February 23 rd


Goodbye, Sweet Tara

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Tara and Rainy

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.

Tara before coming to Journey’s End Ranch


Tara age 11

Tara smiling


Categories : News


  1. zoomie z says:

    Dog Bless You Sweetest, and Mama Cathy for helping you on your earth journey…Thank you for your smile too, it breaks my heart to hear of your life, and of your siblings near by. Like I said, be sure to waive once in a while. xoxoxo

  2. Tami says:

    As frustrating and sad as her past was before finding you, how wonderful that she knew a different life for a couple of years before crossing over the Rainbow Bridge. It would have been even more tragic had she never known love, companionship, good food, shelter, and a warm bed. Even if it was a short duration, it was 100x better than nothing.

    One more angel looking over you now, and one more happy face to greet you one day 🙂

  3. Laurie Dube says:

    You made a difference in her life, because of you she knew love and care and what it’s like to be part of a family. She knew friends, happiness, comfort, and most of all trust. That’s why she is smilin.

  4. Cathy Ritlaw says:

    I know, she was most appreciative! Thank you!

  5. Shauna says:

    Cathy you did a good thing…you did the right thing…Tara was loved, cared for, and happy!! My friend, you will see her again one day as I truly believe God has a place for our beloved pets in His Kingdom and I know there is a place for you there too!

  6. Cathy Ritlaw says:

    That does not alleviate the suffering here in the real world. LOL. I am a realist. Thank you, though.

  7. Cathy Ritlaw says:

    Thanks, Tami. I am forever grateful to the Universe for allowing me to help her.

  8. Cathy Ritlaw says:

    I see her running across the frozen white clouds in the sky.. thanks, Zoomie.

  9. Isabelle says:

    Sorry Cathy, at least in her last days and months she had genuine love. I hope that man never gets another replacement. You did good you did wonderful!

  10. Cathy Ritlaw says:

    Thank you, Isabelle…. he has TWO more dogs chained over there… : (

  11. Hilke says:

    RIP sweet Tara, love to you dear Cathy, xxx

  12. Cathy Ritlaw says:

    Thank you, Hilke. <3 to you, too!

  13. Margie Rick says:

    While her first 10 years were pretty crappy, she had two really good years with you – that’s what really matters. I love that last pic of her (Tara smiling) – she looked so happy.

  14. Cathy Ritlaw says:

    Thank you, Margie. She was happy and had a great sense of humor, too. She would stare at one of the other females and intimidate her from across the room…was never aggressive, just liked to tease the other dog..

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