He was big, black and beautiful. He arrived in my life the day the For Sale sign was hammered into our front lawn. He was as stressed as I was. We were both in transition. He had a new home and a new master, and I was moving from the home I had lived in for 40 years.
Tate, my third service dog, had such a gentle spirit and a great desire to work. He spent six weeks with me in London: watching people pack boxes, seeing them come and go, and learning how to help me. Then we helped each other transition to a new community. Tate picked up his tasks quickly and we were soon working like a well-oiled machine. He knew things I needed before I would ask.
He also was full of mischief. One day I thought he was in my room with the door shut while I was at my brother’s, only to look down the hall and see him standing there wagging his tail. He seemed very proud that he could open the door without me asking.
Tate and I had fun, and though he loved to work, he did not like his working harness. He was very ticklish, and for the first few minutes, it would bug him. But after he got over that, he was ready to go were his job led him.
Two years ago, I retired Tate. Yet, he stayed with me. He was happy being at home more but would still want to go with me wherever I went. I would take him in the car for a ride if it was not too cold or too hot, but it got too hard for him to get in and out of the car. After that, he took it upon himself to be at the door to welcome me home with great vitality. Even in retirement, he was a blessing to others by visiting our local hospice, giving hope to those at the end of life.
Last May at Tate’s checkup, the vet found cancer and told me he had about six months to live. That dog loved life and had fun with my new service dog. They became close buddies.
In April I traveled to London for my book launch. Tate came with me and stayed with a friend. On April 23, five days before my second book launch, it was apparent that Tate’s life was ending and the heartbreaking phone call to the vet was made. My brother Dan and his youngest son, Malcolm, dug the hole for Tate to be placed in later that evening.
Life must go on, but there will always be a big hole in my heart for the gentle giant who served me so well.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17 ESV).
My favourite picture of Tate he loved snow.