I just found out my dog has lung cancer. It’s kind of my fault, because when I first got her I was a chain smoker, and she would come with me everywhere. I would smoke on the bench in front of the house, and she’d sit by my side as we looked at the stars. When it was raining, we’d cuddle together in the tiny porch, the confined space thick with smoke, as I lit one cigarette after another after another.
I was fifteen when me and Taschie found each other. I’d begged my parents for a dog from as soon as I could talk, and the answer was always a resounding “NO”. Eventually I stopped asking. But I became unwell as a teenager, and one day I randomly dusted off the forgotten but familiar question, “Please can we get a dog?” I didn’t listen for the reply I was certain I’d hear. So imagine my shock when my mum replied, “okay then”. Years of whining and nagging and begging and finally, I would have my very own faithful friend! And all it took was for me to become a rebellious, mentally ill runaway teen….
She saved my life. Seriously. On several occasions. Once, when I was sixteen, I took a large overdose, as well as drinking most of a bottle of strong rum. It was gone midnight – at a guess, maybe 2am? I just wanted to die. After taking the deadly cocktail of drugs and alcohol, I wandered outside along an unlit road, lay down, in complete darkness, and passed out. Apparently, my parents would tell me afterwards, Tasch barked like mad to wake up my parents, who didn’t know what was going on, got them out of bed, and led them outside to find me. Of course, they called an ambulance and I was rushed to hospital.
I know losing a dog is nothing compared to losing family or friends to cancer. I know we’ve been lucky to have her this long – at 16 she is well past her best-before. Many people are surprised when we tell them how old she is – she’s still the hyperactive crazy funny dog she’s always been, she just can’t quite hurdle over stiles or run up the sides of mountains like she used to. I’ve known it’s coming for a while. She’s been slowing down, and we knew something wasn’t quite right. And unfortunately, she can’t live forever. But gosh, I’m going to miss her.