This week's post is all about luck. It's also a more personal post dealing with the loss of a pet so feel free to skip this one if it's not something you're up to reading right now. If you follow me closely on social media, you might have seen my Instagram story from two weeks ago announcing that we lost my parents' dog, Taki, to cancer. How could that possibly tie into a lucky theme? Because I know how lucky I was to get to spend thirteen incredible years with such a special dog.
from the beginning
Growing up, I loved all things Japanese (okay, maybe not all - I hate sushi). From manga and anime to cherry blossoms to Shiba Inus. Shibas weren't common in the Sacramento area back then, much less so than they are now, but I knew one day when I moved out and got my own dog it was going to be a Shiba. So as an impulsive 18-year-old living in the dorms at UC Davis, what did I do? You bet. I bought a dog. Now of course I know that was a stupid idea. Where the hell was I going to keep a dog in my dorm room? That was the kicker - he was going to live at home in my parents' house...and they didn't even know it.
So here I was at 18 years old with this 10-week-old Shiba Inu pup. I bought him from a breeder in South Dakota, which meant I had to make a trip to the airport in between classes to pick him up, drop him off at home, and then drive back to campus. I know. Stupid. But honestly, looking back on it, I wouldn't have done it differently. Because when I looked at his picture online - the last little runty pup in his litter - I knew in my heart that he was meant to be with me, with my family.
no longer my dog
So how did this cute little pup become my parents' dog (besides the obvious fact that he was living in their home)? At the time I got him, Stan, the family dog, was still around. While we weren't sure how Stan would take to Taki initially, it became apparent pretty quickly that these two souls were meant for each other. Taki followed Stan around everywhere, they played together, they slept together.
When it came time for Taki to come live with me, we found out just how attached these two had become. Taki lived with me for a whole four days, during which time he destroyed a screen door, tried to eat every electrical cable he could find, and ate the left shoe from nearly every pair of shoes I owned. Yes, just the left one. Meanwhile, back at home, Stan had gone into depression and stopped eating. I knew it wouldn't be right to keep them apart so Taki moved back in with my parents. His reunion with Stan was the single happiest moment I've ever witnessed in my life. They literally jumped and hugged each other, and I knew this was where Taki was meant to be.
As the years passed Taki became more and more my parents' dog until, when Stan finally passed, I was told in no uncertain terms that Taki was no longer my dog and I couldn't have him back.
the good years
Despite Taki living at home I still saw him regularly. I went home most weekends while I was at school, and after I finished at UC Davis my husband and I bought a house just 15 minutes from my childhood home. My younger sister and I enjoyed taking Taki for car rides (one of his favorite things) and going to Baskin Robbins on dollar scoop Tuesdays. I walked often with my mom and Taki in the evenings, and I spent most of my weekends helping out in the yard, playing games, or just hanging out with my family. And although Taki was independent and not always interested in attention, he was there for everything. Of course, if you jingled your car keys just right he would always come running for a car ride.
the later years
Around the time I started getting serious with pet photography, Taki was starting to show signs of aging. He still had plenty of energy and made a great model for my photography, but he was starting to get cataracts and there was a lot more white in his fur than previously. Even so, those photos I took of him will be cherished for the rest of my life. When I look back at them, I remember his independence and his spunky little attitude. I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world.
the final days
A couple of years ago Taki was diagnosed with Cushing's. Although it was being managed with medication, we noticed his aging more significantly. He still had his bursts of energy, but he napped a lot more, couldn't go for very long walks, and was having more frequent accidents in the house. Unfortunately, between the Cushing's and his age, we probably missed signs of something more serious - the tumor on his liver. By the time we knew something was really wrong, Taki was in full organ shutdown and we had to let him cross the Rainbow Bridge.
We knew this was coming sooner rather than later, but there's never enough time to prepare to say goodbye. Taki's passing has affected me deeply, but I feel blessed to have had the time with him that I did, and to have so many wonderful photos to remember him by.
ALL AROUND THE CIRCLE
Don't forget to continue following the blog circle to read other pet photographers' luck this week. Up next Seattle Dog Photographer, Holly Cook, shares about a frightening experience that changed the way she interacts with dogs.