Sheltered Islander: Tippy, Farewell My Wee Beastie

They say that losing a pet is like losing a child. Naturally, the loss of a pet can’t really compare to the loss of a child. Still, losing a cherished pet can be very painful and has its own little grieving process. A few days ago, we lost our cairn terrier, Tippy. She lived to be 19 years old and was surrounded by love her whole life. She looked just like the world’s most famous cairn terrier, Toto, from The Wizard of Oz. Small and scruffy, but oh, those big brown eyes.

Like all dogs, Tippy was as much an individual as a person. She was very clever, and even downright sneaky at times. I recall taking my kids to school in our minivan, dropping them off and continuing on to the first chore of the day, which was frequently grocery shopping. About half-way between the school and the grocery store, just far enough that she realized I wouldn’t turn around and take her home, a small black dog who had been hiding under the third seat in the van would quietly and casually slip over the front console and into the passenger’s seat, looking out the window. She wouldn’t make eye contact—she knew she wasn’t supposed to be there. She knew as soon as I got her home I was going to punish her mercilessly. But maybe I would just use a small stick. Okay, maybe with a little mercy. Maybe I was occasionally swayed by enthusiastic kisses and pitiful looks and maybe the stick was actually a piece of bacon.

Tippy was one of those dogs who could tell time. People don’t often believe me, but I believe many dogs can tell time. Tippy loved her people and she knew when it was time for someone to come home. At around such a time, she would sit by the door patiently until that person arrived because she knew everybody needed to be greeted, jumped on and licked every time they came home. It didn’t matter if they were gone an hour or a year. The heart does not know time.

Some people said Tippy was spoiled, just because she didn’t like to go potty outside in the rain and had trained her people to hold an umbrella for her whenever she went to go potty outside in the rain. The truth is, we were a family who loved umbrellas and we simply wanted to test our new umbrellas and they just happen to coincide with Tippy’s bladder schedule.

Our daughter, now in her 20s, has only just recently recovered from Tippy jumping up on the table during her eighth birthday party and eating most of the chocolate birthday cake before anybody could catch her.

For myself, I recall a morning when I put my plate of poached eggs on toast and a cup of coffee with hazelnut creamer on the table next to the couch. I went to answer a quick phone call and returned to find my eggs gone, the toast licked clean and the coffee also gone. I never saw the culprit, and I can’t prove a thing, but I have my suspicions.

Rest in peace, our darling wee beastie, we will miss you, sweet lassie.

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