Thursday, July 29, 2010

TOMMY: 1996 - 29th July 2010

(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!


Tabatha said...

So sorry to hear about Tommy! You are an amazing dog mom and him and your entire pack are so blessed to have you. My thoughts are with you.

Sheila and Bob said...

Your taking Tommy in after your Mother passed away is just something a wonderful dog Mom like you would do.
Tommy was able to live out his life with love and companionship.
The most comforting thing is he is with your Mom & Dad and MaxDog once again.

Sheila & Bob

Heather and Kelly said...

It was wonderful to hear Tommy's story--I have often wondered how he came to be in your pack. It sounds like he lived a life many dogs never get.

I hope he is free from all pain now.

Love to you :)


MySpecialDoggies said...

I'm so sorry for your loss of Tommy - it has to be a difficult time for you over the past year losing your Mom, Max and now Tommy.
May his memories bring you comfort.

Run free Tommy

Nadine Apples & Neeli

Maggie Mae and Max said...


Mom and me are so sorry for yet another loss for you. Puppy prayers and love are bing sent your way. Rest in Peace Tommy.

Woofs and Licks,
Maggie Mae and mom

Molly the Airedale said...

We are so very sorry to hear about Tommy. What a wonderful tribute post!
Our hearts go out to you!

Love ya lots
Maggie, Mitch and Sue

Bouncing Bertie said...

Oh I had been wondering about little Tommy. What a wonderful Mom and daughter you are. Sometimes, there is never an easy solution to the challenges life brings, especially towards the end At least the little fellow was in the best possible hands right to the very end, did he but know it. My thoughts are with you as you adjust to this new loss.
Love, Gail.

Jacqueline said...

Oh, Caryl, the deep sorrow that has invaded your soul in the last 8 months would almost seem too much to bear...I can imagine losing sweet Tommy is a painful connection to the emotion of grief associated with the loss of your Mom and Max as well...My deepest condolances on yet another painful loss in your life, sweet friend; it is my sincere hope you will be able to bring one of Molly's babies home, welcoming new life into your heart and home and providing Tammy and Toffee with another buddy to share their joy with as well...Sending love and big hugs to you and your family at this sad time.

Rocky Creek Scotties and Rocky Creek Ramblings said...

Tommy has had a fantastic life and knew unconditional love thorough all of it - what more could any little dog want.

Run Free Sweet Tommy - your loved ones are there to show you around the Rainbow Bridge.

Lilly, Piper, Carrleigh and Ruairi

Barbara said...

I'm so sorry.

Nubbin' Tails said...

Oh Maxmom! I'm so sorry! It is never and easy choice. But it can be the kindest loving thing we do for our pets.

Sending you lots of hugs!

Mr. Nubbin's Mom

Unknown said...

Oh there must be such joyful celebration in Heaven tonight as Tommy is reunited with your beloved parents and his old pal Maxdog (who no doubt is showing him where the tastiest treats --and slowest monkeys--can be found.) I know somewhere our sweet Keddy is sitting up under my Dad's arm, bumping his hand with her head when he stops scratching her tummy.

Love from Jane, Petey and Mica

Clive said...

Such a lovely tribute to a very special dog. As Petey said, just before us, no doubt Tommy is happy in the arms of your Mom and Dad tonight and so glad to have found Max again.

Clive has not been well for the past two days - constantly sick and the upset and worry is huge in the house so we are can only begin to imagine a tiny bit of what you must be going through at the moment.

Love and hugs from us all
Murray and his Mom

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

So so sorry! So glad you gave Tommy a home. Shame on retirement villages for not allowing pets. It's good for the owners and the animals! Glad you gave him a home!

Princess Patches said...

We are sooooo sorry about Tommy, but it sounds like he had a really good life. Now, he is reunited with your parents and Max! Run free, Tommy!

Penny & Patches

♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥ said...

So sorry to hear about Tommy. He must have loved your parents so much. We bet Max was right there at the gates to welcome his little pal home.

Hugs and Woos ~ the OP Pack

Kea said...

We're so sorry to read about Tommy's passing, but are very glad he had such a good, long life and had you!

We wish you only good things, joy-full things from here on in and send Universal Blessings and Peace to all.

Amy & the house of cats said...

We are so sorry about the loss of Tommy but we know that Tommy, your mom and your dad are just overjoyed to all be together again. We are sure he will have a wonderful bridge life just like he did while he was down here! We are sending out lots of comforting purrs and prayers because we know that this has to be hard for you so soon after Max had to go. I bet Tommy is going to be haning out with Max up there again and will find comfort and will also help comfort Max til you are together again.

Anonymous said...

Oh Caryl I am so sorry that Tommy passed away. He had a wonderful life though!

You are a wonderful person to have taken him in.

I am sorry that you had to make that decision to put another companion to sleep so soon.

Big Hugs, Blu and Tessa too

NanaNor's said...

Greetings dear friend, Well your post brought tears to my eyes today-you see Tommy sounds much like my sisters dog-Reggie-that I adopted five years ago at her passing. He is still here with me but getting older and once he is gone I'm not sure hubby will have us get another dog-which would break my heart.
So I'm sorry for this loss of yours but know you gave him a wonderful life after your mom. Can't wait to see which puppy you get.
Hugs today.
Noreen & Reggie-dog

Kathleen Coy said...

Run free and young again, dear Tommy. Have fun playing with Max and cuddling with Granny...

Kathleen and Cloud

sprinkles said...

I am so sorry, Caryl! What makes this even more heartbreaking is that you just lost your mom and Max not all that long ago.

I always wondered why little Tommy wasn't featured on your blog very much and how it came to be that he lived there. Thanks for taking the time to write such a beautiful tribute to him and explain his story. He sure was a cutie!

I have absolutely no doubt that he's with your parents and Max right now.

It sounds like you made the right decision. But the right decision doesn't always make things any easier, I know!

I will light a candle for you and Tommy.

brooke said...

So many loses in your life in the past year! Im sure Maxdog was quick to welcome Tommy over the bridge and back with your mom.
Hugs to you and the rest of your pack from Seattle!

mayziegal said...

Oh, I am so sorry that you had to say good-bye to Tommy. But my mom and me so very much luved reading Tommy's story. What a Most Wonderful life he had - even with all the changes in it. I think it's super amazing to chase squirrels - but MONKEYS?! OMD - that's too amazing too think about!

Thank you ever so much for taking care of him when your mom no longer could. I am 100% sure that she and Maxdog were there to greet him on his arrival at the Bridge. And what a Most Happy reunion that probably was.

We are sending you all our luvs and snuggles and cuddles. Thank you very much again for being the Most Wonderful person you are!

Gentle wiggles and wags,

Angel Ginger Jasper said...

Run free dear sweet Tommy and now you are reunited with your mum. Loving each other again forever.. Love GJ xx

♥I am Holly♥ said...

What a beautiful tribute to Tommy. We know he is running free and with your mom and Max too. Lots of love, Debbie and Holly

Jake of Florida said...


Thank you for sharing Tommy's beautiful story with us in the midst of your sadness at losing him.

As so many have said, he is now where he belongs, with his "heart mom" and she with her "heart dog." And of course with his best pal, Maxdog.

We'e sending you loving thoughts to help in this sad moment.

Joan and the Barkalot Bufana Bufana

Mrs. JP said...

Oh, such a sad day. We are so very sorry--even though it was the best thing it was still the hard thing to do.
Isn't amazing how much they love us? I mean really, really love us! God has surely blessed us with such good and loving companions.

The Life of Riley said...

Dear Caryl,

I’m so sorry to read about Tommy. Going back into the vet’s rooms, so soon after Max, can not have been easy for you. Returning home to a quieter house, with changed daily rituals is also never easy.

Thank you for writing Tommy’s story. He sounds a special little dog that brought much joy to both your parents with his antics (chasing monkeys is something Riley can only dream of!) and the love he shared with them, and it must have given your mother so much comfort being able to still see Tommy after she went into the retirement village, in Johannesburg, knowing that Tommy was being loved and cared for by your family.

I’m sure Max and Tommy will have already met up and been running free like young dogs and comparing tales, before Tommy takes his place evermore on your mother’s lap.

Love from
Fran and Riley

rottrover said...

Good by Tommy!

houndstooth said...

What a beautiful tribute to that little rapscallion! I can imagine a very happy reunion as he arrived at the Bridge to meet the people and dogs that he loved. Bless your heart for taking him in, too. That must have been such a relief for your mother. We're sorry for your loss, but it sounds like he lived a life to be celebrated! Our hearts go out to you!

The Thundering Herd said...

What a beautiful tribute and wonderful telling of a dog's life. I am sure your mother is smiling down at your sharing and happy to have her Tommy with her again.

We are so sorry for your loss(es).

The Bumpass Hounds said...

Dear Ms. Caryl,
We are all weepy eyed from this beautiful tribute to Tommy. It's as though the last living of your parents has been reunited with them; it surely must have been a difficult decision but the proper and unselfish one. We'll all hold your departed FooFoo Tommy in our thoughts and prayers. He has MaxDog to show him around when, if ever, he ties from Grandpa and Grandma's attention.
Our deepest sympathy and condolences on your loss. From 4 to 2 in such a short time is indeed a burden.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry. :(


NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With Khattledog said...

I bet MaxDog took Tommy straightaway to his mom!

Thanks for letting him have that chance -

Khyra, Khousin Merdie, and Phyll
PeeEssWoo: Our word is TOMINKA

MurphyDog said...

oh gosh...another tremendous soul has left this world. What a lucky lucky dog Tommy was to live out his years with you & your pack.

He is surely whole and happy at the Rainbow Bridge with his original pack. Chasing monkeys & eating delicous junk food from your fathers fingers.

RIP sweet Tommy

Debbie - Murphydog's Mom

Golden Samantha said...

You are a most generous soul, Caryl; how fortunate for Tommy that you brought him to your home and that Max became his "guide." Extraordinary. I know that he must be with his Granny by now. Run free, sweet Tommy and Rest in Peace.
With Hugs and Lots of Love oxoxoxox
Sammie and Ma

Tweedles -- that's me said...

Thank you for sharing that story with us and allow us to sit beside you during this sad time. The words you wrote were beautiful and I also think Max was waiting for him- to take him to his mama at the Bridge.
I send love to your heart that has been feeling so many emotions and seasons.

Two French Bulldogs said...

So sorry to hear about your pal....
Benny & Lily

Sally Ann and Andy said...

My big brother Mack was born in 1996. Mommy and I are so sorry about little Tommy. He is pain free now. Mommy knows that it is hard. We are sad with you.
Sally Ann, Andy and their Mommy

Unknown said...

Oh no! We're so sorry to hear about Tommy. I always wondered why you had another dog that looked like Toffee and didn't know Tommy. I hope he is running free in the rainbow bridge with his momma and dadda and 'guide dog' Max!

Emma Rose said...

What a sweet tribute. We're sorry you had another loss, and so soon.

Cocorue said...

We're so sorry about Tommy. We seemed so wrap up in our own lives that we have not been around much.

You take of yourself now, you hear? love to the pack

CoCo, Tiff and mumster

Scout and Freyja said...

Caryl, I am sitting here in tears. That sweet, little dog had such a wonderful life with your parents and then with your family; however, his passing must have been so difficult for you given the fact that Tommy was the last link to your folks (other than your siblings). Sending a hug for you and your pack.

the magic sleigh said...

Wooos Fur Toomy! May be be furever reunited with is family and surrounded by love. God bless
~husky kisses~
-Kira The BeaWootiful

KB said...

That was a truly beautiful tribute. Little Tommy was so lucky that a wonderful and generous soul like you watched over him and helped him in his elder years. And, he was very lucky to have MaxDog as his guide.

I am so sorry for your loss, especially in light of the loss of your mother and Maxdog so recently. Please know that I am thinking of you, hoping that this dark period begins to wane soon. You're right, Tommy is flying free. He was so very lucky to have your love.

The Heartbeats said...

Puppy licks and loves to you today. Tommy is running free at the Bridge.

Lorenza said...

I am so sorry to know about Tommy.
Thanks for sharing your beautiful tribute to him.
Take care
Kisses and hugs

Piappies World said...

We are sorry for your loss, MaxMom! Thank you so much for sharing with us Tommy's story here as well us telling us more about your Mom and Dad. You truly are amazing and we also see how much you and your family the companionship of our furry friends. We would like to think that Tommy is now chasing Max at the rainbow bridge as they also play with your parents.

Run free, Tommy!

Piappies Fudgie, Princess, Frappie, Mocha, Sugar, Wai-Pai & Wai-Max

KT and Easton said...

What a fine little man Tommy was. Just shows us you don't have to be a big dog to have a big heart. It's nice that your parents had a heart dog to share their lives with. Run free little Tommy.

Marg said...

Oh my we are so sorry about your loss of Tommy. You have had way too much sorrow in your life. We are sending lots of prayers and hugs. We sure hope that the puppy coming home soon can help bring some joy into your home. We are thinking about you in your sorrow. But we do know one thing and that is that Tommy is very happy chasing Monkeys and sitting in your Mom's lap. Take care.

Baby Rocket Dog and Hootie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Baby Rocket Dog and Hootie said...

Our sympathy at the passing of dear little Tommy. He sounded like such a fine little fellow. We think chasing monkeys sounds like so much fun. Hope he comes across some at the Bridge! Wishing you a peaceful weekend.
BabyRocketDog and Hootie

Ms. ~K said...

The stars do seem to be brighter tonight!
RIP sweet Tommy and hugs to you sweet C,

Mango the Maltese kiddo said...

Good bye Tommy, we choke back tears as we write to you and your loving family.
Reading your touching story makes us love you more, a Maltese friend from far away. I bet that you're happily sitting on your Mom's lap again with Max beside both of you.
Happily ever after Tommy, you'll be missed!

Dexter said...

Run free, little dude. Say hi to Max for us.


the booker man said...

tommy is now in the good company of your mom and dad and max. still, it's never an easy decision to make. many hugs to you, caryl!

the booker man and asa's mama

ocmist said...

Though things were hard for the little boy, he still had a life of love and people who cared for him, and now he is in that pain free, happy place, reunited with his loved ones again. Thank you for being there for him and helping him through his hard times. So many little ones like this don't have that opportunity or blessing. Linda

Anonymous said...

I am terribly sorry you had to make the tough decision all dog lovers are called to make, so soon . . .
Thank you for sharing Tommy's life with us. The better to remember him by.
Long live all our furiends with Tommy and his guide dog at the rainbow bridge.
Our thoughts are with your family Tommy