On the morning of March 15th, 2007 our five year old labrador retriever awoke with joy in his heart. His ear laid pressed on the floor of our boat and he most certainly heard the sounds of water lapping against its hull. Water had always held a special place with Tucker. From the time he was a puppy he would spend as much time as he could near water, around water, or in water. He would often gaze out over the edge of our boat to watch the water passing by. Rides in our inflatable dinghy were his most favorite treat. He would hang over the edge, happy to watch the boat moving over the liquid surface.
He happily jumped into our dinghy on this morning. We were off to an animal hospital to have some tests done because something wasn’t right with him and we needed to have “all systems go” before heading out to the Bahamas. Just the day before he had been watching and talking with his special bark to dolphins as they jumped and played through our boat’s wake along the Florida coastline. Dolphins were of particular interest to Tucker. He loved to watch them fly though the water. I’m sure he thought it would be wonderful to live so effortlessly in his most treasured of materials.
The relationship between a man and his dog is special. There is little expected of either party and there is so much gained by both. It is ultimately difficult because dogs have such short lives. While it’s true that there is severe pain when the relationship is forced to end, the balance of good weighs heavily in keeping the relationship.
The tests and resulting surgery that came out of this day were as bad as could be imagined. How could so much life and spirit be taken in just a couple of hours? How could it be that something so giving and so loving could be removed from my life? The answers to these questions shake the very beliefs that anyone would have because there was no greater good achieved from taking this life. There was no master plan that this fit into.
But apart from those things that I don’t believe, there is something that I do believe. I believe that in the late afternoon of that March day a dolphin was giving birth to a newborn. This new life was the recipient of the spirit that was leaving the broken body of my puppy. Through the sadness, anger, and remaining steps of grief that I still face, I know that he’s out there somewhere, swimming through the water that he loves so dearly. I know that he’s happy and continues to give up his love so easily to anyone or anything willing to accept it. And I know that every time I forevermore see a dolphin playing in the water, I’ll wonder if it could be him.
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