(1994 – 2008)
Tux (real name: Fatso Escamilla) was our neighbor’s Australian shepherd who strolled into our hearts and our lives when we first moved into our house. Toli had always wanted a dog growing up, and he and Tux took to one another like long-lost loves.
Tux had more personality than a webpage could hold, and the only fitting way to describe him is to reprint here the eulogy Toli wrote for him after he died. Good luck reading it with dry eyes.
Toli’s Eulogy for Tux
Fatso is the name of the dog from Alice’s Restaurant (the Arlo Guthrie song and later movie). It was also the name of the dog belonging to our neighbor. Tux was a massive Australian Shepherd, who was a gentle giant much like his kind owner.
We met Fatso before we met his owner and learned his real name, and so we named him Tux. His fur looked like a tuxedo, but the real origin of our name for him becomes apparent if you take into account our cat’s names: Pascal, Sequel, Perl (for non-geeks: these are computer languages; Tux is the penguin mascot of Linux, the computer operating system). Fatso quickly learned to answer to both Fatso and Tux.
As a young dog, we were told, Tux was rambunctious, a deer chaser and a dove/chicken killer to boot. He quickly became the “Don” of Big Country (our neighborhood), who’d spend minimal time at home, and join random families during his regular patrols to get his “protection fees” (food and treats) from the dogs and humans of Big Country. (Given that we have coyotes and wild dogs around Big Country, he did indeed offer protection services.)
Our neighbor’s son went to high school and then left home, so in July 2000, Tux found another little boy to play with… one who had just moved into Big Country from town, never had a dog before, worked from home, and had handy opposeable thumbs that could open dog biscuit jars. So Tux adopted us as his second family and I had my first dog (by proxy). He’d eat his breakfast at home, and come hang out with us until our evening walk; he’d drop us off at our home, and go to his home for dinner and until the next day. If our walk was after his dinner, he’d spend the night in our yard and mosey over for breakfast at his home the next day. His multi-user support went straight to his ke(r)nel (geek humor).
Tux got hit by a car a few years ago. His owners took very good care of him, and he had a pricey hip replacement, turning into The Six Million Dollar Dog (in doggie dollars, i.e. Greenies). A month later, he was back on his paws, doing his regular patrol of the neighborhood by following Christine and I on our evening walks.
Christine and I went traveling for a couple of years, and Tux, of course, found other young families to follow around. The day we returned for good, last January, we went for our walk, and saw him walking alongside a family with a stroller. He saw us, walked over, sat down, and got his usual tummy rubs. His breathing was odd and somewhat jerky; it was the only time I ever heard him breathe like that and it sounded like he was happy beyond control (at the risk of anthropomorphizing and projecting my feelings to him, I thought he was crying with joy).
Three months ago, at age 14, his rear legs started giving up. He’d no longer do the bark-along-the-fence with other dogs on his patrol. Two months ago, another dog went after him, and he just tipped over unlike the fiesty rabble-rouser of his youth (I chased the challenger away before any real harm was done). A month ago, a neighbor called to tell us he was on their front yard and could not get up (he called his owner first, but he wasn’t home); so we carted him to his home with a wheelbarrow. A couple of days later, he was back on his feet, wobbly but walking; yet, he’d rarely follow us for our full 1.5 mile walk: when we passed by his house, he’d go the other way, straight to our house 300 feet away, and greet us there at the end of our walk.
Tux got hurt last night, possibly hit by a car or an animal – we don’t know for sure. (Stitch, our own dog, believes the chihuahua in the neighboring subdivision, Don Taco, took out a hit out on Tux…) At 11pm, a man knocked on our door. He had seen Tux by the roadside outside our front gate, and came in to check. We went over, and he was still alive, but we could tell he wasn’t all there. His wounds didn’t look serious, but he had a blank stare of shock and may have had internal injuries. We took him to his owner who tended his wounds, but we all knew it was over.
I didn’t sleep through the night. In the morning, I walked over, and he was lying on the lawn, just staring at the distance while his owners went to work. I petted him, and his only response was to lay his head down. Christine visited him five hours later, and he was no longer breathing.
Tux was no dog to live in a fenced yard: though his owner tried to keep him contained (for Tux’s own sake), Tux’s personality required open spaces and roaming to be happy. He was one fine dog who was loved by many families who enjoyed his company (and protection) over the years. He lived a very full and happy life.
Reliable, resilient, safekeeper, free, and smart. Tux was a good name for him.
Please take a moment to wish him well on his next mission, to become The Godfather of Doggie Heaven. You may also ask him to reserve you a spot in his celestial protectorate, as I have.
Below is a collection of images that we used to have running as a narrative by Tux on our old website. Christine has ported them to a gallery and preserved the commentary. Just click on one of the thumbnails to enlarge the picture, read the commentary, and navigate through the gallery.