Tale of Tails: Tally (Part I)
A Tale of Tails from a reader – Anne P.
Getting Tally – Part I
The dog came up from behind, running alongside me on the sandy beach, keeping pace. At first, I was startled and concerned. Seemed like a friendly dog but I wasn’t sure. And why was it running alongside me, as though we were partners? I’ve been leery of new dogs ever since being chased by a St. Bernard when I was a young girl. But after a few minutes with this scruffy animal, I realized all this dog wanted was to hang-out with me.
We ran side by side for a while. The dog would run ahead and then circle back and trot next to me. It chased sand crabs, little beach birds and seagulls but it steered clear of the waves rolling in. I could see it was a female dog and while she never got too close to me, it felt like we were a pair. I was starting to really like her. She seemed chill. Super easy going. Present to life.
She was young, still a puppy. About up to my knee, she resembled a little German Shepard with black and tan hair, mixed in with white patches on her chest and a long black tail. She had these big brown puppy eyes outlined in black with little floppy tan and black ears. But, in between the thinning hair, I could see the red welts and oozing sores, especially on her chest. Her dark eyes were rimmed with raised bumps. She stopped and scratched her neck and head every few minutes. They didn’t seem to bother her that much. I wondered what it was.
When I returned to the hotel, she casually ran off over the dune back down the sandy white beach. Back to her home, wherever that was. As soon as I saw my husband Terry, I told him all about her, that I had met the coolest stray dog and wanted to bring her home with us. He smiled, amused and told me I was nuts! But I was really serious. There was something about her that had pierced my heart. She had swagger, she was confident and full of personality. She knew who she was. Maybe I saw in her what I wanted for myself – confidence in the face of questionable circumstances.
I pleaded for Terry to come down to the beach to meet her. It was later in the afternoon now and I had no idea if she would be there – but sure enough she was. And just like she did with me in the morning, she casually trotted over to us, not too close, just close enough for a casual walk on the beach. Down a half-mile or so and back. Terry liked her. He thought she was cute and all, but he wasn’t having any part of my plan.
The next morning we went down to the beach for our morning run, and like before, she just appeared from over the dune and jogged alongside us. This time we went for a really long run, up around the edge of the cove, climbing over the rocks while the tide was out. We stopped and sat on the beach, looked for seashells, watched the ocean. She stayed with us the entire time – again, not getting too close but not leaving us either. She chased the sand crabs, and she drank the ocean water, which concerned me alot. We had offered her our water, which she denied and had given her scraps of food, which she carefully plucked from our fingers. I was really starting to fall in love with her.
And so it went for the next couple of days, as we celebrated our nephew’s wedding in Punta de Mita, Mexico. The morning we were scheduled to leave, I spoke with Alfredo, the concierge at our small eight-room hotel, where our entire family had stayed the last week. I asked if he would look after her and give her food and water everyday, while I devised a strategy to bring her home to the States.
A true dog lover himself, Alfredo assured me he would keep a close eye on her. He asked me if I wanted to give her a name. Without hesitation I said, “Tally”. You see, there is a beautiful ballad I had heard a number of years back, “Tally’s Lullaby” by Karen Garrett. The first time the soulful melody of piano and cello touched my ears, I was brought to tears. It was music that resonated deep in my heart, about something deeply loved, something you feel in your soul. Your Tally.
That last morning was spent with Tally on the beach. We had a long walk together. She was playing with us now, letting us get close and pet her. She even let me give her a little hug, and posed for photos. Up close, I could see she was old enough to have her permanent teeth, but still undeveloped otherwise. I figured her to be around 6 or 7 months old. She was also showing us a sassier side now – a little flirty. She would go up to anyone in the hopes they would give her food, not in obnoxious way but rather she would just patiently, sweetly sit next to you and look up at you with her gentle brown eyes. She played with all the other beach dogs, and sat on the chaise lounge with us and took a nap. I envisioned her in our life at home.
The problem was, my husband was still having no part of this discussion. The more I wanted the dog, the more he didn’t, and I was getting really upset, feeling very personal about all of this. I did not like that my husband was denying me this puppy, yet I tried to understand his reasoning and be adult about the whole thing. But I admit, it was hard.
The first email from Alfredo arrived just a few days after we left. He said someone had put a collar on Tally. It read # 30, a nearby house number. Did she actually belong to someone ? I was so attached by now, and getting angry that someone would allow this young puppy to run around lose all the time, and not care for her medical needs. I asked Alfredo to investigate …. I was heartbroken.
Alfredo emailed me a few days later, saying he hadn’t seen Tally anywhere and had been asking around about her. He said that the people who lived in # 30, were never home, and that the consensus was that they put the collar on her not so much to claim her but rather to keep her in the general vicinity should she wander off. She was after all, a street dog. I was relieved yet worried he hadn’t seen her.
In the meantime, I left to go on a meditation retreat in upstate New York. It would be good for me to get away, to clear and calm my head and heart. This disagreement with my husband about getting Tally was really gnawing at me and I needed some clarity. Being alone and in silence would provide that. I meditated daily on Tally’s photo and slowly the outline of a perfect heart on her forehead revealed itself to me. The more I stared at her, the bigger and more pronounced the heart became. How could I have not seen this before ? Tears rolled down my face – this was the sign I was looking for.
The next morning, Alfredo sent another email. He had seen Tally that morning and said she looked really bad. He feared she was getting sicker and wanted to know what he should do. I asked him pick her up and take her to the Veterinarian immediately. I’d figure out a plan from there.
Alfredo emailed me photos of Tally from the Vet’s office. Was this actually the same dog ? How could this have happened ? In the week since we had left, she had lost all the hair on her head and snout, was swollen and covered in red welts and hives. She looked even skinnier. But the Vet had only good news for us. First and foremost he said she was going to survive. No distemper, no parvo, only a severe case of mange, probably brought on by her malnutrition. Tally would need to stay at the Vet for few weeks so they could treat and heal her skin condition, administer all her shots and let her gain some weight. I was so relieved and so grateful to Alfredo, Tally’s real hero in this story.
As the tears rolled down my face, I forwarded the email to my husband. I stared at her photos. Even with miserable skin condition, I could still see her swagger, her beingness – her message of love. I called Terry that evening. I asked if he had seen my email and the pictures of Tally at the Vet. I told him about seeing the heart on her forehead. He had a copy of the same photo and I asked him to go look at it, go look at her heart.
He came back to the phone and said, “Go get our girl”.
COMING SOON: Part II: Tally Comes Home