Saying goodbye to a dog duo loved by Cooperative Living readers
by Laura Emery, Deputy Editor
On Aug. 13 of last year, Tucker crossed over the “Rainbow Bridge” and gained wings.
The photogenic golden retriever didn’t survive his heart-breaking struggle with pancreatic cancer.
Along with his “brother” Skipper, Tucker had become familiar to Cooperative Living readers after being featured on the June 2018 cover of the magazine. They were also featured on the magazine’s social media pages and in the reader photo column.
Owners Lynn and Douglas Peters — residents of Frederick County, Va., for the last 35 years — regularly submitted photos of their beloved therapy dog duo wearing various outfits. From bowties and bandanas to sunglasses and sombreros, the dogs were always good sports, posing patiently.
In the 2018 article, Lynn, a member of Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, said, “I started doing it for the grandkids and it just kind of grew. Once we got dogs, our grandkids didn’t want to pose anymore.”
Putting smiles on faces wasn’t a new thing for Tucker and his brother. The pair regularly brightened people’s days during community visits to area schools and nursing homes that were arranged through Pet Partners, a national nonprofit therapy-animal registry. They also participated in Operation Purple, a camp sponsored by the Military Families Association for children who have a parent who serves in the armed forces.
“It feels good to help people and see how much of an impact our therapy dogs have on people. People love them,” Lynn told Cooperative Living in 2018.
But Lynn and her husband, Doug, loved them most of all.
The couple brought Tucker and Skipper home from the same breeder in Fauquier County. First Tucker, then Skipper. They were both perfectly suited to become therapy dogs. A therapy dog is one that is trained to provide affection, comfort and support to people, often in settings such as hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, libraries, hospices and disaster areas.
Handling and training therapy dogs had been a longtime goal of Lynn’s — and she enjoyed doing it with Tucker and Skipper for ten years, until tragedy struck.
In June of 2022, Tucker’s routine blood test revealed low glucose levels. The veterinarian asked Lynn to bring Tucker back in to re-do the test. But as Lynn pulled into the parking lot, Tucker began to experience a seizure. He was rushed inside and put on an IV.
“That’s when we found out Tucker had a tumor on his pancreas,” Lynn says. “We eventually decided it was time to let him go. We didn’t want him to suffer. Tucker was always smiling. Even until the very end. He’ll always be our very, very good boy.”
Tucker’s absence was felt by everyone, but most especially Skipper.
The day after Tucker passed away, Skipper was diagnosed with pancreatitis.
On Jan. 2 of this year, Skipper went to be with Tucker on the other side of the “Rainbow Bridge.” The stage 3 cancer was incredibly aggressive, and it came as a heavy blow to the already-grieving family. “Unfortunately, golden retrievers have a higher rate of cancer than most other dogs,” Lynn explains.
In a public post on Facebook dated Jan. 3, Lynn wrote, “This will be the first time since the mid-1980s that our home will be without a dog. Already this morning, I have gone to the door to let him out and I have missed seeing him steal my slipper and run around with it in his mouth. It was our little game.”
Tucker and Skipper left behind an incredible mark. This fact is comforting to Lynn and Doug.
“We miss them so much. Our hearts have been broken,” Lynn says.
She will always remember Skipper for his love of his blue ball. “He loved to push it all over the yard with his nose,” she says. And, of Tucker, she’ll always remember his incredible patience when posing in “silly” costumes.
To help the family deal with their loss, they have welcomed Clover into their home. A 14-week-old Goldendoodle, Clover came from the Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue. Lynn says, “She is so sweet and is helping us to heal.”