I never set out to have a menagerie of animals, we had one dog growing up and it ended badly; what my parents didn’t spend on neutering him they spent on euthanizing him. My parents made a point of dissuading me any time I mentioned the idea of having a dog of my own. But here we were a house full of dogs, a cat and horses.
It started innocently enough when we got Phantom; he was going to be our outside guard dog for when we moved to the country. He lived outside until he was neutered and somehow in his convalescing he managed to work his way into our bed.
It quickly became apparent that Phantom wanted his own pet to play with so along came Maya. She too found her way into our bed and anything else she wanted.
The cat came because of the mice. The horses came because of the land. Then came little Tashi our Japanese Chin. This thing really, he can’t be called a dog after all the Japanese hung these “dogs” in bird cages for their viewing pleasure. He was a gift from a friend who was thanking me for taking care of her and her animals during her medical problems. I had to think long and hard about accepting this gift but in the end that little monkey found his way into our bed as well. By this point Zaia made the declaration “No more dogs!”, all the while falling hopelessly in love with our latest little bundle of joy.
By now you must realize that we have a king-size bed that the animals, two Great Pyrenees, a rather large cat and little Tashi, graciously allow us to sleep in. The horses would be there too if we opened the door.
Then we lost Phantom to cancer and Maya was so bereft that she barely ate or drank for weeks afterwards so we had to get her a replacement bodyguard, along came Claude. He was a four year old stud male who had a terrible episode while at a dog show in Saskatchewan. He had gotten lose from the grooming table and found an open door. He was on the lamb for three days being chased by men wanting to get the reward money that had been offered for his safe return. This left him unable to be around men and never able to return to the show ring.
We brought him out to our place to see if Maya and he got along, it was love at first sight for Maya and so Claude joined the family. It took him a month to get close to Zaia, he took to me immediately. Claude did not get bed privileges until a few years later because he had a very bad habit of peeing anytime he got stressed, which was often and nothing was going to be done to change that until he got calmer.
Years later our little Miss Maya died, the same way she lived, on her own terms not letting us know there was even anything wrong with her. The only indication I had was that she came in her last night panting, which I put down to the vigorous playtime that she had just enjoyed with Claude. We spent an hour in bed together, me massaging her when she settled down and left the bed. She curled up against the door and took what I heard to be a heavy sigh, apparently her last. I awoke the next morning to find her long since dead. I thanked her for not making me have to decide this for her; the pain of her passing was still very deep.
Claude had never known a life without a fellow dog in it so he too needed a new companion sooner than later and so arrived Jasmine. She was my Valentine’s gift, a beautiful little puppy that came by plane to join us. The moment she stepped out of her kennel she kissed me and then Zaia and the rest is history.
Jasmine and Claude bonded immediately but these two were to spend their nights in their beautiful dog room just outside of our bedroom. A year later Claude had an episode where he nearly died from causes that we couldn’t determine which got me thinking that instead of reacting to his death I would be proactive and get his replacement in place ahead of time. Factoring in that I would want a puppy and I didn’t want to wait for Jasmine to get too much older we arranged for Jasmine’s full sister from the next litter to join us.
We had arranged to pick her up from the breeder in BC over Christmas but life had other plans for us. Zaia’s Mother took a turn for the worse in her final stages of the Alzheimer she had been suffering from for the past many years and she passed away days before Christmas. So instead we arranged to meet Jade in Kamloops and drive her back from there, which we did. It turned out to be a very positive thing to do after the extreme emotional rollercoaster we had been on the previous weeks. The drive allowed Zaia to breathe and process his Mother’s death and steel himself up for what lay ahead in arranging her funeral and the consequences to his brothers and sister.
Jade was also a great respite for the family that came and went during the next weeks. It’s funny that her name is of a rock and Jasmine’s is of a flower because it actually suited their personalities to a tee. Jade is our solid guardian and her sister Jasmine is a delicate flower. Jade joined the others in their now new Chateau Pyrenees, as it was way too good to be called a doghouse.
Tashi had become profoundly deaf when he was six months old. This caused him to become quite a bundle of nerves and as he was so little he needed all of our love and attention. His brother suffered the same fate but he had a whole gaggle of Chins to cue off so he wasn’t nervous at all. I knew that what Tashi needed was his own hearing aide in the form of another dog! So over the years I looked for that companion to no avail. Tashi really didn’t like other Chins and there we really very few choices in dogs that would match his size so as not to overwhelm him. I happened to be reading a list of dog breeds when I came across the name Coton de Tulear. I had never heard of this breed before so I looked it up and found it was a small breed dog.
It was described as being the anti-depression dog and they need say no more so I set about locating a breeder. There was one in Calgary that was not yet ready to begin her breeding program but who generously took the time to bring over one of her females to come see how Tashi responded. It was amazing; he just loved this little ball of fur. I had never seen him play this happily since he was a few weeks old. It was decided, Tashi was getting a Coton, ok we were paying but it was for him.
You can imagine how Zaia’s eyes were rolling in the back of his head reminding me of his dictate from years ago, no more dogs! But he knew better than to believe that this wasn’t going to happen. The breeder here in Calgary put me onto the breeder in Quebec whom she had bought a couple of her dogs from. I contacted them and a few months later we set off to Montreal to get her. She was too small to put on such a long plane ride and this gave us the opportunity to visit Quebec City while we were out east, for this I would get on another plane.
If you ever have the idea to bring some contraband onto a plane, I suggest you hide it in the back of a dog carrier with a cute little puppy as decoy. When we went through security at the airport in Montreal all of the staff spent their entire time kissing and cuddling with our adorable little Mishou. These big burly security guys came over on their break while we were waiting for our flight and just gushed over her. So we welcomed another little being into our bed and into our hearts.
The cat has made it abundantly clear that he had already experienced a multi-cat household and he wasn’t going there again, phew, no more cats!
P.S. Yesterday our little Tashi left us after a six-month battle with heart disease. His replacement Casper, has been with us for two months already which was really a blessing for us and Mishou. These lives lost isn’t getting any easier but I wouldn’t trade their joy for anything. RIP my beloved little boo.