On Monday morning June 20, 2022, we said goodbye to our girl Talulah. She was a huge part of our lives for twelve short years. And I miss her as much or more than any one person or pet I’ve ever loved and lost.
We adopted Talulah in 2010. When we picked her up, Tina opted to sit in the back with her. There was no containing Lu’s excitement. It was a happy day.
We believe she lived life a dog could live. Our work lets us be home a lot which afforded us lots of time for her. For that, we are grateful.
It was a brain cancer that likely took her. Last Sept/October, the cancer caused the right side of her face muscles to atrophy. By the time we discovered the atrophied face, she was already in her twilight.
Vets scared the shit out of her, so treating her with a cancer regimen might have exacerbated the issue. We ended up managing her pain for the rest of her life with prednisone and lots of love and affection.
Unscientifically, I theorize that the cancer arrived in her younger years when her right ear started standing up. It was around that same time that driving through the mountains of West Virginia & Virginia, the altitude seemed to cause a lot of pain and discomfort.
Anyone who knows me knows she was my shadow. Or maybe I was hers. If dogs were allowed (and even sometimes not) I took her with me. Outdoor seating at restaurants. Bars. All our past photo studios. Wherever.
She slept at my feet for 10-12 hours of photo or video editing. She stood in for lights. If I went on errands, she was in the seat next to me, so long as the temps weren’t too cold or hot.
Once, I took her to a new grocery store the day before Thanksgiving. I unknowingly parked in a tow zone. While I rushed in, our car and Talulah were towed. When we finally pulled up to where the car was impounded, she was sitting in the front seat, looking out, glad to see us, especially when they finally opened the gate and I ran to get her.
I trained her as well as I could as to avoid the pitbull stereotype. I trusted her with children. All she wanted was to be with Tina and me, play ball for 30 mins a day, and keep an eye on us wherever we went. We work mostly from home, so we spent inordinate time together.
What I’ll miss most is how much she taught me. She taught me to get out from behind the computer. To enjoy the fresh air. To stretch my legs. In her prime, she could easily run 5 miles with me without breaking a pant. She taught me that a raised voice, no matter how much, was unacceptable. Arguments between Tina and me were ended as quickly as possible when we looked over and saw Lu shaking in a corner. In the end, she taught me patience as she dawdled on walks, took her time on the stairs, sniffed a little more than she ever did.
In her final months, every time she went down the stairs, I walked backwards a foot in front of her. I would repeat: “I’ll catch you if you fall, baby. I promise.”
To the bitter end, she still caught treats in midair. She chased her tail the day before she died. You could still shake her paw, either one. She could circle through my legs when asked. We could leave a treat on her muzzle till we said “Okay!” Until the night before she passed.
On Sunday June 19, I fell asleep spooning facing away from our bed’s headboard. I was spooning Lu, something I started doing more and more often this past year and intermittently throughout her life.
On June 20, she woke up coughing and sneezing, and pain caused her to shake uncontrollably. Twice that morning, I noticed a tear streaked the side of her face twice that I’d never seen before. Twice I wiped it away.
That morning, she looked at Tina and at me at different times and seemed to say, “I’m ready. It’s time. I gotta go. I can’t do it anymore.”
We would learn at the vet that she had a fever and without saying it, they said it was time.
Putting her down was the last act of love I could show her. It was the last and only time I needed to catch her. She spent a lifetime catching me, and I’m not sure I knew it until she passed.
I wear a knot in the back of my throat as a reminder of how much I loved that beautiful pup.
When we took Lu to be put down, I sat in the back with her. Tears streamed down my cheeks.
Talulah. Lulah. Lu. Woo. Monster. Lazy Snoozin. Diane VanThirstenberg.
The best four-legged friend ever.
We miss you, Talulah. We will always miss you.
The opening picture is Lu, in her prime, a perfect metaphor for her, always wanting to work, obedient, caring, and photogenic as fuck.
The last one below is one Tina took without my knowing. I love that nugget. Always will.