I went looking for Tanith. OH, I didn't know her name at the time. And I didn't know what she would look like. I didn't know anything except I was looking for a personality suited to my own. I didn't know I would be getting a dog that would change my life.
When I saw her I started to get the feeling. You know, the feeling that says this is the one. I was cautious. I had tiny tingles of that feeling before, and I had been wrong. I asked to see her. This animal control facility had no quiet room, no place to really meet the dog. She had come up to look at me, but had hung back slightly, perhaps having lost hope. She paid little attention to her cage mate. She came out readily, with perhaps a little reserve. I ran my hand under her belly. She did not drop to her belly, she did not turn or pull away. When I petted her she perked up and wagged her tail.
I wanted a dog to train for search and rescue. I understood some of the necessary qualities. I knew I wanted a agile dog, one who was willing to try anything, one who liked people and wanted to please. I got exactly what I was looking for, and that never ceases to amaze me. The only thing I didn't get was to train in search and rescue. I had counted on cooperation from work. Search and rescue requires a huge commitment of time and energy. I would not waste the time of a sponsor if I could not put the required time in.
Tanith is the joy of my life. She is unfailingly happy. She is perky and agile. She follows me from room to room, but lies quietly while I work. Her bursts of energy surprised me. I grew up the German Shepherds. I thought they were active dogs. Tanith gave new meaning to the term "active dog." In the morning she gleefully rolls across the bed, legs waving in the air, tail wagging. She gives gentle kisses, and seems to be saying "Come on, get up, there's life to live."
I have no idea of her ancestry. With a shoulder height of 21 inches I consider her to be my "small dog." Of course most people would consider her a medium to large dog. Her soft short coat sheds mud and dirt easily, which is a good thing because a good mud bath pleases her. Her black floppy ears often flip inside out when she runs. As she matures the large black patches in her white coat have been joined by more and more black flecks. I considered all sorts of dogs for her ancestry. Initially I selected hunting breeds: a setter cross, a pointer cross, a spaniel cross. Then the appearance of those black flecks made me think that perhaps she did have some dalmatian. But lately I have chosen border collie/lab. This suits her personality as well as her conformation.
If I fail to properly exercise her, my house shows the results. Oh, she's outgrown the destructive phase, but she races from one end of the house to another, across the top of the sofa, and the chairs, then perches on the nearest stool. On week-ends I take her for a "3 mile" run in the morning. I walk 3 miles, she runs up and down the hill sides, back and forth along the trail. I'd guess she puts in six or seven miles.
On weekdays Tanith uses a treadmill. This is not something I had to teach her. I showed her once, and then had trouble keeping her off. She waits impatiently for her turn. When I'm about done I give her a count down. When I reach zero I'd better get out of the way. She tosses her head toward the switch when she wants to go faster, or wags her tail when I ask her "faster?" If I stop her too soon she gets disappointed.
Tanith's favorite activity is agility. In this our capabilities differ. She is fast and agile. She readily observes my every movement, and tries to read my body language. Unfortunately for her, my body rarely says the same thing as my mouth, which may be an entirely different thing from what I intended. Tanith has a patience with error that I lack. She forgives my frustration, and tries again, complaining mostly when I make her wait too long.
On May 26, 1996 she made her first qualifying run at an agility trial. This one was a NADAC trial held at the Dixon May Fair (California). Unfortunately on the Gamble I fell just as she properly completed the second of the four gamble obstacles. So of course she came to make sure I was OK and of course I gave her a kiss for that (and I don't know if the judge took off for touching my dog, but I didn't care). And in jumpers she would have had a clear round except that her clumsy handler (me) ran into the barrels of the very first jump, knocking the bar. She's so good natured that I don't think she would throw her hands up in disgust even if she had hands.
ON the other hand she spent the remainder of the week reminding me of exactly how much energy a Border Collie has. I figured she should rest for a day or so after that week-end. She disagreed and kept bouncing around until I finally let her on the treadmill for a twenty minute trot. A lot of work, but so much fun.
On December 13, 2002 Tanith had emergency surgery to remove her spleen. She was later diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma. She made a rapid recovery from the surgery, and showed no effect from her chemotherapy treatments. Her quality of life for at least the three months following surgery has been far better than I had any right to expect. I found a friend's diary of her dog's battle with the same disease very helpful. So I decided to write Tanith's cancer page. On April 8, 2003 Tanith was peacerfully put to sleep. I'll miss her forever.
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Copyright © 1996-2003, Diane Blackman Created: September 21, 1996 Updated November 12, 2007
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