went through a particularly difficult breakup and he comforted me in every way. He was a reason to get out of bed in the morning (Take me out!) , he laid on the bed with me every night, and he was always ecstatic to see me walk through the door at the end of the day. I treated him like my baby--even throwing him a 1st birthday party, inviting all of my friends and their dogs for doggie cake and ice cream.

The next year, Tate and I moved into a new home and Rob came into our lives. While Tate loved the attention that Rob gave him, he wasn't so sure about him becoming a regular overnight guest. Accustomed to sleeping in my bedroom (on the floor usually, on the bed on special occasions) he wasn't thrilled when he was banished to the living room. He let us know by peeing on the floor directly outside of the bedroom, so that Rob (or I) would step in it first thing in the morning. Made me mad then, makes me smile now. Not to worry, Rob and Tate became fast friends and the three of us went everywhere together from the beach to the dog park.

A few months after Rob became a regular, we decided to add another family member. Tate loved his little sister and immediately the two became inseparable. Little did we know, that the little sister would grow to twice the size of her big brother.

The next year, the four of us moved to Alabama and into a new home. One day, Rob went to let the dogs back inside and screamed for me. We found Tate laying on the back deck, unable to stand, limbs rigid, mouth foaming, shaking uncontrollably. I had never seen anything like it and I was absolutely terrified. We wrapped him in a towel and when it was over a few minutes later, we took him to the emergency vet.

It was a seizure and there really wasn't much to be done. The vet told us that it could either be epilepsy or it could be something more serious. She told us that we could start running some very expensive tests like a CAT Scan, but she was very honest that even if they found something, the outcome would basically be the same. We talked about it and knew that if something was really wrong and there wasn't anything we could do, it would be best not to know. Tate was not in pain, not suffering and once he came out of the seizure he returned to his hyper self within minutes. And after all, there was still a good chance that the seizures would come and go, and Tate would lead an otherwise healthy long life.


That was two years ago. Tate had a seizure about every 2-3 months. Most were mild and lasted a few minutes. Each time, I would grab a towel or blanket, wrap his rigid little body in it and cradle him to me-- petting him, whispering to him and telling him that I loved him and it would be ok. He would come out of it a bit confused and tired, but otherwise fine and he let me hold him like a baby until he was ready to run.

Tuesday morning, I fed the dogs and left for work, patting Tate's head as I left, telling them both that I loved them and I'd see them that night. I went to work and afterwards, went to my swim class. I ran a few errands after that, getting another maternity suit for my beach trip with my SIL next week. It was around 9pm when I got home and when I opened the door to let the dogs in, Chloe came in right away. Tate did not.

I didn't think much of it at first-- I thought that he must have been interested in something in the yard and he'd be in soon. A few minutes passed. I stepped onto the deck and called his name into the dark yard. Nothing. I thought, maybe he'd gotten shut in a room in the house that morning. I checked our bedroom, downstairs, the guest room. Nothing. My stomach sank. I grabbed a flashlight and started scanning the yard, but I stopped myself before I got too far. Rob was out of town & I couldn't do it-- I couldn't be the one to find him.

I called my cousin and her husband who live down the street and asked them to come over. Together, they went into the yard and found him curled up next to a tree, already gone. In complete shock, I went into survival mode, helping them find something to put his body in so that he wouldn't be in the yard. The boxed him up and placed him in a utility closet beneath the house until Rob could get home Wednesday.

After they left, I lost it. While his condition certainly clued us in to the fact that something could be wrong, we were not prepared for this. I called Rob at his hotel, hysterical, and told him what had happened. We talked and I cried until 3am. I didn't go to work on Wednesday-- just cried off and on all day. Rob got home on Wednesday evening and took care of him. He took Tate out and looked over his body to make sure there were no wounds that we needed to know about (snake bite? dog fight?) but his tiny body was perfect. He buried him on the side of the house next to the puppy.

I'm sure people are wondering, after what happened with the puppy, do we believe that the dogs could have gotten into a fight? No. Not only did Tate not have a single mark on his body but Tate and Chloe have been brother and sister for three years and have always gotten along. Chloe would regularly clean Tate and lick his ears. They couldn't stand to be apart. If Rob took Tate on a quick run without Chloe , she would sit and the door and whine until they returned. If Tate went outside, Chloe followed. She followed him everywhere. So no, we know she didn't have anything to do with this.

We're left with a big hole in our lives right now. The house which was once full of energy seems uncomfortably quiet. When Chloe barks, there is a second bark that's missing. When I let her outside, I'm constantly listening for a scratch at the back door that never comes. There are two bowls for food out on the porch and two dog beds in the living room. I'm still finding his hair everywhere in our home and instead of annoying me, as it always has, it makes me tear up and miss him so much. Tate was a fantastic dog and we will miss him terribly. And although I'm sure we will eventually get Chloe a companion, he will never be replaced.


Tater-tot, we love you so much and cherish every moment you brought to our lives. You were our first baby boy and we will never forget you. Our hearts are hurting, missing you, but we know that you lived a happy life, and we were better people for knowing you. My sweet boy, you will live in our hearts forever.

Tate Peck

April 17, 2005 - May 11, 2010


  1. Oh, Stef. I'm so sorry for your loss. Many of us love our pets like they are human. They are our family members. It's so hard losing a pet, and I'm sad to hear the update. You gave Tate a playful, loving life, and that is a darn beautiful thing, girl. Thinking of you...

  2. The loss of a pet is so hard! I still miss mine - who died in 2007 just as sudden as Tate after we had him for 11 years. Many hugs to you guys.

  3. I am so sad and sorry for your loss. I love my pup and can't imagine the heartbreak you are going through. I hope you and your hubs can find comfort in eachother (oh...and little Baby Blakely!)

  4. I am so sorry and sad for your loss. :( Losing a pet is definitely losing a member of your family, no doubt about it. You must be heartbroken. Thinking of you and DH during this difficult time and sending you many hugs. Rest in peace, sweet Tate.

  5. :( How sad!! Sounds like Tate was really apart of your family and was with you through the goodtimes and the bad.

  6. I'm so sorry, Stef. Losing a beloved pet is just devastating, especially when you hoped to have him for many more years. LG and I can't even think about losing our Bella without crying. I think dealing with IF, our dogs become even more essential to our happiness.

    I know you gave your little guy the best life he could ever ask for, and that has to give you some comfort.


  7. I am so sorry!! I had to put one of my dogs down and it was one of the very hardest things I ever went through!! It will get easier!!

  8. Oh Stef, I'm so sorry. This must be so difficult for you. You and Rob (and Chloe) will be able to find support in each other and remember all the good things that you loved about Tate.

  9. Stef, I am so sorry! My geart hurts for y'all! Our dogs are our kids too and I can't imagine how you feel! (((hugs)))

  10. Oh hon, I am so sorry. Your sweet post brought tears to my eyes. Our dogs are our children and I know the pain that you are feeling. You will be in my prayers.

  11. *GIANT HUGS* I'm so so sorry for your loss. Pets ARE like children and losing one is like losing a family member. It hurts for a long time. Thank you for sharing his story and your memories with us. You're in my prayers.

  12. I am so sorry Stef. I know what you are going through... we lost Honey last summer. It's a very hard loss...

  13. I am so, so sorry. This is just heartbreaking. It's amazing how much our pets become a part of our families, which makes the hurts so much deeper when they're gone. (((HUGS)))

  14. Oh hun I am so so sorry to hear about Tate. I can't even imagine how you must be filling. I truly think of my pups as my first babies, so losing one would be beyond difficult. Sending you tons of love and hugs.

  15. Oh Stef. I am so sorry about Tate. My heart breaks for you, because I know just how much I love my Schnitzel, and I don't know what I would do without him.

    Thinking of you. Wish I could give you a big hug.