One weekend in May 2010, Wade told me he had a surprise early birthday present for me. He drove me (and Rocky) clear across town, and then we pulled up to a house I didn't recognize. When we walked in the door, we were greeted by lots of dogs. It was then that I realized Wade had contacted a breeder about adopting one of their Labradoodles as a present for my 27th birthday.
At first I was shocked; we had definitely talked about adding a 2nd dog to our family, but I was envisioning another small dog. So when the breeder picked up one of the puppies and I noticed his legs that went on for miles and his giant paws, I was instantly resistant. I remember very vividly that the puppy she was holding, whom they called "Animal" at the time, hardly moved in her arms. He was obviously terrified of these strangers coming into his home with their spunky little white dog who obviously didn't understand the meaning of personal space. I remember how she set him down to see how he and Rocky would take to each other, and he cowered in fear in the corner, barking any time Rocky came near. (Didn't bother Rocky one bit, of course.)
I was just about ready to shoot Wade a look that said, "No way, not happening, this has bad news written all over it." But then I looked into those big puppy dog eyes, and it only took a split second for him to have my heart. We told the breeder we needed to discuss it and that we would get back to her, and during the entire long drive home, I was listing off a thousand different reasons to Wade why that dog would not be a good fit for us. I was angry with him for even taking me all the way out there in the first place. After arguing for a little while, we decided that it was probably best to let the breeder know we were not interested after all.
But as the afternoon wore on, I couldn't get the image of those eyes out of my head, the way he looked at us as if he was silently pleading for us to love him. Then I knew what I had to do. So I told Wade to forget everything I had said earlier in the day, and to call the breeder back and tell her we were interested after all. A few hours later, that terrified Labradoodle was ours. And we renamed him Tucker.
We quickly learned that Tucker's long legs and enormous paws were, in fact, signs of how big he was going to be, finally leveling out at 75 pounds. And though the primary reason we were interested in Labradoodles was the fact that they are supposed to be hypoallergenic with minimal shedding, we also quickly learned that Tucker was the exception to that rule, as evidenced by the tumbleweeds of white hair piling up in our house. His size and his shedding have often frustrated me, but his sweet disposition has always made up for those things. Tucker is one of the most loyal dogs you will ever meet, and when he is comfortable with you, all he wants to do is be near you at all times. He is just a loving dog.
Unfortunately for us, Tucker is also a very anxious dog. He is not at all fond of change, and he is very easily scared and quick to feel threatened. Though we have always found this particular trait kind of endearing, it has sadly not proved to mesh well with our constantly moving, less than gentle toddler. From the moment Davis started crawling, Tucker has been wary of him. We had hoped it would get better with time, but recently we have been very saddened to notice it is only getting worse. It has been so hard to watch, and so frustrating to not be able to effectively communicate to either of them that their behavior toward one another is not ok.
After lots of discussion and with very, very heavy hearts, we have decided that the environment in our home is not the best one for Tucker. He is such a great dog... just not meant to be in close quarters with small children on a regular basis. We are so incredibly grateful that after discussing our situation with Wade's parents, they expressed to us that they were interested in bringing Tucker to live with them instead. This is the best case scenario for us, because we will still get to see him regularly and be able to take care of him whenever they need us to, and because we know he is going to a great home where he will be loved... but our hearts are still broken.
We will miss our sweet friend who loves us so unconditionally. We will miss the way he likes to come sit in front of us, pawing at us until we pay attention to him. We will miss watching him chase Rocky around the backyard. We will miss the way the sound of fireworks and thunder leave him shaking in fear. We will miss letting him cuddle in bed with us on cold nights. We will miss those big puppy dog eyes.
We will always love you, Tucker, and we'll see you again soon...