See you later, Tassla

Last autumn, I made one of the toughest decisions as a dog owner that was, at the same time, in some ways, an easy decision to make. I had to accept that Tassla needed to move out.

Tassla has never liked other dogs. When she was only four weeks old, she was seriously bitten by a terrier who was in the wrong place (her puppy pen…) when she was eating, which is why she has a crooked mouth – she was stitched up a bit crooked. 😉 She thus has a trauma related to another dog coming near her. Tassla has never attacked other dogs but has made it very clear that they should keep their distance. She has had fits of rage at all of our puppies, even though we have done what we could to protect her – and the puppies. When she has these outbursts, she throws herself at the nearest thing and bites it as hard as she can – usually her bed. Once, it happened to be her owner’s thigh. 😛 It’s a kind of bite inhibition – she has never bitten another dog more than if they got too close and happened to be near what she was biting. Flippa was bitten in the ear as a puppy when she got too close to the sofa where Tassla was lying, and Tassla bit both the sofa and her ear… It was terrible; I was completely crushed. Strangely enough, Flippa was the one of our dogs who could calm Tassla down when she was angry and watchful. But the best was Quling; he just walked up to her calmly and softly sniffed her, and then all of her anger disappeared, and she started squinting her eyes and rolling over a bit on her side.

The dogs who could read Tassla went very well with her – those who were not so good at her language were told that they were not welcome. She always started by stiffening up, then lifting her lip, then growling, and finally, she attacked. She wanted peace and quiet and to be left alone. It did not suit her at all when our pack grew. When we moved to a tiny cottage and had five – or sometimes six – dogs at home, her opportunities to escape were even less.

Stomp ran along the walls to say she was nice, and Totte too. But Bix responded in kind. Tassla absolutely did not want to fight, but Bix flew at her when Tassla said “fuck off,” and it ended in a fight where Tassla immediately ended up on her back, screaming. It was heartbreaking. Of course, it stressed Bix too. Flippa, who is very sensitive, became super anxious. Totte became upset. Stomp was scared. We had to constantly think about how to deal with different situations. It was unsustainable.

Tassla has also had pain periods – she had a luxating knee that was operated on a few years ago, and in recent years, there has been something about her that I have not been able to understand what it is – until the vet discovered that she has a disease in the sesamoid bone (the bone that the claws are attached to). Last summer, she was retired early, which was also heartbreaking – hunting is our favorite thing to do together, and I love to hunt over Tassla. She is a super talented game finder and does her job while I walk with the gun. My life also includes a lot of hunting. Now I would have to leave her at home when I packed everything or, worse, have her in the car. No, I just couldn’t bear the thought.

When we found the right medicine for the sesamoid bone so she was no longer in pain, I started looking for a new home for Tassla. At first, I searched my private Facebook, but I thought “what are the odds of finding a home for a soon-to-be-ten-year-old, not completely healthy, very special dog.” BUT at the same time, Tassla is SUPER EASY to have, extremely well trained, can do everything and learns quickly, never needs a leash, and so on. So, surprisingly, I got quite a few responses. Several people recommended others who “would be perfect,” and we had a couple of homes in mind that I think would have been great. But we fell short with them.

Then, one day, it just struck me that I had a person in my “outer circle” who I knew had lost her dog earlier in the year but, for various reasons, couldn’t have a puppy. She is just like me, an instructor, and she has also taken Elsa’s and my instructor training. I thought that Annika would need a dog in her life again 😉 and, not least, one to show off at all the courses – Tassla is a perfect assistant.

Tassla was first in the family for four days so that everyone involved could “get to know each other.” Tassla does not like small (and unpredictable 😉 ) children, but there were two ten-year-olds here who were used to dogs – it went very well with them. The first few days, Tassla stayed in the hall a lot when “new mom” wasn’t home but at work, so she lay in her bed by the door. But then it turned around, and she jumped up in bed and wanted to sleep under the covers. <3 When Lars came to pick her up, she was moderately interested in going with him.

We talked a lot over the next few weeks. It can’t be denied that Tassla is a senior – even though it isn’t noticeable – and we all hope she has several years left. But, of course, it can be tough to invest your feelings in a dog that you may not have for very many years.

But after some thinking and tossing around, Annika and her family decided to say “yes.”

I have cried so much thinking about Tassla moving and crying as I write this. I am SO incredibly happy about this and so sad. But mostly incredibly happy! Because Tassla has had a dream life since moving a few months ago. <3 She had one outburst – it was when the vacuum cleaner came too close to her bed haha – and she gets to do lots of fun things. She trains in nose work – and, of course, is a star – she trains on the balance ball (which Annika teaches among many other things), she reads stories to the children, plays with her son Oskar, and trains with her daughter Ida. It is Ida who made the absolutely adorable drawing of Tassla. <3 She joins Oskar when he builds model airplanes. 🙂 She goes on long walks and asks to be carried when she’s cold. She sleeps under the covers with Annika and pesters her to go to bed if Annika is late. She does silly things and is as charming and funny as only a happy Tassla can be;) <3. I can tell they are very fond of her. <3

When I visited Munkedal for the first time (I was there to drive her to Gothenburg and to see the physiotherapist Annika Falkenberg), Tassla was thrilled. But when I left and we ended up outside my car, Annika walked past us to go to her car and pick up her kids. Tassla looked at Annika, then at me, as if asking “can I?” and I said “go ahead”, and she jumped into Annika’s car. I left them with a big smile on my face (yes, I also cried of course 😉).

I couldn’t have dreamed of anything like this. Annika is also a real dog whisperer; so empathetic and gentle, thinks voluntarily, is a clicker trainer, and so on – that in itself is amazing. Since we are a whole little fan club (the guys and I and a few others) who are all excited about Tassla, Annika started an Instagram account for her, which is both fun and cozy. She writes a bit about daily life, shows videos of Tassla playing a game where you can throw an empty gingerbread tin down the stairs because it’s so much fun when it bounces 😀 and so on.

I wrote a few articles for a Swedish dog magazine some time ago about rehoming dogs. I interviewed an ethologist who worked on rehoming dogs. She said that many people think that their dog is impossible to rehome. But her experience was that there was almost always someone for everyone. It was so beautifully said and gave me hope! (Elsa has also rehomed a dog, Seeker, a few years ago, and that also turned out incredibly well even though it was really tough, read about it here).

And now I’m standing here and I miss Tassla almost every day, but most of all I’m incredibly grateful and happy. It can happen. Next week I’m going to visit her again, it’s going to be so much fun. <3 J

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