In honor of National Tater(s) Day
In honor of National Taters Day, here’s something I wrote about our our beloved Jack Russell terrier, Tater when he passed away a few years ago. Anyone who’s ever loved a dog may recognize the bittersweet mixture of sorrow and gratitude I felt when he died after sharing eighteen splendid years with us.
In memory of Tater
The dog was created specially for children. He is the god of frolic.
Henry Ward Beecher,
Our beloved old dog Tater passed away tonight. Tater was born in 1996. We bought him from a German-speaking family on a Mennonite farm in Pennsylvania. He and Ryc were inseparable, particularly the first year of our marriage when Ryc and Tater lived in Pennsylvania and our other dog Tyche and I were still in Florida.
Tater was a force of determined nature wrapped in muscle. He could jump higher than any dog I ever knew – over anyone’s head when he was young (and, in Seattle, we lived next to Patrick Ewing at one point, so that was no mean feat.) He’s the only dog I’ve ever seen climb a ladder to the attic simply because his beloved owner was there and he wanted to be where he was.
When we were in Iowa the summer Nic was born, Ryc fashioned a bungee harness to keep Tater in his Jeep (which had the top down and doors off) when Ryc went in the store. That didn’t work. The first time Ryc exited the car, Tater simply launched himself out of the Jeep and hung, twisting in the air, until Ryc returned and released him. Ryc tried the arrangement a few more times, but the disapproving stares of passers-by as Tater swung slowly, stubbornly in the air eventually persuaded Ryc he’d met someone even more obstinant than he.
Tates was also our son Nic’s boon companion and guardian. Our other dog, Tyche, never quite got used to Nic. When we brought him home from the hospital, she clearly felt herself demoted. Tater, on the other hand, doted on Nic from the start. He worried about him, especially when Nic was a baby, fretting if he got too close to the baby gate railing, closely monitoring him everywhere he went. This governance lasted well into Nic’s elementary school years.
Tater endured all the indignities a small boy can inflict on a canine – including one memorable dinner party, interrupted when Tater strode through the dining room with what appeared to be serious and bloody injuries. Upon closer examination, we found Nic and his friends the Haycock boys had decorated Tater with red food coloring.
An unrepentant chauvinist, Tater vastly preferred the company of men to women, and would often try to stow away with the UPS guy. Or the garbage guy. Or any guy at all. But he could sweet talk the ladies, especially if we were cooking. And he was generous with his kisses, whether you wanted them or not. If you were ever kissed by Tater, you’ve kissed everyone he has – a legion of hundreds, maybe thousands, from all walks of life.
So, our beloved Tater, you were one of a kind. I loved you so very much, as did everyone who ever met you. I know Heaven doesn’t have any electric fences, so I am happy you’re roaming freely now (when you’re not French kissing the angels and stealing their chocolate.)