TUCK, SUMMERWIND's ONCE AND FOR ALL
(2002 - 2009)
This past weekend we said goodbye to our Tuck, SummerWind's Once and For All. He had been diagnosed with osteosarcoma in a rear leg in early April, and we managed his pain fairly well until just a few days ago, when the tumor had grown considerably and he was becoming increasingly uncomfortable, even with heavy doses of pain medication. On Sunday, we decided to let him go, and our wonderful Greyhound vet, Dr. Toby Carmichael,generously took some time from his holiday weekend to meet me at his clinic to put him to sleep.
Pam and Glen Davis happened to be spending the weekend with us, and it was fitting that they got to say a final good-bye to Tuck, as it was they who brought him to us in 2005. They had brought a group of JCKC Greyhounds up on that occasion, and this particular haul was one being met by our GPA-Atlanta transport volunteers at our farm.When Tuck jumped out of the hauler, he immediately caught my eye -- a big, strapping red fawn fellow, one of the most strikingly handsome Greyhounds I had ever seen. Click here for photos and pedigree.
He had a ready-for-anything demeanor, andwalked around like he owned the place. I made the usual jokes to the effect that someone had better adopt him before I decided I wanted him. He did not have a call name, and I recall that we just referred to him as "the red dog."
The transport volunteers took the red dog and the rest of the Greyhounds to the adoption kennel for their processing in and vetting, but I kept thinking about the big red guy and persuaded Laura that we should foster him. He fit in well with our group, and I continued to admire him from near and far -- he had a marvelous fluidity in his movement, particularly in his shoulder, and when he would walk up and down the fence line in our dog pasture, he reminded me of a lion surveying his domain. Part of me wanted to keep him, and the other part said we had more than enough Greyhounds at the time.
In a few weeks, a club member and her daughter, who had a couple of Greyhounds already, took a fancy to him and decided to adopt him. As they lived in our county, I decided it would be a good thing, as we might get to see him more often than if he lived on the north side of Atlanta. We finalized the adoption soon thereafter, but within 24 hours I had the worst case of "foster remorse" I've ever had, before or since. I kept thinking about the red dog, and whenever I saw the adopters, I would insist that they tell me everything he had been doing.
As fate would have it, the red dog "bounced" about six months later, and as were nearby, we agreed that the adopters could bring him to us straightaway and we would once again foster him. As he might be with us a bit longer this time, I decided he needed a proper call name. Since he put me in mind of the big rangy Greyhounds used in the West in the late 1800's to hunt antelope and deer in packs, I read up a bit about General Custer's Greyhounds and longdogs and learned that his favorite Greyhound's name was Tuck. So his call name at our place became Tuck, and he must have liked it, as he almost immediately began answering to it.
Having Tuck back once again presented a quandry -- if we let him go to another adopter, would I once again have another bad case of foster remorse ? Laura solved the dilemma a few weeks later, on my birthday in 2006. I came home from a meeting, and there was Tuck greeting me at the door with a big red ribbon tied around his neck -- he was my birthday present ! That settled it, as if it needed any settling -- there would be no more foster remorse insofar as Tuck was concerned.
Tuck settled right in and asserted his authority, especially when running with the other dogs in the pasture. He was not a "clean" runner when free running, and the other dogs soon learned to give way and let Tuck pass them, lest they get a "shoulder in" from him. Only after Admiral arrived from England did Tuck decide he had met his match, and only after Admiral gave him "the look" while they were running together did Tuck decide that giving Admiral his shoulder was not in his best interests.
On the other hand, he was a focused runner when lure coursing, and never offered to interfere with another dog when a lure was running. He was a splendid runner, and had the same fluid movement at the gallop as he did at the trot or walk. In retrospect, Tuck was in Cole's shadow for much of his amatuer athletic career, and I'm sorry that he didn't go on as many road trips with us as he might have otherwise done.
He was a challenge to slip, as he used all of his 82 pounds to try to wriggle out of your grasp once the lure began moving. I once asked Stephen Bachelor if he wanted to slip a Greyhound since he wasn't running a dog at the time, handed him Tuck's sliplead, and warned him that he could be a handful in slips. Stephen took my warning to heart, but despite his best efforts, Tuck had him in knots once the tally ho was called. His slipping Tuck became something of a tradition, and I was always happy to hand Tuck over to Stephen and have the pleasure of watching Tuck run without risking ending up on my backside.They made quite a team, and in time Tuck learned that he would be released soon enough if he kept his antics to a minimum.
Tuck was always happy to roughhouse with you, sometimes to my regret. He once got a case of the zoomies in our kennel yard, and without much room to manuever, he ran into me and knocked me flat--I hadn't been hit that hard since high school football. But he could be equally perceptive about the need to just stand and be petted. His was the first Greyhound head I touched when I came home from the hospital following heart surgery, and that touch made me feel better than all the pain meds I had taken in the hospital.
Tuck will always be a part of our history--he was "Mr. January" in the Greymates calendar, standing in stately repose beside Laura and her horse, and now the "revised" version of that photo will go forward on one of our GPA-Atlanta information cards. We will treasure both images.
Tuck was such a vital and energetic Greyhound -- always up for anything you wanted to do, any time night or day. Although the diagnosis of bone cancer is never an easy one to get even for a senior, it is a gut-wrenching blow for a mid-aged dog who seems almost invincible. We can only hope that the research will one day find a cure for it, or at least a longterm effective treatment that will hold it at bay for years, not months.
But Tuck is free of all those concerns now, and for all I know is in some limitless pasture somewhere, chasing big game with the Greyhound he was named after, having practiced on a few imprudent whitetail deer in our dog pasture. For myself, I am feeling that remorse once again, not knowing when I will see him again and marvel at what a handsome Greyhound he was.
Rest in peace, big red dog--and be nice to your running mates.
John and Laura Parker