Farewell, Tennyson

We said good-bye to a member of our family yesterday. Tennyson came into our lives 14 1/2 years ago, wobbly, fuzzy, with a head as big as his body. Yesterday, he left our lives as Tennyson and hippoJon and I held him and murmured our good-byes, freeing him from the cancer eating at his body.

He was never the world’s best dog. In fact, he could have given Marley of Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog a run for his money. He ate entire socks, underwear, and the center stone to my engagement ring (yes, really). He peed on every bed we ever bought him. He destroyed every toy, including the ones billed for “tough chewers.” Early on, he developed an eye condition that required surgery at a veterinary ophthalmologist (price tag: cha-ching). He dug through visitors’ purses and luggage for Backpacking Tennysonanything in the neighborhood of edible. He shed twice a year like it was his job. He dug through the bathroom trash. He never did learn to heel or fetch. He was a born explorer, compelled to sniff every nook and cranny, and thus an incorrigible wanderer. He demonstrated a go-go-gadget ability to reach items on kitchen counters that seemed well beyond his reach, inhaling his reward packaging and all.

In fact, he was such a pain that I’ve been caught off guard by how brutal this is. The reel of memories has been playing hard these last hours: the backpacking trips where he cheerfully carried his own gear and, against all odds, proved to be a great trail dog; the pressure of his weight as he leaned against me; the years he provided comfort as our Tennyson and Samibaby when we were struggling to have one of our own; the few years he shared with our second beagle, Sami, before she left us too soon; his head buried inside a doggie stocking on Christmas mornings; tripping over him every evening as I cooked dinner; the jangle of his tags as he followed me from room to room, never wanting to be far from his humans; his presence in a thousand unremarkable moments, part of the fabric of our lives for nearly all of our adulthood, woven into the fabric of our family from its start.

So, now we learn how to be a family without him. Lina looked out the glass door at the rain this morning and told Jon we needed to let Tennyson in. When Jon reminded her that Tennyson is gone, she said “Tennyson is dead,” and her lip trembled. Corin has internalized a

Family photo fall 2010

Photo: Katie Schoepflin Photography

lot, as he tends to do, but choked up last night at bedtime as we talked about what he would miss most.

At these times, I always wonder why we do this to ourselves. Why do we sign up for the inevitable heartbreak of losing a pet that becomes a member of the family? I suppose the answer is contained in the grief. We have 14 years of memories that remain.

Rest well, Tennyson. You weren’t a good dog, but you loved and were loved well.

5 thoughts on “Farewell, Tennyson

  1. Janet Roy says:

    Jolene, I don’t think we’ve,met and I am surprised to see all the writings and sources you have. My husband taught Jon at Coble, and I knew the family and I taught Jason.in 3rd and 4th grade.(and his wife Katelyn in 4th grade).

    I know the heartache of losing beloved pets – both dogs, cats, and birds. I have an almost 19-year-old kitty who is still doing okay, but her kidney function (and weight) is gradually going down so I knew what’s eventually coming.

    I have always hoped that our pets would be in heaven. Someone once said to me: “If Jesus believes you would love to have your pets and that would make you happy – of course He will do that for you.” Well, that didn’t convince me.

    But then I thought why should just the pets be in heaven? Think of all the millions of animals who had hard, hard lives in this world. They deserve to be in heaven after going through hell on this earth. And think of all the little lambs that were sacrificed (besides other animals). They should have a place of honor because they represented Jesus.

    Anyway I have prayed about it and talked about it and read other people’s comments: Then one day several years ago I was reading a book that had a story about a woman who lost her very beloved dog and was so devastated that she asked God for help. She felt He answered her telling her she would see “Jack” again someday in heaven.

    I loved that story and I choose to believe that all animals with a consciousness will be in the New Earth. Why create new animals when these animals lived through this sinful world – they deserve an eternity of bliss?

    What about animals that are mean or are trained to be brutal?? Well, either God can remove that or He can take the animal at a point in time before it became (or was trained) that way.

    If you want to have a copy of this story from the book I will e-mail it to you. Just send me your e-mail. Mine is jrjanroy@gmail.com

    I surely hope I got names correct at the beginning. First memory loss issue when you get old seems to be one forgets names. I call even family members by each others’ names!

    • Jolene says:

      Thank you for sharing that story! I have always hoped that our pets would be in heaven, and I like your thoughts on other animals, as well. Jon has talked about the Roys from his days at Coble, and I’m sure Justin and Katelyn remember you, as well. It’s nice to “meet” you! I will be thinking of you and your kitty. (And I gotta tell you, if mixing up family members’ names is a sign of old age, I’m in trouble!)

  2. Phil says:

    The extent of your shared memories here sure show your love and value for Tennyson’s life with you. – Hard when their journey turns onward, but boy it’s not to be missed.

  3. Rue'sblog says:

    Sorry for your loss of you’re Beagle 😦 it’s always hard to say bye I had to say bye to a few of my Beagles and it’s hard

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