A picture of Tucker

The tiny German shepherd pup was rapidly digging a big space in my heart. If I named him, I would never let him go. Because I wanted never to let him go, I was thinking of possible names.

“What about Studebaker?”

My then-wife scoffed. “You’re not going to name a dog after a car.”

“OK,” I conceded, but then, congratulating myself for being too clever by half, said mischievously, “How about Tucker?”

“Tucker’s a nice name,” she said absently, not getting the joke — or maybe she did and was OK with the alternate automotive name.

Tucker lived for a little more than 11 years, surviving twice as long as the marriage and leaving me one melancholy night while I held him in my arms.

He is one of three dogs who have crawled into my heart and refused to let go, each more tenaciously than the last.

This is my favorite picture of him, taken by Son of Red and capturing his inner depth of soul. Tucker was small for a shepherd — we nursed him through parvovirus as an infant and the disease may have stunted his growth — and he was always sweeter than that breed’s reputation.

That taught me that all dogs have an innate sweetness and we train some to be otherwise, intentionally or not.

People are much the same way. That’s why “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” resonates so.

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