Tipper’s Story

Unless you’re someone who loves dogs, this story may not be of interest to you. It’s all about how a dog was rescued from this area and went on to become a very important member in the lives Karen and Dave Baril, a couple who live in the northwest hills of Connecticut. This is Tipper’s story. After being picked up on the side of the road in a very remote area, this dog eventually showed up next door to the home of a couple whose family has included many pets over the course of time. Even though this particular dog seemed to think she needed to be given permission before she came into their yard, she eventually started to look forward to seeing either the husband or wife out in their yard. The wife began buying extra dog food just to be sure the dog wasn’t going hungry, and eventually, she gave the dog the name Tipper. Very soon after Tipper’s arrival in their neighborhood, the couple became concerned about Tipper’s lack of protection from the rain and cold, and the need for a more stable home. It was through a conversation the wife had with a friend who was a member of the PAWS organization in a neighboring town that arrangements were made for Tipper to be cared for in the this member’s home until a permanent home was available. One of the main goals the PAWS organization has is to find homes for rescued animals. This particular friend and her husband have a long list of different dogs they have provided foster care for until each one was adopted into a permanent home. The following is shared by the wife of the couple who provided foster care for Tipper until she was later adopted:
“After getting word about a dog wandering around town that would more than likely get hit by a car, I agreed to provide foster care for this dog. She turned out to be a very sweet Border Collie who was several years old. Tipper was my first foster dog. She was so easy, crate trained, potty trained, and she would walk on the leash. She got along great with my dogs too. After she was spayed and fully vaccinated, we put her up for adoption. Even though Tipper was a very special girl, we, the PAWS organization, just couldn’t seem to get the right application for her. Finally after four months of having her in my home, we received a wonderful application that sounded like the perfect home for Tipper. I knew it was going to be hard to give her up after such a long time in our home with all the interacting, snuggling, and playing with her. The application was approved and I called the lady in Conneticut to let her know that she was going to get Tipper if she wanted her. We had a long conversation about her, during which I told her all about Tipper and what a special dog I thought she was. Even though I couldn’t explain exactly what made her so special, I believed she would see Tipper’s special qualities when she met her. Two weeks later, I took Tipper to the transport for pick up. That was a heartbreaking experience because I had become very attached to her, but on the other hand, I was sure she was going to a wonderful forever home. I anxiously awaited to hear from her new family, and sure enough, they recognized what a special dog Tipper was. They couldn’t put a name to it either but we all knew it. Tipper had a wonderful life in her new home, and one year after she was adopted, my husband and I took a vacation to the Northeast. While we were in that area, we were invited to Tipper’s adopters home. She actually wagged her tail and ran to me when we got out of the car. It was amazing. She was in a wonderful place and very much loved. The adopter said everyone who ever met Tipper said she was a very special dog and she was. I have a picture of Tipper her new owner sent to me that sits on my desk and is a wonderful reminder of her time spent in our home.”
The following was written by Karen Baril, the wife of the couple who adopted Tipper: “Dave and I stood in Dr. Joe’s surgical suite looking down at Tipper, our black and white Border Collie mix. Dr. Joe, a brand new veterinarian for Tipper, had just removed seventeen rotten teeth from her mouth. I rested my hand on Tipper’s head, thinking she’d be eating mush for the rest of her life. The number of teeth removed seemed extraordinary to me. “No worries,” said Dr. Joe. “Dogs have more teeth than we do and Tipper will be right as rain in no time. It’s unfortunate, but rotten teeth are a common Border Collie problem. There is one minor thing, though…a little bad news, actually.” I turned my attention to Dr. Joe. “Bad news?” “Nothing too terrible, but you see…Tipper is a little older than you think. She’s not eight years old, are you Tipper?” He rubbed Tipper’s ear gently. “She’s closer to thirteen years old.” “Thirteen?” I glanced at Tipper as if she’d been keeping a secret she’d only just revealed to her physician. “Thirteen?” “Don’t stress about it,” said Dr. Joe, still smiling at Tipper. “She’s got a lot of life in her. Border Collies typically live a long time.” I knew that adopting an adult dog was a gamble. Her rescuers had only guessed at her age, but to lose five years in a single afternoon! Tipper was my dog of a lifetime. It wasn’t fair! Besides, where had she been those five years? Where had she been before she was rescued? I had lots of questions, but Tipper wasn’t talking. She just smiled back at me, the way dogs do, with their eyes half closed. She wasn’t going to dwell on what was lost. She’d take the glass half full attitude. That was her way. Within a week after her surgery she was back on the job. She was her own little fur person, protecting our small horse farm, doing her best to herd chickens that simply would not be herded, and chasing the occasional squirrel. If you’ve loved a great dog, you know they tell you things with their body, speaking or whispering as clearly as if they’d spoken aloud. Tipper had this way of looking at me and then gently closing her eyes. That gentle gaze often meant, I hope we get to lie in this square of sunshine for a long while. Or it could also just be Tipper and I sharing a private joke in the middle of a crowded picnic. At other times, it simply meant…now, aren’t we lucky to have found each other? Tipper was not the fawning all over you type. Don’t get me wrong; she was never stingy with love and devotion, but in typical Border Collie fashion, you had to win her over first. That could take a year or two, maybe more. When I first adopted her, I noticed Tipper would not look me in the eye. I never pushed her, never forced her to do anything, never tried to teach her the normal doggy commands. She wasn’t the type. She’d seen too much. She’d suffered too greatly. You couldn’t tell a story in a loud voice. She’d tremble. I often thought of her as a little hummingbird. She’d fly away in a heartbeat if she thought a storm was brewing. Tipper wove her life through ours, until we found ourselves saying things like this: “Now wasn’t that the year Tipper came to live with us?,” or “Wasn’t that the summer Tipper chased that fox away from the chicken coop?” You find you can’t remember a time when you didn’t have this dog in your life. As a kid I dreamed of her. I realized I’d been dreaming Tipper into my life since I was just a little girl. I know I couldn’t remember a time when I didn’t have Tipper to listen to all my troubles, my triumphs, and my really bad jokes. I couldn’t imagine a time when she wasn’t by my side. So, last October, when Tipper was somewhere around the age of eighteen, I noticed one afternoon that her light was going out. She was like a little hurricane lamp running out of fuel. I took a few photos of her lying in the sunshine, but my eyes teared behind the camera. I knew, I just knew these were the last photos. And I was right. Just a few days later when Tipper stopped eating the home cooked morsels I’d been making for her, she stopped drinking water as well. That’s when I knew it was time. I wanted her little spirit to rest at home on the farm where she’d worked every day. Our veterinarian came to our home just after dusk. Tipper was on her bed by the fireplace. A gusty wind picked up outside. We said a prayer for her, kissed her, and, of course, reminded her that she was the best farm doggy ever. But, she already knew that. As Tipper gently drifted off to sleep, this little dog who came to me unable to look me in the eye, gazed deep into my soul. Philosophers say that time is just a human invention, that time isn’t really anything more than a way for us to understand the past, present, and future. Time means nothing at all, really. I think they might be right. Tipper will always live in my past, my present, and my future. She was that kind of dog. My dog of a lifetime.”
I’ll conclude this story with a quote from Will Rogers: “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die, I want to go wherever they went.”

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