Her Name Was Tawny
My home office window is on the second floor. It looks out on the street below. I often watch the world go by when I’m bored or frustrated with working. Today I saw a man walking his dog. It was a beautiful Golden Retriever mix. This dog was obviously in love with its owner. It was well trained, never pulled on the leash. It had that happy look, tongue flapping to one side and a bounce in its step that signified a pure K-9 joy for life. The dog would take several steps and then look back at its owner with a gaze that had “I love you” written all over it. This made me think back to one of our dogs. She’s no longer with us. Her name was Tawny.
Tawny was everything to me and my wife. We got her early in our relationship and she quickly became a member of our family. She was our surrogate child when we had no children and after nine years, when we finally had the triplets, she was their guardian. She too was a Golden Retriever mix, the other part was Chow, which gave her the most luxurious coat of blonde hair you ever saw.
My wife wanted a pound dog and when we went Tawny was the only one in the place that wasn’t jumping about , bouncing off the walls, like an over wound, wind-up toy. There she sat, regally posing, as we walked by her kennel.
We both did a double take and said at the same time, “What about that one?”
Over the years we took her everywhere. One of our favorite places to go was the local coffee shop. My wife would order her Latte with extra foamed milk and she would give it to Tawny. Tawny always sat patiently waiting for it, never whimpered, and lapped it up.
The dog was also my running partner. In those days I would jog five miles a day and she was right there beside me. I would end my jog at a local park. There I would let her go and run free. She got all excited when we approached because there were always dozens of birds pecking at the grass on the far side of an open field. I’d take off her lease, she’d sit patiently waiting, and then I’d say, “GO!”
Off she’d tear like a bat out of hell! God!, you never saw a dog run so fast. Just before she’d get to the birds they would all take to the sky with Tawny leaping high into the air just inches away from the tail feathers of one of the birds.
She never got one. I don’t think she really wanted one. It was all in the chase. She loved chasing animals.
When she got old, after 12 wonderful years, she got cancer and instead of letting her waste away in horrible agony, we had her put down when she was still able to move around on her own. We were right there beside her the whole time.
The Vet staff made her comfortable on a bed and my wife and I sat next to her stroking her head and side, softly talking to her, as she received the shots. Tawny looked at us knowingly and didn’t protest at all. She knew, she wasn’t afraid. We stayed with her, weeping, until she drifted off and finally died. The Vet left us alone for a while so that we could sit with her and grieve.
I cried for several days afterward.
I had a dream. Tawny was running, as fast as she ever did, through a field of tall grass. It was a warm day, the sun was shining, everything was golden. She was in her prime, joyfully bounding through the field with that signature, huge, smile on her face. Right behind her I was running too. I was running as fast as she was. We were both so happy. Everything was beautiful as we ran through the field in slow motion. Ahead of us were dozens of rabbits bouncing, trying to get away as we chased after them. As I ran I would literally just reach down and pluck up a rabbit by its ears and then just toss it aside. It was a wonderful game we played. It was so beautiful and so surreal.
I would like to believe that dogs do go to heaven. I like to believe that when I die, I’ll be walking down a beautiful country road, on a beautiful spring day, and up ahead I’ll catch a glimpse of Tawny sitting patiently by the roadside waiting for me. When I reach her I’ll bend down and scratch her vigorously behind the ears. She’ll have that same smile that stretched from ear to ear with her tongue hanging out to one side. Then, we’ll both walk together to wherever I’m supposed to go.
Now that to me would be heaven.