The Bride’s Best Friend
He’s been my soul mate for the past four years
It was the morning of my wedding: that crazy few hours before everything commences. On my schedule was driving to church with my mom, who subsequently forgot her dentures at home, with my best friend on her lap. It was a morning for makeup with a new friend from the church and throwing on my dress while hiding from the groom.
During the make up and chitchat with my makeup artist and matrid of honor, he took a half an hour walk with about three bathroom breaks. The makeup lasted until about five minutes before the service, where I threw on the dress, used the restroom and picked up a well worn nylon leash from the floor. My best friend was there for me again, this time walking me down the aisle.
Three years, four months before that day, I was in grief. My favorite dog, Chett, was killed in the middle of the street, having slipped his leash and the driver was not aware of how close he was to the tires. I grieved that dog- the one that liked to sneak under the covers, pull me up and down streets on walks and cuddle as if he was a lapdog instead of the min pin that he was.
I grieved for three months when my mom suggested it was time to find another dog. I told her I didn’t want just another dog, I wanted THE dog. I was in the Humane Society that day meeting a Chihuahua who was a tripod. I walked the cages per normal, looking for smaller dogs. I’m a softie for smaller lap dogs.
That’s the first minute I saw Tucker. Those soft eyes melted me right away and it was if a soul connection was formed. I did look at the dog I came to see but realized during the meet and greet with our dog Tazz that she wasn’t quite the right fit.
When I asked for Tucker to be brought in, I had reservations. He was an older Dachshund, which I knew might cause expensive medical problems in the not so distant future. However, when he came in, he laid between my feet. He was friendly with my mom and Tazz, but made it clear he was there for me.
He was what I needed in that moment and I decided that even if I just had one year with him, that it would be worth in. In retrospect, he was the best $150 I’ve spent in years.
We never really plan life. When Tucker had been part of the family for a year, severe depression set in. It never seems to be just one thing when I go into that state of being. The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was when my Pastor, who had become a bit of a father figure to me, was promoted within his district to a bigger, fancier title and a location three hours away.
I remember faking it through work, only to return home to a crumpled heap. Tucker would come and lay across my lap, letting me stroke his smooth satiny fur for hours. He would look at me with that look that all dog owners know as the “will you walk me?” stare. That was one of the only things that brought me joy that summer: taking walks with Tucker where he never pulled and always walked in step with me.
I remember feeling it become easier to breathe with him. He went everywhere I went, always looking straight at me as I drove. Never barking at anyone. Whenever I would do my running in the car, he rode shotgun.
When COVID19 hit, he was the hardest part of moving. My mother was being medically quarantined and I had started a new job and couldn’t afford to be out for two weeks. However, I knew she was in good hands with him as a companion.
On the rare occasion that I would stop over to bring in mail or do laundry, he’d run to me as if nothing had ever happened. As if I had never been away for days and weeks. He still watched for me like he did when I first adopted him and he knew my schedule. I’d hear the worst cries when I left from inside the house. I knew those cries and they pierced my soul.
Tucker has been considered twice for training as a service dog. Once for me with ongoing anxiety and once for my mother as her service dog. He has been the ongoing companion we both needed when times were challenging. Ever loving and loyal. He helped my mom get through the transition period of my moving out and then getting married, making that move more permanent.
A few people in my family questioned why I let a dog walk me down the aisle. For me, it was a no brainer. He was my best friend before I met my husband and the one I still want to cuddle with most on the days I spend at my childhood home with family. He was comfort when I was down and out and his endless love brought me back from what I felt was death.
He had perfect behavior at the wedding and at the lunch reception at the Hard Rock Cafe after. He walked in a straight line towards the alter without treats and stayed in my mom’s lap the rest of the day. His only misbehavior was snatching for a vanilla cupcake that was on the table in front of him. He deserved it.
In my opinion, it’s amazing the power that the right dog has on our hearts and our lives. They can help with mental health, and assist people with disabilities. Their presence helps to make transitions easier. They constantly stay and are loyal to their owners.
It took one dog to make me believe in love that lasts and stays. I’m glad he’s been around for longer than a year.
I originally wrote this article inspired by the Inspired Writers prompt of “First Love, True Love”. I missed the deadline for the piece but thought that I would publish it anyway as it covers an area that I’m not typically known for- memoir of pets.