This week, my sister and her family had a bit of a scare. They’re fifteen year old beagle mix, Tasslehoff Burrfoot (Tas for short), had a bit of a medical scare. They took her to the vet, expecting the worst. Fortunately, the vet gave Tas a happy diagnosis and a promising prognosis. So everyone’s relieved to know that we have at least a little longer to enjoy her company, at least when she’s not too busy sleeping.
When Stephanie first gave everyone the initial news, I began to think about what I wanted to say about Tas. I wanted to give her something of a tribute like I did with Saddle when I heard he had passed. So having thought about it, I’ve decided that even though it looks like Tas is going to be with us for a while longer, I figured I’d go ahead and offer my tribute anyway. After all, why wait until a loved one is gone before expressing how much we love and value them?
For those who may be wondering, Tas’s comes from a character in the Dragonlance Chronicals by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. My brother-in-law, Bill, was a huge fan of the whole Dragonlance series at the time he and Stephanie took Tas into their homes as a little puppy. Bill decided the name fit Tas as she was always friendly and high-spirited. And of course, the day that Tas was sleeping on Bill’s lap and he suddenly realized she had somehow managed to snake her front paw into the pocket of his jeans just cinched the whole deal.
When I thik of Tas, I most often think of her younger years, before she started facing the health issues of getting older. I remember the highly energetic pup who loved to be chased through Bill and Stephanie’s apartment in Rome, NY. I still laugh when I think of how she would run up the couch at an angle, shift her body just enough to push off the wall behind the couch with her legs — I always joked that her legs were longer than the average beagle’s legs so they could fit the springs inside them — and run back down the couch on a new trajectory. I also remember the day that I had to stop in total amazement as I watched her leap from a total stopped position over the back of the couch (it had been moved so it was in the middle of the room rather than against a wall) and landed on the seat cushion. I never understood how such a small dog could clear that height from a velocity of zero.
The other great thing about Tas was that as Bill and Stephanie began to have kids, she proved to be one of the best family dogs I’ve ever seen. She was quite protective and nurturing of each as the kids when they were born, often expressing distress if the adults around allowed one of them to cry or fuss for to long. (To Tas, thirty seconds often seemed to qualify as too long.) And then there was the day my sister and I watched as Tas managed to retrieve her paw from my then-infant nephew’s death-grip simply by licking his hand until he let go.
The years have worn on Tas. She’s not quite as energetic as she used to be, though the last time I saw her I still saw the occasional glimmer of that old fire in her eyes. She’s taken more to sleeping and her days of flying around the house or chasing rabbits in the yard are mostly to a close. But she’s still a sweet old girl and everyone who has known her can attest that she’s probably one of the best furry family members anyone could ever ask for. And I’m thankful we all have a little more time to spend with her.