My Heart

Tessa, Bullmarket Terror of Toronto

Bullmarket's Terror of Toronto - 22 Nov 1994 - 05 May 2010

This was written in 2007.  It is re posted today, in memory of Tessa.

Her eyes are a deep chocolate brown, with long dark lashes. Both are cloudy now, and the left has an opaque area that I’m beginning to worry might be a cataract. I haven’t taken her to the doctor yet, out of fear that he’ll tell me she needs surgery. I don’t want to put her through that, I’m not sure enough that it will help. Her deep chestnut hair is almost completely white, and looking at older photos make me ache. My partner says he prefers her like this, that she looks stately. I don’t want her to be stately – I want her to be young.

Her hips hurt her, too frequently now for my taste. I’ve had to carry her up the stairs a few times, and I worry when she walks on ice. I make sure she takes her supplements, glucosamine and shark cartilage and blue green algae. They probably don’t make any difference, but it’s something I can do to try to stave off the inevitable. It’s been years since she could jump on and off the bed without help, but last week she made it onto the couch – one simple jump, and she was up. I’m not sure who was more amazed, of the two of us.

I was there the day she was born. I watched her eyes open, and her first steps. I carried her with me, inside of my coat, to work and school and once into the movies. She never made a sound – she liked it there. She knew what drive-throughs were by the time she was three months old. Did I spoil her? I’m sure I did, that I still do. I don’t care.

For almost thirteen years, she has been my heart and my center. I’ve changed jobs, careers, lovers, homes, myself. I’ve changed everything, but she has been my one stable core, the single thing that has kept me grounded, and made me a better, less selfish person. I’ve taken responsibility for her, I’ve been responsible, both because I owe her that, and because I could never give her any less.

I was sick, once. In the hospital, for quite a long time. I was scared, and I didn’t like being there, alone. My boyfriend brought her in, late at night, inside of a duffel bag, and laid her on the bed with me. The nurses knew, but left us alone. She slept with me, at my side, and in the morning she left with him again. He told me she stayed at the door, her nose pressed to the bottom of it, waiting. Her waiting is part of what brought me home.

It hasn’t all been easy, though. She’s stubborn, and has tried my patience on more than one occasion. I foolishly attempted obedience with her, convinced she was smart, but I was smarter. I wasn’t. She once was doing a retrieve, over a jump, bringing me back a small wooden dumbell. She approached the jump, spit the dumbell over it, then walked around to pick it up and complete her recall. She looked very pleased when she arrived. My trainer said ‘what can you do with a dog this smart?’. I concurred.

Her strength then amazed me. I would shake her rag bone at her, and she’d clamp on with her teeth. I’d pick her up and twirl her around, while she closed her eyes and growled softly under her breath. When I’d put her down, her whole body would wag with happiness. She’d never let go, not ever, so it was always up to me to give in. Once I didn’t stop soon enough, and there was blood on the rag. She’d held on, even after her gums began to bleed. I was ashamed of not knowing when to stop.

That determination was part of everything she did. I had her certified as a pet therapist, which allowed us to volunteer to visit hostels and sick wards. She was relentless in loving everyone we met. Scared, angry children found comfort by burying themselves in the soft fur of her neck. They shared secrets with her, and she would stare at them with deep, dark eyes, giving them assurance that she’d keep what they told her safe. With fragile ones, she would be still and quiet, lying as close as she could. Did she know? I believe so, in spite of what some might think.

The time we live in prohibits us from speaking about the ones we love. We’re all supposed to be so detached, so cool. Loving just an ‘animal’ so much that your heart can be broken just by thinking about the inevitable is a betrayal of everything sarcastic and ironic. We laugh off what secretly kills us, in the most valuable places inside. I can accept that my love for her isn’t cool. I owe her more than that. I owe her everything that makes me proud of myself.

She has lived what is, for her breed, a very long life. I’ve watched friends lose dogs much younger than she is, knowing every day that I’m lucky. She comes from a family that lives longer than most, and her genetics have always been good. I’m thankful for that. I watch her, as she slows down every day. I know what is coming, but it isn’t here, not yet. I will do everything in my power to delay it, so long as it doesn’t cause her pain. I will keep her with me, and when that time comes, I will be with her.

I write this now, because when it happens, I will not be able to write anything at all. I can barely complete this, but I will. Out of love for her, and honour for her love for me.

26 replies
  1. Laurie
    Laurie says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. As I write this I can barely see through the tears. Although my little Frenchie is only a year old, I too will feel like this. Your words make me think of my German Shepard, who for me was my heart and soul. She’ been dead for 12 years now and every day I still mourn her loss. I would give just about anything I own to have her back. Again, words just do not do it justice.

  2. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    Carol and Sean…..there are no words. My heart breaks for you. I feel blessed that I was able to meet Tessa in person. There are no words to make your pain go away, cherish your memories, she was a very special girl and much loved….

  3. Kristina Stratton
    Kristina Stratton says:

    Oh Carol, I am so very,very sorry for your loss. Mere words cannot adequately express my sympathy. I look at my girls and can’t ever imagine them not being here. Every day they share with us is a gift of immeasurable love and trust. Our thoughts are with you.

  4. Dana
    Dana says:

    I think it is “cool” to love an animal this much. 16 years is a long time, and yet not nearly long enough. You are a wonderful dog mom.

  5. cscott
    cscott says:

    all dogs go to heaven. it’s not a movie, it’s a fact. they are the most earnest, genuine, and sensitive of all God’s creatures. my buddy roscoe is 3 as of 4 days ago. sometimes when he looks at me early in the morning with those intelligent, wide frenchie eyes, i think i’d be lost if i lost him. everyone who has ever loved a four legged friend can glimpse your feelings, but ultimately, your love is yours, and only you know the pain that loss causes. i will say a prayer of peace for you and a prayer of thanksgiving for tessa’s memory.

  6. Cait
    Cait says:

    Oh dammit. There’s always this sort of feeling for old dogs that belong to someone else, that maybe this will be the one that lives forever. I’m sorry it wasn’t Tessa.

    I’m so sorry. Good thoughts for you and your family.
    .-= Cait´s last blog ..As promised, snow photos =-.

  7. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. There are never words to express my sympathies, and there are never enough years with them by our sides

  8. maggie
    maggie says:

    Oh Carol.. there are no words. I’m so very sorry for your loss. I wish I could be there to hug you right now.

    Much love from,
    Maggie, Lola and Sushi <3<3<3

  9. Aline Nolasco
    Aline Nolasco says:

    Before I started reading the post, just looking at her picture I knew what had happened. I immediately called my husband, and tried to tell him, crying, that Tessa had moved somewhere else… I’ve cried for over an hour now, and I’ve never met her. But it felt like I did. Everytime I look at Anita, my old frenchie lady, I think of Tessa…
    In two months I’ll be going to Canada. And I had a dream to meet Tessa… I guess we’ll have to wait a little longer…
    I’m sorry for your loss. It takes years to talk about our beloved four legged kids without crying. Sometimes, whole existances. I guess it’s the least we can do do cherish their memories, to preserve all the wonders we could live because we had them by our side. (Sometimes on our laps, in our arms, biting our ears or simply loving us with their almond eyes.
    I’m really sorry. I guess I thought she would live forever…

  10. Alicia
    Alicia says:

    Oh, I am devastated for you. Having recently lost my heart of 9 years, your loss of Tessa strikes close to home. I envy you the years you had with her and mourn with you the loss of your heart. As I have tried so many times to explain to non-pet people, nothing can replace the love received from our beloved companions. Forgive the religious sentiment if it offends, but I know God loves me…I see in the eyes of my four-footed family members every time they look at me. Virtual hugs winging their way to you.

  11. Angelica
    Angelica says:

    I have been a huge Tessa fan. I got the email update about your blog, it said nothing but MY HEART, and I knew. I clicked on your blog as fast as I could, hoping it wasn’t TESSA. I loved your blog mainly because of Tessa. Tessa being strong and living a really full life and reaching that age is what I can only hope for – from my frenchbulldog, Bruno.
    Rest in Peace Tessa –
    She lives on, you will see her again.

  12. KarenTX
    KarenTX says:

    My heart mourns for you, Lovey has only been in my life for over a year, but I think she is my “heart”, too. I can only wish that I have as long as you did with Tessa, she was a grand ol’ dame! Hugs.

  13. angelika
    angelika says:

    So sorry to read about your loss. Farewel little Tessa, may all the dogs that went before over the bridge welcome you


  14. Isabelle
    Isabelle says:

    We are crying for Tessa and for you today, and for all the sorrows that the death of a little dog, whom we never knew, bring back.

  15. Jesse
    Jesse says:

    I’m sad I missed this post too. And I’m even more sorry, and sad for your loss. From what I’ve seen, she has had a wonderful life. I hope my little frenchie will have as long and happy life as Tessa.

  16. Lewis R. Schafer
    Lewis R. Schafer says:

    I just wanted to let you know that we still have our little piece of Tessa. Carmen is 13 now and we are looking forward to more years with her. You told me when I got her she would be the sweetest dog I’d ever have. She has been that and so much more. I am so lucky that you shared Tessa with me. Thank you so much. We love Carmen (zoe bits) more than you will ever know.

    • frogdogz
      frogdogz says:

      Oh yay! I’m so so so glad to know that little Ms. Carmen is still doing well. Actually, Charlotte and I were just talking about you the other night! What a small world.

      Please send photos, when you get a chance – I’d love to see her.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by FrogDogZ. FrogDogZ said: New blog post: My Heart […]

Comments are closed.