Last week I had to say goodbye to Tasha, my fifteen-and-a-half year old sneaky and stubborn princess who had been with me for as long as I’ve had my period. (If only I could’ve kept her and got rid of this bleeding-and-cramping every month thing instead.)
While I sort of had an idea that her end was near (she never recovered from her partial ACL tear that occurred in March), it didn’t make the experience of taking her to the vet one last time any easier and I continue to be racked with overwhelming amounts of sadness as I realize she’s gone for good.
It will eventually pass (or at least become more bearable, I know), but for now it just sucks. I want my baby girl back. I don’t want that goodbye to be real.
That being said, I’m not here to wallow in self-pity (I prefer to do that in private). Instead, I want to use this post to celebrate the life and personality of Tasha. She wasn’t the best of dogs, but she was always true to herself, and I wouldn’t have wanted her any other way.
So please, if you have time to spare, join me in celebrating my sneaky and stubborn princess.
These are the things I want you to know about Tasha (and the things I hope I never forget):
She was sneaky.
In case you didn’t get the hint from my mentioning of it numerous times in this post, Tasha was a sneaky dog. It didn’t matter if she knew something was right or wrong, if she thought there was a chance she could get away with it, she always gave it a go.
For example, when my nephew was younger we used to try to keep the dogs somewhat separated. They just took up too much room sometimes and Tasha wasn’t a huge fan of kids, so it was safer that way. Of course, we couldn’t just keep them shut in my room because Miss Tasha would attempt to dig her way out, scratching at the carpet underneath the door attempting to make her grand escape.
So, before putting up a baby gate (which only worked sometimes, she did try to jump over that as well), I decided that I would leave my door open and use a chair to keep them out. I figured if the dogs could see nothing was going on they would relax and yet we could still have them put away. And that worked for a whole five minutes until I came over to find Tasha slowly working her way through the chair, as pictured above. (And you see that face? There was no regret. To her it was just a fun challenge.)
Another little example that always comes to mind: her getting food off the counter. The act itself is not too surprising – most dogs would do such a thing if given a chance. But she was always so sneaky with it! There was one impressive time when she managed to get pizza off the counter while leaving the box in tact, making us think that someone else in the house must’ve ate it. Smart girl.
And she always did what she wanted to do.
If you couldn’t tell by the sneaky activities above, Tasha was a stubborn girl who always did what she wanted to do. It didn’t matter if we put up a fence (like above) or a barricade to block her from getting somewhere, and it didn’t matter if we told her no or repeatedly stopped her from trying to do it, she would always do whatever it was she wanted to do at a given moment of time.
My least favorite thing, especially because she primarily lived with me in my room, was her digging. If we were to leave her outside for more than ten minutes she would find a spot and dig, dig, dig. And while I’m sure she loved it and there was no real harm in her digging her holes, she would come in so messy after digging a hole. That silly girl.
Even went it meant “clopping” and drinking out of that nasty red pot.
Also in the realm of things that Tasha did that I didn’t love (because let’s face it, the ones we love always do things that aren’t always so nice), Tasha was obsessed with water – especially in her older age. And not just any water. Oh no. She always wanted the water from the red pot that we left outside. Yuck.
I don’t even know how the red pot thing got started. I’m pretty sure my parents started using it while I was gone since they liked to leave the dogs out for an extended amount of time and they weren’t using the pot for cooking so why not. But Tasha only really ever wanted to drink water from that bowl. It didn’t matter how fresh the water was in my room, she would make it a point to go to her pot outside and drink from that before doing anything else. (Though I guess it’s slightly better than the toilet bowl drinking she used to do.)
And the clopping! I don’t even know how to fully describe this. You know that sort of smacking sound some people do while chewing with their mouth open? That loud sound of their mouth opening and closing? Tasha would do that with water. She would drink and then walk around “clopping” her mouth together and ahhh – it was so annoying. I put up with it because I loved her but if she could speak English we would’ve had to have a talk about how annoying that noise was. (Not that it would stop her.)
She was overprotective and pretty intimidating.
Tasha has always been a guard dog. Not in the sense that we got her for protection or trained her to bark or go after others, but just in the sense that she loved us and only us and as far as she was concerned no one else could be trusted. People would see Mad and be intimidated by his larger size, but Tasha was the one they should’ve really been worried about. Even when she let you in the house, you couldn’t get too comfortable with her around. There were many times where she has given someone a warning nibble to let them know she’s watching them (and a couple of times that nibble may have been aimed for their face).
My favorite memory of Tasha’s intimidating nature has to be the first time Dave came to the States to visit. Dave is a naturally nervous person around dogs to begin with (he’s had bad experiences of them chasing him on football pitches as a kid) and while he tried to play cool around the dogs he was definitely a little uncomfortable being left alone with them. Well, my parents and I were sitting in the living room when we suddenly had a thought – it sure has been quiet and Tasha and Dave are no where in sight. Uh oh, what’s going on?
Luckily I ended up finding them in my bedroom both in one piece. Dave was trapped in my bed as Tasha had jumped up to sniff him. He was tentatively petting her while she stood on guard, trying to figure out if she liked him or not. Once I arrived they both relaxed a little and there was no bloodshed, but I remember feeling bad that Dave was left to deal with Tasha’s intimidating nature on his own while my parents and I were oblivious in the next room. Could you have imagined if she was in there attacking him?
(Even in that picture above you can see the hesitation between the two. Dave is petting her but has his arm underneath her face to push her away if he needs to and is pulling his face slightly back in case she lunges at him, and she is unsure what to think herself.)
But once you were accepted she was all about the cuddles.
Of course, once you were accepted into Tasha’s heart, all she wanted was some cuddles. I loved cuddling with Tasha – she was like a big cuddly stuffed animal with all that fluffy hair. And Dave? Well, he quickly learned that petting Tasha was the best way to stay on her good side. I think she used her intimidation with him to her advantage to get all the loving when he was around that she could. (And I didn’t mind, it made for funny pics as the one above!)
And destroying bones was her absolute favorite.
And since Tasha wasn’t allowed to attack people or dogs (though she would sometimes still try, whoops), she put her viciousness to good use on her many bones. Though that picture doesn’t really show it, that girl was a beast when it came to tearing bones apart and until very recently it was still one of her favorite things to do. Mad even let her have a go at his bones as well, waiting until she chewed it up so it was nice and soft before he would attempt to eat any himself.
She never really wanted a brother.
Speaking of Mad, I think it’s safe to say Tasha never really wanted a brother. She was a princess in many ways and having a derpy little brother really put a damper on her pamper. When they were younger and played a bit rough, it was all in fun, but I think at times she really did want to take a chunk out of him.
But she always put up with him.
That being said, she always put up with him (even if it’s just because she didn’t have a choice.) She would eat from his food bowl and take his bones, but rarely did she ever actually snap at him (and when it did happen, it was usually because he deserved it).
And I think their sibling nature really did a lot of good for the both them. It meant she was never alone, even when I was a country away. And it meant Mad had someone to look up to and learn the the do’s and don’t’s of the household from. (Luckily he never quite picked up on her sneakiness – it has never been in his nature.)
And I think she was thankful for him in the end.
In the end, Mad’s presence was useful to her. She was deaf and somewhat blind, so she used Mad as a guide. She would lay next to him to know when to get up and she would keep her eye on him to know when it was time to come inside. (That’s right, her deaf bitchness was a bit of a struggle when letting her outside for a while, but she had figured out a way to sort it out using Mad’s help.)
While she’s always been a very independent dog and would have preferred to do things on her own, I’m sure, she did eventually realize her senses were struggling and turned to him for help. It was very bittersweet.
She loved going on walks where she could sniff anything and everything.
Tasha loved walks, but unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to make them a part of our regular routine until this year. It was just so hard when they were younger because…
- They were never trained so trying to coordinate both 50 lb dogs to walk at once was a bit of a challenge – my butt would actually get sore from leaning back while walking them trying to stop them from pulling me away.
- Tasha was vicious, as mentioned above, so we would have to choose our walking paths very carefully to avoid pedestrians, pets, and wildlife. Always easier said than done.
- They were a bit of an embarrassment! Take away their pulling and chasing after others and you still had to deal with Mad’s boogering, Tasha’s bouncing like a rabbit (she would be so excited she would hop, hop, hop when we would first go on a walk), and their inconvenient peeing and pooping (Tasha would pee while walking sometimes – I think my ex-fiance even walked into her stream once while we were walking her – and Mad poops in the middle of road while we cross).
But boy, did she love going for walks. And I don’t even think it was the walk itself she cared about. It was getting a chance to check out the neighborhood and see who else was on her turf. While Maddy would just want to charge ahead, Tasha was all about sniffing every blade of grass, marking her territory, and making sure there were no threats around.
And looking out windows was one of her favorite things to do –
Another example of her guard dog nature? She used to love looking out the window to see what was going on outside. (I’m sure she would have continued to do it until the end if my room didn’t end up being in the basement.)
When she was younger she used to actually sit on the back of the couch and just stare out the windows for hours, keeping guard. The drool streaks on the window weren’t so pretty, but it was always a lot of fun to drive by and see her little head poking out between the curtains.
Car windows included.
And car rides! She loved her car rides as well. Unlike Mad, who cries and hides his head down in the seats for the entire duration of a car journey, Tasha was a typical stick-her-head-out-the-window-and-enjoy-the-ride dog.
We always had to be a little careful out of fear that she might try to jump out and chase after someone, but for the most part she would just stare out the window and pant happily. (Well, until we would have to turn or do a sudden stop. Then she would be a little disgruntled as she’d fall over from losing her balance, whoops.)
The older she got the cuter her sleep.
Honestly, if you flip through the past two years of my photo collection in search of pictures of Tasha, this is 90% of what you’ll find: images of Tasha sleeping. It’s not too surprising, I guess, seeming how I wrote a whole post about taking pictures of my dogs sleeping. But there was just something so adorable about catching Tasha sleeping that I couldn’t resist.
I think a lot of it had to do with her guard-like nature. As a younger pup, she was always awake and on alert. The second you were moving around, so was she, so it was rare to ever catch her deep in a slumber (and even if you did, it was near impossible to snap a picture without waking her up).
Being able to see her fully relax once she reached senior citizen status, to see her passed out with her tongue peeking out of her mouth and oblivious to the world, it was just adorable. Sleeping was one of her favorite things to do once her age reached the double digits, and I think she’s enjoying the fact that she could sleep all she wanted without me rudely interrupting her to pee or take a pic.
And she was always a loyal friend and companion.
The fifteen years Tasha was with us, she only ran away once (and it was pretty early on too). We couldn’t find her on her own, but luckily she just showed up back at the house the following morning and has stuck around ever since. And it’s not because she didn’t have further opportunities to run away. There have been times where doors and gates have been left open on accident and Mad has taken those opportunities to make a break for it, but Tasha? Nope. She’s always stuck around.
There’s something special about having a dog that chooses you over everything else. She wanted to stick with us, and I’ll never forget that.
She is the main reason I consider myself a dog person.
And let’s be honest here, Tasha is 100% the reason I’m a dog person. Prior to my parents unexpectedly bringing her home, I was a cat person. It wasn’t that I didn’t like dogs, I just preferred cats. But between the cat I had when Tasha came into my life being completely antisocial and the overwhelming amount of love Tasha gave us when she entered our lives – it was enough to persuade me that canines were where my heart belonged. Their unconditional love is just impossible to refuse. I live for that bond.
And the very first ginger I fell in love with.
I mean just look at her, wasn’t she the most beautiful dog? Not only was she fluffy (which I loved. I need dogs that can double as stuffed animals) but she was this beautiful orange color. My brother actually gave her the nick name “Hot Sauce” because of it.
She was a mutt so we could never be 100% sure what her mix was, but if I remember correctly she was a bit of Chow, Retriever, and Collie. Either way, she was gorgeous and Dave is going to have a hard time living up to the standards of beauty of my first ginger love presented.
And I will miss her (and her kisses) forevermore.
Tasha was with me for every single serious relationship I had been in, numerous friendships that fell apart, house moves and college struggles and mental breakdowns. She was there for it all and never stopped loving me. How does one not remain in your heart forever after all that?
I will miss her. I do miss her. She won’t be the last dog I ever love, but she was the first, and she’ll always hold a special place in my heart for that very reason. No words can fully communicate just what an amazing girl she was, but hopefully this post does her a little justice. She was her own little troublesome mutt, but we all loved her and were happy to have her as part of the family from the first day to the last.
We love you Tasha.
I know some might not know what to say in response to such a post (and most of you have already shared your kind thoughts on social media), so no worries if you don’t want to comment. But if you do want to contribute (beyond just agreeing that Tasha was a beautiful and lovely girl), I would love to hear about your pet(s). Past or present, it doesn’t matter. Tell me a bit about their personalities (the good and/or the bad) and what you love about them. Let’s celebrate the bonds we have (had) with our fur babies, I think they deserve the extra love.