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Tony and his Foster Grandmother

tony leaf(Tony)

I got the call a few days before my mother arrived in Nashville for a four-day visit from Reston, VA. Over the phone, Tammi B. explained that her family was interested in adopting Tony. Tami was married with two sons, a daughter, and a cat that fetched. She shared the story of a beloved dog, saying when he passed away they had held a memorial service.

As I listened to her, rain poured outside my office window, but Tony and his gangsta sidekick Adriana didn’t care. I saw them happily wrestling in the mosh pit or chasing each other across the yard, kicking up muddy water with their paws. They were both filthy.

I talked to Tami B. for about thirty minutes, but within ten I knew her family would be a great fit for Tony. She was knowledgeable about dogs in general, and more importantly she didn’t even pause when I warned her about T-bone’s energy level. Besides, she lives in Terre Haute, Indiana, and was willing to adopt Tony despite the distance. They had been searching for the perfect puppy, she explained.

I felt both happy and sad. I knew letting Tony go was going to be hard, but I was glad my mother would have a chance to say goodbye. During the weeks leading up to my mom’s visit, every time she called all she had wanted to know about was Tony. She had bottle fed him when he was three weeks old, and it created a bond between them that even Tony remembered.

To say T-bone was delighted to see his foster grandmother would be an understatement. From the moment she walked in the house, he followed her around like a frisky shadow. Each morning when I let him out of his crate, he’d jump on her sleeping head and barrage her face with kisses. Whenever we got home from our mother-daughter excursions to Cheekwood Botanical Gardens or the movies, he’d ignore me and gallop straight to her, carrying a toy so they could play tug-of-war. They had a big time together.

On Sunday, when she had to leave, I took Tony with me to the airport to say goodbye. My mom said the hardest part of all was that he had no idea what was about to happen, and she had no way to tell him. I knew exactly how she felt. Grabbing his furry little head, she kissed his nose. He jumped after her, wanting to follow, and whining when he couldn’t. My mom didn’t start to cry until she called him her pet name “Tony Baloney” for the last time. Then, she obstinately stuck on her sunglasses, and we walked into the terminal.