Dog Days of August – Tess

Stock photo – Not Tess

I first met Tess, a West Highland Terrier breed when I started dating the future Mrs. D. I went over to her house to pick her up to go out on a date. She needed a few more minutes to get ready, so I sat down on the couch in the living room to wait.

Tess came out of the bedroom and stopped and looked at me. I cocked my head and raised one eyebrow at her. Slowly her tail started wagging and then suddenly, she ran toward the couch and leapt up beside me. She paused, looked up at me. I shrugged my shoulders slightly and Tess climbed onto my lap and lay down.

There I was, petting Tess when the future Mrs. D walked out of the bedroom. She stopped in surprise that Tess was on my lap. I later found out that Tess had never done that with a stranger. I believe it raised the estimation of myself in the future Mrs. D’s eyes.

After a year of dating, we got hitched and I moved my new family to New Mexico to the farm. Tess absolutely loved the new found freedom to run in 10 acres of fields. At night, she would jump on the bed and try to get between me and Mrs. D. Sometimes she snuggled with me and sometimes with Mrs. D.

A few months after getting to New Mexico, Mrs. D had to go back to Florida to take care of some things. While she was away, Tess was my constant companion. She loved being in the workshop while I built various woodworking projects. The only picture I have of her is this one beside a scroll saw table I built.


A few days before Mrs. D was due back to the farm, Tess got into a patch of weeds that have little fuzzy stickers. They tend to glom onto your socks and pants if you get near them. Poor Tess was absolutely covered. She looked like a miniature green monster. I tried my best to untangle the stickers, but there were far too many of them. I realized I would have to do something drastic. So out came the scissors.

I had to cut almost all of her fur off. She looked pitiful. When Mrs. D came home, she was shocked and a bit angry at me for whacking off Tess’s fur. I explained what happened and our youngest daughter backed me up on my story. Mrs. D was somewhat mollified, but until Tess’s fur grew back out, I think she remained a tad suspicious.

Eventually Tess got old and crossed the rainbow bridge. Mrs. D asked me to make her a coffin. That was one of the hardest things I had ever built. I had come to love Tess. We set her in the coffin with her favorite blanket and toy. I found a spot underneath an elm tree beside the house. While I dug the grave, Mrs. D grieved inside with Tess. We brought her out and laid Tess in her final resting place.

I’ve had many dogs in my life, but Tess holds a special place. I hope to see her again when I pass.