(Affectionately known as "The Boarder")
Sometime during the year of 1996 a small white Maltese puppy was taken home to a farm in a remote part of South Africa. It was my parents' farm and this little bundle was destined to be their farm dog. He was a cute little bundle of soft, white fur and was the apple of my father'seye.
As he grew older he was allowed freedom of the farm and both my parents spoilt him rotten.
Despite being a small little bundle, who was really bred for laps, he embraced farm life with vigor. He became the household watch dog, alerting my aging parents to people arriving at their homestead. He took it upon himself to chase the monkeys out of my father's orchard and when he wasn't busy 'working', he was always found around my mother's heels. His energy was unmatched and I will never forget the echo's of his barking in the valley as he ran up and down a pathway, under a green canopy of trees, in relentless pursuit of the pilfering monkeys.
The monkeys knew him well and would taunt him from a distance, whipping him up into a frenzy of frustration. He never gave up the hope of one day catching one.
Mom adored Tommy!
He was her "heart" dog.
I remember feeling small tinges of jealousy when she referred to him as 'her kid'.
...In her mind, I was his sibling.
He received titbits constantly and especially loved biltong (beef jerky).
My dad took great delight in cutting off special bits for him in the pantry.
He was allowed onto any piece of furniture in the house and he'd sleep on my parents bed at night.
He lived an idyllic life of bliss in an African paradise...
Tommy's life was destined to change substantially however.
When my father died suddely in 1998, Mom was forced to moved into the little village and Tommy went along with her. He stayed by her side whilst she grieved for my dad - (My parents had been married for over 50 years.) He must have received many of her tears on those lonely nights after my father had gone.
But Tommy adapted well. There were also monkeys around the village and a little stream not far from Mom's cottage. He'd disappear for the whole day in his bid to find them and she'd call after him in vain whilst holding on to her walking stick. There were no boundaries in Tommy's life. In the village he made friends with all the neighbourhood dogs and sampled their food in the process. I don't think we will find a more socialised dog than Tommy was.
In 2004 my mother became ill. Her condition required good medical supervision and together we made the difficult decision to move her to a retirement village in Johannesburg. It was a traumatic time because mom had not lived in the city for many years. She had to say good-bye to a life that she'd loved as well as long standing friends who had supported her over the years.
Unfortunately the retirement village didn't allow animals and mom was distraught as to what we should do with Tommy. He was destined to be put to sleep and my mom was heartbroken. I agreed to take him in as one of our pack so at least she would get to see him on weekends.
Initially it was very hard for this little dog. He pined constantly for my mother and would sit by the front door all week waiting for her to come and visit him on a Sunday. There were other things too: No more monkeys, no more free reign of the neighbourhood, only good food.
When I took him in, he was also riddled with allergies (from running in the long grass) and worms (from eating all the other dogs' food in the village) and I had to correct this as fast as I could for the benefit of the whole pack. He was put onto a stringent but good diet. But everything was different for him and he also had to adjust from being a lap dog to one that was the lowest rank pack member.
(Tommy on the RHS)
After 4 years of living with us, Tommy had still not entirely adjusted to the new city lifestyle. He continued to pine heavily for my mother and was getting older and frailer. He lost his hearing and much of his eye sight and Maxdog became his own personal 'guide dog'. He would cuddle up beside Max and became his constant shadow. For a short while he was comfortable.
...and then my mother passed away last November.
It took Tommy 3-4 months to realise that she wouldn't be visiting us again.
Over the past 4-5 months, he has become weaker and frailer. The death of his personal 'guide dog' -namely Maxdog - also affected him significantly. He has recently had numerous medical afflictions and it became very difficult to groom him and to handle him - his body was just too sensitive.
He deteriorated significantly this past week and I finally decided to let him go to finally be with 'Granny'.
Putting a dog to sleep is never an easy thing to do.
Like with Max, I was with him to the last moment.
I am comfortable that Tommy is chasing monkeys across the rainbow bridge.
...and when he is tired of that...he will be sitting on my mothers lap...
Fly free little Tommy!