Tank

My name is Tank.  My name describes me pretty well.  My mother was a mastiff and my dad was a black lab and mastiff mix.  So you can imagine how large I was going to become.

I don’t remember much about my early childhood.  I vaguely remember my biological mom and dad.  What I do remember is that mom took excellent care of my brothers and sisters while my dad watched on proudly.  We played hard, ate till our bellies were full, and slept even harder.  Life was carefree and simple.  I took after my dad, black hair and good looks.  My mom and dad were both very large and great protectors. 

One day while I was running around playing I was suddenly scooped up by a stranger.  He knew just where to pet me and scratched behind my ears.  I didn’t understand what was going on, but that was the last time I saw my brothers, sisters, and parents.  The man kept calling me “Tank” while he placed me on a soft seat in a big truck.

I didn’t know where we were going, but the ride made me sleepy.  Occasionally the man would reach over and scratch me and call me Tank.  I was a quick learner and responded every time he said the name.  Later we arrived at a new house.  The man placed me on a carpet in front of a bowl of food.  I was starving and attacked the bowl with vengeance.  I was beginning to like this man.  He knew exactly what kind of food I liked. 

After my belly was full the man put me on the couch next to him and I fell fast asleep.   When I woke I wondered when we would go home to my family, but we never left this new house. 

I slept that night in a big bed with the man and when I cried for my family he comforted me.  I realized then that this man would be my new dad.  I knew then that he cared for me and would take care of me. 

The next day dad put me back in his truck and we went to a place that smelled like many other dogs.  A woman there called a “vet” poked and prodded me.  She looked at my teeth and checked my legs.  She then poked me with a sharp needle.  It hurt really badly, but I was tough for my dad and didn’t cry at all.  We would visit this place every so often.  It smelled like so many other dogs and the people were always so nice.  But I didn’t like getting poked, prodded, and stuck with needles.  But I never cried because I wanted to be strong for my dad. 

My dad and I became inseparable.  We went everywhere together.  Sometimes he would leave me in the back seat of his truck, but he always returned in a little while to let me out.  He always cheered when I obeyed him and gave me treats and pets.  I loved making him happy. 

Dad would take me to work with him.  Sometimes the loud machines he worked on would scare me, but he always kept me safe.  I loved riding in his truck because he would roll the window down and let me stick my head out so my ears would flap in the wind. 

We took lots of long walks around his property.  I loved exploring and swimming in the ponds.   He would often cut firewood and I would stand guard to make sure he was safe.  Sometimes I would sit on the logs or climb in the trailer of wood.  I also loved joining him in the shower, but I didn’t really care for the taste of the soap.  We had such a good life together. 

After dinner at night my dad would throw a toy for me to retrieve while he watched tv.  I would bring it back and he would throw it again.  Over and over we did this until I was tuckered out. 

I loved living with my dad.  I had my own bed in his room.  And he built me my own pen outside to keep me safe on the occasion he couldn’t take me with him.  I always wanted to go with him and I was sad when he left me alone, but he always came home and I was always glad to see him. 

I really liked it when dad worked in his shop.  I would lay on the floor sunning myself or on the carpet in front of his toolbox.  One day a brown truck pulled up with the door open.  I decided the open door must be an invitation to go for a ride so I jumped up into his truck and waited patiently.  Dad figured out where I was and made me get down.  The man in the brown truck thought it was funny and always gave me pets and scratches when he came by. 

Everywhere we went people would give me attention.  I tried my best to behave for dad, but sometimes I would get a little too excited.  One day dad let me out of the truck and I met this cute blonde girl that went crazy over me.  She was petting me and talking to me.  She really thought I was cute.  Her mom and my dad stood nearby and talked while the girl played with me.  This happened more and more frequently.  A few times they even came to my house and every time the girl would play with me and love on me.  She liked to run and I would chase her around while she called my name. 

I grew extremely fast.  Sometimes my long legs didn’t do what I wanted them to and I tripped and landed on my nose.  I never cried no matter how much it hurt.  I was a tough guy like my dad.  Even when I was bad and he spanked me I didn’t cry.  I tried so hard not to disappoint him.

One day, not long after my first birthday dad loaded me into the truck.  He was dressed exceptionally well for a Saturday afternoon.  We drove into town and picked up the little blonde girl.  I had learned her name was Kendall.  She really loved me.  We then drove to a place I had never been.  I was introduced to her two sisters, Kaylee and Klancy.  Her mom was also there and some other lady I didn’t know.  The other lady kept making us sit in different places and positions.  And I had to look handsome.  A few times I got to sit in Klancy’s lap for the lady.  She kept wanting me to look at her, but I wanted to go exploring.  Dad was so happy and smiling the whole time.  That made me happy, and I sure enjoyed all the attention.  Later on, pictures of that day hung on our walls.  I still didn’t understand why dad got our pictures with all those pretty girls, but I would soon find out.

A few months later we received many visitors to the ranch.  Grandpa and Nana came to stay with us.  My uncles came with their families too.  They were there for about a week and when they left my life was changed forever.  Three girls and their mom and a little dog named Bubba moved into my house. 

At first I didn’t know what to think about my new mom.  She didn’t like me sleeping in my dad’s bedroom and moved my bed to the hallway.  I was pretty upset about that and didn’t show her much love.  My new sisters were super kind to me and rubbed on me all the time.  I didn’t really like the new dog, Bubba, very much.  We didn’t play together and he was always chasing the cars that passed by.  Even though we were not good friends Bubba and I never fought or even growled at each other. 

One thing that was an improvement when the girls moved in was the food.  My new mom cooked all the time and it smelled so yummy!  One evening she went outside to talk on her phone and left a whole plate of hamburger meat on the counter.  I knew I shouldn’t eat it, but it smelled so good and I was so hungry.  I decided that if I ate it really fast she wouldn’t even miss it.  I scarfed down that meat as quickly and neatly as I could.  The paper towel it was sitting on tasted just like the meat so I ate that too.  I quickly laid back down and pretended to be asleep so mom wouldn’t know what I did.  After a little bit she figured out what happened to her meat and boy was she mad!  She ran me out of the house while yelling and hitting me with a wooden spoon.  I was actually pretty glad she let me out because I was really thirsty and needed to drink.  I didn’t like getting in trouble, but that plate of meat made it worthwhile that evening.

One day my dad came home with my mom after she had been away for a few days.  Dad was carrying something in his arms.  He called me over to let me see and I was introduced to a little tiny person they called Richard.  He was so tiny and looked very fragile.  I was scared I would hurt him and make my mom and dad sad.  So I stayed away from him as much as I could.  Occasionally, I would let him hang out with me and touch me. 

Later when he was just learning to walk I let him hang onto me for balance.  My dad was nearby and was so proud of me for being a good brother.  Richard also got a dog.  His name was Dozer.  He was just a puppy when he came to our house and I loved playing with him. 

Dozer and I would play and play.  I would lay on the ground and let him attack me and I would pretend to bite him back.  I showed him all around the ranch and taught him how to swim in the ponds.  We would make several trips a day to the nearest pond to go swimming.   Dozer was such a good brother to me and I loved him very much.  He was always scared of everything even though I tried to teach him to be brave.  Richard was proud of Dozer too. 

Not long after Richard joined the family my dad started leaving for several weeks at a time.  He had to go away to provide for us.  I missed him dearly while he was gone, but I had a job to do for him.  I protected the family and watched out for them like my ancestors did for the kings many years ago.  My size meant that I didn’t have to be mean, but people always feared me.  Dad would come home and I was always glad to see him.  I would jump up and run to greet his truck as he came down the driveway.  I didn’t want to leave his side the whole time he was home. 

One day my dad put all three of us dogs into his Jeep and we rode to town to a new house.  The yard was not nearly as big as the ranch, but it would be fine.  Dozer and I played daily and I was getting along with Bubba pretty good.  Richard would come play with us in the yard too.  We got a trampoline and Dozer and I would lay on it for hours warming ourselves in the sun.  Kendall would take me for walks sometimes.  But the best times were when dad would load us up and take us back to the ranch to run and swim. 

And then we added another dog to the family.  Her name was Blair.  She was extremely needy and whined all the time.  She sure was happy to be living with us.  I don’t know where she lived before, but she seemed to like our house better.  I think she loved me the most.  She was constantly licking my face and jumping on me.  I ignored her most of the time, but deep down inside I loved the attention. 

The winter time began to make my joints hurt.  Dad would rake all the leaves up into a pile and I would lay in them letting the sun warm my cold bones.  Mom and dad would give me pills and they would make me feel a little better.  I still played with Dozer every morning, but sometimes that would make it difficult to walk later in the day.  He seemed to understand and would comfort me at times. 

When dad would put my leash on I would get so excited.  Sometimes we would go with him to pick the kids up from school.  It was so exciting to see all the kids and get their attention.  I would stick my head out the window and all the kids would talk about how big I was. 

Sometimes we would go for walks in the park and Richard would ride his tricycle.  Everyone stopped to pet Dozer and I and told us how handsome we were.  I always played it cool, but Dozer would get a little too excited at times.  Richard always made a point to tell them that I was dad’s dog and Dozer was his.  But the trips to the ranch were still the ones I liked best. 

We had another addition to the family.  This time a little bitty dog named Bo came to live with us.  He was a little bully that I could have snapped in half with one bite!  Dad made me lay on the floor so he could get our picture together.  It was so humiliating.  That little dog just wanted to bark at everything for no reason.  I knew what was worthy of getting riled up, but he wouldn’t follow my lead no matter how hard I tried.   I hated that he would nip at me and even bite my ears.  My mom loved that little dog, so out of respect for her I tolerated the little ankle-bitter.

At night I always tried to sleep close to my dad for many years.  But later on I knew my mom missed him while he travelled for work so I tried to sleep close to her to protect and comfort her.  She was always so nice to me all those years that I ignored her that I wanted to make up for it.  I would get so mad at Bubba when he would take my spot next to mom’s side of the bed.   But Bubba was getting old too and so I understood and slept at the foot of the bed instead.  Mom put a couple of old pillows on the floor and I used one regularly.

I had not been to the ranch in a long time and one day Kendall loaded Dozer and I up in the Jeep and took us out there.  I was so happy when we turned down that dirt road.  Dad was already there doing some work.  Nana and her dog Daisy were there too.  My knees were hurting a little that day but I tried not to show it.  But when dad and Kendall drove the tractor and trailer toward the back of the ranch I just couldn’t keep up like I used to.  I tried as hard as I could but my knees just hurt too much.  I could tell dad was worried about me because he let me ride back to the house in the trailer.  I was so sad that I couldn’t run ahead like I always did before.  I didn’t even go for a swim that day.  The next few days were extremely difficult because my knees hurt.  Mom and dad kept giving me the pills hidden in bread to help me, but I don’t think they were helping much anymore. 

About a week later Dozer wanted to play.  The weather was nice so we played and ran around the back yard.  I couldn’t move real fast, but I did the best I could.  I loved every minute of it, but when we were done my knees hurt really badly.  My right knee was the worst and later I could barely walk.  That night when it was time to go into the house for bed I couldn’t climb the three steps to the backdoor.  Mom called dad on the phone and she was crying while she told him.  Klancy was concerned too and helped me get around to the front of the house where there was only one step.  I was so tired from walking on three legs I laid down on the living room floor and passed out. 

The next morning my knee still hurt.  Mom gave me my pills but they were not doing much to help the pain.  I heard her talking to dad on the phone.  She was very concerned about me.  I didn’t move all day.  I hurt so bad I was afraid that if I tried to walk I would fall down.  Mom let all the dogs stay in the house most of the day and they all laid near me to comfort me.  None of them would leave my side.  Finally, Klancy and mom helped me get into the Jeep to go see the vet.  I hurt so badly and my knee was so stiff I couldn’t even walk and they drug me into the room on a blanket.  The vet that day was a nice, caring older man.  He did the usual prods and pokes.  And I did not cry out in pain because I wanted to be strong for my mom.  She had been crying and I knew I was the reason why.  The vet gave me a shot and it hurt like the dickens, but I still didn’t cry out.  The nice lady at the counter gave mom some new pills for me and helped get me back into the Jeep. 

Mom and Klancy had to help me a lot the next few days.  I was feeling a little better, but my right knee would just not work properly.  I still had a good appetite and took the pills mom gave me every day and night.  She was letting me stay inside most of the day. 

Dad came home a few days later and I knew I didn’t want him to see me like this.  So I did my best to act like nothing was wrong the first two days he was home.  He could tell I was hurting and would help me stand up or climb the stairs.  I wanted to be strong for him, but I just wasn’t able to anymore.  Dad petted me a lot and scratched behind my ears those days.  He knew just where to rub to make me feel good.  Several times I saw him with tears in his eyes.  I hated seeing him sad. 

A few days later the pain was so bad I collapsed while I was outside.  This made dad extremely sad.  He brought an old rug from the house and moved me onto it and put a blanket over me.  I could see everyone in the house was sad because I was sick.  My sister Kaylee came with her dog Dixie and I couldn’t play with her.  She was extremely hyper and I usually ignored her anyway. 

That night dad helped me into the house one last time.  Richard and dad laid with me on my bed and rubbed on me for a long time.  Dad took our picture and I tried to look good for him.  Kendall and Dozer slept on the floor with me all night.  I wanted to go sleep in my usual spot next to mom, but I just didn’t have the energy.  I hadn’t eaten anything that day at all; I couldn’t even bring myself to eat the bread my pills were wrapped in.  Dad and I both knew what that meant and he was really sad.  I know mom was sad too.  I saw them both crying that night. 

The next morning dad left to run some errands.  And when he came back he came and sat with me.  I hadn’t moved all night.  He whispered into my ear that it was time and that I wouldn’t feel any more pain soon.  He lifted my big body up and I tried real hard to walk one last time for him, but none of my legs would work.  So dad being the strong man he was picked all of my 135 pounds up and carried me to his Jeep.  Kendall rode in the back with me while mom and dad were in the front.  We arrived at the vet and the nice man that had taken care of me the week before came to look at me.  He was such a kind hearted man and had such a gentle touch.  Mom and Kendall were crying by my side rubbing on me.  Dad was also crying and standing at my head where I could see him.  I hated seeing him sad.  He kept telling me he loved me and that everything was going to be okay.  He also thanked me many times for being a good dog.  I wasn’t scared because he had always been there for me.     As I went to sleep my dad’s face was the last thing I saw. 

I know I will always be missed.  My whole family will miss me.  I have been loved my whole life and loved them all back.  Dozer will be really sad because he won’t understand why I am gone.  I know dad and the family will take good care of him.  I did my job as their dog and I was the best dog I knew how to be. 

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