The World According to Rico – Thinking about Tater

For those of you who read this column on a regular basis, you will notice the featured photo is not of me for a change. It’s a picture of my friend, Tater.

Tater was the fur baby of my Aunt Leenie and her husband, Jim.

Tater was the first dog I met when I moved to York. On our way home, the folks stopped at Aunt Leenie’s house to introduce her and Jim and their extended family to me, Rico. At that time, Tater was a lot bigger than me — I weighed about four pounds and he was pushing 18 I think. I was scared to death but he was full of excitement as he welcomed me to York County.

He sometimes would come to my house when Aunt Leenie was on dog duty. I loved it when he’d enter the house and we could sniff around each other. At least that way, he knew who he was smelling when Aunt Leenie would go back home with my scent all over her.

And a few weeks ago, before it got so dang cold out, we had a play date at the York Dog Park. The intention was for us to get even more acquainted so maybe we could go to the boarding place together in a few weeks when all the folks go on vacation. That particular day, I wasn’t feeling so hot and just laid around. But Tater – my God, his tail was wagging so fast I thought he was going to take flight like a helicopter.

Aunt Leenie and Jim loved Tater with all their hearts. She talked about him all the time, as she and my folks shared stories about their little love bugs. Here’s what I know about Tater – he loved to ride with Jim when he moved snow and drove the boat; he ate ice cream every night; he slept under the covers with his folks, which I think is weird because if I did, I’d sweat to death; he had a knack for finding dead rabbits and birds in the yard; he hated getting a bath; and he loved it when Aunt Leenie would drop baking bits on the floor while she made thousands of cookies for her customers.

After my folks discovered my love for a stuffed lamb, named Lamb Chop or Lammy for short, which they bought at Bomgaars, my Aunt Leenie headed straight for the store to get a smaller version for her Tater. He loved his Lammy so much he kept biting holes into her, which Leenie promptly sewed shut only for him to do it again. He loved his Lammy as much as I love mine.

He always greeted guests at their door with great enthusiasm and their grandkids adored snuggling with him.

He liked to get up early, which Aunt Leenie seemed to really enjoy . . . and sometimes not.

They named him Tater because somebody said he looked like a little tater tot when he was a puppy and it just stuck.

He never wanted to be left behind, so anytime it looked like someone was going to drive something, he was front and center.

Tater loved to explore and was very aware of his surroundings, Aunt Leenie said. He had great adventures, I imagine, with wonderful stories to be told if only he could have spoken English. But he was still a great talker, often expressing himself in a myriad of ways.

Last week, Aunt Leenie called my mom, with the mama putting the call on speaker like she always does when Aunt Leenie phones. But quickly, I knew something was wrong because my sweet Leenie was crying and subsequently my mom started crying too.

I’m not a fan of crying, so I just laid down and covered my eyes with my paws. I’d never done that before, but then again I’d never heard Leenie and Mama crying together. Mom quickly took the call off speaker because it was making me upset but I could tell by the tones something was wrong.

Wrong it was. Sad it certainly was and is. I’ve been told that Tater crossed the Rainbow Bridge and while that sounds beautiful, it sure isn’t for the humans left behind. Aunt Leenie and Jim are really sad. Mom says they will be for a while.

The good news is that they have beautiful memories of the years they had with little Tater Tot Fox. He was their first dog together which is special in itself. They found each other at this stage in their lives and then they found him.

He was a little spitfire of energy who brought love and laughter into their lives, just like all us dogs strive to do with our families.

I’m just a puppy and I don’t know much about life or the whole Rainbow Bridge thing, but I’m sad, too, just thinking about them losing him. I hate for Aunt Leenie and Jim to be sad. I just hope someday they will take the chance to love a little furry guy or gal again because, well – we pets were created by God to make humans’ lives more enjoyable, more fulfilling, even if all we do is bark, run, eat, poop, sleep and play. I guess we do a lot more than that, seeing how much our families love us.

Anyway, Lammy and I are just laying on the couch today, thinking about Tater and the Foxes. I’m pretty sure his little tail is wagging like crazy over on the other side of that Bridge. And hopefully, they are having only happy memories of that sweet dog they loved so much.

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