About 8 or 9 years ago I met someone really special. His name is Teddy, he is a dog, a cocker spaniel that like his name is as cuddly as a teddy bear. I first met him at my parents house when his owner Ramin, a gentleman that worked for my dad, brought him over. He had a haircut that made him look like world’s cutest ottoman and he wore a red and blue sweater. He was very shy, scurrying away from all the new people as I raced down the stairs to get a better look. When he finally saw me he decided to give me a chance and scurried his little self over to me, wagging his nub of a tail ferociously. I pet him for a moment and then Ramin scooped him up and took him away. Fast forward a little while and my sister and I are living together in Boulder, life was changing for us and it appeared for Ramin as well. I had just moved in and my sister and I were adjusting to life as roommies and friends. Looking back it was a great time of life. Ramin was going through changes too. He had to leave the US and he couldn’t take Teddy. So somehow, miraculously, after a lunch at Chipotle, Teddy came home with my sister and I. Of course we both claimed him as ours but in the end we realized it didn’t matter, he was just family. Why couldn’t he have 2 mommies. It’s the 21st century after all.
When we first got Teddy we went crazy trying to think of names, he was ours, we should name him. We tossed around so many ideas the most popular of which was Tugboat Jenkins. First name Tugboat, last name Jenkins. It just didn’t fit. He was too fluffy, too cuddly. He was our little teddy bear, through and through. Teddy he was and Teddy he would remain. Teddy provided for a lot of great memories for me of my time in and after college. From the time he pooped in my bed leading my sister to flood the laundry room in a botched comforter washing and I slept with poop in my bed for a week without knowing it, Teddy always made us laugh. He was smart, ringing a bell when he wanted to go for a walk, barking at strangers, protecting us, cuddling up next to us. Exercising patience with us as we struggled to clean out his consistently infected ears. They smelled like cottage cheese and still do. Mmmm cheese ears. You couldn’t come home without Teddy rising to greet you, running and jumping so high he almost took flight. When you’d go out-of-town he would lament for days upon seeing a suitcase being packed. One time he even tried to prevent me from leaving by camping out behind my front car tire. Giving me a look like, “Hey bitch, try and leave but you’ll have to run me over!” So I sat on the sidewalk with him, snuggling until the very last moment. When it rained and thundered Teddy snuggled a bit harder. When you played the piano he came to listen. When you were scared he knew. He would come sit on your feet, with his back leaned against your shin and wait. Just being present in a way that no human could. Just protecting your heart with no expectations for you to explain yourself. Letting you be, knowing you had someone there with you. He got me through some of my worst times of life.
Teddy lived with my sister and I for years, then college ended we all moved and Teddy became a world traveller. He spent several years with my sis (the genius paving her way through the medical field), several years with me and my parents in Denver and now he lives with my sister as she goes through the last bit of her residency. I always figured Teddy would come back to me. I face time with him and bark at him through the phone every chance I get but generally when I hear his name I miss him so much I either shower people with incessant stories or start to cry. Each time I visit my sister I cry hardest when I leave Teddy. I can’t tell him how much I love him, because it is more than words. I know when I leave my family we will talk each day on the phone. We will be okay. Teddy is harder to get a hold of. As Teddy has aged his health has deteriorated. He has a fairly rare disease that is attacking both his skin and his liver. He’s not doing so well. Though my sister assures me he still has moments of happiness despite the pain he must be in. With this comes the responsibility of any person with a pet in their family to decide how to make the latter part of Teddy’s life more comfortable for him and it is not a fun decision to make. For me, I feel sad for my sister, while I know he is suffering, she watches it each day and from 1500 miles away there is little I can do other than hope for a chance to visit him and to send him and her my love and support. I’m pretty sad about it, as is the rest of the family. It’s hard to see an animal suffer. Partly because they can’t tell us but partly because they can’t reach out and say, “hey, enough is enough let me go.” We have to be intuitive with them, know their hearts and recognize the changes. My sister is a doctor so she is good at taking care of him but that doesn’t make it easy.
Teddy is still with us and what will happen to him is anyone’s guess. It’s a day by day thing I am told and it takes everything in me not to call up my sis every 2 or three minutes for a check. I feel guilty for not being there with him, but I am so grateful for his life. I am not writing this to get answers or to express my emotion about life transitions. What my goal is to share the story of a life, one that still has a bit of magic in it. Of a best friend, of a child, of a support, of a family member who protected me, loved me and played with me in a way that was more than anything else I could have asked for. No one has ever been as excited to see me as Teddy is, each time. I miss him everyday!
I’ll end with a fabulous Teddy story. My mom made beef ribs one night. I had to miss dinner because of work but came home to a plate ready for me on the counter. I decided to eat in the living room with the rest of the family. Teddy ever the beggar, followed the scent and came and sat at my feet, just salivating over the food. Then he got up and sat slightly the one side of me and stared at me from the side. “Oh Teddy, you can’t have this!” I said and just thought he was positioning himself in the most sympathetic angle. Then as soon as I had that juicy, saucy, fatty delicious rib in my hand and was slowly bringing it towards my mouth, Teddy leapt through the air (all four paws in the sky) and snatched it perfectly out of my hand. It was so skilled, so practiced I wasn’t even mad. He has strategically stolen my rib and to be honest, I was damn impressed.
I wanted to visit Teddy but my family is concerned with my upcoming surgery and my mad rush to get my finals written a week early I won’t have the energy to go and come back and that it will drain my health. My view, it’s worth it. Why should Herbert get in the way of one of the best friendships I’ve known? Suck it Herbert. Just suck it. We’ll see if I make it to share my love with my beloved Teddy in North Carolina, and in the meantime I will wait for a miracle to happen. Until then, I’ll just be glad to have shared his story and the joy of it with anyone and everyone willing to listen to the story of a beloved friend and pet.
Peace and love –