Dear Turner (aka Turn Turn)-
You may not know it from watching me now, but there was a time in my life when I didn’t know how to care for other souls. I didn’t know how to nurture, wasn’t that responsible, and definitely didn’t know how to cook. At the ripe old age of 20 I got my first apartment, and shortly after that I got you. You were my first baby, my baby before I had babies.
Back in those days your daddy and I were very involved in the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity, both holding exec board seats and going to many events each month. We formed a tight group of friends, and you kind of became the mascot. You went with us everywhere- to the quad, on numerous camping and float trips, to our friends’ houses. If for some reason you couldn’t go we had many people volunteer to “baby-sit” you. You had dozens of people watch you over the course of those college years, and I think you still have a special place in many of their hearts. (But probably not in Daddy’s old roommates’ hearts. They always got mad when I brought you over). You grew up right alongside us. You learned how to sit and stay as we learned how to pay bills and drink responsibly.
You were so ornery back then. I remember the first night I got you. I was spending the night at my roommate’s parent’s house. I wanted to cuddle with you all night long but was afraid you’d pee on the floor, so I put your kennel on a desk chair, scooted the chair over to the bed, and fell asleep with my fingers laced through the door. That wasn’t enough for you, though. You wanted out of that kennel so badly you wiggled until you knocked it right onto the floor. I was afraid we’d wake her whole house up!
You were always a runner and I was so sure you’d meet your eventual death by way of the car. As people have recounted their memories of you over these last days, nearly all of them involve chasing you. Our nephew once told your Daddy that he was faster than Lightning McQueen when he was chasing you, but you were faster! One time we had about 20 people from the business fraternity over to practice a homecoming skit. You escaped and the entire practice was put on hold as college students chased you in circles around the townhouse. Our friend Tommy once let you outside at night, started chasing you after you darted, and came back to the house drenched from the sprinklers he ran through. But my favorite running story is the time you got loose at my parent’s house. Four grown adults chased you for what felt like two hours, until Grandpa finally sprayed a mist of bear spray. You ran through it and finally came to a stop. You didn’t run away so much after that.
Back in your younger days you liked to chew on hangers and we always found you stuck in the middle of them. You also liked to chew the TV cord and I was scared you’d die of electrocution if a car didn’t get you first.
You were there when Daddy proposed.
After he graduated he moved to Kansas City, but I still had a semester of school left. Neither one of us could imagine going a week without seeing you, so we split custody. One of us would get you Sunday through Wednesday. We’d meet in Concordia for dinner Wednesday night and the other would keep you Wednesday through Friday. You were one loved little dog.
And you were there when we got married. I really wanted you to be in the wedding but that idea got vetoed (you really didn’t listen very well and you had a barking problem). About two minutes before I walked down the aisle I was waiting in the stairway of the church when I heard you upstairs, scratching and whining at the door. I had to frantically motion to the closest person nearby, my uncle, to take you somewhere so you wouldn’t disrupt the whole service. So rude of you.
You were there as we started our lives together. You lived in 8 different apartments/houses with us! You were so spoiled. You slept in our bed every night. You took regular trips to the dog park. You liked to sit on the back of the couch and lick Daddy’s head (weirdo).
And you were there as I tried to pretend to play the piano.
I even got super into healthy foods and started making your dog food, using real beef and veggies and organs. You were in heaven. We loved you and you loved us right back. I remember our lives got a little easier when we discovered that if I screamed as if I was in trouble, you would come running over to protect me even if you had escaped.
You were there as we grew our family, first with more fur babies and then with human babies.
Those human babies changed your life. As it often goes, your status was demoted. But you never complained, except when those human babies pulled your fur. But even then, you were so gentle with these small terrors. Turner, we’ve been through a lot with you. Thank you for adapting to it all and for so lovingly putting up with all the stuff that has been unfavorable to you.
You haven’t been acting like yourself for several months now. There were times we let you outside and you wouldn’t come back in. We’d go find you standing in the middle of the yard looking lost. You’ve always LOVED walks, but lately we couldn’t even drag you on them. You’ve been drinking a ton of water and sometimes peeing on the floor. In hindsight we should have been more concerned about these things, but at the time we chalked it up to old age. But when you stopped eating and started sleeping more we grew worried and took you to the vet. It was time for your yearly check up anyways. I wasn’t that worried. I figured the vet would tell us you had the doggy flu or something. I wasn’t prepared for him to tell me that you were dying.
As the vet rambled on about kidney failure and your enlarged liver and heart, my eyes filled with tears and I wondered how did we get here? I skipped your teeth cleaning last year. Maybe if I had gotten it done you’d be healthy today. I’ve been lax on the HeartGard I used to give you religiously. Should I have taken you in earlier? Now I know you’ve been sick for longer than we’ve realized, and I’m kicking myself for not paying more attention sooner. I’m so, so sorry if I’ve failed you.
The vet thought you’d be gone in a day or two but you held on for nine. I’m so thankful for that extra time. We cuddled more than we had in years and you ate better than ever before- ham and roast beef and turkey. You were lethargic, but you barked a few more barks, went on a few more walks in the wagon, and climbed the stairs til the very end. I carried you around in my Ergo and slept with you on the floor.
Late this week you started to go downhill, and this morning you let us know it was time. We took you to the vet. You were getting your belly rubbed as you died in my arms.
Turner, I’ve never been an adult and not had you by my side. I haven’t lost a pet since I was a young child, and I didn’t know it could hurt this bad. Thank you, buddy, for being such a great pal over the last 12 years. Thank you for being patient with me when I didn’t know what I was doing, and thank you for loving us even when life got busy. Thank you for the way you greeted us at the door, for your cute little handshakes, for the way you’d try to roll over but spin in a circle instead. I love you so much it hurts; it hurts a lot right now. You’re an old man and you’ve had a good life. I will miss you terribly. We’ll have other dogs again some day, but we’ll never have another dog grow up with us. That title belongs to you alone.
T, I know you’ve been freed from your old body. I hope you’ll run like you used to in doggy heaven. I hope they have lots of peanut butter, lots of tummy scratches, and lots of shoes for you to hump up there. Most of all, I hope you know how very much you were loved and how much you meant to our family.