I’m a dog lover – always have been, always will be. Thirteen years ago, a scruffy, dirt-covered puppy made its trip from Ireland, across the English Channel and straight to our front door. The poor little mite was covered in her own excrement, shaking and shivering for all she was worth, but as soon as I looked into her soulful brown eyes, I knew that this little bundle of fluff would steal my heart.
After a bath and a good toweling off, we needed to come up with a name for her, something that was befitting of her German Shepherd/Collie cross stature. We came up with dozens of names, yet none seemed to fit her better than ‘Tara’.
Once settled, we began the task of trying to house train a dog that was more intent on mischief and playing than she was learning how to take a dump in the garden and not on our laminate flooring. She was a cheeky, willful little pup but had the biggest eyes and longest tongue that I’ve ever seen on a four-legged friend. She had the kind of face that you could never stay mad with for long.
After a few months, Tara learned to answer to two names: instead of calling her Tara, we had begun to call her Monkey (mainly because of her ability to get into so much mischief) and the only time that she ever answered to her given name was when we added the word ‘no’ to the end of it. She got into so much trouble that she ended up thinking her name was ‘Tara, no’….
With her large head and paws we assumed that Tara would grow into a full-size German Shepherd but ended up stopping at the size of a collie – much to the amusement of fellow dog walkers who would ask where we got our micro-Shepherd from…. Average in stature, she had the biggest and most loving heart of any dog I’ve known. Always full of fun and wanting to play, it seemed as if Tara was the Peter Pan of dogs in that she stubbornly refused to ever grow out of her puppy-like ways.
Tara loved to play fight or cover you with her special ‘kisses’ every time you sneezed. She would bark at the hairdryer, the doorbell, the microwave and at the sound of my car pulling up in the driveway. We would howl songs together, she’d show me her best tricks in an effort to convince me to give her food from my plate. She would jump on my bed and lick me awake as soon as the alarm began wailing and she’d run and hide each time she heard thunder.
I loved her for thirteen wonderful years and watched her grow from a cheeky little pup into a cheeky elderly dog. She never once lost her joy of life or her love for those she considered to be part of her pack. Making the decision to allow her to rest peacefully and without pain was one of the hardest choices that I’ve ever had to make. Her hind legs had given up on her, she couldn’t walk, pull herself up or take herself to the garden to go to the toilet.
August 27 2014 will always remain one of the saddest days of my life, yet when I feel sad I need to remind myself of the wonderful ball of energy she was and not the aged shell of a dog that left us last week. On that last morning, she begged me with her eyes to help stop her pain and even though it broke my heart, I gave her the peace that she so desperately wanted.
I held her as her life slipped away, whispering to her that it would all be ok. I have an image of her in Heaven running freely with her canine body in its prime. I hope she’s up there having fun and getting up to as much mischief as she did down here. I will miss her every day but I am truly thankful for the thirteen wonderful years that she was a part of my life.
I love you and I miss you, little girl. Sleep tight.