You guys, I have been going through a lot of changes this fall. Like, a lot. Relationships, friendships, my own ship, I feel like I’m in the middle of some sort of coming of age novel – it has been intense. But the biggest change I’ve been dealing with is the loss of my beloved dog, Tekate (Tuh-cah-tee). It has been one full month now since we said our goodbyes and while the process has been some of what I expected, a lot of it has been not at all what I expected. So I thought I would share some of my experience with you all (not in a weepy way) but more so to share my perspective with anyone going through something similar. And obviously since he was 14 years old I’m going to share 14 memories and some of my favorite pictures of him with you!
- I got Tekate when I was 17 (I’m 32 now) the summer before senior year of high school, and it was actually my brother who picked him out from the pile of his brothers and sister! I wasn’t even home.
- He didn’t have a name for a week or so because we couldn’t agree. Eventually my mom suggested Tekate (after the beer Tecate) and it totally fit him, the consummate party animal!
- T actually went to my senior year post-post prom party because it was at my house – he was 11 months old and raging!
- T graduated first in his class from puppy school (okay I don’t know if there actually was a first but he won all of the contests each week so I think he was).
Just A Little Insight On Our Goodbyes
The whole process in the days leading up to our goodbyes was probably the worst because I was unknowingly so tense, and obviously super emotional. I don’t want to go into too many personal details of our experience because this blog post is not intended to be sad, but I will say this. When we were at the vet’s office and everything was happening (my mom flew in from Baltimore to be there), we chose to be in the room and hold Tekate during goodbyes and it really was the best decision. Everyone is different so if you are going through something similar, you have to honor and do what is best for you. But for us it was almost cathartic to hold and comfort him with his blanket and favorite toys and then have time to grieve him once he had passed without the emotions that could have stressed him out prior.
- T never met a toy he didn’t love (okay some weren’t his favorites) but he always acted so excited for each one he got!
- Tekate grew up going to the barn with me for my riding lessons, (his big brother was a horse) and he used to run through the fields, all one foot tall, once the horses were inside – I think that’s why he never knew he was a lap dog – size just didn’t matter and fun was fun.
- T’s love of the outdoors translated in always picking the direction of his walks – if you didn’t go the direction he wanted (usually to the park) he wouldn’t move until you did– my doorman loved watching him with the dog walkers!
- Tekate also had a jogging stroller that we used so he could ride along for marathon training – he trained for 4 marathons in total but 6 miles was always his limit!
(Like, he never knew how small he was…)
(First play date! He is the one on the left, who barks for the ball…obviously)
What Has Surprised Me the Most
Prior to Tekate’s passing – I always thought I would be a shell of a person without him… like too sad to go on. And while I definitely had a few days where the tears would just come, surprisingly sadness was not the leading emotion. This experience has really opened my eyes to making the time you do have count – and that is for any capacity in your life. It is human nature to want more time – but even if you could get more, you’d still never be able to recreate a past moment, so it is a huge eye opener to really just be present in each moment you get. Tekate was always a priority in my life and because of that, I know our years together were rich and meaningful and look back with only the fondest memories, not a single ounce of regret – that’s a huge blessing.
- Tekate went to college with me for two years and his 4thbirthday was a huge joint birthday party for him and two human buddies – we had kegs, my neighbor called the police, it was wild!
- I had viral meningitis in college and Tekate never left my side – he would stare at me without blinking when the pain was really bad – like a personal breathing coach.
- In college Tekate knew our morning routine so well – when we came inside after the morning walk we were usually running late so he would sprint up the stairs and down the hall to my room, turn, and wait for me to put up the baby gate! Some days I would put him back in the bed for extra comfort and when I’d get home he would still be in the bed (and since T could not jump on furniture) I knew he’d been in the same spot all day!
- Tekate was a pro traveler, and for a time would even pee on a newspaper right before boarding for flights – in Chicago he would take the bus, train, and Uber and every night for years he would sleep in his travel bag by choice!
- Tekate was literally the most vocal and had an opinion about everything and I always encouraged him to speak his mind!
- Tekate was one foot tall and 13 pounds in his prime and there were a lot of things in life that made him nervous: fireworks, stairs, jumping off of furniture, making friends. But he never let anything get in the way of him having a good time, he always said yes to life. He taught me without ever saying a word what it means to be a good friend, what unconditional love looks like, that being yourself is always enough, and that it is okay to be nervous but try anyway. Tekate changed my life.
(My mom and Tekate’s all time greatest conversation)
My New Chapter
I’m starting a whole new chapter of adult life without Tekate (in the flesh) and no lie, it is a lot to wrap my head around. But this is the main reason I am not getting another dog right now. Tekate was such an emotional support to me for years; I was never alone because I always had him and because of that I don’t know if I have ever fully learned how to be alone. And that is something that’s really important to me. So still one month later, some days are better than others, where my days are full and my nights are fun, and other days, I feel totally burnt out, alone, and by the end the of day I’m in tears. BUT I’m figuring it out, how to comfort myself, finding a work-life balance, and building an inner strength. I miss Tekate everyday – he came into my life when I was just a kid who really needed a friend and left me as an adult ready to embrace standing on my own two feet and I just really could not be more thankful that I had him.