Grieving Teddy is completely different from losing my JRT Tucker in 2015. He was 17 years of amazing memories, therapeutic runs, that eventually turned into walks and as his legs continued to give out, eventually carrying him.
While he was initially my boyfriend’s dog, Tucker became mama’s boy, the one who saved me when I could not save myself. Despite the tumultuous times toward the end of my relationship with his dad, dealing with my alcohol use and eating disorder, his unconditional love and belief in me never wavered.
Teddy was the first pup I rescued or more so RESCUED ME. My heart was set on adopting an older (5-6-year-old) special needs dog, as I know how difficult it is for them to be adopted. In the beginning of my search, I wanted another JRT. However, in time I grew fond of his breed, American Bulldog. Upon seeing his picture, our eyes locked and I knew he belonged in my arms.
Since I have never had personal experience with bully breeds, there were many visits conducted between myself and his foster. My roommate also has a 1-year-old rescue Sheltie, so making sure they got along was important.
As many new moms, whether human or animal, I was nervous, excited, anxious and at times became a “drone mom.” We attended obedience classes originally aimed to teach Teddy and me additional skills, especially with him being deaf, I needed to make sure he would be safe. Let us just say Teddy was more the mentor to the eight puppy classmates in class.
He taught me life lessons from slowing down on our walks, as he mindfully would show me how to notice and pay attention to nature.
One of my favorite videos of us was after teaching my virtual yoga class. He was mostly asleep the entire time, and when it was done, I started filming him. When I mentioned the word “YOGA” he perked up, turned to face me, ears straight up and showcased the biggest Cheshire grin. I questioned in humor regarding his deafness because Teddy knew when to demonstrate his hearing when he wanted to or felt like it. That was the first and many more came to follow.
Losing Teddy with 3 1/2 years in recovery, the multitude of emotions are hitting me in full force. At times I can feel the physical agony of being punched in my gut or a sharp dagger stabbing my heart. There is no numbing, that is not an option.
With Tucker, I escaped the reality of his passing amongst other things through self-destruction and harmful behaviors. As for Teddy, my form of coping has been in form of exercise, whether it’s running, yoga, or any other form of fitness where my body is constantly in motion and the only thought in my head is how to do the exercise effectively.
This is by far the most I have written about him. Sharing his passing in my social media outlets took several days and even with that, what I wrote in his memorial is what I felt is all I needed to share. Teddy was my co-teacher, sidekick in all my virtual classes. While the spoken words have not been said, my students understandably know and have kindly respected my privacy.
Presently, I have Teddy’s remains with me and plan to bury part of him next to his big brother Tucker. Every day presents a different mourning experience, some I am prepared for, some I can cry and feel relief. For the majority, I feel like I am missing a part of my body that while the rest are functioning, it is not to their full capacity.
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There are many sleepless nights, as he was the BEST at making sure it’s time to go to bed. The mornings are empty without our ritual of kisses on his nose, eyes, cheeks, and paw.
Coming home and no longer seeing his tail wagging, as his 75-pound gentle yet strong body hurried down the stairs to greet me. Teddy’s majestic and lion like way of walking and approaching you or sometimes prancing proudly, especially after he’s done his #2 business.
In our many adventures, from a stroll in the neighborhood, to beach trips and chasing waves, dance parties and sing along, he made sure I and everyone else that was lucky enough to see him, shake his paw or rub his soft forehead, were aware of his happiness to have been rescued. In return, I would follow suit in all his ways, his antics, letting him know that in truth, he SAVED me.
I am comforted at the knowledge that he is no longer in pain, due to a bacterial fungus he contracted in his younger years. It was first diagnosed as cancer, which after a battery of tests was shown to be an ailment that could have been cared for, prevented if caught in its early ages. Since it was not caught until it was in its later stages, medicines such as doxycycline, prednisone, holistic CBD were not enough.
In his last few days, Teddy became extremely lethargic from the decrease in his appetite to his slowly deteriorating immune system. On a Wednesday, he collapsed after struggling to climb up three steps, I collapsed with him and begged God and him to please allow us more time together. As he slowly laid his body down, he put his paw in mine and looked into my eyes, nodding his head to let me know he was close. I hoped in my prayers that he would pass away naturally as I did not want to go through the euthanization process all over again. Several minutes which seemed like eternity, my sweet boy opened his eyes, and while he continued to lay still, there was a spark, a light that beamed out from his smile and gaze.
Thursday was the return of his youth; it was as if he was not sick. I relished in those hours and made the most of our time. He barely rose from his bed on the second floor Friday. The last hours leading up to his goodbye, he did not sleep and was experiencing shortness of breath. I took him to the emergency vet at 5 a.m. and on the last minute before turning to the parking lot, he looked at me one last time and said I love you.
He arrived and left my life the same way, in the back of my car. Looking back to catch his eyes and marvel at his magnificent and beautiful soul is how he wanted us to spend our very last moment together.
*On 5/13/20, I celebrated your life entering mine, TEDDY BEAR’S GOTCHA DAY
*On 4/3/21, I wept in sadness and heartbreak over your life leaving mine.
How incredibly lucky I was to have been chosen by this beautiful, gentle and loving four legged soul. He saw the vulnerability in me I am still learning to recognize. Showed me and others that despite being deaf, he heard and he listened. Protected me from fears and guided me to take risks and trust myself. We spoke to each other, sometimes with songs, with conversations, with our physical connection and through our locked eyes. To his last breath matching mine.
Story submitted by Tricia Londres from Fairfax, Virginia.
Teddy’s story was originally shared on The Animal Rescue Site. Share your very own rescue story here!
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