When Matt and I first moved to San Francisco back in 1997, one of our biggest incentives was that we were untethered; no kids, nothing so significant in our lives in Boston that we couldn’t just up and leave whenever we wanted. Free to roam, etc. etc. Times were good in our industry on the west coast, and within 6 months or so of living in the City, we decided that we had the love and the resources and the space to bring a dog into our lives. We knew we wanted to adopt from a shelter, and the perfect spot was just down the street. The San Francisco SPCA is one of the most amazing facilities I’ve ever seen — no dreary, grim cages with sad dogs lying on the concrete, no 5-day warnings about how long animals had until they were to be euthanized. The SPCA is a no-kill shelter with an amazing record of rehabilitation and adoption for dogs and cats. When we first went inside, we were prepared to feel the pull of guilt, but seriously, yo, these dogs and cats live LARGE. Each animal has its own apartment with FURNITURE and toys and Tivo. No lie. The staff at SF SPCA believes in finding out exactly how each animal would do in an apartment/home situation. Do they chew on the furniture? Do they dig watching fish swim around an aquarium? Can they handle sharing the couch with another pooch? All of the animals up for adoption are easily accessible to prospective families, and we were immediately put at ease with the process. One dog in particular, an Australian Cattle Dog/Husky mix named Bailey’s Irish Cream, caught our eye. He was in a room with a sofa and a plastic kid’s house, and when we went in and sat on the floor to visit him, he instantly came over, backed up, and sat in Matt’s lap. That was all it took.

We paid the $38 adoption fee, renamed him Tucker and brought him back to our apartment. Within a week, we noticed that he had a bit of a limp in one of his rear legs. The vet diagnosed an ACL tear in his knee, and our $38 dog became the $6 million-dollar man when we replaced his tendons with Teflon and started our lives as adults responsible for another living thing.

Tucker died last week at the age of 14. Over the years he went through as many changes as Matt and I did; bringing in another dog (Jed), moving across country, welcoming Calder into the family, and then, in later years, shifting between me and Matt as we figured out the details of our divorce. In the past four years, Tucker and Jed spent two with me and two with Matt and his new family. It was Matt who noticed that things had changed in the past few weeks, and ultimately, it was Matt who found Tucker in the morning after he had passed away in his sleep. Matt and Tucker had a very special bond, and I will be forever grateful that Tucker’s last night was spent with his best friend.

There are so many stories I could relay about the life of this magnanimous hound, but in the end, it’s really just about how much we loved him and how much he brought to all of our lives. There will be enough fur woven into the carpets of every surface he touched for us to be able to remember him always. Enjoy the video (ETA I’m not sure why the music won’t sync up, but it seems appropriate…).

Tucker from Lisa Gilbert on Vimeo.

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