One Year Without Tate

I’ve had such mixed feelings about posting on the one-year anniversary of losing Tate.  But it wouldn’t feel right to let the day pass without posting here.  And so first I just want to say that I don’t cry as much anymore but I still think about him every day, mostly with smiles but the pain is still so sharp at times.  Tate was our first dog and my “heart” dog.

Looking back, I see that his blog was very therapeutic for me to write.  Tripawds is a place where we can indulge our emotions and someone is always there for you.  So if you happened to get here on a search (I found Tripawds with a hit on someone’s blog), I’m here to tell you this is a great place for support.

I’ve tried (sometimes) to offer helpful information for someone dealing with histiocytic sarcoma or a hemipelvectomy.  If you have questions, just PM tatespeeps at Tripawds and I’ll respond.

I’ve had some other things on my mind as well so please indulge me now for a few minutes.  This first thing is important but if you’re reading this I might be too late.  If you have a larger size dog, 60+ lbs., and they start limping inexplicably, please get x-rays.  I can’t tell you how many Tripawds members, myself included, lost valuable time doing the “painkillers and see how he does” thing.  Do this even if they are young, Tate was only 4 years old.

Most people say their dog was fine with amputation, same as before but pain-free, all that.  That’s not always true.  Tate loved to play with other dogs before his amp but not after.  He tried to play with his best friend Loretta but it wasn’t working like it was supposed to so he avoided playing.  The only dog he would play with was his little sister Sam.

His behavior toward me changed after his amp.  He used to do this thing where he’d lick my wrist, just lay his tongue on my wrist while I pet him but he never did that again until the day he died.  Other little ways to show his affection.  I think maybe he didn’t trust me anymore.  When they were taking him in for the surgery, he wouldn’t go and I knelt down and told him it would be okay.  But then it wasn’t.  They chopped his leg off and that was not okay with him.  Just know that your dog might not be the same, depends on the dog.  Tate was a sensitive boy.

I think it is important to never forget that your dog has cancer, no matter how well they are doing.  The end won’t be as much of a sucker-punch that way.  Don’t dwell on it but use it constructively.

Please, please, please treat your dog responsibly at the end.  Most people do but a few do not and so I feel compelled to say it.  Same thing when you are considering treatment options.  Every responsible dog owner asks “I am I doing this for me or for him?”  If you haven’t seriously asked yourself that question, ask it now.  Remember what we love about dogs, that they live in the moment.  I wanted Tate to have one more summer at the cabin.  Would he have chosen amputation to have one more summer at the cabin?  Beats me, it’s a silly question.  But I do know now that the summer at the cabin was for me at least as much as it was for Tate.   Anyway, please – respect their moments.

When it’s over, be careful who you share your grief with and do whatever helps you heal.  Healing is intentional, it takes work, and it is very personal.

Finally, don’t second-guess yourself.  Whatever decisions you made are, by definition, right.  We all just do the best we can when we’re dealt a crummy hand.

Well, I feel better having gotten that off my chest.  Thanks for reading.  Now I could write pages and pages about Tate and how perfect he was but you would probably find that boring so I’ll just share a few (well, kind of a lot) of my favorite pictures of my good, smart boy.

Tate loved going to our cabin
That black dot in the water is Tate swimming – a favorite activity
Tate fishing
Relaxing on the deck


Keeping watch on his lake
He’d run around and explore on that lake no matter how cold it was
He loved the snow, too
Wrestling with Loretta
He had an instant crush on Faith
Play bow at the dog park
But not everyone was friendly!
Lake Michigan was a favorite
Little Sister Sam
My good smart boy