February 28, 1994 - April 10, 2006
He came to us on May Day from the shelter's barn in Dummerston, Vermont
at eight weeks old. The shelter said the litter was Newfoundland/Chow/Lab/Akita
and whatnot. He was the runt, the baby of the litter and immediately
took to the cuddling we gave him. That spring he followed me everywhere,
sleeping on my feet as I potted-up plants in the greenhouse. He loved
to sleep in my weeding basket which came with a convenient handle
Our dear Teddy died on April 10, 2006. He had been growing weaker
and weaker for about a month before the Keene Flower Show at the
end of March, then rallied a bit after the show was over. Ralph's
care was so loving.....he made stews and broths and created all
kinds of meals for his old friend, wiped his runny eyes and did
everything he could to make Teddy comfortable.
About a week before the end, Teddy left the cozy porch for a walk in the
pouring rain just before daylight. When Ralph discovered him missing, we
hunted in the rain with flashlights for an hour before Ralph found him far
from the house down by the beaver pond. Since this was 10 times farther
away from the house than he'd been for months we can only imagine that he
had headed toward the raspberries for his morning constitution (he loved
to leave his droppings at the ends of the rows so that the wild animals
would understand that a really big dog lived here!) and had slipped and
slid down the hill. He grinned and thumped his tail when I got to him and
our predicament became how to get a 160 pound dog up a long, steep, mud-soaked
hill. The answer is - with a little help from our friends. I called Dancing
Bear Tom and Rick the Egg Man and we gathered the old bear into bedspread
and the guys somehow managed to move him. (Rosie and I completely obstructed
the process; Rosie kept darting back and forth in advance of the guys getting
in the way and when I tried to bring up the rear behind Tom I kept stepping
on his heels pulling him down from behind.) When we got him back on the
porch, Teddy seemed a bit astonished, then went back to sleep.
He weakened more after that adventure, and, with the weather warming, Ralph
created a cave of straw bales that Teddy could stay in day and night. He
could keep his eye on the house and the road, and he even got to see the
daffodils come out courtesy of this very early spring. On the night that
he passed away, the peepers and frogs were making noise in the ponds and
the owls were calling in the trees.
That morning the neighboring turkeys and horses were sounding off at each
other and phoebes were working on building their nest right above his head.
As heartbroken as Ralph and I were, the earth was giving us a gift of spring
as she released Teddy from his winter.
I think that when all his other needs are met, a dog's true canine comedian
personality can flourish. Teddy was just the funniest dog ever! He made
me laugh right from the start as a puppy when he'd vocalize while yawning.
Since it made me laugh, he'd do it again, and again. He learned to sing
and could carry a bit of a tune. He also got quite a charge from stealing
food, like the chunk of bread he took from my pocket while I was arranging
flowers before market. (He'd have refused the bread if offered but this
was a sneaky-joke.) The first time Ralph put a cafe mocha in the cup holder
of the old volvo Teddy swung his head over it from the back seat and carefully
lifted the delicious brew into his compartment in the back. He was always
stealing Ralph's coffee after that. He was always delighted to see company,
especially the beautiful girls who would come to help pick the berries.
The most beautiful girl to him, though, is our Rosie who joined the family
when he was seven and put spark into his later years. We often called him "Senator
Ted" with all love and affection because of his vastness, shagginess
and joy in life.
He gave us so much love, and we are so honored to have lived with him.