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I just laid one of my favorite climbing partners to rest
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By Sam Stephens
Oct 13, 2011
Top half of Melifluous

Yesterday I had to lay my best friend to rest. Tucker was given to me by a friend and he was my best friend for the short 2.5 years he was with me.

Tucker was found in a ditch and I went and picked him up from my friend April C. We met halfway and I took him back to college with me. From the first day the weather broke that winter Tucker was out climbing with me. Every time I went climbing, Tucker went climbing. And that's how he grew up. He was a climbing dog. He chased rocks and fetched them like some dogs do with tennis balls. He laid and waited for me while we were climbing and protected our gear. He was always there for me and never scared to follow me anywhere. More than once I caught him climbing up easy stuff way too high trying to follow me.

About a year ago to the date I received a call while I was at work in Montana from my girlfriend back home in Virginia. She told me Tucker had cancer and I about lost it. he wasn't barely two years old at that point, I couldn't believe it.

My work was ending in Montana and I came home to be with them. We took him to NC State where they were doing a study on Lymphoma, the kind of cancer he had. They took him in, did their work, and started him on chemo. We left NC State owing them $7.00. I owe them a lot more than that.

For the next 6 months April (my girlfriend, not the one who gave me the dog) took care of him. She's a veterinarian and did double duty going to work and then giving Tucker his chemo when she got home. For the first 6 months all was well. You wouldn't have known the dog was sick. He had all the energy in the world and still climbed with us and ran and played like normal.

After about 6 months it went downhill and we started to be able to tell. His lymphnodes started to swell back up and we had to switch treatments. We tried another chemo drug. It worked for a couple months. Then we switched again. That worked for a few months, and finally one last drug to get him to where we were today.

When we started this process we said we didn't want him to suffer so we knew we had to make the call.

Tucker was still happy but you could tell the cancer was starting to eat him. He was getting lots of nodules and swelling from the cancer. He was losing hair, and lots of muscle mass. He had dropped ten pounds and was slower getting around. At one point he had so much fluid in his elbows they burst open and for the past two months April has been wrapping his elbows trying to nurse his sores.

There was a lot that we had to struggle with but we both felt like even a week longer and he would start developing complications and so we said that today was the day. We were both off and could spend one last good day with him.

We started off by taking him to Petsmart where he picked out a couple toys himself and we got him some rawhide bones. We also bought him his favorite toy in the world two days ago; a red squeaky ball. For the past two years he has been attached to these balls and for the past two months has not let it out of his sight.

Then we went to Food Lion and I bought him a big T-Bone steak.

Then we drove to Riverwalk, a nice little recreation area by the Catawba river here where we live in SC. We found a bench and sat with him for a while. We let him squeak his ball, and we gave him some bones. He buried one of the rawhides by the bench. We left it as a memorial for him. Then I went and found a big rock for him to chase. We threw it for him and you could see how excited he was. He ran after the rock like he was a puppy again. And he brought it back to us, and we threw it again. And he brought it back and then laid down. It was obvious he was getting tired.

While he was laying with his rock today we served him his special lunch. I took the steak right out of the package and laid it on top of his rock. He devoured it faster than I've ever seen him eat anything ever before. He loved it so much. We sat with him for a while longer and then headed home to let him say goodbye to our other dogs one last time.

When left and went to the hospital where April works. When we got there they had the surgery suite set up for us so we could sit with him. We sat with him and told him how handsome he was and how great of a dog he was and how much he meant to us as one of the Dr.'s took care of the business. He passed softly, staring at his red ball.

Tucker was a great dog, my best friend, and a companion to the end. I don't know what I'll do without him but it's not going to be the same. He lived a life full of adventure and happiness and I'm able to (but barely) take some solace in the fact that he was so happy yesterday and went without suffering.








And our last outing by the river. You can see his rock with him and how happy he was.


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By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Oct 13, 2011

I'm so sorry, Sam. Devastating. "You give them what time you can spare, and they give you everything in return."


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By Woodchuck ATC
Oct 13, 2011
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008

Looks like a true climbing outdoors dog.


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By Dean Hoffman
Oct 13, 2011

“When I return to the world, I will be a man. I will walk among you. I will lick my lips with my small, dexterous tongue. I will shake hands with other men, grasping firmly with my opposable thumbs. And I will teach all people that I know. And when I see a man or a woman or a child in trouble, I will extend my hand, both metaphorically and physically. I will offer my hand. To him. To her. To you. To the world. I will be a good citizen, a good partner in the endeaver of life that we all share.”
― Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain

Sorry to hear about your friend. This quote is from a good book I read recently, from the narrator, a Dog...


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By Derek Tremblay
From NH
Oct 13, 2011

Sorry for your loss man. He looks like a good little bro.


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By P. Sully
Oct 13, 2011
@ Grayson Highlands somewhere up near Rhody Gap

so sorry for your loss, Sam.

I lost my dog Geeta to cancer a few years back and she too was a great climbing dog, and was always by my side. So hard to watch her body deteriorate, because her will and spirit never faltered.

Geeta on a Moonstomp
Geeta on a Moonstomp


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By Dill
From Strum, WI
Oct 13, 2011

Sorry to hear that man. Our pets become such a part of our family it is hard to lose them.


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By NickinCO
From colorado
Oct 13, 2011
after the hard stuff, into cruiser hands.

So sorry to hear man. Holding my old dog when they put him down was the hardest thing I've ever done.


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By Jeb Tilly
From Boulder
Oct 13, 2011
Atop Paiute, July 2011

So sorry to hear it. I can tell from your photos he was a great critter. I lost mine (on the right) to cancer over the summer. He started his climbing days in the New as well. I wrote some stuff about how it felt to me at the time: damnationranch.com/rip-friends. Maybe it helps.

Tailgating with Blender in Boulder
Tailgating with Blender in Boulder


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By KevinF
From Granby, CT
Oct 13, 2011

Sorry for your loss Sam, he certainly was a handsome dog.


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By David Rivers
Oct 13, 2011
East Beach bouldering

So sorry, Sam.


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By Coppolo
From Denver, CO
Oct 13, 2011
Sunrise in Stevens gulch

thank you for this. I'm really sorry.


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By Peter Stokes
From Them Thar Hills
Oct 13, 2011
Wall Street, Moab, UT

Many thanks for sharing this


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By ErikaNW
Oct 13, 2011
Rapping off the Matron October, 2010

Thank you for sharing, I am seriously in tears right now. Your story brought back memories of my last day with my Molly-dog just about 2 years ago. It looks like you gave Tucker a wonderful life, and he added a lot of joy to yours.


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By Jonathan Williams
From Minneapolis
Oct 13, 2011
Me.

I'm so sorry for your loss. JW


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By Owen Darrow
From Garmisch,
Oct 14, 2011
Nice view

I lost mine 3 years back and still think of her often. Thanks for this


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By Doug Lintz
From Kearney, NE
Oct 14, 2011
Destroyer of popcorn

Sam,
Thanks for sharing that. I know how hard that decision is to make. Take comfort knowing you gave Tucker the most he could get out of his short life.


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By ssimonson09
From Tacoma, WA
Oct 14, 2011
Roadtrip!

Seriously in tears here man, I know what you're going though... Lord Byron said it best though:

Near this Spot
are deposited the Remains of one
who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferosity,
and all the virtues of Man without his Vices.

This praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery
if inscribed over human Ashes,
is but a just tribute to the Memory of
BOATSWAIN, a DOG,
who was born in Newfoundland May 1803
and died at Newstead Nov. 18, 1808.

When some proud Son of Man returns to Earth,
Unknown by Glory, but upheld by Birth,
The sculptor’s art exhausts the pomp of woe,
And storied urns record who rests below.
When all is done, upon the Tomb is seen,
Not what he was, but what he should have been.
But the poor Dog, in life the firmest friend,
The first to welcome, foremost to defend,
Whose honest heart is still his Master’s own,
Who labours, fights, lives, breathes for him alone,
Unhonoured falls, unnoticed all his worth,
Denied in heaven the Soul he held on earth –
While man, vain insect! hopes to be forgiven,
And claims himself a sole exclusive heaven.

Oh man! thou feeble tenant of an hour,
Debased by slavery, or corrupt by power –
Who knows thee well must quit thee with disgust,
Degraded mass of animated dust!
Thy love is lust, thy friendship all a cheat,
Thy tongue hypocrisy, thy heart deceit!
By nature vile, ennobled but by name,
Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame.
Ye, who perchance behold this simple urn,
Pass on – it honors none you wish to mourn.
To mark a friend’s remains these stones arise;
I never knew but one – and here he lies.


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By bajaandy
From Escondido, CA
Oct 14, 2011
Bouldering in my backyard

Damnit man... So sorry for your loss. I know from experience how hard this is... lost our beloved Yankee to cancer a few years ago. Like you, we simply couldn't bear to see him suffer any more. You treated him well, and he in turn gave you his love and affection. You will carry that with you always. Someday you may have another dog, but none will ever take Tucker's place. I'm glad you took the time to so eloquently share your story with us. I hope you find some peace in the sharing and the knowledge that you're not alone.


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By Stu Ritchie
From Denver
Oct 14, 2011
Desert Tortoise

So sorry for your loss.


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By Evan Sanders
From Westminster, CO
Oct 14, 2011
Flaming Pumpkin

Wow. Just wow man. My heart goes out to you, I know it's tough. I lost a dog too a couple years back. It was such a tough choice to put him down, part of me wanted to keep him for as long as possible, but i knew that would have been selfish because of the amount of pain he was in. Stay strong bud. He obviously had a great life, however short it was.


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By Andrew Shoemaker
From Garden Valley, ID
Oct 14, 2011
Me on Mt. Evans

Damn dude! This is making me cry. So so sorry for your loss. I know how it feels...back in high school I came home to find my dog laying dead in the road and it was the hardest thing I've ever done to pick her up off the road, her body still warm and her blood spilling on to my arms and carry her to the house. Our pets are better humans then most of us will ever be. They give so much to us and it is tough to see them go but the good memories will always be there : )


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By M Irving
Oct 14, 2011

Sorry to hear of your best bud. You gave him a fine memorial.


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By Kevin Craig
Oct 14, 2011
KC on Fields (medium).  Photo (c) Doug Shepherd

So sad for your loss. Sounds like Tucker had a pretty good climbing partner too. Thanks for the moving tribute.


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By Erik Tasker
Oct 14, 2011
Yosemite

Rocky...RIP  10/12/11
Rocky...RIP 10/12/11


Rocky
Rocky



Thanks for the story Sam, brought tears into my eyes. Looks like Tucker lived a great life. I feel your pain man. Yesterday I also lost my best friend Rocky to Lymphoma. He was 5 years old. Loved that dog more than anything and he will be greatly missed.


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By Sam Stephens
Oct 14, 2011
Top half of Melifluous

Thanks for all the kind words and condolences. It's doing me good to share and talk about it. I'm glad to know that many people can relate and even more so to hear that Tucker's story touched some people.


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