Doggy, My Doggy. 


 snow dog

Just over a week ago we had to make the decision to have our pet dog Taz put down. He hadn’t been eating for 3 days and could barely hold his head up. It was terribly sad but also the right thing to do at the time.  I wanted to write a post about him before this but it’s a been busy week with events and family birthdays (life goes on eh?) and I just had to park the emotions to get through. 

I’m a “highly sensitive person” and this combined with the ADHD and autism means that sometimes shelving the majority of my reaction to something and staying “in stasis” with it is the only way to be able to carry on with life or at least participate in life events happening around me until I have an extended moment to give the feelings the time they deserve. It is important to acknowledge the feelings and sit with them for a while to begin to be able to process the loss we feel when we lose anyone we love.    

Taz was a very large pedigree “blue” whippet, top of the litter, he was his mum’s favourite and the only pup she let snuggle in with him. His mum was a model for “Horse and Hounds” magazine and he inherited her good looks. He had a blanket from his mum for years which he adored and used to “bite” (sit with it in his mouth) - (*I know sometimes mouthing behaviour happens when puppies are taken away from their mums too soon but I can assure you he was weaned properly and adopted at post 8 weeks). 


snuggly blankys forevs 💜


What that meant for us is that he often thought he was “top dog” (bless him!) and although we established a new order (oh, god, sounds like something Darth Vader would say!) where we re-established he was bottom of the pack, he always retained this default “I’m more important than you because my mum said so” personality type. So this meant we had to do things like making sure he was last to re-enter the house when we had been out for a walk and making sure we ate before him and not allowing him “up” on the furniture. And we had to do this every day all over again! Some dogs are the kind of dog who when you or other dogs approach them they show their belly to let you know they are submissive and mean no harm or aggression, Taz was not aggressive as such but he would definitely try to stand over and dominate smaller dogs and with bigger dogs he might have a “chin off” (where they try to get their head on top of the other one to show they are in fact in charge ok?!). These were just some of the ways we trained him to fit in with our family of six but another person would have allowed him to eat at the same time, sit on furniture to be more alongside one other and that also would have been fine. The reason why we decided to train him this way is that I thought that I could see that he was anxious and often seemed like he felt like he had to protect us (especially from cats!- see below) or re-establish his dominance in different situations at home. In giving him the cues that he was less important in the pack it meant that he could relax a little and leave the vigilance to the pack leaders- me and his daddy. 




chin off- mummy wins!

I know that this means that in a way there is something lost in the connection- you don’t have the same close relationship as when you are “friends” but it was the right thing to do for Taz within our family. I’m not a dog behaviour expert and can only claim to have been an expert in my own dog’s behaviour to a certain extent- he had all the same issues as other dogs- poor recall etc but we worked hard to make sure he was as well trained as he could be so that he could enjoy his time off the lead and so could we (as well as other dogs and owners). As he got older and turned into an “old dog” you could see his priorities changing, rather than trying to find a dog who could match his pace to chase round, it became more about the sniffing and seeing what everyone was up to and leaving his mark too. Also pooing a lot. If you’ve ever been the owner of a medium large dog you will know they poo a lot. Often 5-9 times on a walk. That’s a lot of poo bags! (And we picked them all up I promise). 

As the person who was home the most I was his practical pack leader, however he was 12.5 when he died and he had “only” been my dog for 11 years- almost to the day- before that he was my husband’s dog and he only really had eyes for Daddy. Whenever we went for a walk if Daddy was trailing behind he would look for him and try to tell you “but why’s my daddy over there? We have to GO TO HIM NOW!” When he was lost on the river for 3 days after my husband’s hit and run (that’s another story I will share another time) many people helped us locate him and when he was found he ran to Daddy so ecstatically- you could see the incredible joy in both their bodies at being reconnected- like coming home for both of them. When he died, he was looking into Daddy’s eyes which was what he wanted, I think. 

Reunited with my daddy after a horrible incident for both for us


My husband was a single parent before he asked me out and that meant he was doing everything with the kids, working and also trying to tire out a very energetic puppy who often needed hours out walking at a time-  but this meant they had an unbreakable bond. Taz was 18 months when we met and still a puppy really, and my gosh he was fast! He once knocked me off my feet flat onto my back coming up behind me at speed- when you’re that fast it it’s hard to know how to stop! So he wasn’t my doggy to start with but then he was and as our family grew we had to establish a new order (*see Darth Vader above) where we could all live together peaceably.  I’m a big believer in the idea that any dog can be trained and any dog can be aggressive for whatever reasons. We tried hard to find Taz’s motivations and use them to make sure he could co-exist within our family and have his needs met. He was not a ball dog, when he was younger he liked squeaky toys (because they are like prey and he was a sighthound) but his main motivations were probably food, walks and blankets- whippets love to be comfy and he definitely loved his snuggly (and stinky) blankets. Even when he was really poorly at the end I could see he wanted to walk but his body wasn’t able. 


need food/ walk/ play/ snacks now

Although Daddy was his main guy for fun I was the person he went to if he was hurt or ill, he’d know I would sort him out and I did. I’d know when there was something wrong with him and I’d try to get to the bottom of it or readjust things to help him but I know he knew I could help him and that trust was a gift. Sometimes he just wanted you to examine his paw and give him a pat and say “you’re alright mate!” And he’d go off happy like “mum says it’s alright so it’s alright”. He had a deadly fear of cats, partly because he grew up with cat who was vicious to him- where as a puppy he wanted to make friends with her, she was just mean and whacked him… and then he had a few unfortunate incidents where a cat jumped out of a hedge and landed on him scrappy as you like which obviously combined…gave him a bit of a cat complex. If he saw a cat while we were out walking he would try to bolt off after it. I worked with him on this a lot when I came on the scene redirecting his attention, using positive reinforcement and rewards so that we took a lot of the anxiety out of the situation for him and he could walk past cats without reacting which was better for him and the unsuspecting cats. 



mummy walks, not as good as daddy's but still good. 

It wasn’t all rosy though- when he was a pup he was so fast we couldn’t always catch him (or even see him) and he had a perfect shaped nose for getting right up runners bums (sorry all runners this happened to at Ashton Court). During his teenage years he would often pee by the front door to try to assert dominance - a point of access to the house and therefore control (we knew he didn’t need a wee because the back door is actually where he was let out for a wee). Once he actually pooed by the door when I was out and I found out by opening the front ON THE POO! That was not fun… Another time he ate a whole plastic bag of chocolate (he was fine, I know chocolate is deadly to dogs but it was low cocoa content chocolate and he never got ill from anything he ate) and my husband had to pull the plastic bag out of his (the dog’s!) arsehole. If we were playing a board game and being noisy he would come and see why we were having fun without him, walk all over the game and plonk down next to the warmest person to be part of the action. His farts were some of the worst things we have ever experienced. 


with my packmates reminding them how important I am- VERY 

He got us out of the house most days for walks when we might not have gone. If you were cooking a roast chicken he always thought it was for him. He had a special spot on his neck that he loved being scratched which would make his back leg go up- and daddy did it best. After me and daddy he loved Izzy most as she would get in his bed with him and snuggle but he loved our whole pack and looked so proud when we were all out on a walk together. He loved Granniii and Grandad in Bognor and the beach. He loved our friend Amy and her husband Steve who often looked after him for us on a “Tazzy Holiday”. He didn’t like people lying on him but he did like lying on you for a bit if you were warm and unmoving, he mostly liked having his own comfy bed to luxuriate in. He wasn’t a noisy dog and unlike some breeds he only wagged his tail when he was happy or was trying to tell you something. He liked standing in patches of sunlight and would come and stare at you from the hallway (in a somewhat creepy/ annoying way!) if you cooked anything meaty (assuming it was meant for him, obviously). He had a look which we called “The Lady Di” where he’d tuck his chin in and stare up at you like “Me? What do you want from me? What’s that? I’m beautiful? Yes I know, you may continue to admire me… but also, go away now, I want to sleep… Unless you’ve got chicken?”. 


All in all, Taz was a wonderful family dog who made our lives better for being in it.  He had a good life, not a bad innings for a medium large dog at 12.5 years and very few injuries and illnesses considering. People who met him often said “Oh, she is beautiful” because he looked so elegant (and also didn’t have any testicles) and he was very used to being admired. I used to sometimes reply he was “beautiful but dim” but that wasn’t true, he was smart, he was loving, he was a good boy and we miss him terribly. 

One day I’ll write about what it’s like to watch your elderly pet die because I think it’s good to share these things so other people don’t feel so alone, we don’t talk about our grief enough. 

Today I just wanted you to know that my doggy is gone and I miss my good boy. 

Sleep tight Tazzy xx

On Bognor beach for my last Christmas 

Leave a comment