Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Mutt: Remembering Tessa

When I was a little girl I had asthma. I was allergic to dogs, cats, horses—everything I loved, really. We had to give away my cockapoo, Bogie, and a regimen of shots, pills, and medicine began. My mother read somewhere that Chihuahuas were hypoallergenic, and not too long afterwards we got a little brindle Chihuahua named Putt. This began a long line of Chihuahuas in my family, and to this day, my mother and stepdad have kept with this breed.

My dad’s side of the family careened through a whole host of breeds, as well: Dobermans, German shepherds, Irish setters, and pugs. Now, I have two purebreds (a greyhound and an Italian greyhound, albeit both were rescued), but the best dog I ever had was a little mutt named Tessa.

Tessa (originally named “Duchess” but I chose to rename her after Tess of Tess of the D’Urbervilles) came to me through a rescue in Locust Grove, Virginia. She had been found at a dumpster site, (whether she was “dumped” or simply wandered there looking for food is unknown) and taken to an animal shelter. The rescue pulled her from the high-kill shelter and put her into a foster home, and several weeks later I drove to Fredericksburg, Virginia to pick her up.

Tessa didn’t show a lot of interest in me at first, and she cried all the way back to Centreville, where I lived at the time. Once home, however, and much to mine and my roommate’s surprise, she jumped right up onto the couch like she had always lived with us. That night she snuggled up to me in bed, and we were fast friends forever after (even after finding out the next day she had both fleas and worms).

Despite her nefarious past, Tessa was a happy-go-lucky girl. She loved every person she came across, although she could be a little scrapper when it came to other dogs. A natural-born scout and hunter, she used to tear across our yard in pursuit of squirrels. She was extremely attached to me, and nearly panicked if I took her into an unfamiliar place and she couldn’t see me. I never worried about her running off, as she kept me in her sight at all times.

As far as we could tell, she was a mixture between a dachshund, beagle, terrier, and Chihuahua. When she was approximately four years old, she was diagnosed with IVDD (in vertebral disk disease), a common dachshund malady which makes them much more susceptible to ruptured disks. Tessa underwent back surgery and all sorts of therapy and lived many more years. What took our little girl was not IVDD, but lymphoma. Last year her energy declined and her eating stopped. I could tell her glands were swollen, and I feared the diagnosis they eventually gave us. The cancer had already spread, and we chose not to put a twelve-year-old (at least) dog through chemotherapy. We treated with steroids for a while, and she did improve and lived relatively comfortably for two more months. We lost her in November, just a day after the birthdate I had given her eleven years prior.   

Tessa will always be special to me (my heart-dog) as we shared so many years together—just the two of us. She was compassionate, adoring, and intensely loyal and there is a terrible hole in our lives now as we continue to mourn her loss.

Mutts rule.


  1. Awwww...it's tough when you don't get a full 15 years. My first dog, Ruben, died at 10. It's just so painful, but toward the end, when they're in pain, you want to do anything you can to take that pain away. I believe each of our dogs touches us and brings us so much happiness while they're here. As tough as it is to lose one, it's important to know we gave them great lives while they were here, as well.

  2. Awww ... Tessa is just so sweet looking in the picture. I found a picture recently of Tabby sitting on your couch with Tessa! (Maybe 2004?) I agree - mutts rule! We have 4 here to show we really do believe that. :)

  3. Megan, that was really nicely written. We do love our doggies, don't we. On a side note, I grew up with a bird named Bogie too!! Happy Spring Break! See you next week!