In the Suburbs: Truffie - Celebrating a life well lived, a stay too short

Quietly, mercifully and with no visible pain, our beloved Cocker Spaniel Truffie lost his long battle with cancer last Sunday and slipped away to cross the Rainbow Bridge and hopefully meet his former owner Hazel, who lost her own cancer struggle nearly 6 years ago. Thankfully, his passing happened here at home as we hoped it would, sparing Truffie the agonizing experience of needles and a sterile room.

With lots of tears and hugs, we bundled our wonderful dog, who only became ours after Hazel left him to us and brought him to the covering vet, Dr. Dailey in Fairfield. She made things so painless and easy for us.

After texting our loved ones and friends with the sad news and bringing our one remaining dog Patches home, we started talking about our short but exciting life with Truffie, often laughing uncontrollably about this incredible dog. So, we decided that this special guy’s last wishes wouldn’t involve tears, but instead a litany of antics that started from his first weekend with us when tried to jump a fence to our basement and dislocated his hip.

From that first trip to the emergency vet, we knew somehow that it wouldn’t be our last one. In the words of a close friend of ours, Joanne, “Strap yourselves in kitty cats, we’re going for a ride!”

We just looked up and said, “Hazel, what kind of wonder dog have you left us?”

The first time we went out and left our then menagerie of 4 dogs, we purchased a new crate for Truffie. That created yet another surprise. I had forgotten from my years of being a dog walker and sitter for him that Hazel never crated him and … he hated being left behind, often pulling down kitchen curtains. Five minutes after pushing him into the crate, we heard scratching and barking and in less than a minute, the crate was destroyed.

“OK, Buddy,” I told him, “you get to be special dog and go with us so our house doesn’t get trashed and used as a dog run.” And for the next 5-plus years, Truffie never stayed home again, unless the weather was freezing or boiling.

Soon after we first brought Truffie home, I received a call from a delightful lady, Sue, who wanted to remind me about his monthly obligation as a therapy dog at Carlton House in Fairfield. Those visits were very special and Truffie was absolutely wonderful with the residents and with the other dogs. He never misbehaved or snapped. He was made for these special visits.

For the past three years, after the passing of two of our then 4 dogs, we’ve left Truffie and his brother Patches, our rambunctious Jack Russell Terrier, with some wonderful dog sitters. One of those sitters, Brian became our always sitter and he and his partner and family have become our friends also. He was as sad as we were this past Sunday and spoke of Truffie’s good fight.

One of Brian’s best, albeit horror stories this determined dog occurred when we left for Israel nearly two years ago. We were at the airport waiting to board our flight when my phone rang. It was Brian. “You won’t believe this one,” he told me sheepishly. “This was all my fault. I just went downstairs to remove a few old mouse traps and Truffie ran past me and within seconds, he had eaten one trap and tried for another one I’d thrown in the front yard.

“I rushed him to the emergency vet” (I knew Truffie hadn’t seen the last of that place)” and they had to pump his stomach. But worse than that, the vet didn’t know what kind of poison it was, so he had to stay there a couple of days and we had to wait 7 days to be sure the stuff was out of his system. That dog is a stubborn character!”

I was speechless, but couldn’t help laughing after he hung up. When I told my wife and our friends, they laughed out loud. “Only Truffie,” we said together.

Nearly three years ago, Truffie became an honorary quilter with our quilt guild, along with his brother Patches. He was so excited every Monday, dragging me into Lordship Congregational Church for the session.

Our fellow quilters loved both dogs, who just lay down at our feet while we cut or sewed and he always wanted to help me take tables back. Both dogs rarely barked, had only 2 accidents in 2 years and couldn’t wait to have the quilters stroke their faces or feed them a biscuit (we kept a supply in our quilt bags).

Truffie’s voracious appetite for people food was unstoppable. On one particular occasion, my wife had purchased cupcakes at a craft fair and placed the plastic container “safely” in the way back of her Honda Fit while she walked around. She was so mortified when she returned to the car and saw the carnage, she couldn’t speak. Ole Truffie had eaten the cupcakes, plastic container and all, along with half a loaf of bread she’d purchased for a client. She cursed the fact that the way back in the Fit had no barrier and swore that her next car would have that barrier. It does.

In spite of recalling Truffie’s wild antics, our fondest memories brought tears all over again. We’ll miss his fur that was so soft for cuddling, those annoying doggie kisses that never ended, thank goodness, especially for our older grandson Lucas; and his love for people and affectionate disposition. And we long for his big, bushy paws when he was lying next to us and the sound of those paws following us from room to room. But we ache the most when we think that this special guy was only with us for six years.

Rest in peace, crazy, wonderful dog. We can already visualize your antics on the other side of Rainbow Bridge.

Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears on Friday. He can be reached at