Buds wrote an incredibly eloquent and moving tribute to our sweet dog. Here’s what he wrote:
We raised Chip as a service dog. A well-bred yellow lab, “Treasury’s Blue Chip” was his given name and his pedigree outstripped ours. We had a one year commitment to love this dog, but not too well. To take him into stores, and on planes. To show him crowds and solitude, so that he would be well-rounded, helpful, and calm.
His charge was to help someone we did not know. To be a comfort, a friend, and a guide. We kept our promise, but Chip wasn’t able to keep his. When we left him for his formal training, he never could settle in. His mind would never turn to service. The orange vest he sometimes wore made his tail droop and his gait slink.
A good half of all service dogs don’t take to training. When we picked him up, he gamboled and lolled, happy to play again.
Chip saw the births of our three kids and many moves. His was the puppy’s way–happy and carefree. One time we took him with us as we played tennis and he chased balls until his paws were raw and he limped for three days afterwards. In Iowa, he saw a motion in our field of fresh cut hay and bounced out to meet a skunk who tattooed a memory on his nose. In Virginia, our neighbor’s small dog could excite him so that he would run with his hind legs nearly outracing his front–his puppy scoot.
Maybe his fortune would have been better if we had stayed in Iowa; a dog’s paradise. Maybe our kids would have wandered with him in fields until sunset. But he never complained; after all, smaller houses meant more chances to find and sometimes sneak food.
But now our house is still and our good boy is gone. Cat food sits on the kitchen floor unmolested and alone. And our lonely hearts hurt and hope that he has found a happy place to play.
And he included this picture:
Though I will readily bow to Buddie’s great writing prowess, I have a strong need to eulogize Chip as well.
Our first sight of Chip, who was originally named Ira, was in the headlights of a car on a cold, dark, October night. We’d been impatiently waiting for the phone call saying Elmo and Laura had gone to The Treasury to pick up the two donated puppies. Buck, Chip’s brother, went to a farm in Pennsylvania to be raised. We took Chippie to visit him once, and what a treat that was for both of them. Buck was yellower and leaner than Chip, and they remembered each other immediately.
But that visit was in the future. On this cold night, we brought home this beautiful, white lab puppy, and introduced him to our 2 cats, our old Cocker Spaniel, and welcomed him into our hearts.
Those early months, he went nearly everywhere with us. He did, indeed, fly on planes with us several times. He fit neatly under the seat, stowed as others did their purses and briefcases. Memorably, he even pooped in the middle of a terminal at Midway Airport in Chicago because we couldn’t find an exit quickly enough.
One of our favorite memories was the Dog Contest we had at our condo in Delaware. Everyone had a dog in the game, except Liz and Tony, so they were the automatic judges.
John, Mary, and Becky’s dog, MaLi, was naturally well-trained, and the most mature dog of the group.
Zach and Andrea had actually put time, thought, and effort into training Ally. She did some great tricks, including jumping over Zach while he was down on all-fours, I believe.
Buds and I half-assed it, as usual. Our blind Cocker Spaniel, Brandie, could smell moist cat food through the can, so we set out some cans of food so people could watch her attempt to tear into them.
Though Chip had been in training to be a service dog, we had done little extra training with him once he returned to be our family dog. So, we used his natural dislike for lettuce.
We put a huge bowl on the floor under his mouth. Announced that Chip was going to help with dinner prep, then we would hold out a large lettuce leaf which he would tear a chunk out of, then spit it out, dropping it into the bowl. Buds and I had to hold each other up we were laughing so hard.
I’m not sure our dinner guests were nearly as amused.
Other Chip favorite memories were his obsession with chasing any balls, but certainly tennis balls were near the top of the list. The children lost several playground and Winnie-The-Pooh balls over the years because Chip would chase them down and attempt to carry them back. Pop…
In what turned out to be his last few months, Chip developed a new habit. It was half-endearing, half-annoying.
His ability to jump up onto anything had become so compromised that he would spend nearly a minute barking in encouragement to himself to work up the gumption and oomph to jump on the couch, or up onto the deck out back. It was as if he was saying to himself, “You can do it. Come on, you got this. You can do it.”
At the end, even the barks of self-encouragement were gone.
Chip’s tail was never, ever still. He was the waggiest dog ever seen. He was ready to love all people and all creatures. Nutmeg wasn’t always willing to be loving toward him, but he and Chance would often settle in together on the couch, or in the very old days, on a bed. That was when the harsh reality of the end finally became clearer to me; when Chip’s tail stopped wagging.
He was kind and friendly and so willing to love and be loved. He did have a slight tendency to take food from the children since their fingers were juuuusssstttt at drool-level, but despite this, we couldn’t have asked for a better dog to help us raise our family.
Thank you, Chip, for choosing us over a life of service. We are so grateful.