I have very sad news.
Little Tony, my adorable black-and-tan Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, has passed away, at 13 years old.
He had a great long life, and he was a great little dog.
I will miss him terribly.
And I’m quite aware that the passing of a pet isn’t exactly news.
But I want to take a minute to tell you about him, because what I’ve learned over a lifetime with dogs, cats, chickens, and horses, is that each one has a distinct personality, and there was something about Little Tony’s personality that may strike a chord with you.
Because he wasn’t typical.
In fact, he was the opposite of dogs you see on TV and in the movies, who are exuberant and playful, bounding up to you the moment you open the front door. I’ve had golden retrievers and rescue mutts like that, and I loved it. You know, the kind of dogs who charge around the house, knock things off the coffee table, chew up your most expensive pair of shoes, or carry their bowls to you to be fed. My three other spaniels are like that, just smaller.
Little Tony wasn’t like that.
He was a quiet little guy.
When I came home, my other three spaniels would greet me, jumping up and barking, while Little Tony waited his turn.
He was a gentleman.
Or maybe he was the underdog.
He assumed that role in the pecking order, even though he was the oldest. Or maybe he was top dog, but allowed them to go first.
Whatever the reason, he kept to himself.
He didn’t bark for attention or food.
He didn’t jump up on anybody.
He didn’t greet strangers.
He was very affectionate with people he loved, especially Francesca. He adored her, though he never bounded up to see her, either. When she scooped him up, he would always lick her face. She couldn’t take a Zoom yoga lesson without him licking her toes.
He was an introvert.
I used to think I loved him despite that.
Now I realize I loved him because of that.
An introvert gets to you in his own way, calmly and steadily, finding room in the quiet spaces between the barking and the jumping and the commands other dogs ignore.
Introverts sit, and they stay.
Little Tony had a tough start in life, beginning shortly after his birth when his mother bit off his foreskin.
I’m pretty sure it was an accident.
At least that’s what she claims.
The vet said that he would require an operation to reconstruct his foreskin.
I didn’t think he needed one, but I’m a girl.
I have the opposite of penis envy.
Especially if the penis costs money.
It turned out that Little Tony had to have three operations in the first year of his life in order to make him a new foreskin. In the end, it looked damn good.
For a foreskin.
Frankly, it’s a low bar.
But it was the best penis money could buy.
The operations never got him down, and he just endured them. He lived in a cone for a year and never made a fuss or tried to take it off. He had a high pain threshold, never whining or whimpering if anything untoward happened to him, even when his heart exploded.
He was about to go for a walk, and his heart ruptured. He fell over, and we got him to the vet immediately. They told me that he would probably die overnight, but in extremely rare cases, his heart could possibly repair itself.
Little Tony turned out to be an extremely rare case.
His heart repaired itself, and he lived two more years after that.
Which might be a veterinary miracle.
But not for him.
His heart was strong because it was full of love.
Even though he kept it inside.
Where it would be safe and sound, for us.
I think he had so much love inside him that it powered him like a little furnace, keeping him going through some very serious illnesses that developed as he got older.
Until we had to let him go.
I was with him, and so was Francesca, via FaceTime.
So now it’s our turn.
We’ll keep our love for him inside, where it will sit.
Look for Lisa’s new domestic thriller, “What Happened to the Bennetts,” coming March 29, 2022. Also, look for Lisa’s best-selling historical novel, “Eternal,” in stores now. Francesca’s critically acclaimed debut novel, “Ghosts of Harvard,” is now in paperback.