I wrote this on another blog site years ago. Today at an agility trial I saw a Boxer that looked and acted a lot like Tango. I miss having him around, and think about him every day. He taught me that you need to work with the dog you have, and not force them to be something they aren't.
First published January 1, 2008:It's been a rough holiday around here. I've lost my share of dogs over the years, and it seems like most of them go around Christmas time. Nine years ago, I lost my first Pug, Rudy, during emergency surgery on New Years Eve. A few years ago, I lost an old rescue boy, Frosty (the Pug Man) two weeks before Christmas. And I finally had to say goodbye to Tango on the Saturday before Christmas this year.
Short version of Tango's story: when my ex and I split up, he took Tango with him (it was his dog). Then a year later, he called to see if I would take Tango back. Tango had to stay in a separate area of his house, and had no fenced yard. His life was consisting of a crate, seclusion, leash walking, and sitting in a car. To top it off, he wasn't getting his thyroid medication, and it was affecting his health severely. I took Tango back, and with lots of care, he got better and better. Sadly, he also started showing signs of DM, a neurological disease that is kind of like MS for dogs.
Tango was a Boxer, and NOT the dog I would have picked for a pet, let alone an agility dog. But my ex wanted him, and I trained him while my ex showed him. After awhile, I ended up doing most of the showing, and it wasn't easy. Tango was fearful, timid, not confident and afraid of men. He was incredibly athletic, however, and did well in agility as long as nothing scary happened. We stopped showing in the standard ring because he got spooky when the judge came close to see the contacts. He had 2 legs in Excellent Jumpers Preferred when he went to live with my ex, and never went into the ring again.
After he returned to me, Tango became my shadow, and we forged an incredibly strong bond. The last year was a constant assesment of how Tango was doing, feeling, and acting. He had good days and bad, and for the most part was either carried or helped along with a sling. He wore booties, and always had to be coaxed to eat dinner. There were rugs everywhere, to help with his traction, and soft beds in every room. He went camping over the summer, and spent a glorious weekend hobbling around the woods - his favorite place in the world. I almost put him to sleep in late August, but couldn't do it near my birthday. He lasted months more, but it was obvious right before Christmas that he was done. He was very thin, and lost control of his bladder and bowels suddenly. The horrible thing about this crappy disease is that their bodies betray them, but their mind stays sharp and alert. But seeing him fade made the decision easier, and I knew the time was right. My best friend is my vet, so Tango was surrounded by his favorite people when he went. Her Springer, who died this summer, was HIS best friend, and the two of us cried and told Tango to day hi to Idgie for us.
He taught me so much about working with the dog you have, and for that I'm grateful. The house seems so empty right now - I only have 4 dogs (I lost 2 hospice pugs over the summer, and a rescue dog I'd been fostering was adopted the week before Christmas.) But I have another foster coming in tomorrow, so things should get interesting again.
Tango - Faux Pas Exotic Rhythm, OA, OAJ, OA-P, OAJ-P, NAC, NJC, TN-N, CGC 1997-2007