No Wine Can Do So Much

Not too long ago I bitched and moaned about a few bottles of wine that died in the bottle earlier than I expected them to. I lamented their passing as though it was something of significance. This weekend, when Tucker finally died, I was forced to recall that any grief we feel over something so trivial as a few bottles of wine tasting bad after time can only result when we let narcissism shield us from the leveling effects of context.

It was just old chardonnay. Tucker, on the other hand, was the 16 year-old family companion that slept at the edge of the bed, explored with us on walks in the park, chased and subdued chickens that strayed into our yard, taught me the necessity of learning how to bribe delivery people so as to avoid a dog bite claim with the insurance company, and never failed to greet me at the door with a wag and a jig.

Old Chardonnay never did so much for me or with me.

I think the frail, near-blind, deaf, 16 year-old Jack Russell Terrier took his own life. We found him in the pool on Saturday. Floating. Even in his elderly condition, Tucker never mistook the edge of the pool for somewhere to be.

I think he tired of the pain and simply walked it off. But in using the pool to make his exit, good old Tucker made sure he performed one more, final, public display of will and ego.

In his younger days Tucker was quite a show off. He’d do tricks, bound over very tall impediments, place dead squirrels and chickens on our bed for us to admire his accomplishments, alert us to coming delivery people before they even stopped the truck in front of our house, and fearlessly attack rattle snakes with his semi-ferocious bark while staying just far enough away from it to remain safe, but also look a little brave.

Tucker was a show off.

Not so much in his final two years when age really crippled his ego and desire for attention. However, I do think he walked into the pool as a way not only of ending his pain, but as a final and thoroughly Tuckerian effort to show off. After all, he could have done what so many other dogs do: find a private place to lay down and die. He choose something much more public.

No wine can take its own life. No wine can down chickens that stray into its cellar. No wine can give such pleasure to so many people. No wine can do a welcoming jig. And no wine can choose its method of death so as to deliver one final gesture of ego and self confidence. Tucker could do all that.

All of a sudden I don’t miss the dead Chardonnays. I do miss Tucker.

Posted In: Personal


16 Responses

  1. Fredric Koeppel - October 13, 2008

    Thank you for a lovely tribute be a beloved (and obvious v. intelligent) pet and for putting our lives in perspective this morning. We have five dogs, and we can’t help thinking sometimes that they will eventually die, though probably not in the order we anticipate. A glass of wine can be great, which is why we’re in this business, but unlike a dog it can’t respond to our needs with affection and humor.

  2. Susan - October 13, 2008

    So sorry for your loss. It really puts things in perspective.

  3. Christina - October 13, 2008

    Oh, Tom, I am so sorry to hear of your loss! Our lab, Corbets, is my favorite wine drinking companion (so I never drink alone). Losing a pet is so hard and I promise tonight I will raise a glass to Tucker.

  4. Heloisa Fialho - October 13, 2008

    oh god, you brought tears to my eyes.

  5. David Cole - October 13, 2008

    I’m sorry to hear of your loss. It took me 5 years before I got another dog after Sasha passed. They are apart of your family and I will never understand people that say, just get another one! So, if my my wife, mother or children pass, do I just get another one? Healing takes time and only “you” know when that time happens. It sounds like Tucker left you all with some great memories and stories, those will never be forgotten.
    Now if we could only get everyone else in our house to greet us at the door with a wag and a jig, wouldn’t that be great?!! I think I’ll start with the kids first, not sure me wife is gonna go for it! Thanks for sharing..:)

  6. Randy - October 13, 2008

    Sorry to hear about your dog. As you know, I lost one of our dogs recently to cancer, so I share your sense of grief.
    Give it time, then go get find a new dog to build a new friendship with. Of course it won’t be like Tucker, but it will be something special in its own right.

  7. kevin keith - October 13, 2008

    Sorry for your loss. My wife and I are going through similar pain with our oldest cat, Bo, going through cancer at 15. You come to count on them being there when you need them, for all that quiet loyalty and their love and companionship, and when they’re gone, it’s like losing any other family member.

  8. Arthur - October 13, 2008

    As always, you put across feelings in a truly eloquent manner.
    My sympathies are with you and your family.

  9. Thomas Pellechia - October 13, 2008

    You have my sympathy.
    Four weeks ago today, our standard poodle, Henry, had to be put down because of an internal cancer that neither he nor we knew he had. One day he was active, though slow, but he was almost 12. The next day he could not move from internal bleeding and anemia.
    It wasn’t the first animal I have lost in my lifetime, but it seems to get harder each time. Henry’s death knocked me for quite a loop of depression, especially on my morning walks, which he always accompanied.
    I tried to persuade my wife that we should wait a few months before getting another dog, but she persuaded me instead. And so, we located not only another standard poodle but one that comes from the same family line as Henry.
    This one we call Oliver–at 4 months old, he’s reminding me that I am getting old, as I try to keep up with him. But he has taken away some of the pain of the loss.
    We bury our animals on the property, in a little cemetery we’ve set up for them. Every two days or so, Oliver and I pay a visit to Henry’s grave, so that I can introduce the new to the fallen.

  10. Tom - October 13, 2008

    This may help…..
    make you you have a hanky when you watch….

  11. beth - wine school - October 14, 2008

    A beautiful piece. Thanks for sharing and my heart goes out to you and your family.

  12. Eric - October 14, 2008

    Gonna be hard to get anything done after reading this today…

  13. Jerry Murray - October 14, 2008

    Please add my name to the list of those who have given condolences. I can’t imagine how I would feel if my Gracie or Lucy were to part from this world. Again I am sorry for your loss.

  14. Dylan - October 14, 2008

    Tom, ironically, my uncle Tom lost his dog of 14 years. We all loved the dog, but my uncle LOVED him. He was his friend, and Tucker sounds like he was the same for you.
    It’s hard for people to understand, but it shouldn’t be. When something touches your heart, be it a person or an animal or something else–its still one of the few things to ever touch your heart.

  15. mark storer - October 14, 2008

    I’m a dog guy myself, Tom. And you’re right–wine doesn’t mean a thing next to the loyalty and love of a fine dog.

  16. Mary B. - October 15, 2008

    Tom, what a beautiful eulogy for Tucker. He was a lucky dog indeed to be part of the Wark family and to have his love and loyalty reciprocated.

Leave a Reply