Today is the anniversary of the passing of my sweet angel Takala. She was a beautiful tall skinny greyhound; I used to call her my “skinny little model girl” – she always sashayed and trotted with her head held up high. She had great confidence and so much grace.
She was a brood mama and had given birth to 13 puppies long before I got her. She came to me in a desperate situation. She had been living in Florida when it was discovered that she was the mother of a greyhound who was living here in Austin. The owner of that dog made arrangements to reunite mother and son and somehow got Takala here to Austin to live with them. Takala never really settled into that household: there were two young and very loud, very rambunctious kids running around the house screaming all the time and that just made Takala a nervous wreck. The couple ended up getting a divorce and the woman left, leaving all her dogs with friends. Takala went to stay with my friend Bobbie, but the day after she arrived, Bobbie’s house flooded and she called me in a panic, needing me to take some of her dogs for a time while they stayed in a hotel waiting for their house to dry out and their floors to be redone. They ended up in the hotel for nearly 2 months and by that time Takala had really settled in to my place. After all, she had been uprooted from Florida, moved across country and into a house with a bunch of screaming kids and then rehomed again, only to be jerked out of a flooding house to flee to yet another home, my house. Being at my house for 2 months, she had adjusted, settled and bonded with my four greyhounds – and me.
When my friend came to get her dogs, I said, “Do I have to give Takala back? She’s all settled in here and I already love her.” Her response: “Oh Thank God! Because I hadn’t yet told my husband that we were getting another dog.” So it worked out perfectly. Takala then came to be my dog. That was back in August of 2002. She was 9 years old.
Takala was such a gentle soul. So sweet and docile. She had such innocence about her. I always told her that I imagined she must’ve been a fabulous mama dog to all her puppies. She was a welcome addition to my pack and fit in famously. Walking five greyhound around the neighborhood, we became known as the “Six-Pack” – very fitting considering that I used to own a bar…and the fact that we were always a little off-balance when we walked together!
Takala had a most voracious appetite. She never ceased to amaze me how much she could eat…and how much she liked to eat. And she was SO SKINNY! Seriously skinny. You could see her hip bones and her rib bones. And she ate like a horse! I think people thought I never fed this girl, she was so thin. But she just had one of those fast metabolisms…a metabolism that I would give my left lung for!
Takala was fairly healthy but at nine, she had developed a heart condition. We kept that well under control with medication. Sadly she was diagnosed with bone cancer in July of 2005. She was the first dog to which I had to say goodbye. And I was really out of my comfort zone. I had no idea what to expect. I was worried that I wouldn’t know when it was time, time to let go. The vet told me that I would know, that she would stop eating and it would be apparent.
Well, she never stopped eating. The bone cancer was progressing and she was getting more painful. I kept waiting for her to stop eating. But no matter how bad she felt, she was always excited for her meals.
I finally realized that lack of eating wasn’t going to be the indicator for me to know when to say goodbye. It was her level of discomfort that would be the determining factor. I actually had made the phone call to schedule the euthanasia twice but ended up cancelling because Takala would rally an hour or so after I had already placed the call. I’d call back and say, “Cancel the euthanasia! She’s rallied and I don’t think she wants to go yet.” In hindsight, I think she was rallying FOR ME, because she knew what a hard time I was having making the decision. But when it got to the point that she needed to be cooled down with ice packs because her temperature was spiking due to the fact that she simply couldn’t get comfortable, I knew it was time to let her go.
I called my vet the morning of November 10th, 2005. She said she could be at my house by 6:30 that evening. It was our last day together. I had spent several nights sleeping on the floor with her, trying to comfort her and lull her to sleep so she could get a momentary relief from the throbbing pain of the osteosarcoma. This day I also spent down on the floor with her, saying all the things I wanted to say to her. I started laughing about how she always made me giggle over how much she loved to eat. So I thought I’d give her a special send-off treat: I left her that afternoon to go to McDonald’s. I pulled up to the drive-thru and placed an order for five double-meat cheeseburgers. I came home with the bag of burgers, got on the floor with her and began breaking pieces of the hamburger off and feeding them to her. She gobbled down one burger, two burgers, then a third…then another one and, Oh my God, she ate all FIVE burgers. Five DOUBLE-MEAT CHEESEBURGERS! When the last of the burgers was gone, she was still sniffing around the floor and nudging the bag so I thought, “Well, let’s see if she wants some dessert,” and I went and got her a little dish of ice cream, which she greedily lapped up. That was around 2:30 or 3:00 in the afternoon.
At 5:00, it was time for me to feed the rest of my crew and I went ahead and mixed up a bowl of kibble with a scoop of canned food for Takala, just in case, figuring she surely wouldn’t want to eat so soon after devouring five McDonald’s burgers. But yep, she jumped up for her dinner! She ate most of that too. That girl soooooo loved to eat!!!
Just a short while later, my skinny little model girl was gone. I think she was happy with her final day here and her belly full of delight. I miss that precious girl with the peppy bouncy attitude who used to prance past me with her pretty little head held high. I miss loving on her and stroking her neck, which had the softest fur you could ever feel. I miss her innocent eyes and her inquisitive expressions. I miss cuddling with her. She comes to visit me every now and then in my dreams. Oh how I love those visits!
You are dearly missed, sweet Takala. Though our time together was short, it was long on love. Until we meet again, just know you are always in my heart.