July 10, 2014

Tai (formerly Rita's Willie) runs ahead

Every dog is special, but there was something extra special about Tai. Even though he had a very rough start before his angels Rita & MJ saved his life, you would never know it when you met him. He was sweet, lovable and had adorable quirks. He was our neighborhood ambassador, stopping to visit with everyone on our nightly walks, sitting nicely to be pet and almost always shaking hands. He loved kids, water, ice and toys. In typical retriever style, he always wanted to carry something, usually whatever he could get his paws on when he was excited - often clean laundry. He had jaws of steel, so it was nearly impossible to get anything out of his grip if he was intent on holding it. Tai was an expert at removing tags from anything, loved to shred things and could get the squeaker out of any toy in 30 seconds flat. He was also a master beggar and could hear a piece of string cheese being opened no matter how quiet or how far it was from him. Tai loved his big brother Buster, who we lost in 2011, and picked his little brother Sam himself. Sam taught Tai how to wrestle and romp, and they had a great time playing together and snuggling when they were done.

Tai wore his emotions on his sleeve, so when he wasn't feeling well on June 5, it was obvious something was terribly wrong. He had an emergency splenectomy, and we discovered he had cancer. He recovered from the surgery remarkably well and had his first round of chemo on June 19, which he tolerated beautifully. But on June 29, Tai let me know he was not feeling well again, and after consulting with our emergency doctors, I made the heart-wrenching decision to release my beloved boy from his ailing body.

As much as I miss this sweet boy, I know Tai's gentle soul had an impact on so many lives - 2 legs and 4 legs alike. I cherished every minute with him, especially the three-and-a-half weeks after his surgery when he was feeling good and back to his old self. I think he knew I needed that precious time. Tai will hold a special place in my heart forever.