R.I.P. Tazi

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This is one of the hardest notes I have ever had to write.

Yesterday afternoon I had to say goodbye to Tazi, our dear, sweet, old girl.

Tazi was 17. She’d been with us for 16 years, ever since Memorial Day weekend of 1992. She had been with us through many, many changes – three moves, her girl (our daughter Jessica) moving away, a baby arriving, saying hello and eventually goodbye to two other dogs, saying goodbye to two cats, saying hello to two different cats, and even recently saying hello to a third dog and a mother and baby goat – and had handled them all with remarkable aplomb, just happy to be with her family.

Tazi came to us when she was about one-year old, from a home where she lived for nearly a year with her much-beloved boy, Chuckie. Chuckie was a teenager who had found Tazi as a puppy. On his way to school one day, he had seen a group of kids throwing rocks at something. That something was a little puppy Tazi. He rescued her, and brought her home, and in that classic way of kids, had asked his father: “Can I keep her?”

Dad had said yes, but the next spring, when Tazi started digging in step-mom’s flower garden (she was left outside alone all day while Chuckie was in school), step-mom said that Tazi had to go. It broke Chuckie’s heart – they had been best friends, and every day after school Chuckie would rush home to spend the whole rest of the day outside with Tazi, just sitting with her, and playing his guitar, the two of them together.

And so Tazi came into our life, following a very tearful parting and goodbye from Chuckie. But he said that he was glad that, if she had to go, it was with us. When we went to meet her, he let us take her for a ride, and she jumped right in our car – something that amazed Chuckie, as he said that she *never* did that, so he knew that she knew we were the right ones. We were glad that she picked us, too.

And she always loved going for a ride, and she never dug – anywhere – ever again.

Tazi immediately took to being allowed to be an indoor dog, going in and out as she pleased. She was beautiful, and so very smart. We taught her to ring a cowbell suspended from the doorknob on the back door when she wanted to go out – she would move the bell with her nose so we could hear it and let her out. It took her exactly two times to understand what we were teaching her and to master ringing that bell, and when we later brought our second dog, Nika, home – mostly to keep Tazi company – she taught Nika how to ring the bell as well.

When something was going on outside and Tazi was anxious to get out to see what was going on, she would run up to the door excitedly and bat the bell with her nose furiously, very clearly conveying that she Wanted To Go Out NOW! Other times, when she just maybe needed to go out, or it just seemed like a thing to do, she would saunter up to the bell, and barely touch it all – slowly and lackadaisically brushing the bell with her nose – almost as if to say “Ho hum, I guess that I should go out now, but it’s not really urgent, so I won’t put that much energy into ringing the bell.”

Tazi also very quickly took to protecting her new teenager, Jessica. One time, early on, at a dog park, a dog rushed up to Jessica, barking, and out of nowhere Tazi was in between Jessica and the other dog, teeth bared, warning the dog off.

Her protection extended to all of her family, too. Not long after we got Nika, both dogs were out in the back yard one evening. Tazi came barking to be let in, and we let her in. Then she immediately rang the bell to go out. We let her out. She asked to come in again. Then immediately went out again. It took her stupid humans three times of rapid in-and-back-out for us to realize that she was trying to tell us something and we should follow her. And there was Nika, trapped in a coil of chicken wire, completely immobilized. Tazi had come to get us to help Nika.

One time Simon and I took all three dogs – Tazi, Nika and Ryzhik – camping. We took two tents – one for us, one for the dogs, and set them up right next to each other, about three feet apart, doors facing each other. We settled the dogs down in their tent, then went to sleep in ours. Only Tazi didn’t stay in the dogs’ tent. She spent the night – unmoving – in the space between the two tents – so she could watch over and protect us all.

Tazi came to us just as I graduated from law school, and so I was home all day, studying for the bar. It was summer, and the ice cream truck drove right by our house every afternoon. When we would hear the music of the ice cream truck, we would grab Tazi’s leash, and all three of us would rush out of the house – me, Jessica, and Tazi. And we would each get an ice cream – Tazi too – a little dixie cup of vanilla. She always loved ice cream.

By the time we moved to Colorado this past October, Tazi was slowing down – very much. She was arthritic, and her rear legs were starting to give out. She made the move, however, amazingly well. We drove to Colorado, and she hung out in the back of the car with her companion, Ryzhik – whom we so sadly lost in March. Both dogs, so aged, made the trip so well – three nights in hotels, three-plus days in the car. We were amazed, and grateful and blessed.

In the past few months, though, Tazi’s body deteriorated – although her will to live was always strong – to the very end, she would eat with gusto anything put in front of her. She was on anti-arthritis medications, and taking some homeopathic remedies suggested by our vet, and they did help some, and for a while. But more and more she had trouble getting up on her own – and where, once up, she could walk, although slowly – this week she couldn’t stand or take more than a step without falling over, and her efforts to get up once fallen were heartbreaking. Yesterday the quality of her efforts, and her yelps for help, were drastically different than even the day before, and, it was clear.

It’s a horrible, helpless feeling when the *only* way left for you to help an old friend is to help them die.

Goodbye, my sweet, sweet Tazi. I’m so very very sorry that I couldn’t do more to help you, and I miss you so terribly much.

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Tazi (left) with Nika, 1998

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Simon and Rhyzhik, 1998

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Simon with (from left to right) Nika, Tazi and Ryzhik

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Tazi with kitties Shakespeare & Sonnet, 1999

9 thoughts on “R.I.P. Tazi

  1. A fine tribute to a clearly amazing companion. You were blessed to have each other.

    Leo

  2. What a tender, moving story that only an animal lover could understand. That is the sad part of having pets, having to say goodbye. I understand how you feel and think that writing about it releases some feelings and allows others to encourage you. Thanks for sharing. The photos are great too!

  3. My heart is touched. Even a cat person would be moved by Tazi’s story. And you tell it so well. We are a dog/cat household so I know the bond! Just precious!! I’ll say a special prayer and send it your way.

  4. Anne, I am so sorry for your loss. Tazi was a beauty and it sounds like she lived a long happy life.

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