"If it wasn't for these dogs, I'd have gone in that garage, turned that car on..." I don't know how many times Dad told me that over the last four years. When he was angry or hurting after Mam died and after I told him I had found out the truth about my birth.
At first I was startled that he would threaten to kill himself so openly. But it soon triggered my own startling response: anger. I asked Dad not to lash out with that, told him I was sorry he was feeling that way but when he mentioned killing himself, it brought me to my own dark place: years ago my then-husband went through a deep depression and he threatened to kill himself, telling me exactly what he would do. I tried to get help for him. In the meantime I came home from my evening work and stood at the front door listening for and dreading to hear the sound of running water from the bathroom. I explained all this to Dad in the hope that he would stop his threats. Above all else, I was extremely grateful for the comfort and distraction that his two dogs, Vinnie and Tally gave him and I dreaded anything ever happening to those dogs. When Vinnie died about 9 months after Mam, Tally became Dad's shadow.
A little soft-haired, white dog with floppy ears, short legs, a long tail and a sweet expression, Tally was a rescue dog along with Vinnie. They arrived at the Humane Society together from the same home and they left together to live with Mam and Dad. Before Dad got his hearing aids, Tally let him know that the phone was ringing by running to him then running to the phone. Dad took Tally everywhere and everyone knew Tally--tolerant with people but intolerant towards other dogs, people loved her. Dad was a familiar sight each day in all weather walking down Rosslyn Road with Tally trotting by his side on his way to pick up the mail. A man with his cane and his dog walking down the road. People honked and Dad waved with his cane or, if he had time, transferring Tally's lead to his cane hand so he had a hand free to wave. Tally went everywhere in the car. Dad timed all his outings so she would be warm enough or cool enough depending on the season.
They played games together. Dad would give Tally one of his gloves after a walk and she would run round and round through the house with it before returning it to him. She snuggled next to him or on his knee and followed him whenever he went outside. After a walk in the rain, Tally would lift each of her paws in succession, even her back paws, so Dad could dry them.
When Dad met Sandy, his lady friend, in April, his life changed. And he changed. He drove out to Lake Shebandowan regularly (an hour's drive away) and stayed at Sandy's. Of course Tally always went along even though Sandy's cat had a lot to say about that. Sandy immediately understood the importance of Tally in Dad's life, saying that Tally could go down to Florida to visit in the winter. Tally's welfare was considered in every move Dad made.
But Tally began having health issues. Last Wednesday, when I last saw her, she was diagnosed with liver disease but it seemed like she might have had months left. However, she became increasingly disinterested in life and food which was her second biggest love, Dad being her first. My son Dane, who is presently living with Dad, had asked me to let him know if anything happened to Tally as he was going out of town on a business trip this week. He had seen a rapid decline in her and was worried. As it turned out, Dad was out at Sandy's when Tally seemed to "completely shut off from everything." Dad somehow made the drive in to town and to the vets. Sandy followed. And Dad had to put Tally down. He called me at work to tell me through confusion and tears.
The world seems a little emptier without Tally, Dad a little more hollow, his house echoingly quiet. But we are all enriched by knowing such a devoted little soul. A little dog with a huge heart who completely embraced her role of faithful companion. I believe that Tally was getting tired, no one knows her real age as she was a mature rescue, and that she realised that her role, while still vital and important, was not as essential any more. Dad had turned a corner in his life and Tally had guided him there, been beside him every step of the way. What more could anyone ask?
I wish I could have said goodbye to Tally. I wish I could have thanked her for all she was to me, to everyone, but especially for all she was to Dad. Especially during those times when humans and life itself seemed to fail him. I wish I could have thanked her but as I sit here writing this, finally able to fully cry for her, I have a feeling that she knows. Rest in peace, little one. Your work on earth is done.
Welcome! I'm Sue Blott: a writer of all things, a poet at heart, mom, wife, daughter, step-mom, grandma, tea drinker, tai chi-er, mystic, artist, dreamer...and now a blogger! This is my world.