(Just to clarify, Terp was my in-laws' dog, but he basically became our dog as well because he spent so much time at our house and with our dog, Chance.)
But before we get to what he has to say, I just want to say this: I am more thankful than you know for having the opportunity to have Terp in my life. He taught me patience and tolerance and how love takes work. (If you knew Terp, you know exactly what I mean.) But more than that, he taught me that you have to be yourself whether people like you or not. He taught me that it's okay not to care what other people think all the time. And he taught me that earning someone's trust and love is well worth it. That loyalty lasts forever.
I have more pictures of Terp to share, but here is what my husband had to say about his brother first:
~ Everyone Becomes a Story and “Someday” Always Comes ~
We recently had to say goodbye to one of our beloved puppies, Terp. He was almost 13 years old and he truly enjoyed a tough but outstanding life. I’m very sad over his passing, but I am more thankful for having known him. He was more than a dog - - he was a family member and he was my friend.
To better understand Terp, you have to know his story.
Terp was born on August 1, 2002, and was one of a litter of nine. My father had always wanted a Weimaraner and decided on Terp sometime in early October. He said to the breeder, “I want the one with the white spot on his chest,” and he named him Terp after my college’s (the University of Maryland’s) mascot, the terrapin.
I first officially met Terp when I visited my parents one weekend in late October during my first year of grad school and instantly fell in love with him. We immediately became friends. He was pure gray with said white spot on his chest. He had sky blue eyes and ears that dragged on the ground because they were so big.
As he grew, Terp became physically gorgeous. I know he was ours, but you would be hard pressed to find a better looking dog, seriously. Unfortunately for Terp (and for our family as it turned out), he was not as “beautiful” on the inside as he was on the outside.
Terp was, right from the start, ornery, stubborn, and definitely an alpha male. He had to have things his way -- at all times. He would even sit in the front passenger seat of the car and not allow anyone else to sit there when we traveled. Aside from the driver, everyone had to sit in the back. There we were, driving down the street with Terp in the front seat and my Mom and me in the back.
Terp’s stubborness was very inconvenient on many occasions. The first such occasion occurred in February of 2004 when Terp was a little over a year and a half old. Both of my maternal grandparents had recently been diagnosed with cancer – my Nana with inoperable brain cancer and my Pop-Pop with intestinal cancer. My family, specifically my parents, had to spend a lot of time making my grandparents comfortable, providing hospice care for the both of them. On February 20, 2004, my grandmother passed away. Less than 28 hours later, on February 21, 2004, after having a cigarette and a beer, my grandfather passed away, saying, “I can’t believe my honey left me.”
My grandparents’ viewing was scheduled for 6:30 pm on February 23. Because Terp was so high maintenance and never liked being alone, we decided to put him in a kennel for four hours - from 3:30 pm until the end of the viewing at 7:30 pm. At 3:45 pm, shortly after dropping him off, we received a call from the kennel that Terp had “hopped out of his cage, pushed the garage door button, and escaped!” Terp was now running around the countryside in an area 60 miles from his home near two very busy highways.
My father and I put on old clothing to forge through the snow and mud, and we went trapesing through woods and streams looking for Terp. We spent two and a half hours hiking through wooded areas, knocking on doors, whistling, and calling out his name – to no avail. At 6:15 pm, we had to make the difficult decision to leave because my grandparents’ viewing was about to start. We quickly put on our suits and headed to the viewing. My father and I spent an hour at the viewing and, with my Mom’s blessing, changed back into our old, dirty clothes and headed back out to look for Terp.
From 7:30 pm to 10:30 pm, we again searched through the woods and fields of the area looking for our buddy. At approximately 10:30 pm, a passing car caught the “eye shine” of an animal in the woods about twenty yards away. I quickly called Terp’s name and approached the area where I had seen the eye shine. As I moved closer, I heard the jingle of his collar and put a dog treat in my hand. After what seemed like hours, a big, scared, trembling puppy sauntered out of the woods, took the dog treat out of my hand, and gave me a big, wet kiss! We found him and, in doing so, created a sliver of happiness during an otherwise very somber time.
After smothering Terp with kisses, hugs, and dog treats for the next 12 hours, we still had the problem of what to do with him during the funeral. We didn’t dare take him back to the kennel and we couldn’t leave him alone in the house because he would destroy it (as he had done previously many times when left alone). After much debate, we decided to take Terp with us to the funeral and leave him in the car. This way, he would be with us most of the morning and, then, during the funeral, we could constantly check on him and let him know that he was not alone.
The funeral was very moving and an appropriate celebration of my grandparents’ lives together. They were married fifty-two years and traveled everywhere together – even to heaven. After the funeral, we headed to the car to check on Terp. As we approached, we could see something was wrong. When we opened the door, there was Terp, sitting in the driver’s seat with a piece of car upholstery in his mouth. Terp had destroyed the car – he had ripped all four seat belts, chewed on the steering wheel, knocked off the rearview mirror, and ate a huge hole in the front driver’s seat. He was basically saying “F you” for leaving him alone again. That was Terp.
Over the next 11 years, he would test his limits with us by stealing food from our table, stealing food from the garbage, stealing food from our guests, barking in our faces when he didn’t get what he wanted, and eating ANYTHING that crossed his path (or ours).
Throughout his lifetime, Terp underwent five invasive surgeries and, therefore, also had countless visits to the vet:
- Had surgery to be neutered (although we loved him with all of our hearts, he didn’t need to procreate)
- Had surgery to remove one of his testicles because it didn’t descend properly
- Suffered bloat and needed emergency surgery to save his life (lost 25 pounds and had his spleen removed and his stomach stapled to his ribcage to prevent a recurrence)
- Had two bouts of pancreatitis due to complications from his bloat surgery
- Was bitten by a cat and needed pins inserted in his ear (37, to be exact) to drain the infection that occurred as a result
- Needed surgery to remove a golf glove he swallowed that had made its way to his intestines
All we could think was that this couldn’t be – Terp was invincible; he had always recovered. How could he not now?
Over the next two days, we smothered him with love and, on Friday morning, woke up with very heavy hearts, knowing what lay ahead later that day. Miraculously, on Friday morning, Terp stopped vomiting, began eating again, and went outside and played around with our other puppy Chance. He seemed back to normal.
The next two and a half weeks were precious. We figured that the tumor was benign and that the stone he had eaten that showed up on his x-ray was the culprit of his poor health. Because we still knew his health could turn at any minute because of his age, we really valued our time with Terp – it was time we thought we would not have had a few weeks earlier, and we cherished it.
Unfortunately, on the morning of April 26, Terp took a turn for the worse. He became very listless and could not keep any food or water down. We knew it was time to say goodbye. We contacted our vet and made arrangements for later that morning.
Surrounded by his loving family and wrapped in his favorite blanket, we said goodbye to Terp at 9:16 am on April 26, 2015.
* * * * *
Every pet owner knows this day will come. During the nearly thirteen years I spent with Terp, through all the moments he would steal my food, bark in my face, scratch to go outside, steal my spot on the couch, and just all around push his limits, I said to him countless times, “Someday I’m going to miss you.”
Over the years, the saying became such a staple in our family that we would just look at Terp after he did something, simply say, “Someday,” and smile lovingly.
Well… “someday” came and I truly miss Terp. I miss him despite all of his shenanigans. I miss him because he had a good heart and a kind soul. I miss him because he was more than a pet; he was my friend.
My grandfather once told me that “we all become stories,” and I never really understood what he meant until he passed away. At his funeral, I gave his eulogy and I told loving stories of him and the fond memories I had of our times together. It was therapeutic and a way to show my love and respect for both my grandmother and him.
So this is my attempt to eulogize Terp and to tell the stories of our time together. The “remember when he did…” and “how about when he…” need to be retold and remembered.
“Someday” always comes, so make sure you make time to create stories with the ones you love.
* * * * *
I'm so thankful that my husband detailed Terp's story. I wanted it written down so that we don't forget anything about one of the loves of our life.
Here are some more pictures of our buddy... we miss him so.
Terp had such an expressive face. When he looked you in the eyes, he looked you in the eyes.
Terp (left) and Chance (right) hanging out on the driveway together.
They truly became best friends. Chance is lost without him.
Here's Terp being Terp.
Terp joined me on the driveway for some "outside afternoon time." We shared a blanket.
This picture was taken about a week before he passed.
One last picture of these two buddies for life.
Chance (left) had to get in the truck with Terpie to say his final goodbye.
* * * * *
It feels empty without Terp. We ALL miss him. We'll keep his spirit alive as much as we can through sharing our favorite times with him.
Our hearts have a spot reserved for him - - forever.