September 21st. Today is the one year anniversary of Tamarr’s passing. It has been a day full of emotion. The pain of losing him is still with me despite the 365 days that have past. Much has happened in the last year. And last week I finished placement of a dog I had been training for Disability Assistance Dogs. And I will be leaving on a trip on Friday. But today I focus on him.
The past year has been an incredible range of emotion. To be honest, for a long time I hated Merlyn. I know it’s not his fault; I know Tarmarr was getting old – in fact that’s why I got Merlyn to become my next Service Dog. But the emotion of losing my boy was not to be ruled by reason. I lost the one I loved. The partner upon whom I had relied for so long. In the end, I loved him so much I was willing to do anything for him. I remember lifting him up and putting him on his feet because he didn’t have the strength to do it himself. I supported him up and down the stairs and helped him in and out of the car. I had to keep him out of his crate that he loved because if he got in I couldn’t get in there with him to help him stand so he could get out. And in the end, because I loved him, I let him go – the hardest choice of all.
He rallied that weekend and I wondered about my choice. He was getting up and down on his own, he even made it up the stairs without help and down the stairs as well as long as his body stayed straight. Some of the pictures on this site and all the ones on this page are from walks we took the last weekend. He was happy, he was moving, he was intense and he didn’t want to stop. Sometimes I had to make him turn around and head back to the car. One walk, we went about 2 miles and after a mile I said we had better turn around and go back. He definitely did not want to go back but after some coaxing he turned around. When we got back to the car, his feet were dragging and he was extremely tired, but he was so happy. In the pictures of him from those last walks I see the happy intense dog that he had always been, ready to check out everything.
And so today. Today I put Merlyn in the car and we drove to many of those same places where Tamarr and I took our last walks together – places that Tamarr loved.
We started at the quarry. This is where most of the pictures of Tamarr swimming were taken. As we drove to the quarry, I started to cry. Mother Nature, I think cries with me this day, the skies opened as I drove and it began to rain – we are both still crying even as I write this. Tamarr loved the quarry. As we approached he would get visibly excited, although he knew to control himself. He’d paste himself to my leg and we’d walk down the hill to edge of the water. As soon as I released him, he’d run the rest of the way and dive into the water. Out he’d go and swim and swim. One time I watched him swim back and forth the length of the quarry about 10 times before bringing me a 6 foot log, a good 6 inches around and wanted me to throw it for him to go fetch again. I laughed, and threw his ball instead. He would go out after the ball for a good 2 or 3 hours without stopping if I let him. He was an incredibly powerful swimmer – the likes of which I’ve never seen in any other dog. Even in his last days he wanted to swim, although he had to rest between each time out and could only go out 3 or 4 times before he was too tired. I had to be careful not to throw it too far – he’d go out for it as far as I’d throw it, but he struggled to get back to shore a few times.
But today. Today, I sat on the edge of the water and watched him chasing the ball as I remembered him. I watched him again swim powerfully through the water. I sat and cried. I miss him so much. I looked through pictures of him I found that had been taken of him when he was about 10 and then just sat and watched him in my mind again. He came to sit with me and played again like when he was in his prime.
Finally I took his ashes and spread them on the water, as far out as I could throw them. Symbolically, like him, he swims there again. Merlyn helped, playing in the water where I threw the ashes. I cried as I threw his ashes, but I also had to laugh at Merlyn.
While I continued to think about Tamarr, Merlyn played in the edge of the water – he’s not much of a swimmer, he’d rather stay where he can touch the ground – but he did make his first choice to actually swim. It was a small circle just barely away from where he could touch, but he chose to swim, not just by accident. Several times he came over to me, gave me a kiss and a nuzzle to make sure I was okay, then went back to playing.
Next we went down to Duck Creek and walked along the path. This is a place we started frequenting the last few months of Tamarr’s life. I knew Tamarr wanted the water, but I was afraid that the quarry would be too much for him. So we started walking along Duck Creek and we found some nice swimming places there where he could actually swim but didn’t have as far to go. He never liked them as much as the quarry, but he did love to swim so he swam. He never really liked wading. If I threw the ball where he only had to wade to get it, he’d look at me like “Come on, this is boring!” The Creek offered other challenges. The light was not as good because of the shade from the trees along the shore and with his dimming eye sight, he couldn’t always tell where the ball had gone. Also there were currents instead of a big quiet, still lake. But he enjoyed those walks so we walked there again. After Merlyn came to live with us, Tamarr would lie down when he got tired and watch the puppy play. Merlyn always enjoyed digging in the sand along the creek bed.
And so today. Today, we walked along the path to Tamarr’s favorite swimming place along it. I again sat and watched Tamarr play. I took some of his ashes there too and released them on the water. I cried more as I thought of Tamarr.
Merlyn played in the edge of the water, but then started chasing sticks and ventured out where he had to swim to get them. By the end he was truly swimming – choppy short strokes, not the calm powerful ones Tamarr used, but swimming. He’s not near as calm and bold as Tamarr was, but then he’s only 1 year old.
I wanted to walk along the river again as I had with Tamarr for that 2 mile walk. But the rain was worse and it was getting dark. So alas I have just my memory of the walk with Tamarr for this day. Perhaps that is better. The rain afforded me a quiet time to reflect and think. There was not so many people out as there would normally be.
Finally we came home. Tamarr never lived her while he was alive. I only moved here last June to be able to care for the dogs at the training center. And so I spread the last of his ashes here, to be with me here.
And so my reflections. There will never be another Tamarr. He was one of a kind. He was the most incredible, special dog I have ever owned, or perhaps will ever own. He was my partner, my companion, my friend like no other. He was what I needed, he supported me as noone else could ever have done. One year has not made the pain go away. I love him as intensely as I ever did. I miss him, though perhaps that is not as intense as it was a year ago. I made it through a year, a year of incredible change and at times turmoil. Life is continuing, but I will always miss him. What does the future hold? I don’t know. Will Merlyn ever be the partner that Tamarr was? No. But today he showed sensitivity where I wondered if there would be any. I felt our bond has not been that strong and I honestly was angry at him and hated him for a while even though it was not his fault and he did not deserve that. Emotion does not always follow reason. As I write this the tears fall again. Tears of love for the partner I love.
Tamarr Memorial Fund still needs your support. The support received so far has been a tremendous help. I want to be able to help other people get Service Dogs. So that they may have partners like Tamarr was. In Tamarr’s memory, I started this fund to help both my new partner and others who wish to have Service Dogs. If you are in able, please help also in his memory or in the memory of someone special in your life.