In the summer of 1996, I drove to Mountain Home Air Force Base about 45 miles from Boise to look at a litter of Shetland Sheepdog pups. I didn't so much select a puppy as the puppy chose me. I named her Lady Tiko MacTavish. We called her Tiko. She was a bit funny looking, her nose almost as big as the rest of her. Eventually she grew into the nose.
Although her parents were the normal size for shelties, Tiko grew to be much bigger than most shelties. And at her fattest (yes, she got way too fat) she topped 60 pounds. Most people, even vets, thought she was a small collie rather than a sheltie. She had the sweetest nature and was terrified of loud noises. If outside when a thunderstorm rolled in, she would throw herself at the back door, trying desperately to get inside. The 4th of July was a nightmare for her, although she calmed down when she was inside and with me.
When I knew it was time for me to downsize house and yard because it was all too much for me to take care of alone, the hardest part was knowing I would need to find homes for my two bigger dogs (Misty the border collie was Tiko's pal). They weren't young puppies anymore, so finding homes wouldn't be easy. When my daughters stepped forward to say they would each take one of them, it made the decision so much easier. I knew they would be happy and well-cared for in their new homes. Tiko (and Misty) loved to be with kids and adults. Tiko loved to catch the frisbee, and she would follow behind the lawnmower, turning her white paws green in the fresh cut grass. Inside, she wanted to be close to my feet.
Other than grooming, Tiko was a low maintenance pet. She never demanded
anything. She just wanted to be near me and, after she changed homes,
to my daughter. She loved without condition, the very way all of us
want someone to love us.
Earlier this year, it was discovered that Tiko had bladder cancer. Inoperable. Nothing to do for her but watch for signs that she was in pain. I knew this would be hard for my youngest daughter to tell me. But it became obvious a short while ago that the time had come to make the decision. The tumor had grown so large it became hard for her to walk, and when she tried to climb the stairs, she sometimes fell back down.
We went to the vet's on Wednesday morning. My daughter couldn't bear to stay, so I was alone with Tiko to say goodbye and thanks for being such a precious part of my life for so many years and thanks for being a good pal for my grandchildren. I didn't know until I was petting her and loving her that she had begun to develop growths in other places as well. More cancer, and I wondered as I looked into her sad face if her suffering had been far more and far longer than she'd ever let on. I cried and then I cried and then I cried some more.
I like to think that Tiko is in heaven now, chasing rabbits or catching a frisbee, able to jump high as she did when she was younger and healthier. She was a good pal, and I'll miss her.