We were Tussah's third home that we know of. She lived with us for eight or nine years. She was somewhere between six and eight years old when she came to us.
She had initially been abandoned at a reservoir in North Dakota. From there, someone picked her up and took her to the humane society in our area. She was adopted from there by people who were able to give her a good home as long as they lived in the foothills and let her run. They adopted two human children, moved to town, and didn't have time for the dog, whom they kept closed off in a shed after she'd eaten a deck and some trees. She managed to get out of the shed and to scale six-foot fences, repeatedly, looking for companionship. Their vet finally talked them into allowing her to be re-homed. At the time, we weren't ready for another dog, and several people were anxious to take her on but for one reason or another couldn't right then. We offered to foster her until a home could be found, and put her on the waiting list for a no-kill shelter in the area. The shelter never called. Before long, we wouldn't have let them have her anyway.
She helped write The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook (with Ariel).
She preferred to have company when she ate. Ours.
If we were going somewhere, she wanted to go with. And she was a very good traveler.
Wherever we were, that was home.
Just the right size for a lap dog, but never insistent, always invited.
With my aunt, my mother, Ariel, and me, in Long Beach, Washington.
Picnics were good (again with Ariel).
Or any time we were all together. Which was most of the time.
Especially liked wading: this is Long Beach again.
And a local farm pond. Happy to putz around. Not so eager to actually swim.
Superb at enjoying whatever was happening at the time.
And exceptionally good at basking.
Learned to walk on a leash early on (she didn't have that skill when she came to us) and enjoyed the twice-a-day outings, as well as longer hikes. (Here with Ariel again.)
This was the Ariel Memorial Hike, at Dakota Ridge west of Boulder.
She never met anything on two feet or four whom she didn't think would make a good friend.
But she was not fond of flies.
She always liked learning more about the world around her.
And helping others do the same. At times like this, we would say, "She misses her shed. . . ."
The next photo was taken about fifteen minutes after we'd been introduced to Ceilidh at the meet-and-greet set up by Western Border Collie Rescue. Our primary criterion for a new member of the family: Must Not Harrass Tussah. Ceilidh went home with us, and while she taught Tussah a little bit about how to play, she never harrassed her for one second.
However, they did have different opinions about how much sniffing needed to be done (Tussah = more) and whether it was time to see whatever was next along the trail (Ceilidh = now).
At the top of the mountain.
Helping out at the Puppy Up! walk to raise money for canine/human cancer research. It was a very windy day (with Ceilidh).
Tussah was always willing to share. She knew there was plenty of love to go around. Always.
The only thing she asked was to be able to go with.
Even if it had just snowed a foot or more. This was last Wednesday.
At 2:30 this morning, my daughter woke me, saying Tussah had had another episode, consisting of yipping and slight seizure; she's had maybe a half-dozen of these over the past three months or so, and has had several incidences of canine vestibular syndrome, or CVS, since last September. However, this one was not resolving as quickly as usual, and there were some different symptoms, and she wondered if we should get her to the vet hospital. We've had her to our vet about the episodes, of course. The next step in diagnostics was going to be a cardio/neuro workhop at the vet hospital, and they already had some records on her there from the CVS experiences. While what was going on with Tussah didn't seem severe, we thought it was important to have someone examine her while it was happening. Although the vet hospital operates 24/7, when we got there it oddly appeared not to be open (locked door, no people in evidence, lights very dim), but there are two other 24-hour alternatives available to us, so after a few minutes of trying to figure out how to access the hospital we headed across town to the next-closest option. (Tussah had not been to this second facility, but we'd taken other animals there and had good experiences.)
To make a long story short, ultrasound and needle biopsy showed that Tussah's liver was severely enlarged (indicative of massive tumor) and she had significant amounts of internal abdominal bleeding. It was almost certainly hemangiosarcoma. Even if it wasn't, there was no acceptable treatment route considering her age. We could have brought her home for a few weeks dedicated to pain control. She didn't deserve pain, so we made the decision to spare her an inevitable truckload of it.
Once we got home, I napped a bit, read some about hemangiosarcoma, and am now only more relieved that we were not seriously tempted to take her home to hope for the best. There wasn't any "best." The potential diagnosis also correlates with many of the other symptoms that she's experienced over the past six months or so. The vet and tech at the emergency clinic were fantastic. They took thorough, gentle care of Tussah and gave us clear, even-handed information, and plenty of time, although the decision we needed to make was pretty quickly clear. It was as good as it could get, for something that was so sudden and drastic.
Tussah was the sweetest dog on the planet. We're so fortunate we were able to share a good portion of her life with her.
Tempest's Tussah Redfurr
— thank you for everything, T-bear. You are a treasure.