He was well known, very recognizable in his five block radius, his liver and white fur flying in the breeze he created with his jaunty gait, his shaggy, unkempt ears flopping. Friendly and outgoing, he had eyes to make you smile, and a walk that stated “life is good, embrace it.”  He was an avid traveller who enjoyed anything from a joy ride to a road trip. He was not a connoisseur of food: his appetite was insatiable. Best of all, his personality was warm.

Yes, Tommy was my dog - a loyal and loving companion. He tore up the garden but he also stayed by the side of the sick and elderly when needed. He comforted those left behind and gave a raison d’être to carry on. He soothed worries as only he knew how: either by demanding a walk or just by sleeping as closely as he could while maintaining seating priority.

The cat, Rascal, had secured his place in the household a few months prior to  the dog’s arrival. Ignoring all advice to stay separated for a few hours, after an initial hello, they were pals forever, BFFs who shared the dog bed, the sofa, people’s beds, and even dishes. These two were inseparable. Rascal played a conspiratorial role for many years. He aided and abetted the dog in obtaining people food. His long, slender paw would stretch out silently to that which the dog could not reach by surfing, knocking the food gently to the floor: milk, steak (not a problem), free range, antibiotic, hormone-free chicken (a particular delight, raw or cooked), not to mention cookies, or, that one year, the Christmas cake.

In our sunroom at our house, we had matching wicker chairs with different coloured cushions, and - you guessed it - the chairs were colour coordinated for humans and pets. In the car, the dog preferred riding shotgun, but on a road trip would release his seat to his caged feline travelling companion while he stretched across the backseat. People were relegated to any remaining space.

We never had a fear of intruders: we had a guard dog with a fearsome bark. However, behind the bark, his wagging tail would welcome the stranger at the door, the canvasser, or any imagined foe. He would permit anyone into the house, looking up, telling us, "all are welcome here."

This dog knew the car and could hear it from two houses away, coming up the road. It was his signal to get off the furniture and be at the door to greet you, woofing, licking, and prancing around the prodigal son, who may have been absent 20 minutes picking up dog food.

Tommy lived a long life: 14 years, one month, and a few days. He was healthy to the end, if you don’t count weak hind legs, deafness and failing eyes. He died in his sleep, at home.

He is missed.

Tommy and Rascal

Margaret Pimm is retired and currently living in Ottawa. She enjoys reading, writing, hiking, and golfing. When not marching down a golf course, she can be found ensconced in her favourite chair with a book, accompanied by one of her four-footed friends.
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