Sunday, 30 September 2012

REWIND: Doggie Tails Part 2: TARA




Originally posted on Y360 14th November 2006

Reposted on Multiply 23rd February 2008
This is the second of my doggie tales, relating the story of three wonderful canines who shared my life back in Birmingham in the Eighties. I told you in a recent blog about the crossbreed collie BEN. In this post I will tell you the story of the older of the two Afghan hounds I owned at the same time. Her full kennel-club registered name was Wilicot Tara. But to us she was just plain Tara. That's her in the photo.

I said in my blog about Ben  that all three of the dogs were rescue cases. While I knew in advance that was the case with both Ben and Saga (I am saving Saga til last, as there are a lot more tales to tell about her than the other two), with Tara I did not know I was getting a rescue case in the true sense of the term until she arrived. A friend had said that a couple she knew were splitting up. They had an Afghan puppy which neither of them could keep in the accommodation they were moving into. They were considering having it put to sleep. Now, although me and Vicky (I was married at the time) had said previously that two large dogs were more than enough for the smallish house we lived in, neither of us liked the idea of a puppy being put to sleep just because the owners were separating. So, we agreed to take it in. I thought it strange that the owners would not bring the pup directly to our house, they insisted on leaving it with our friend, who would then bring it to our house.  When she arrived, from a distance, it certainly looked like a puppy, if a little on the tall side. That's not unusual for Afghans, they grow out of the puppy stage much later than other breeds. But I thought it walked a little stiffly for a pup. When she came into the house, it became obvious this wasn't a puppy. It was actually an old dog, she had a grey muzzle. It also explained the rather stiff walk. The main reason she looked like a puppy was the lack of the full, flowing Afghan coat. It was short, like a pup's.  Now, Afghans need a LOT of grooming to keep their coats healthy. It's my guess that the previous owners had neglected grooming totally. It had probably become a giant tangled knot, so they cut it all off. It wasn't difficult to work this out, the evidence was there to see. When I examined her, I discovered her body had numerous cuts and scratches on it where they had cut the coat too close to the skin. Some of them were quite deep. It must have been really painful for her.  She was also a bag of nerves at first, although it was sometimes difficult to work out if the shivering was from fright, or from cold due to lack of full coat.  To keep her warm, I dug out an old green coat, with detachable arms. She used to wear it all the time during the first winter, while her natural coat grew back. Unfortunately, I have no photo of her in it.

Once she had gotten used to being with us and the other two dogs, she quickly established herself as the matriarch. Although in a real fight she'd have had no chance against the other two, there was a kind of respectful bond that developed between them, the younger two always backed down to her. You may remember in Ben's blog, me telling of the wrestling matches he and Saga would have. Tara would lie on one of the sofas and take a quick bite as they went past. She would also try to tell them off, but being old, she was losing her voice, so it came out more a croak than a bark, but the spirit was willing. LOL.

Although old, Tara was still typically Afghan in nature. As a breed they are notoriously difficult to train to walk off a lead. I had to always be really careful opening doors or gates, in case either of the Afghans escaped. The reason being that Afghans are FAST. They are basically greyhounds with a winter coat!! Well, on one occasion I had opened the front door of the house, and then gotten distracted, not realising Tara was right behind me. Sensing this was her opportunity, she legged it off down the street. She had obviously forgotten her age and due to slightly arthritic knees top speed was barely more than human walking pace. I didn't have to run far. After 50 meters I caught up with her. She was sitting on the sidewalk, calmly looking at me. I swear the look in her eyes said "Ok, I proved I can still  do it. Can you carry me home now please?"

32 comments:

  1. OMG!! poor Tara!! Being neglected like that and then shaved to the point that her skin was cut. She was very lucky to have found you...

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    1. Neglect by omission is still mistreatment in my book, and I hate people who can do that to any animal. Tara was a real character and thankfully it didn't take long for her to settle in.

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  2. What a wonderful thing you did in taking her in. Making her golden years so safe and happy must have meant so much to her heart and spirit. Bless you.

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    1. Thanks Gayle. I think she was really happy to live with us :-))

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  3. oh wow, I have not seen an Afghan in YEARS, I used to call them pyjama dogs when I was little : ) what a lovely blog and I am so glad that like I you rescue dogs

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    1. LOL. I can see why you would call them that. I can't bear the thought of a dog being euthanised just because they are an 'inconvenience'.

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  4. Poor in her former times... lucky on her last years of life...

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  5. this totally broke my heart and made me happy...am so glad you guys took her in ! how could they even think of killing her....

    i have a golden retriever called juno...one day i must tell you what all she makes me do..lol

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    1. Hi Sonny. It's beyond my comprehension why anyone would contemplate euthanising a dog just because it's 'convenient'. There are so many shelters these days who will take and re-home them that it shouldn't even be considered as an option. I'd love to hear about Juno.

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  6. I smile thinking of her in the green coat. You were so kind to take her in.

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    1. Thanks Benni. I wish I had a photo of her in her coat, she looked really cute.

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  7. A wonderful retelling Mate great to read;)

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  8. That was so interesting, after getting over the shock of her previous treatment was glad to see she got her right place in doggy society at your home. We have a family in our village. I think they breed Afghans, or perhaps have them for other reasons (shows or film?). We often see them going for walks with their three Afghans. Lovely dogs, I would be partial to one of those, but I have three felines that would not be so keen.

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    1. Yes, it was surprising how she established herself as matriarch without any fights. The other two just seemed to accept her as such. Yes, it might not be a good idea to get an Afghan while you still have your feline trio!! They may look beautiful, but they are a stubborn and wilful breed, notoriously difficult to train (this may account for why so many are mistreated). You need lots of patience and understanding.

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  9. Omg I'm so glad you were able to take her in. It's interesting to hear about her being the matriarch and yet not having physical strength. Great write!!

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    1. Thanks Marci. There's no way I was going to allow her to be euthanised.

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  10. She's a beauty! I can see now why you were so willing to take Ginger when we wanted to get rid of her. She still doesn't get as much attention as I'd like her to, but she is downright spoiled otherwise.

    Min-pins are the same about getting out. If she sees an opening, she's gone for a while and every passing car scares me silly, since she will run right out in front of them. She actually is half greyhound and takes forever to wear out. She's even stayed out overnight before because she wasn't done running yet. There's no catching her until she's done running.

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    1. Hi Liz. Yes, that's just like an afghan. You'll see in the third and final part of this series that the younger afghan, Saga, escaped and took some catching!! She had absolutely no road-sense.

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  11. Oh what a wonderful TAIL Mitch...loving reading your older blogs, we werent friends then so they are all new to me xx

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    1. yes me too, Mitch, getting to know more about you is a treat !!!

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    2. Thanks Heather. There are still more to come :-))

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  12. This made my eyes sting as I began reading and must admit I still feel like crying at the thought of any animal being mistreated. Thank heavens for your kind and loving heart. It is nice to know she was happy with you until the end. How we still miss them even so.

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    1. Thanks Shayna. Yes, I still miss all of them, even though they have been gone many years now.

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  13. things like that still make me so cross and upset, I did a lot of work for an animal charity a while back and I've lost count o the number of long haired Persian type cats I took to get shaved. It's a blessing you didn't see the coat as it was, its an awful sight and if that dog had been taken to a vets to get the matted coat cut off properly the vet would have anesthetized her before shaving her.
    She's fortunate she ended up with you, she sounds like a grand old lady, bet you miss your family of dogs sometimes.

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    1. Thanks Loretta. Yes, I get angry seeing animals treated in that way. It's no wonder the (previous) owners wouldn't bring her round to my house themselves. She really was a grand old lady, and yes I miss them all very much.

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  14. I love rescue tails involving seniors. What lovely memories she must have given you. She is so pretty!!

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    1. Yes, she was a wonderful dog. I thought of her as the 'grand old lady' of the group.

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