by Peggy Ellingson
I still remember the morning of December 30, 1999, reading the "Found" ad in the paper describing a stray female Shih Tzu who was taken to the local shelter four days earlier.
I had moved into my first home in June and couldn't wait to add a dog to my already full home of 4 cats. I had the fenced yard and growing up, we always had multiple pets. I loved dogs, but living in apartments and commuting so far to work, I knew I couldn't give one the perfect home. But now I had that opportunity.
This was one of the breeds I was interested in for no other
reason than the size and they were cute. I called the shelter when they opened and found out she was still unclaimed and would be available after 11:30am.
I informed my boss I needed to take an early lunch and may be a bit longer than usual -- I was adopting a dog. I knew, as I drove to the shelter, she would be coming home with me, no matter what.
When I arrived I was directed to "stray lane" and there, huddled at the back of a huge kennel was a mass of black and white fur. I asked a volunteer if I could take her somewhere a bit quieter.
We were taken to the kitchen/lunch room area. What I had before me was the most matted, tiny, stinky little girl, but all I could see was her beautiful brown eyes and we bonded immediately. This little girl was coming home with me -- my mind was made up. I even had a new name for her -- Taijah.
I completed the necessary paperwork, bought some supplies and we headed to the nearest "beauty parlor" to find out just what was under all that mess. After work, I came back and I picked up the prettiest little Shih Tzu with red bows on her ears and sporting her new collar. She looked like a totally different dog.
One more into the home, then another, along with fosters, Taijah was the mama to every one of them. She lovingly accepted every pup coming into our home and helped them feel welcome with a good ear and face bath, until they were placed with their new families. She stood by my side as the "foster mom" for four years -- welcoming the new ones, always patient with me when things got a bit overwhelming and always on the bed, by my side.
Everyone commented over the years, about her personality, her patience, her perfect-ness, always wanting to know where I got her and asking "how old is she?" Well, a perfect lady never tells her real age, so we always left that to guessing. But I always proudly shared the rest of the story.
Earlier this year, Taijah really wasn't looking or acting like
herself. Tests were run and we tried everything, but there was no change in her health, no matter what we tried. She was only getting worse. She would still greet me at the door, but no squeaky toy was in her mouth.
Then came our last weekend together. I headed off Saturday morning to pick up our newest foster pups and brought them home. When I returned, Taijah welcomed them, but I knew something was not right.
By Monday morning, after I had just spent the early hours
holding her and telling her how much I loved her and to please get better, I knew there was nothing more I could do. With the heaviest heart, I helped her with her journey to the Rainbow Bridge. Our 6 years together were not enough, but no matter how selfish I wanted to be, I couldn't let her continue to suffer. She needed me to allow her to leave.
Within two days, I received an email from our local shelter
about a "nasty Shih Tzu" they knew they couldn't place on the
adoption floor. I replied that I would work on something and be
there to meet her as soon as possible. One way or another, I would help her get out of there, rather than face the alternative.
I got to the shelter after work and met "Minnie" with the
assistance of an employee there. We had an agreement that I could bring her home for assessment, just to get her away from that atmosphere where I knew she was scared beyond belief.
When I spoke to my mom, she asked why I brought her home. I told her that maybe this was something Taijah wanted me to do.
The night went well and I picked up her paperwork the next day to help begin the search for her new family. To my surprise her AKC paperwork was included with everything they gave me.
When I looked at Minnie's date of birth, I was stunned! It read December 26, 1999 -- the EXACT day Taijah was turned into the shelter as a stray!
I had to double check it when I got home, and yes, this was the date. Taijah had her hand in this rescue once again. My sweet baby girl made sure that I helped another girl who so desperately needed a mom to take care of her.
God speed and, baby girl, we will be together again one day.
Please take care of all the pups until I get there. I love you.
-- Peggy Ellingson <Peg4tzus @ msn.com>
Peggy is lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and is involved in
rescue work. She says, "My family consists of two elderly cats,
Ebony and Maxi, along with Dolly, Jazz , Jozey and Minnie (the Shih Tzus) and Meiko, Danji and Kimi (my Japanese Chins) and numerous foster pups along the way, which right now are Artie and Sneakers