You know how some people just radiate positive vibes, and whenever you see or think of them, you can’t help but smile?
That’s how I’ve always felt about Terry Taylor, a long-haired Lawrence, Kansas, musician with a metal band called Hammerlord and an obsession with horror movies.
Apparently, Terry’s dog was just like him.
Her name was Graves.
I never met Graves, but the little Boston terrier touched a lot of people. She even starred in some music videos.
After Terry posted to Facebook a photo of the Graves tribute he’s having tattooed on his arm, I asked if he’d be willing to share her story here on Wayward Dogs.
How did you meet Graves?
In early 2000 my dad got “Bandit,” an 8-week-old Boston terrier, at a pet store in Sioux Falls, SD (where I currently was living).
Three weeks later, my dad called me and said he was giving Bandit away because he didn’t have time for her. So I drove right over and picked up Bandit and immediately changed her name to Graves. I had a Boston Terrier / Pit Bull mix when I was younger, so I was very fond of the breed.
Graves and I immediately became best friends. She toured with me all over the country. Graves made friends with a lot of bands and venue owners over the years – she just had that effect on people. A couple bands like 27 and Benna actually used Graves in their videos.
What was Graves like?
I could go on and on and on about this little Boston terrier!
She was a great dog that was more human than dog. All my friends said if Graves had thumbs she would have been a human.
Teaching her to go potty outside or standard sit, stay and shake tricks took about 2 seconds.
Besides the usual things you would teach your dog, Graves had a way of just making you feel good when things were not going well. She always had the right gesture, bark, motion, that seemed to be the answer to your question.
It was really odd sometimes how she really seemed to understand what you needed from her.
How did you choose her name?
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a Misfits fiend, so any animal I would own always had a 50/50 chance of being named something to do with The Misfits.
When I picked her up I immediately called her Graves (which is the 2nd singer of the Misfits). I didn’t even think about it, it was just her name and came out.
She immediately showed me her approval of the name by wagging her tail and doing a Graver spin (we always called these spins she would do when she was happy Graver spins) and the rest is history.
What’s your favorite Graves story?
So many. I think I would rather just talk about my favorite way we would play.
Graves and I would compete with each other in boxing matches. We just somehow started this game where I would ask her if she wanted to box and if she did, she would charge my hands and start to bark and lightly nip at them. This always meant it was go time.
So I literally would lightly push my fists at her and she would weave and dodge and hit me back with her nose. We would do this for hours, until one of us would give in (usually me).
When did you decide to get your Graves tattoo?
Graves had been sick off and on for years with tumors and various ailments. So she went through a lot of surgeries and had a lot of scars to prove it.
She even had to have a mammary gland removed. (Yes, dogs can get breast cancer too!) In February, she started to get really ill where she could not walk and was dizzy all the time. She ended up having a meningioma (brain cancer).
They put her on some steroids that knocked her back to normal. They told us it was only a temporary fix and that we would probably only have 2 months left with her.
So we joked about making a Graves “bucket list” to fulfill her last few months. This pretty much consisted of us feeding her lots of human food (we have a strict no human food to dogs policy in our house) and that seemed to make Graves happy even in her darkest days. In June, she lost her sight from the pressure of the tumor on her optical nerves, so I decided it was time to make the choice to put her to sleep.
It was one of the hardest if not the hardest thing I have ever had to decide.
But in the end it is not about you, it is about the animal and their quality of life. I was not about to keep her around on my account. She seemed miserable and I could not handle that.
After she passed away, I took her ashes into my tattooist (Carlos Ransom) and he said he could mix her ashes in with tattoo ink, so she could be with me forever. So I decided on a non-traditional tattoo. In the end it will be Graves with Frankenstein’s Monster neck bolts, with lightening coming out of them, and it will have her name written in The Misfits font.
I chose to go with the Frankenstein’s Monster theme for the tattoo since Graves had so many scars from surgeries. It just seemed appropriate.
She was my best friend and I miss her every day.
My heart goes out to Terry and his family as they deal with this loss.
To see another tattoo tribute to a dog, check out my friend Eric’s story.
When I saw this tattoo, I had to know the story behind it.
The arm belongs to my friend Eric Fain, a Kansas City musician. Here’s the tale of his family dog Buck:
I was ten years old.
I had just arrived home after a week long Boy Scout Camp and my parents surprised me with a fluffy gold and white English Shepherd.
We decided to name him Buck, possibly because he was absolutely buck-wild and it just seemed to fit.
Until he was about a year and some change, he was just a ball of fur with a big head.
We moved to the Netherlands a year or so after and he made the trek with us overseas. Buck thrived in Holland. Every day my sisters and I would take him and our old Boxer, Cocoa, to the dog park, where he could run around free and play with other dogs and chase us while we tried to escape him on our Razor Scooters. His herding instinct was strong; he loved hovering around your feet. He also loved to sit on people, even if they were in a chair and he had to boost his butt onto your lap.
We returned to Kansas in 2003, and he was a great house dog for a while.
In 2008, he finally got to be the farm dog he always wanted to be when my folks bought seven acres in the countryside.
Buck’s final years were the best any dog could ask for. He adored my mother more than anyone else. When he started getting frail, my mom started to feed him hard boiled eggs in his food every night before she went to sleep. If she forgot, he barked until she brought it to him. She went so far as to have two separate cartons of eggs in the fridge; Buck’s Eggs and Human Eggs.
Every time I visited them, I always went down stairs to his room and gave him a big hug, except the night before he had to be put to sleep.
I’ll never forget hearing his bark from the basement. I left without even saying hello, not thinking it would be the last time I would hear him. I got a call from my sister as I was getting off work, and I could tell something was wrong.
She said he fell when he was outside and that Mom had to pick him up and bring him inside. ‘He’s bleeding internally and there isn’t much we can do’ the vet told my mom. She loved him so much and couldn’t bear to see him in any more pain. I told her to give him a kiss for me and tell him that I was sorry for not being there to say goodbye.
Buck was my best pal, and I decided to get a tattoo for his memory because I never want to forget the happiness he brought into my life.
Big thanks to Eric for sharing this story.
To catch a glimpse of Eric’s tattoo of Buck in person, go see him play with his band Clairaudients.