Mr. T’s Velvet Kisses

Three weeks ago on a Friday, Mr. T, our eldest Japanese Chin, decided he no longer wanted to eat. I had known for a couple of weeks that he was losing ground. In the last year, there had been many health issues for him to overcome. Last August, we opted to have the eye removed that had been punctured somehow and just would not heal. Still, despite being completely blind, he managed to get around and seemed content. Then came months of sporadic diarrhea, where the cause could not be determined. His weight dropped quickly. He developed a cough, but the vet found no medical reason other than allergies. At the suggestion of my sister, Jules, I started Mr. T on a raw food diet. For the next two months, Mr. T flourished and actually improved. But lately, there were many days he refused food unless I hand-fed him. He slept more than usual, and was often restless, seemingly unable to find a comfortable position. Next, incontinence issues cropped up.  Mr. T became weak, and finally gave up eating entirely. That Friday evening, I noticed Mr. T was also having difficulty swallowing water. His tongue just would not work properly. He chewed and chewed and finally that big old pink, way-too-long tongue zipped in and out like normal. But I knew it was a bad sign. So I made the decision that Saturday morning we would contact the vet. It was time.

But when Saturday morning rolled around, I discovered our vet was no longer open on Saturdays. Resigned that we would just have to wait, I did what I could to soothe Mr. T and show him the love and attention I always had. I got the last of my “velvet kisses” that day. And on Sunday afternoon, Mr. T died peacefully on his own. He never did like going to the vet anyway, so it was ultimately fitting for him to pass at home.

FD and I always joked about Mr. T’s “velvet kisses”. Most people would be repulsed by a long, smelly tongue unfurling and flip flopping, and daubing a big wet spot wherever it landed. But not me. I loved those velvet kisses.

August 28, 2011. After a bath for Niko and Mr. T (far left) the chin gang posed for a family photo. Zoe and Bear (far right) readily accepted the “new kids”.
I remember this photo taken at Sissy Jo’s house in Dallas. Mr. T needed a bath after a romp in some mud.
This was taken in 2011 when we were fostering Mr. T. He loved the outdoors.
Sticks were always a prize find for Mr. T, and something he was very proud of.
Two years ago, Mr. T’s vision became limited, but he still got around well. Blind and deaf in his last weeks, he was a resilient fella, relying on his nose and feet to take him where he needed to go.
Mr. T loved the snow. I wrote about this in “My Big Hairy Snow Plow“.

Mr. T was our “foster failure”. Back in 2011, we fostered three dogs for JCCARE.  After a few months, the other dogs were adopted, but no one inquired about  Mr. T. I had a feeling no one would ever adopt this oddball. He was afraid of people, especially men.  He refused to walk on slick floors, and could not manage the front door steps, so I carried him outside every day to do his bathroom business. FD and I managed to find special, rubber flooring for a runway for him to walk on in the house. Mr. T was the product of ill breeding. Instead of a big, white blaze of hair on his forehead which is common in the Japanese Chin breed, he sported an S-shaped lightning bolt on his forehead. He had monster Grinch feet, his tail was unusually short for the breed, and his nose was permanently dry and crusty. His teeth were bad, and most of them had to be removed over the years. As a result, his already extra-long tongue often hung out of his mouth off to one side, completing the “doofus” look. Because of this and a skit by comedian Bill Engvall, FD “lovingly” called him Deputy Dorkfish.

The only things Mr. T had going for him, were the most fabulous coat of hair I had ever seen, and his excellent skills as a watch dog (thus the “Deputy” moniker). Secretly, I hoped no one would ask about him because I fell in love with him from the start. So, as soon as we bid goodbye to our last foster dog with JCCARE, we adopted Mr. T into our own family. With us, he learned to trust again, and even with all of the company we entertained over the years, usually by day two, he warmed up even to people strange to him. Well, except for FD’s mother, who Mr. T never liked. He seemed to know she was no fan of dogs and he was fierce about intimidating her any time she came by. I loved that about him, as I generally held the same sentiments of her myself!

Mr. T was an excellent playmate as long as young Oscar understood all of the toys were Mr. T’s!
Mr. T was twelve when FD brought Oscar home as a pup. But Mr. T seemed to love the role of big brother.
Movie night was always special for me. Mr. T got the prime spot with the mama, while Lollipop and Oscar rested next to me.
Mr. T was the best big brother a little fella like Oscar could ever want!

We have had non-stop family visiting us the last three weeks since Mr. T’s passing. With that, I’ve been too busy to grieve or give my own thoughts much attention. But this weekend, after the last of our company drove away, I found myself finally able to let go of being brave and nonchalant. I burst into tears a lot, and I have had to remind myself that Mr. T left on his own terms, and he left us peacefully. All of the things I loved dearly about my odd little boy are still with me, and I’m so thankful he walked with me on life’s journey. I gave more attention, caring, and love to Mr. T than I have ever given any dog I have ever known. He seemed to need more love and assurance than the others. His joyful and gentle ways assured me I had a friend I could always count on for unconditional love. And, if I could be with him for just a few more moments, I would hold him gently and enjoy every one of those “velvet kisses” he so generously offered me…

© 2020 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…

 


53 thoughts on “Mr. T’s Velvet Kisses

  1. Lots of love and hugs across the sea Lori. Our animal friends are so much a part of our lives and I’m so sorry to hear about Mr. T. But from your photos, it looks like he found his forever home and was much loved. We were heartbroken when we lost our cat Friskie last October because he was such a character. It is always hard to say goodbye but I always remember how much poorer our lives would be without them. Take care.

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  2. RIP Mr. T! Even though I know you are not resting, rather you are running and playing at the Rainbow Bridge with so many other loved Japanese Chinnies!

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    1. Hi Cindy – you made me smile. Mr. T probably IS joining up with Bear and Zoe and countless other furbabies… and maybe he’s ornery enough to go looking for FD’s mother (who passed away last year)!

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  3. This is heartbreaking! Mr. T received the best attention and a lot of love! Age seems to be catching up with our own Mr. T(yson), I think. While he still chases cats and kills mice, he is certainly not as agile as he was, especially when it comes to negotiating the stairs. Dogs are such dear friends that humans cannot match.

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  4. They may be small but the hole they leave in our hearts when they go is very big… I have a chin who’s 15 and I’m seeing the same signs you saw with Mr T… I’m sitting here with tears rolling… I’m so sorry for your loss…

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    1. Hello, Lynn! I cannot tell you how comforting it was that Mr. T went on his own time. He was truly panicked any time we went to the vet. I know your aging chin is in loving and capable hands. You’ve got a big love, Lynn.

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      1. I hope my Big will go on his terms also and we won’t have to make that scary trip to the vet… I’m glad to see all is good with you and FD… we will have to catch up sometime soon!

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  5. What a touching tribute, Lori. Mr. T sure had a great life, it seems. He made a difference to you, and you made a difference to him. It’s so beautiful … and all we can hope for. Thank you for sharing this.

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  6. That was a beautiful tribute to Mr. T – it is sad to lose our pets and when I lost my beloved canary in December 2016, I decided no more pets for me. As a person who works from home and has no family, a pet would be perfect for me, but I grieved for my little Buddy and decided to just adopt the squirrels at the Park and around the house as my “pets” instead.

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    1. It is a very difficult thing to deal with the emotions of losing a pet. I think your idea to help out the wild critters is a great idea. I still have Oscar and Lollipop AND the wild things to care for… but I am taking a little time for myself this week. Writing the blog post helped.

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      1. Yes, it is difficult Lori and reading of Mr. T’s symptoms, it mirrored my canary’s just a little. He suddenly could not jump from perch to perch and stayed on the bottom of the cage … it is never good when a bird goes to the bottom of the cage. But no mobility scared me a lot and I took him to the vet and he had had a stroke and I had him euthanized. Even now, all this time later, my eyes well up thinking of how he looked at me before I turned away … I similarly wrote a post to be a catharsis for me: https://lindaschaubblog.net/2016/12/04/forty-feathered-friends-at-the-footbridge/

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        1. I just read your post about Buddy. He was a sweet companion. It’s the sign that something is wrong, and the knowing that there is nothing to be done that seems to bother us the most. We would do anything to give them comfort. Euthanizing is never an easy decision to make, even though it is often what releases them from discomfort and pain. Mr. T is the first dog I’ve had that left on his own. I am thankful for that. He was easy on me.

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          1. Yes, I could say it was a little easier with no decision on your part Lori, but my last canary, before Buddy, was seemingly okay, and I uncovered him one morning and he went to the floor, spread his wings and died – I was beside myself. I decided no more pets then, but my neighbor convinced me with no pets and no family and working from home, I needed to get another pet. That was Buddy, but now no more.

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  7. Mr T – one with a lion-sized heart. It was not chance it came to your door – with you he became all he was destined to be – and he returned the lessons, I think, to you.
    Grace that he left at home – as he wished.
    A soft paw pat no velvet kiss, but one given in kindness and to console.

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  8. Lori you have been on my mind recently and now I know why. I am so very sorry about MrT. But he went out on his terms and that is the best way. He always reminded me of my Eddie, my first chin. Big and loving and a little goofy. Oh those velvet kisses. Hope little Oliver is doing ok.Hope you two are safe and staying healthy. This crazy virus has everyone a little nuts. We are staying in since we are of that senior age.Take care my friendLove yaMamie 

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

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    1. I remember you talking about Eddie. Some of these chin are just extra special. Oscar and Lollipop are finally perking up a bit this week. It’s been hard on them too. I’m glad you are staying in and taking care. We are lucky here on the ranch. FD is still at his workplace but I wonder if they’ll be working from home at some point. He works in the electrical generation industry and keeping the grid up and running smoothly is of utmost importance. Let’s hope things improve soon. I love you too, Mamie. Write to me if you can… my email is the same as always.

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  9. It never gets easier when you realize there is a coming loss. It’s been a year since Smoky died – in my arms at home, 16 years and 5 months old. But his departure has been harder, no more dogs while we’re living here and with him the continuity ended, 53 years without a break. The dog we had when I was a kid was dognapped and there was a 5 year gap until we got another dog. It’s better when there’s at least another dog in the house, or you can get one fairly soon after the loss. I know Mr. T loved you dearly, and yes, the kisses could sometimes be kind of smelly and wet but the love was unmistaken.

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    1. I’m so sorry about Smoky. You are right, it isn’t any easier, but I am thankful he departed on his own. I never like making that decision. And it means all the more to me because Mr. T was so nervous and scared every time we went to the vet. He was calm and went peacefully, and that warms my heart a lot. 🙂

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  10. So wonderful to read about Mr T., and a beautifully bittersweet. For we humans who have loved and lost their canine best friends and who still dare to love another. A special tribute for and from a special soul. I also am such a person who doesn’t mind the ‘velvet kisses’ and other forms of doggie affection. We are their pack, their life, that they are able to love us and behave naturally is so important. Take care and take heart from all the wonderful memories.

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    1. Oh thank you so much! It’s been comforting to read so many knowing and loving comments from all over the world. It’s such a gift to connect with these special beings and even greater to hold wonderful memories. I look back at photographs and remember things that I’d forgotten. My life has been extremely rich with all sorts of critters… from domestic pets to the beautiful memories of relationships with wild things – its all been a gift, even though they run off (or fly away). It is all as it should be.

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  11. Oh Lori! I am so sorry to hear of your loss of Mr T . I remember when you first took him in and all of his quirks. As usual, you have written a beautiful tribute. This got my tears going. Sending you much love and hugs! . Karen

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    1. Thank you, Karen. It’s so good to hear from so many people connected with JCCARE (at least at one time). I still remember how hard it was for you to lose Chinsir. Those little chin sure have a way of wrapping us up in love and joy. I hope you are doing well. I think of you often, wondering what adventure you’re off on. 🙂

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  12. This is a wonderful homage to Mr. T. And to you also for the home you gave him and the care given so he could have a good life. So many wonderful images of the memories you will always carry.
    We’ve had to say farewell to three dogs so far. We’re at an age where it could be the reverse but chances are we’ll say goodbye to a fourth. Each time is more difficult than before. And those sloppy kisses. I bet you will miss them the most of all.

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    1. Hi, Steve, and you got that right – those kisses were the best. And they were entertaining too. His tongue was so long, he almost didn’t have control of it! You never quite knew where the gloppy,wet kiss would land. FD and I have said goodbye to four dogs in nineteen years. It’s always difficult. We have Oscar and Lollipop now – both are two years old, and they bring a lot of joy and entertainment. It just never seems right around here without at least two critters running around – not to mention the wild things we help out!

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      1. We’re a one dog at a time household. Always rescues. All our dogs have been good beard cleaners. But Bentley has a bad habit,Coprophagia, while not uncommon does makes licking my face unacceptable and a bit disgusting at times. Sorry if that is tmi. 🙂
        I guess when you have more than one the dog that remains makes the pain of loss a bit easier to bear but we’ve not experienced that. Losing Murphy, our third, took a deep toll and made me think the next one would kill me. But I am glad we have Bentley and if I go with him it’ll be worth it. 🙂 I admire your fostering.

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        1. No TMI here, Steve. I had to look Coprophagia (always happy to learn a new word!) and now I know the term for what Lollipop used to do. Actually, she has not done that since we started a raw dog food diet. Let’s hope that’s the end of that nasty habit!! Ha ha.
          Oscar and Lollipop have been a bit down since Mr. T passed. It’s been three weeks now and they’re beginning to play a little. Mr. T was a lot of work each day, especially in the end. Now I find myself with spare time… I didn’t realize what he added to the workload in a day. But as you know, none of that matters because we love, and we do what is necessary to give them everything they need – even if we have to do without. I have seen, especially with cats, that they often follow their human caretakers in death in just days. I think there is much more to the relationships we have with our pets. There is a deep connection in many cases.

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          1. I didn’t know the word until Bentley taught it to me. He came to us at over 50 lbs. which is a lot for a young beagle The folks who gave him up for adoption had to leave him for 12 hours a day and didn’t lock cabinets or the fridge so he helped himself. Once we welcomed him the food dropped to what it should be and he is now at 26 lbs. Still a bit of extra dog but not too much. However, he is more food driven than most dogs, even other beagles, feels deprived I think, so eats his poop and we are told that at this point, despite trying every “cure” known, probably always will. We are able to get it after his breakfast and on walks but most of the rest he gets and he is aggressive about it so no chance for us. And he has cost us a small fortune with his wily scores of food from pantry, cabinets and a mini-fridge. Two large chocolate bars that we thought were secure caused a trip to the emergency vet and then other adventures…the worst with a small bucket of prunes. He is a constant challenge but also a great companion. I was laid up for several months with a case of West Nile and he was on my lap (or sleeping next to me in bed) the entire time. And he makes believe he is a jack-in-the-box when I return home from work. 🙂 Sorry to go on like that. There’s a lot to say about him.

            I am sure they miss Mr. T and don’t understand where he has gone. But animals, dogs especially, most often find ways to deal with a loss whether a leg or a companion. I’ve not known anyone personally who has passed and left a pet behind but I can understand why one might follow closely after. The longer we are together the stronger the bond. Happens at times with humans too. I’m at an age where I do read the obits and every once in a while a couple will be there having gone just days apart. I think Mary Beth would survive me just fine. I am not sure about the reverse though. 🙂

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          2. There is a lot of love and dedication between man and dog. I learned of a ranch man who passed in this area whose dog went nuts when the man did not come home. Finally, the family had to take the dog to the funeral home. The dog investigated his owner and finally laid down at the casket. It seemed to understand. I allowed Oscar and Lollipop to lay with Mr. T as he was passing that afternoon. Oscar seemed to know. Usually he’s busy trying to clean Mr. T’s ears and eye, but that day he simply laid with him. Lollipop seemed more confused. For days she laid in the spot where Mr. T passed. It wasn’t a spot any of the dogs really hang out at. I don’t know what animals think but I do believe they grieve just as we do. I’ve seen it with doe mamas who lose their babies. They grieve for days if not longer, and they look for missing fawns for more than a week, mooing and sniffing for their scent.
            I will say that when we lost our last female Zoe, the other dogs were maybe relieved! She was the boss around here and I think Bear and Mr. T finally felt some freedom. And when Bear died, Mr. T rose to the position of top dog! I think he was actually happier being in charge! We saw a whole new side of his personality. You just never know how death will affect anyone… or all species of life.

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  13. So sorry to hear about losing your beloved Mr. T. Surely, he gave you years of unconditional love and joy. I am still not over losing my beloved Bess last June. The mere mention of her name still brings tears, and the garden feels empty without her. The dog I had before Bess also did not like the vet and died peacefully at home. Somehow, they know. Canines are such a beautiful gift from God. I presume you have heard the Dog Song?

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    1. Thank you. I had not seen that video before. I agree that dogs are special. They come to us at just the right time and just the right way. It is never easy to part with those sweet little souls. As they say, better to have loved and lost, than never to have known the beauty of that love at all. The memories remain.

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      1. So glad you liked the video. (If you’re a dog lover I thought you would.) It still brings tears to my eyes as well as the memories of my sweet Bess. I am confident, though, that when the time is right there will be another to steal my heart. 🙂 All the best to you and your beloved canines.

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  14. I’m catching up on your blog and am reading the first post I missed, last. I could tell from the other post comments what had happened and I was dreading reading this one. It is just so hard to lose a loved pet. They really are part of the family. I still miss our lovely boy who left us 8 years ago after being with us for 17. It is a big hole left. Thinking about him still brings tears. I love that he died on his own terms, though. That would be nice for all of us. Sending you virus-free hugs, Lori. xxxxx

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    1. I thought of you and your little Storm, when we lost Mr. T. There are just some characters that are special. Mr. T had special needs for sure, but somehow that made him all the more endearing to me. I still can’t write or talk about him much without tearing up. My days feel empty not carrying him to the front yard, feeding him, petting on him, or talking to him throughout the day. He was the most resilient boy, enduring hardships all along the way. I will never think twice about all that I did for him. He gave me back much more than I ever dreamed.

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