Tucker at 9 years of age was way over LRR’s usual age limit of 5-7 years. Even though older dogs make great companions and excellent housemates, most folks are still looking for that cute, crazy, chewy lab youngster - and the older dogs often languish in our system. Still, Tucker’s story and situation touched our hearts, and we agreed to try to help him. Tucker had been a member of this couple’s family since they purchased him as a pup. Unexpectedly, Tucker’s Dad died a tragic death, and his Mom was so distraught, that she could not cope with having a dog and moved to a place where dogs weren’t allowed to try to deal with her sudden loss. Her sister took Tucker to Grandma’s house, while she pleaded with LRR and several other organizations to take him. This necessitated Tucker living in an outside pen where he became flea infested and depressed. The emergency nature of the situation, coupled with Tucker’s warm personality, won him a spot with LRR. He was full of squishy “old man” lumps, but one hard lump proved to be a Stage 2 mast cell cancerous tumor, which had been misdiagnosed by his previous vet. We had that tumor, plus many of the larger fatty lumps removed, but thought his chances of being adopted were even more remote. Mast cells can come back, or Tucker could outlive any return of the cancer, but who would want to take that chance? Fortunately for us, we found the perfect couple,and as Tucker tells us in his email, life is good!
Hi out there - I don’t know if you remember me, but my name is Tucker, the handsome yellow lab whose story was first told in September, 1998. It has been a little over 6 months since then, and boy how my life has changed! In mid-October, I was comfortable in my foster home, when a couple came by to visit. They took me out for a walk and sat and talked with me. I thought I would be a good boy since they were both interested in me. In fact, even when I saw a squirrel, I listened to them, even though I wanted to chase it! Pretty soon the LRR Director showed up, some papers were signed, and I was in their car off to a new adventure.
They took me to their house, which had a big, fenced backyard. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was my new turf. Every day I patrol the yard, walking the perimeter to inspect for new sights and smells. I soon came to realize that there were many cats roaming the neighborhood, and also squirrels in trees, many of which wander into my yard. Since chasing cats and squirrels is a hobby of mine, I found this yard to be one great place to get some exercise. My new Mom takes me on a 1-2 miles walk every day which I enjoy very much. On my one of my walks, Mom took me to visit her girlfriend who has three small children. They all instantly fell in love with me, and Mom and I frequently stop by to say hello. I am extremely well behaved with kids, and they just love to pet me!
When I am not patrolling my yard or on my walks, I am very content hanging around my new home. One of my favorite spots is at the top of the stairs in the sun. One trick I learned is that if I lay on my back when Mom or Dad walk by, they just can’t help giving this handsome guy a bellyrub! I use this to my advantage, because sometimes Mom will rub my belly for an hour at a time! Mom and Dad also play the “flashlight game” with me, which my foster parents had told them about. They shine a flashlight beam on the floor, and I love to chase it. Since they saw my love for this game, they put a laser light in my Christmas stocking. Even when they are done playing for the night, I bark and bark for more!
One of the things that Mom and Dad were looking for when they chose me was a dog with a good temperament, so they could train the dog to be a therapy dog. A therapy dog is one who is trained to visit patients in nursing homes and hospitals. Since she was a “first time doggie Mom”, she took me to a basic obedience course. Just to show that an old dog can learn new tricks, I quickly learned hand signals for “sit” and “down”. Mom worked with me everyday, and eventually I was ready to be tested to become a therapy dog by Fidos for Freedom, an all volunteer group who strive to increase humans’ quality of life in our metro area through the use of hearing, service and therapy dogs. I had to pass a temperament test and 5 basic obedience tests. I passed the temperament test with flying colors, and I passed 3 of the 5 obedience tests on the first try. With some extra hard work, I just finished passing the last 2 obedience tests, and pretty soon my Mom and I will be visiting nursing home patients. We both can’t wait!
Mom and Dad found out that I am a good traveler. We all went to New Jersey for the holidays to visit my parents’ families. I enjoyed meeting the other members of my family–and they enjoyed meeting me! Everyone agreed that I was such a handsome dude and very well behaved. In January, when a good portion of Maryland (including our house) was without power due to an ice storm, my parents and I found a dog friendly hotel and camped out there until we got our power back! I was so well behaved; I didn’t even bark once!
So, you can see, during the past few months, I have been keeping very busy. I am so thankful to LRR for finding me a new home.
Hi - this is Tucker’s Mom. I also want to thank LRR for giving us the opportunity to provide Tucker a good home. Tucker has been such a joy to us, and he is now an integral part of our family. We hope that through his being a therapy dog, he can share some of that joy with others. For those of you who may be unsure about adopting an older dog, I have to tell you the experience has been wonderful–I wouldn’t trade it for the world! Even at age 9, Tucker is able to learn and is very content in his new family. Thanks again!
Hi, LRR! My Tucker has come so far in a year; I thought you might like to know how great he is doing! Tucker grows more comfortable in his home with each passing day. We love him so much, so Tucker is the receives MANY hugs, belly rubs and kisses. Since Mom was the primary care giver, Tucker considered me alpha over my husband. But now that Daddy’s schedule has allowed him more time to spend, he and Tucker have really bonded. Tucker has really responded to him, especially since Dad gives the best belly rubs! Tucker is doing wonderfully at Fidos for Freedom, and my confidence as a handler is getting better as well. So far, Tucker and I have visited a nursing home 5 times. The patients love him, and they just can’t get over how big he is! We also did 2 FFF information booths and one demo to a 4-H group. I really enjoyed doing the demo. Tucker did very well, and the kids just loved him! Tucker is really a “kid magnet”! Almost every time we walk through our neighborhood, there is a new kid who comes by and wants to pet Tucker. I always welcome that because it is good practice for him meeting strangers when he is performing his therapy dog duties. Even though he is often as tall as the kids, he is so calm–even when the kids pet him a bit aggressively. Tucker just had his annual vet visit. He is in excellent shape, and the staff just love him. They can’t believe how good he looks for a 10 year old boy. I guess those daily walks do help out the “elderly!” Just wanted you all to know that Tucker is doing GREAT and that he has us wrapped around his paw!
Update: May, 2002
I just wanted to say thank you once again for rescuing me. Yesterday, May 27, was my 13th birthday, and if it wasn’t for you and the wonderful volunteers at Labrador Retriever Rescue, I would not be around today to see this day. No one else would give a 9 year old lumpy dog the chance that you gave me. And who would have thought that I would live to be 13, considering you removed a Stage II Mast Cell tumor from my side! And in those almost 4 years since my rescue, who would have known the places I would go and the people I would see? Because I became a therapy dog for Fidos For Freedom, I visited not only nursing homes and hospitals, but I also made a trip to the Laurel Mall, to the Renaissance Festival, and to the Washington D.C. Convention Center! I’m retired now, but I enjoyed meeting so many different people.
I am living out my ‘golden years’ with my brother Wilbur. Physically, I am starting to slow down, but I still run the place here. I have mom and dad trained to give me treats when I want them, and I still go on short walks, so life is good. I’ve convinced Wilbur that this is the place to be because we have all the people here wrapped around our paws.
So, thank you again, for giving me a second life.