February 23 rd
Goodbye, Sweet TaraBy
I first met Tara in Dec. 2007 when my neighbor, whom I barely knew, asked me to watch his house while he was gone for a week. I asked who would be caring for the 2 dogs I knew he had and he said he was leaving them food and water. WHAT? In December? I insisted on going over while he was gone.
What I discovered broke my heart. There was Ricky, a lab mix who was fearful of me, but fairly robust, despite being on a 30 foot heavy chain & having a doghouse with no bedding. Then, there was Tara, an already 8 year old Siberian husky who already looked ill to me. She was lethargic, but very sweet. That week turned out to be severely cold. Tara had no house, just a ramshackle wooden structure on the cold ground- no floor and no bedding. She was chained with a heavy tow chain that measured a mere 8 feet long. I had to cart warm water from my house 1/2 mile away to them twice a day and I brought over an old plastic dog house with bedding for Tara. She immediately made a nest in it.
When I saw the dog food they were fed & read the ingredients, I was shocked. The first 3 ingredients were grains & the 4th was “meat by-products”, which, legally, may even be the meat meal made from the bodies of euthanized pets from some municipal shelters! I took them some of our dog food and some rawhide and other treats daily for that week. I would lie in bed each night thinking of them.
Long story short, I tried for 2 years to get those dogs, especially Tara who was going downhill. I offered money, I offered to help with putting up a fence to get them unchained, I gave him literature re: the cruelty of chaining dogs. I told him Tara looked to be low thyroid and asked if I could take her to the vet. All I got was resistance and someone acting insulted.
Az. laws do not protect animals well. I could not steal Tara, as I would be easily caught. So, I tried at every chance to take the dogs food, treats and check on them. One July day in 2009, I found Tara with no water! It hit 100 degrees that day and she would have died. I took off her collar that was growing into her neck and brought her a light harness and soft rope to replace her chain. I filled her water bucket and hosed down the dirt so she could cool off. I left a long letter to my neighbor- reading him the riot act. Still, he refused to let her go. Every time I left, I promised her I would get her out of there, to please hang on a little longer.
I finally tried to let it go……
Then, in late Dec. 2009, when she was 10 years old, he asked if I would take her. She was emaciated, low thyroid and had a skin & uterine infections. With the help of my knowledge and our vet, we pulled her from the brink of death. She was too weak & sick to spay right away, so when she was somewhat better, I asked for donations on Facebook to cover the $800 spay and mammary tumor removal. We had the $ in 2 days. A band of angels saved her life.
Tara slowly improved over 2 years and was the sweetest girl ever. She was well behaved and a joy to have in the house. She loved her pack mates, her good food, chewies and a warm bed. Most of all, she loved being part of a real family.
Exactly 2 years after arriving, she developed a very malignant anal tumor. This kind of tumor is hormone related and she would probably never have gotten the cancer had she been spayed as a young dog and cared for properly.
I regret not being able to give this deserving dog more years of freedom and happiness. I wonder if I should have just stolen her 4 years ago and tried to hide her here. I am furious with my neighbor, who still has Ricky, & now another dog, living on chains & neglected.
Arizona needs anti-chaining laws, they need better anti-cruelty laws and I will try my damnedest to find some time to advocate for them.
We miss you, Tara, you deserved so much more than life gave you. Goodbye, sweet Tara.