Timberlake – Real Life Interlude

I wanted to do this now, before I’m really wrecked, because one of my passions is not simply animal adoption, but the adoption of older animals (and older child adoptions, but that’s another topic for later). I met Timberlake, a Labrador-Rottweiler mix, in 2010, when I was undergoing a severe mental breakdown during the merger of Activision and Blizzard Entertainment, for whom I was working, at the time (BE, not Activision). I met him at PetSmart, while my husband and I were shopping for cat food. The adoption reps handed me a leash attached to Timber’s collar, and the rest is history.

At the time, they told me that he was possibly eight or nine years old, but it became clear very quickly with some love and proper care, that he was actually probably closer to two or three than eight or nine. When we first met, Timber was 99lbs on the dot, and his fur was so patchy, we were told that he had mange.

Timberlake, 2010

As it happened, the skin issue was simply a yeast infection that cleared up with a round of anti-fungal meds that he was super good about taking, and within a month he was 110lbs, which was normal, and he looked absolutely fabulous. It was about that time we realized that all this, combined with the immaculate state of his teeth, meant he was nowhere near eight years old.

Timberlake, 2010

So we proceeded to take the best care of him that we could; grain-free food, vet visits, tooth-brushings, everything you could imagine. He’s born of two very mellow breeds, so he’s a perfect companion to me, who benefits from a quiet, loving companion, and he’s friends with everyone he sees, even if they see the Rottie first and shy away. He recently experienced his first heartbreak, when his best neighbor friend moved away, but he is coping well. He was promised visits, so he’s looking forward to those.

But he is now coming up on, at least, nine or ten years, and his muzzle is becoming salt-and-pepper, and, unfortunately, he’s been showing signs of early dementia, including hallucinations and newly-developed fears of certain sounds.

He’s still got a ways to go, though, and I wanted to share a few pics of him while he’s with us, because an “in memoriam” is just not fitting for the beautiful life that is my Timberlake’s.

Timber and my mom’s basset-dachschund mix, Annie, taken shortly before he needed his Thunder Shirt.

Trying on his Thunder Shirt. It helps a lot with his new anxiety!

Edit: I just remembered, and wanted to add, since it’s so terribly sweet, when we lived in Austin, we were in this bougie sort of apartment complex where a few families had taken up residence after the real estate bubble burst in earnest. So there were children around, and one of them was a very small red-headed boy who got picked on a lot by the other kids and left behind. One day he met Timberlake, and mind, this kid could have ridden Timberlake like a horse with no issue. He fell instantly in love, and Timber was his immediate friend. Having been a kid who was frequently bullied and left behind, it really made me proud that my wonderful pup could in some way help a kid’s life be not so shitty. Timber learned when the school bus came by, and every time he heard that diesel engine pull away, he knew it was time to run downstairs to play with his friend. Truly, more people should be like dogs.


  • jumarbye 1

    Aw – there's nothing worse than watching your beloved pet age. We had to put our pup down in May after watching her decline, and it was so heartbreaking – I really feel for you. We had her for about 12 wonderful years (she was a smaller breed than a rottie), but I still miss her.
    Good on you for adopting older dogs – they don't deserve to live in a shelter, waiting to be euthanized, watching all the younger dogs go home with new families…
    Enjoy Timberlake every day-there will never be another like him.
    Hang tight.

  • RefurbMadness

    I'm sorry to hear about your girl, I know how that goes. Companions come and go, but you're right, they're all their own animal and could never be replaced. But they're always with us, aren't they? Timber's being spoiled even harder than he normally is, and I am very happy to say that that Thunder Shirt really did give him back quite a bit of his youth, which is an amazing and rare blessing. So for now, we cherish each moment and address each anxiety as they're presented, and, as much as a responsible human can, I'm just living in the moment with him and just keeping a mindful eye ahead.

    I'm lucky enough to have lived most of my life in no-kill cities, which is great on the one hand, but on the other, there's still plenty that never get to find a forever home. My mom is thankfully able to foster two or three pit bulls at a time, and while a couple have indeed found their place with her, she at least tries to make the ones destined for other homes feel loved and comfortable. I'm seriously considering following suit, to be honest. My husband won't be thrilled, but he ain't the one going to be picking up after them ;P

  • jumarbye 1

    Well, good luck to you if you decide to foster. It's a wonderful thing to do. I think my husband would kill me if I suggested (but he usually ends up giving in, the big sweetheart), but I'm more worried about my girl. I don't think she could handle taking care of animals and then watching them move on to another home. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I could handle it either. We do get attached to them, don't we?
    Until we're ready to get another dog, we have our hands full with the cats and the parakeet (and never the twain shall meet, hehehe).
    Have fun spoiling Timberlake. πŸ™‚ And hey, thanks for sharing your story – I imagine it was difficult, but hopefully a little cathartic.

  • RefurbMadness

    We sure do. My poor mother just falls to pieces when she has to send one of her fosters to their new home, and I probably would, too.

    And thank you for reading and for your very kind words. It's super appreciated and they help πŸ™‚

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