Friday, February 8, 2013

Natasha

I remember the first time I ever saw you.  You were tiny, black, covered in mange and bald spots.  You had a bald spot on the top of your head like Friar Tuck.  I thought you were the most awkward, strange looking puppy I had ever seen.  You fit in my hand, and you seemed unsure of what was happening.  I took you home, and named you Natasha to spite a guy I was dating at the time.  It was a name I said I liked once, he said it was ugly and stupid.  I thought it was beautiful and dignified.

Baby Tasha


I remember giving you a bath to try to soothe your skin, and you protested loudly.  When I was done, I wrapped you in a towel and cuddled you close to me.  You immediately quieted, and I sat with you for a long time, holding you close to me.  My parents were angry I took in another dog, but I didn't care.

I remember you growing into an awkward gangly dog with a head too small for her body, a neck like a Shakespeare collar, and skinny stick legs like a colt.  You were black, but had odd, random patches of chestnut colored fur around your neck and in your tail.  You were hyper, hated to be petted, always on the go.  You liked to tease the other dogs into chasing you, and you tormented any animal that dared come near our yard.  You cornered an armadillo into a shallow hole until I finally had to intervene.  You barked at the cows.  You killed a cat, and when I tried to step in the middle, I got a lifelong scar on my leg from the most pissed off cat in the history of cats.  You were frustrating.  You tore up things.  Everyone said you were ugly, strange, impossible to love.

I remember when I moved to Oregon and decided to take only two dogs with me.  You were one of the two because I knew no one but me wanted you.  There were times you frustrated me so much that I barely wanted you.  I thought you were unadoptable.  I thought that I took you into my home, so you were my responsibility for life.   Hours after landing in Oregon, you got in a fight with the other dog, setting a lifelong precedent.  You loved her, you wanted her to play, you teased her mercilessly.  She lashed out.  I broke up fights weekly, and I was so frustrated I wanted to give you away.  You continued to tear up things.  You stole an entire loaf of French bread from the counter and ate it.  You continued to fight the other dog.  Several years later, you lost a fight with her, and lost your right eye.

I remember our relationship changing when you lost your eye.  I was devastated that you lost your eye.  I locked the other dog away from you, and I let you sleep with me at night for awhile.  I remember finding it strange to see you calm, and for you to allow me to cuddle you and pet you as you healed.  I remember finding compassion and patience for you, and realizing that you were always playing second fiddle.  You so badly wanted my attention and approval.  I remember being so proud at how well you adjusted to being blind in one eye.

I remember you meeting Eric.  You were indifferent, nervous, not used to men.  You did not want to be petted by him.  Slowly you grew to like having him around, and he became partial to you.  He was the first person who had ever preferred you to the other dog.

Best pals, and one of my most treasured pictures
 I remember you grieving when the other dog died.  You looked so sad, and you moped for a really long time.  I remember being amazed at how forgiving you were, considering how many times you had fought, had your food stolen by her and generally been rebuffed by her.  Even so, you grieved for that mean dog for weeks.

I remember the next four years with you, and how you matured into the most delightful little dog anyone could have.  Now that you were alpha dog and did not have to worry about fights, you relaxed.  I vividly remember the first time you got on the couch and cuddled next to us for over an hour, readily accepting us petting you.  You begged for treats shamelessly, constantly.  Your head tilted adorably when we ate things that were crunchy, or if we said "treat" or "go".  You stared at us mercilessly while we ate dinner.  You would tear ass down the stairs, to the point I feared that you would break your legs.  You relished me coming home from work and hiding, then jumping out and scaring you.  You loved nothing more than having me hug you, pet you and love on you.  You constantly made us laugh.  And how I grew to love you.  You went from a responsibility, to my favorite dog I had ever owned.

An alcoholic little dog who loved her beer

I remember you aging, but not losing that puppy like enthusiasm, that gleam in your one eye.  Your face began to turn white, but you still played tug of war fiercely.  You galloped down the stairs.  You relished short walks.  You begged to go in the car, and then bayed nervously during the destination.  I never saw you as anything less than cheerful, happy.  You grew hyper attached to me.  You did not like me leaving.  You followed me everywhere.  You loved me, and I loved you with abandon.

From nervous yard dog to a loving couch potato

I remember the day you got sick.  I knew you were sick because you looked sad.  There was no happy gleam, no begging, no head tilts.  You couldn't get up.

I remember knowing in my heart that these were our last days together.  I fed you fistfuls of your favorite treats, Bil Jacs and could not stop petting you.  I fed you anything you wanted.  I wept until I had to hold ice compresses to my face to keep the swelling down.  I sobbed that I would rather have cancer and die than have you spend a moment feeling pain.  I got the test results, and I had to make the worst decision I ever had in my life.

At 1:30 pm on Sunday, February 3rd, I lost my little black dog.  My court jester, my head tilter, my underdog, my loyal little dog who didn't have a malicious bone in her body.  A dog who loved wholeheartedly, who was reckless, and who will NEVER be topped.  A day will not go by that I don't miss your head tilts, your dissatisfied noises if a treat wasn't produced quickly enough, your tucked butt runs when you got excited, and your funny way of walking.  I won't forget how you went from a dog who didn't want me to touch her, to a dog who would bury her face into my arm (usually to wipe eye boogers on me, but that's ok), or constantly cuddle as close as you possibly could to me on the couch.  I won't forget how you would frantically wave your paw at me, readily give us high fives, and your insane obsession with bread, beer and Bil Jacs.

I love you Tasha.  I always will.


4 comments:

  1. So So SO Precious. I read every last word. I love the picture with her and her cup and tilting her head.

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  2. Thanks ladies, it was a very healing post to write. Even then I left out so many funny little stories about her, but as you can imagine, I'd fill up about 20 posts worth of Natasha stories if it wouldn't bore everyone to death. And Becca, that little dog LOVED beer. We would only give her a couple of tablespoons worth, but it was one of her favorite things. The glass in that picture had beer in it, and she was tilting because I asked her if she wanted a sip of beer, lol. Everyone in this damn house is an alcoholic! ;)

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  3. I told you that I couldn't read this right away.....but I finally just did....and now I am bawling like a baby at work. Bad timing, lol.

    Natasha was so lucky to have had you. I know you feel like the lucky one, well you both were!

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