Well.border collie companion

My border collie Tigger got me off the hook.

I am afraid I was selfish with my dog. I didn’t want to let him go. As he has for almost 15 years he did what was best for me and took care of me … as best buddies seem to know how to do.

He passed away in his sleep last night.

And in the morning there was just one.




My dog, a border collie named Tigger, would have been 15 next month.

He was having more and more senior moments.

On murky days he sometimes lost me when I walked 15 or 20 feet away. He panicked but when he finally spotted me (after I have been yelling “over here” and waving my arms like a windmill) he perked up and immediately ambled over towards me.

On murky days he woke up and tried drinking from his food bowl (until he realized there was no water there).


On his less stable days (which happened more often) he sometimes fell. (and a good gust of wind could knock him over)


On his really good days you could see what he wanted to do in his eyes and we would go out and act like when he could actually do it.



A couple of nights ago sitting on my floor he fell sleep with his nose resting on my leg. Those of you who know, or own, border collies know how unusual this could be in their hyper personalities.


He was getting tired. Of life I fear.

I recognized there weren’t years left. It was now months. I think he knew it was weeks.

Maybe even days.


As background.

It was just Tigger and I. And always has been (including an incredible circle of friends).

He has been my best friend for these 14+ years. From the day I picked him out border collie in handof a litter, carried him in the palm of my hand to the car and drove him home we have done everything together. With a mercurial personality, sometimes surly, always active, herding everything and shamelessly dedicated to me (except Uncle Gary who was his alpha dog) he was his own dog. Often, to the dismay of my friends, Tigger attended almost everything I attended. To call him my best friend really doesn’t tell half the story. I am single and he has been my constant family over the past 14+ years.

To be fair to Tigger he always encouraged me to add to the McTague household. Showing incredible affection to close friends, occasional girlfriends and even their pets. He has stuck with me as I have singlehandedly destroyed every relationship I have had with some amazing women over the years.

Now. Let it be told he did his part to salvage these relationships all on his lonesome.

There was the woman who he must have sensed I was thinking of moving on from as she left our place one day (and he was right) and as she drove away he suddenly started running after her car. She had to bring him back when he stood in front of her car at the light outside the complex because she couldn’t move without running him over. Nice try on his part but I still screwed it up. And then there was the time we were cat sitting for a girlfriend out of town on business and he took a nap curled around the cat, named Beast to top it off, telling me in his own way that he would approve having a cat in the household. (I screwed that one up too).

For some time now I think I have been afraid to let him go. I know all dog owners worry about that day. And I guess I hoped it was the one day he learned to talk so he could tell me and I didn’t have to guess. There were times I think he just wanted to say to me “I am tired, we had a great run my friend. It’s time for me to go.”

And sometimes when I felt that way I forced him up and out the door for a walk or a “quasi” run or something that gets him up and moving.

And that is why I think he got me off the hook.

He knew I wouldn’t let him go.


It is amazing to think about it but on Sunday, the last time he saw my mother, he played with her and was (as she called it) frisky. He gave her a going away gift. Her last memory was one of an active, fun border collie.

Monday, while I was typing on my computer he came over and fell asleep by my side with his head on my foot. And he rarely did something like that. I think he knew what was going to happen. Several times yesterday he came over and sat looking to get a good scratch behind the ear.

We had a great last day.


As he neared the finish line I sensed he wanted it to be just him and me. He was a lot less inclusive, more protective and more affectionate. Of course he couldn’t talk so I am guessing (trying to get in touch with my inner dog voice). Plus. He got “snappish” with other people which he never did before.

So. I use that information to make me feel better about myself.

I will miss the guy. He was my family. He has been with me through thick & thin. And I think he did a lot of things just to please me. I also sometimes thought lately, if I would let him, he would rest his head. And I am not sure he would stop resting.

But, once again, he never asked me to do that.

I think in the weird way that dogs know things about their owners…that he knew I was worried about being selfish and afraid of letting him go…but he was ready to go to “the great dog biscuit factory in the sky”. Yeah. I was afraid. Afraid of what it would be like without him (because he has got me through a variety of career crises, relationship fiascos, and general life ineptness). And I was right to be afraid. There is a hole. A deep empty hole.

I know in the end he didn’t want to disappoint me (I believe he knows he never did). And I also know he didn’t want me to worry unnecessarily.


He made the decision for me.

And then there was only one.

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Written by Bruce