We had to put our dog Tia down last Wednesday. Tia and her brother Ali came to us back in 2004, when Number Two Son Nathan called from Logan Airport and asked for a ride. “Take the shuttle,” we said. “Well,” he said, “I’ve got a present for you. It’s a puppy. Actually, it’s two puppies. And they screamed all the way from Newark.” We picked him up.
Nathan and some college friends had taken a spring break in Baja, Mexico. There they encountered a street dog with a litter of new puppies. A kid claimed they were his, and said he’d sell them for $5 apiece. Nathan took two. He stopped at a vet on the way home and got some treatment, then managed to smuggle the pups across the border and drive to Phoenix. At the airport, the attendant said, “You can take only one animal on the plane, not two.” The puppies were cuddled up together in a basket, so Nathan offered, “Hey, they look like just one!” Nathan can be very convincing, so on they went. I think they slept on the first leg to Newark, but from there to Boston caterwauled for the benefit of all the passengers.
We were at first somewhat appalled at having two new dogs. We had two older ones, Rikki, a half-lab, and her well-mixed daughter Sophie; they tolerated the pups, and even mothered them. I can remember one time when they were wrestling in the dog yard, and Tia managed to get her lower jaw caught under Ali’s collar, choking him. Sophie started barking in an alarming way; fortunately I was home, and was able to get the collar off, and Ali was able to start breathing again.
Tia was a sweet, friendly dog, and I think we gave her (and her brother, who’s still with us) a much better life than they would have had on the streets of Baja. In 2012 Tia tore the tendon in her right hind leg on Thanksgiving Day.
We got the leg repaired at the Foster Hospital, part of Tufts Veterinary School, and helped Tia through a long convalescence in a pen we put in the living room. She regained full use of the leg, and all was well until last fall, when she developed a limp. Turns out it was osteo-sarcoma in the left front leg. There is no cure, as the cancer cells eventually end up in the lungs. The only treatments are palliative: amputate the leg, or treat it with radiation. We elected radiation, and that helped. Tia limped, but was pretty mobile, and able to get out to the park with us now and then.
But a month or so ago, the leg swelled, and she was clearly having more pain. After one more radiation treatment, the oncology vet said it would not avail her any further. Finally, when she could barely get herself up on the remaining three good legs, and when she started moaning at night, we decided it was time to spare her further pain.
Rikki and Sophie died a few years ago, but Ali is still with us. Whether he misses his sister I cannot tell. But we do.
The two puppies are up top; here’s one of Tia this winter:
* Written by Clyde J. (“Red”) Foley and Arthur Willis