When I got home from work yesterday, Lisa was in the kitchen cooking dinner. And crying. I hugged her and asked her what's wrong. She told me, "Mom had to put Tasha down." I thought, "Ah s...". Fill in the blank, if you must.
My mother-in-law Meki is a strong woman. Once though, she definitely wasn't. That was when Harry, her husband and love of her life, died. This was five years before I even met Lisa online through ABDK, 1995 I believe. The two things that really let Meki get back on her feet were the several months that Lisa moved in with her, and the year-old JRT her son Rusty brought her one day. Tasha.
I never knew the dog Lisa described to me, the short-legged little bundle of energy that could jump up onto the kitchen table and couldn't be held back from licking your face because she was so glad to see you. The one that would have held off a bear that threatened her people.
The dog I knew had a hard time jumping up onto an ottoman to sleep by your feet, was half blind from a cataract in her left eye, and was too often incontinent when her mistress left to go to work. The dog I knew was often scooped up from the floor by that same mistress, called very silly names, and kissed and kissed.
The dog I knew was the same one Lisa told me had been neglected, had been left chained up in a trailer park as a puppy, left for much larger dogs to terrify, and still trembled at every hand that reached down to pet her. Except for Meki's.
The dog I knew barked when she was hungry or thirsty, pranced across the hard wood floor to stand by the door when she needed to go out, and thrived on attention even as she trembled. There are some reactions time does not erase.
The dog I knew helped heal a woman I love and admire, and helped shape my wife into the woman she is today.
The dog I knew had a stroke that left her unable to move her hind legs, and according to the vet, in agony that there was a 50-to-1 chance would never end. So, Meki did the hard and compassionate thing, and held Tasha as she went to sleep for the last time.
I grew up on a farm, and I put down more than one badly injured animal. It was a fact of the life. I've not had to say good bye to a companion that was part of making me whole after the most devastating loss I can imagine. Meki did.
For now, please excuse me. In my mind, I hear claws clacking across a hard wood floor and Tasha's bark, telling me she has to go. I've got a door to open. Godspeed, little one.