Tadcaster came to us as an eight week old pup, an example of a field golden to round out our pack of blondes. The idea was to have on the ground examples of the various types and personalities of golden retriever. By watching how potential adopters interacted with our own dogs, we got a better idea of what they were actually looking for in a rescue.
A few years earlier my mother-in-law had been watching as I groomed Tetley, my previous red dog, in the living room of our home. “That dog really loves you,” she observed. It was like she had flipped a switch and illuminated the room. I looked at Tetley in a whole different light after that, giving more of myself, strengthening a bond I hadn’t even known existed till Gretchen’s offhand comment. Two years later he was dead, taken from me by a cancer all too common among golden retrievers: hemangiosarcoma. No dog could possibly measure up after him, so I had extremely low expecations when Tadcaster entered our home.
But he quickly wormed his way into my heart…
He followed me everywhere, that big red dog of mine, always with a paw on my thigh or a head on my shoulder. He rode in front of me on the ATV, quickly learning that pushing on the throttle made us go faster. He was best friends with Tuppence the Wonderbitch, and when she was confined to a pen during her recovery from knee surgery he would use his nose to push a tennis ball to her.
Tadcaster was lost to an aggressive variant of malignant lymphoma at the age of five. It was a bitter loss for me, equally bitter for Tuppence. As I buried my dog in the family plot located in our meadow, little Tuppence dropped a tennis ball into the grave, took several steps back, and let loose a long, mournful howl. She had never howled before and never did so again, but in those few seconds she gave voice to all the grief in the world.