Teddy Ballgame

Posted: June 13, 2013 in Dog reviews, Miscellaneous
Tags: , , ,

Teddy 08

His original name was Schroeder. He’d lost two homes by the time he was four. His first home was overcrowded. His second was negligent. He lived on the streets for a week. He came to us in October 2004 through CorgiAid and a series of coincidences worthy of  A Tale of Two Cities or Les Misérables. We named him Teddy, after a collie my Dad’s family had in the 1950s. Teddy won the lottery, and that first month we had him, the Red Sox won the World Series. We gave him his first nickname, Teddy Ballgame, after the great Red Sox left fielder Ted Williams.

Like all pets, Teddy collected many other names (Teodoro, Teddilini, Teddilicious, The Tedster, Mr. T.), but the important thing to him was having a permanent address. He worked hard to fit in. He studied us as if we were his senior thesis. He was younger, larger, and stronger than our senior dog, Emma, but he bared his neck to her and followed her lead. (When Emma decided to retire, she ceded all of her duties to Teddy, even though they had no written language and no HR department to manage the transition.)

Watch and learn, kid
Emma to Teddy: “Watch and learn, kid!”

In 2005, my sister and her daughter, Isabelle, visited us. Isabelle was 6. We couldn’t predict how Teddy would act with a small child. We found out later that Teddy had had these creatures in his first home. He melted in Isabelle’s presence. Anything she wanted to do, he’d do. Isabelle wrote Teddy a couple of letters after she left. Teddy dutifully answered them. Isabelle wanted to believe that Teddy was corresponding with her, but she had her suspicions. She told my mother, “I think Uncle Stevie is helping Teddy write these letters.”

Critters in motion
Critters in motion.

Teddy was a champion sleeper who could launch himself at his bed from three feet away and land curled up and conked out. But wide awake he ran amuck whenever visitors arrived. Then he found himself in lockdown (the back room). He was not much of a cuddler. He wrestled when you picked him up. He wrestled when you brushed him. He wrestled when you toweled him off. He barked louder than God and was more stubborn than Pharaoh. It was impossible not to love him.

Steve + Teddy guard the house 0607
Steve and Teddy guard the house.

Teddy never chased squirrels or cats out of our yard unless we made an official request. He disapproved of cats outside and feared them inside. He once tried to climb on Deborah’s head when a cat entered the room where they were sitting. He was not a good puppy player – he either didn’t like other dogs or didn’t know what to do with them. He wasn’t overweight but he was built like a tank. (A vet told me, “No, tanks are built like Teddy.”) He disliked running – even when he was young, I could outrun him. He wouldn’t run after an object unless that object was an Alpo Snap.

Teddy & tulips 1 April 2008
Ready for the county fair.

There was no place Teddy would rather be than with us, whether he was sleeping on the cool tiles of the hearth while we watched TV or under the table while we talked or riding in the car and hearing our voices or walking the banks of the Boise River or the beach at Manzanita or a college campus here in Portland. He especially liked it when we were all at home. Sometimes he’d sit on the back deck and look through the window at us inside. I like to think he was marveling at his good fortune, but he was a herding dog. Maybe he was just congratulating himself on keeping both of us in the barn.

Teddy waits for a lift 0108
Stairway to Teddy.

Our friend Bob says that when a dog can’t be a dog anymore, you’ve reached the end. As pet owners we have to have the guts to recognize that and act on it. We did that today. Teddy was 13. He’d come a long way for a small dog who started off in Tulsa and was homeless in Idaho.

Iron Mt 070410 wildflowers
Teddy conquers the wilderness.

Teddy loved kibble, scrambled eggs, baby carrots, the stalks of romaine leaves, rawhide chews, sidewalk mystery snacks, all representatives of the U.S. Postal Service, and coeds. For years he patiently sat on his pillow in the living-room window and watched the street until he willed us both to return home. I’ll miss that furry face in the window, our guardian, friend, and fellow traveler. Farewell, Teddy Ballgame, and thank you for walking us all this way.

Teddy worried about the snow 1208

  1. Joy Cartier says:

    You made me cry, Steve. Thanks for sharing your love and deep appreciation for this special little companion. I wish I could do more than stand with you on this one.

    Love to you, Deborah and Teddy, Joy

  2. Claire Jefferies says:

    I have no idea how you can manage to write such a beautiful, heartfelt, funny essay about someone (yes, dogs are “ones”, not “things”) you loved, and still love, so dearly. I have not yet lost a pet to death (not since I was a kid and I didn’t have the same attachment then as I do to my three littles now), but re-homing Quincy-Pie, one of our rescues, last fall after we’d had him for over a year still makes me cry at least once a month. I loved reading this and sharing these memories with you and Deborah. I am so sorry for your loss. I will miss that little sucker barking his fool head off at me every time I arrived. Thanks for giving Teddy a good life and for sharing it with me! Love, Claire and Jason and the boys, who are sending puppy kisses to Portland.

    (P.S. I didn’t know Teddy was named after a ballplayer! Jason and I were so happy to read that. Mickey Henderson was named after the great Rickey Henderson – we’ll exchange stories next time we meet).

  3. Laurel says:

    Darwin and I have read and re-read your tribute to Teddy and can’t imagine a finer homage to a loved member of the family. Teddy was a fine furry fellow, and we’re so sorry you had to say goodbye.

  4. Darwin says:

    Aww Steve, for my sake I wish your weren’t such a good writer. Love to you and D.

  5. Sherry says:

    Aw what an absolutely wonderful eulogy for a fantastic teddy dog. Hugs to you 2.

  6. Helen Dezendorf says:

    Oh, Steve and Deborah, I am saddened by the loss of your canine pal. Oscar and Haley (now almost 11) say they are sorry too. love to you both, Helen

  7. Oh Steve. What a wonderful remembrance. Teddy was a special guy and you two must be heartbroken. I’m so sorry. We love our animals so much, they give us so much joy, love and trust. I’d give you a couple of good hugs if I was there. Glad he had a chance to live with you. And you with him.

  8. Laura Kraft says:

    What a beautiful memorial post, Steve. These are outstanding photos and my heart is heavy for you (remember the Rainbow Bridge!) I hope you will adopt another pupper duker doo-dooze soon. Ruff ruff, Laura

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