...by Gail M
There are so many stories about Taz, I could write a book. I made a right turn in a parking lot, rather than my usual left turn, and there was a man with puppies. I intended to drive past, but my truck turned into a parking space. I left with a six-week-old bundle of fur who became my best friend. While a puppy, he loved chasing leaves, and he would watch planes and birds in the sky. However, he did not like helicopters, and when he would hear one he would run to me and hide behind my legs. He was a natural at hide and seek; without training he worked grids until he found an item I had hidden. Taz was a quick learner. He obtained his STAR puppy certification, and later his Canine Good Citizen certification. We had fun with agility. He never met a stranger, whether human or animal. He woke me each day with a wake up lick, a nose nuzzle, and a wildly wagging tail.
On October 3, 2012, I was scheduled to travel to San Diego to attend a conference. Earlier that day I found a lump on Taz's right leg, and I decided I could not leave until I had it checked. I took Taz to a 24/7 vet clinic, and the vet who examined him thought it was a fluid-filled cyst which, when aspirated, would go down. While attempting to aspirate the cyst, the vet said, "I didn't expect this," and I knew it was not going to be good news. He managed to aspirate enough cells to make a slide, and after viewing the slide, he told me the mass needed to be excised. I cancelled my trip, and the next morning took Taz to his regular vet, Dr. Ron Williams at Palmer Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Williams excised the mass and sent it to WSU for evaluation. The pathology report stated the mass was a highgrade soft tissue sarcoma. Dr. Williams consulted with Dr. Janean Fidel at WSU, and after talking with Dr. Williams, I made the decision to take Taz to WSU for evaluation and radiation therapy.
I would like to thank the wonderful people at Washington State University, College of Veterinary Medicine, who treated and cared for Taz during his radiation treatment in November - December 2012. Dr. Rebekah Lewis and her team were outstanding. Because I live in Alaska, I had to leave Taz at the hospital so I could return to work. The daily phone calls reassuring me that Taz was doing well brought comfort and smiles as the students told me the stories of their time with Taz, who made certain they got their daily exercise by playing ball with him. When I returned to get Taz, I heard stories of his greeting the people treating him with a wiggle and wag, even the person who took him each day for his radiation treatment.
Unfortunately, two months after returning from WSU, I found a second mass on Taz’s right leg, which resulted in amputation of his leg. Taz recovered quickly from the surgery, and resumed his life with gusto. He chased squirrels through the woods, jumped over logs, played ball, and retained his living each day to the fullest attitude.
Sadly, Taz died unexpectedly in my arms the morning of June 28, 2013. The necropsy revealed a mass the size of a small hen’s egg in the left ventricle of his heart, which was diagnosed as a sarcoma. Taz was brave throughout his battle, never growling or snapping at anyone, always greeting people with a smile and wagging tail. He taught me that no matter what life throws my way, I should joyously greet each day with a smile and with excited anticipation of what the day will bring.
Thanks to Palmer Veterinary Clinic, and especially to Pat, the receptionist who met me at the clinic before it opened on June 28, which was her day off. She was with me when Taz died, she sat on the floor with me, cried with me, and stayed with me until I finally left. The doctors and staff at Palmer Veterinary Clinic are very special to me and my furry friends. Taz was a happy, playful, loving, and very determined dog to make lemonade out of lemons. I was blessed to have him, though our time together was too short.