Guilt is a powerful thing.

I feel bad that I am more torn up over Tasha’s death than Pepper’s. Is that because I had time to prepare for Pepper’s death because I knew it was coming? Is it because I wasn’t living with her for the 6 months prior to her death? Or is it because I loved Tasha more?  I honestly don’t know.  But I feel guilty that I miss Tasha more than I do Pepper.

I feel guilty because in the last few weeks of Tasha’s life, I quit doing the training I used to commit to once a week with her. We never finished her handstand trick and that is because life got busy and complicated with Tobi around.

I am thankful that I took her hiking with us and to Three Pools with my sisters. I am thankful that I got to sit next to her in the van even though she was wet and pet her the whole way home.

I am thankful that she and I finished out her Level 2 title in CPE (Canine Performance Events). I am thankful that I spent that day with her and only her.

I am thankful that I held her on the way to Portland for her final night on this Earth and didn’t just put her in a crate.

She was my young, healthy dog. She was the dog I wanted to do Rally with and I was finally at a point where I was going to have the money to afford lessons and classes with her.  But it never happened.

I am thankful that over the past two years I focused more on her and her tricks and because of that our bond grew.  If our bond was at 40%, it was at 100% when she died and that was the growth in the last two years alone.

Isn’t it funny how the words “if I only knew then, what I know now” ring so true. Had I known how much our bond would grow, I might have spent more time with her.  My focus had been agility, agility, agility. She told me she didn’t care for competitions and I let her slip onto the sidelines while I focused more on Kota.  I wish I had spent more time trying to figure out what she liked to do instead of just letting her coast along in the shadows.

I know I can’t fix any of that now. I know that I can’t change the past and that regrets need to be released.  I hope that I can do that after getting all this down.  I miss her so much. She was the noisy one when we got home. I miss her yelps and squeals and yips of excitement. Her enthusiasm was so great and the house is so very quiet without her in it.

I am going to create a post just about her and her life without the sadness, the guilt and the regrets. That is what this post is for.  Also to chronicle her last day.

We got home from work on Thursday night just like usual. She was so excited to see us as she usually is. She would squeal and yip all the way through the house, dancing in front of us as we walked to the back of the house to let them out.  That Thursday she slipped on the kitchen floor, which has happened before. She just got so excited and would dance on her hind legs and the tile can be slippery which is why we have rugs all through our house.

We let them out and shut the back door while we dealt with the produce from our produce box. I remember looking out the window over the kitchen sink as I cleaned veggies and watching her as she lay in the grass, giving little protest barks that they had been locked outside.

We got the veggies put away and let them back inside while we fixed dinner.  She walked in kind of slow and I thought maybe she was feeling ill and might vomit. I encouraged her to go back outside in case she did and all she did was lay down in the grass.  I was concerned because that was unusual for her.  I turned to go back inside to help fix leftovers and she came inside and laid down under the table.  I sat down to eat my taco and she wouldn’t move. Even with my feet right next to her, she would normally get up and move. I finally had to make her move so I could sit down and eat.  She slowly got up, turned around and laid back down in front of Kris’ chair. I got up to make a second taco and told Kris I was worried about her. I noticed she was laying kind of odd, she would follow me with her eyes but didn’t move any part of her body.  When Kris got up to make his taco I noticed she had pooped where she lay.

That’s when we knew it was serious. We quickly put stuff back into the fridge and gathered up stuff to go to the Emergency vet.  Kris couldn’t get her to budge from under the table. She wouldn’t even move her head.  He had to slide her out from under the table in order to pick her up.

We got in the van and drove to the E-vet. We told them she just got really weak and wouldn’t move. They put us in a room and the looks on their faces were not good.  The technician came in and took vitals, asked a few questions and then left. The vet came in moments later and checked her over too. The vet did not have a good look on her face.

She told us that she suspected Tasha had internal bleeding because they could not find a pulse and could not hear her heartbeat. She said they wanted to run tests and I just nodded, yes, do that. Do what you need to do.  They took her to the back and we stayed in the room.

A few minutes later the vet came back and said that she was indeed bleeding into her abdominal cavity because an aspiration came back with blood.  She said that the most common cause was a spleenic tumor. Hemangiosarcoma typically.  Cancer.

They began IV fluids for her and we went back to see her.  They wanted to run some blood tests to rule out anything else. Kris went home to feed the other three dogs (remember we had Tobi at the time) and I stayed while they ran more tests.

She perked up with the fluids and whined at us while we talked with the vet. Our options were limited. Surgery to see if we can stop the bleeding. Or euthanasia.  I couldn’t bear the thought of losing her so suddenly so we decided to try surgery at DoveLewis Emergency center in Portland.

So after some more fluids we took her up there and I held her on my lap the whole way while Kris drove.  They were waiting for us and took her back. The vet up there gave us a lower chance of being able to fix this but we felt like we had to try. To make sure that it was cancer and that it wasn’t fixable.  We got to see her right before they took her in for surgery. She was walking and wanted to leave with us.  I told her we’d see her on the other side.  I knew that it might not be this side of life but I held out hope.

We tried to find a hotel but everything in a 10 mile radius was full up so we decided to drive home, get a few hours sleep and head back first thing in the morning. On the way we discussed what we would do depending on what they found.  We knew that if it had already spread that there was nothing we could do and that we would have them let her go without waking her up. But we held out hope.

We got the call half way home.  There was a mass on her spleen and on her liver. The liver mass was the one bleeding and they could not get it to stop.  They could not remove it either.  So they could have tried to stitch it closed, but it most likely would not work and that would give us a day or two.  I immediately started crying and Kris pulled over onto the shoulder of the road.

I told them to let her go.  From the car. Half way home.  At 12:30am on July 26th.  And that is my final regret. That we didn’t just stick out another half hour to be able to go in and say goodbye.  I know she would not have known we were there but I would have and I’m the one feeling the pain right now.

And with that she was gone.

I have been wanting to write this for a while and I hope this relieves some of my pain. Our final act will be spreading her ashes out at Henline Falls. I might save some of them to also spread at Griffy Lake back in Bloomington, IN. That was one of our favorite places to go and one she had been to many, many times.  It seems fitting to spread her spirit in those two places.

Tomorrow I will write about her life. Tomorrow I will celebrate who she was and what she meant to me.  Tonight, I try to heal.

Rest easy sweet, pretty Tasha.  You are deeply missed.