Tale of Tails – Tally Part 2

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Tally, recovering from mange.

Tally, recovering from mange.

I landed in Puerto Vallarta on a sunny warm Sunday afternoon at the end of March. The Vet there had nursed Tally back to health, she had all her shots and was ready to leave, ready to fly to her new home in Bethesda, MD. I had with me a sturdy “airline approved” hard plastic crate and padded bed, a sturdy collar and leash, a small bag of organic dog food, and some tasty organic treats.  The plan was that I would pick her up at the Vet’s office, who had so kindly agreed to open on a Sunday just for me to get her. From there we would spend the rest of the day back at the hotel where I found her and catch our flight home the next morning.  To say I was simultaneously nervous and excited would be a huge understatement.

It had been almost a month since Alfredo brought Tally to the Veterinarian. After his initial diagnosis of mange, the Vet assured us that with some nourishing medicated baths, all of her shots and some good nutrition, she would be just fine. Tally would be ready to go in 3 weeks. In that time I had determined the easiest route to get her was for me to fly back and pick her up at the Vet. I would leave on a Sunday morning and catch the return Delta flight through Atlanta the next morning. The hotel was saving a room for Tally and me. Seemed easy enough. I booked the reservation.

I heard her howling as we pulled up to the Vets office on that sunny warm Sunday morning. My 6 am flight out of DC to Atlanta was cancelled, meaning I would miss my connection to Puerto Vallarta in Atlanta. As I dragged an empty dog crate around National airport with me, I quickly dialed and re-booked myself on the next quickest flight out, just an hour later, leaving me only 30 minutes to change planes, but it was my only hope. I booked it and got on board heart racing. We landed in Atlanta and thankfully, the gate to Puerto Vallarta was just next-door. I relaxed some … and eased onto my seat and sat back into the Mexican sunset.

The cab driver was waiting for me at the airport and drove me to the Vet’s office to pick up Tally. As I peered in the window I could see her in her cage, alongside a Weimaraner.  Another sign I thought – because Tally was coming home to live with our other dog Taj – a Weimaraner. I’m convinced she recognized me immediately and as they let her out of the crate she bounded over to me, falling into my chest howling and barking with joy. She looked amazing, the sores had healed and although she had little hair on her head and neck, I could see it starting to grow back. I could feel her healthy spirit. Tally was indeed very much alive and well.

I snapped on the collar and leash. She easily hopped into the crate in the back of the taxicab and off we went to the hotel, about an hour away. As I sat in the back seat and peered into the crate at Tally, I let out a long deep sigh of relief. I had her, she was here with me now, and we would be home in 24 hours. I thought about Alfredo. He is the one who really rescued her, and how indebted I was to him. He had driven to visit Tally numerous times over the past three weeks – over a 2 hour round trip drive for him. I was touched by his kindness and compassion, and how giving of his time he was.

Alfredo

Alfredo

Alfredo greeted us with open arms as we arrived and settled in at the hotel. It was so good to sit with him and Tally, and recount the past few weeks and all that happened. It was such a joyous reunion for all of us, much laughter and for me, gratitude. I will be forever grateful for all Alfredo did to rescue Tally.

As we settled in for a restful afternoon at the hotel, Tally instinctively knew she was back to the only home she had ever known and she was itching to get to the beach, to run free and kick her feet up in the warm white sand, to chase the speedy sand crabs and beach birds and to visit her old haunts, the places where she lived before I met her.

As we ambled down the stones steps from the hotel, through the old hand carved wood door that led to the beach, Tally hit the sand and went off running. Spinning, jumping and tossing herself with joy at being home. And that’s when it really hit me. I had no idea where she actually “lived” on this beach or in this neighborhood for that matter, and she could easily run away from me and disappear. I panicked at the thought of this and quickly went over to Tally and clipped the leash on her. Better safe than sorry I thought.

And it was as if I had leashed her in 50 lb chains. She flipped out, spinning somersaults in the air, yelping and howling in distress, pulling and yanking in every direction. It was as though she sensed my fear and it traveled right from my arm down into the leash and into her. I felt embarrassed and ridiculous. Here I was on a beautiful sandy beach in Mexico, where dogs and people roam and mingle freely, attempting to restrain a little balding black dog on a leash and she was miserable. People were staring. I could see the confusion and frustration in Tally’s eyes. She didn’t get why she was so close to freedom, to being able to explore and run free and it was snatched away by a piece of cloth attached at her neck. She was broiling up now ….

Time to head back to the hotel I thought. Maybe we ought to just relax in our hotel room for a bit, take a nap, and gather our thoughts. As we entered my room, it was a though Tally had become a mad dog. She ran circles in the room – up and over the bed, round and round in circles, barking, panting, and howling. She felt like a caged animal and I was starting to feel like maybe I was making a huge mistake. I started crying.

She wouldn’t take any dog treats I brought for her. They were hard and she had never eaten anything hard like this so she didn’t know to bite through it. She just spit it out. I gave her a bowl of food, but we had the same problem. She didn’t know how to chew hard kibble and just licked and pawed at it.

We played with some of the toys I brought for her, but mostly she just wanted to get out of there. Finally, I put her in the crate to try and help calm her down. She had been in a crate at the Vets office for 3 weeks now, so it wasn’t like she wasn’t used to them, but she did not want to be in this crate. She flipped out –flailing herself against the plastic walls, scratching at the bed and sides and howling almost to the point of screaming. Tears ran down my face as I sat at the edge of the bed trying to calm her down.

I laid back on the bed trying to figure out what to do. My mind was starting to play tricks on me. Maybe it was better that she stays here. It is a beautiful place after all – a dead end beach road. I could have a dog house built for her just outside the hotel door, Alfredo and the hotel staff could give her food and water each day and she could come and go as she pleased. No, that was ridiculous. I flew all this way to bring her home with me, and that was that. But then … maybe it was better she stay here. Maybe I could find someone nearby to take her in.

I had worked myself up into quite an emotional state of distress and was not thinking clearly at all. I called my husband and we talked for almost 2 hours. He tried to calm me down but I had worked myself into a state of complete confusion. Leave her here, bring her home ?

After some time I figured it was best to just go to sleep for the evening, and in the morning, Ill go down to the beach with Tally, and I’ll let her decide. Just me and Tally, and together we will decide what to do. Now, I was too exhausted to do much else. Tally finally settled down in her crate and curled into a tight little ball of black fur, and we both slept until just after the sun came up.

Tally and I awoke to a beautiful sunrise. She finally got the hang of eating the hard kibble, softened some by adding warm water. She gobbled up her breakfast as if she had never eaten in her life, and off we went for the beach.  No one was up yet, so we had the entire hotel to ourselves.

My plan was to walk down to the beach and just let her go free. I would walk up and down the beach and if she stayed with me, then she would come home with me. And if she ran off, well then that was her decision. I wanted her to decide.

It was early still and as far as I could see in either direction, Tally and I were alone. Just her and me. I clicked off the leash. For a while she stayed near me, within my sight, but eventually she ran off up ahead up, up and over the dune and disappeared. I walked on, looking for her all around but she was out of sight. The tears built up and slowly rolled down my cheeks. I walked to the end of the beach, maybe a ½ mile or so, and turned around to head back towards the hotel. Sobbing at this point.

My eyes searched the dune line and 5 minutes went by, then another 5 minutes and I was still alone. No Tally in sight. I was really crying now. So sad that she had left me, how could she. I was here to help her. And it was then that I spotted her, way up ahead in the distance. She was running towards me, just a little black speck of a thing. But then she stopped and we just stood there, looking at one another. She started towards me again and then stopped. She was still very far away but my heart skipped a beat in relief. It was decision time Tally. What are you going to do ?

Tally, mange clearing up!

Tally, mange clearing up!

And she turned and headed in the opposite direction back up and over the dune. Away from me.

I was heartbroken and so sad, but I knew that if this is what she wanted, then I couldn’t deny her living here in this beautiful tropical paradise. It was where she was born and raised and well, it was beautiful. I cried and cried ….. staring out over the beautiful blue water wondering how I had gotten myself here. What was I searching for and why did this little mangy beach puppy mean so much to me. The chord she had struck in my heart was just aching. I felt like a had just lost my best friend.

I drew closer to the hotel and ambled up over the dune towards the hotel’s old wood entrance door, and there was Tally. Laying in the sand right outside the hotel’s door, chewing on an old palm leaf, just as happy as she could be. When she spotted me, she came running over full speed. I fell to my knees and Tally jumped into my arms. I was crying and laughing at the same time – absolutely overcome with surprise and absolute delight. She was licking and kissing my face and it was just – well, it was just love.

She hadn’t run away from me. She knew right where we had come from and she wasn’t going to let me get away from her again. We hugged and loved one another on that beach and as we got up to walk into the hotel, it was as though Tally instantly reverted back to the easy going, sweet natured dog I had met on that very beach 3 weeks earlier. She calmly walked at my side and as we opened the door to the hotel, I knew I was opening a door to a new chapter in our lives. Just like my dog Taj had come to heal some of my sore wounds, I knew that Tally was here to do similar work. I felt an attraction to her easy going nature, her calmness and sweet spirit.

I think animals are brought into our lives to be our companions, to help us enjoy the moments of life that can pass by if you don’t stop to notice them. Dogs are present to life. They observe. They experience nature and all the senses it stimulates. They are mirrors of our energy, or the energy we desire. A dog is such a precious gift, and should be cared for with the same love and tenderness we would want for ourselves.

Tally, just after we got her home.

Tally, just after we got her home.

Tally, fully recovered and in her new home.

Tally, fully recovered and in her new home.

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