My dog taught me many lessons, but this one was the hardest

A few weeks ago I lost one my of best friends, a ten year old chihuahua named Taco. I loved her very much and I still miss her.

For as long as I can remember, Taco had always been my partner in crime, the beans in my chili pie, the Sideshow Mel in my evil comedy act. When we were together we ruled the world; we even teamed up to raise money for a cancer society fundraiser.

Taco and I donned bald caps to raise money for the Be Bold, Be Bald fundraising campaign in September 2013.

Taco and I donned bald caps to raise money for the Be Bold, Be Bald fundraising campaign in September 2013.

Taco was never really my dog. She was a family dog that my grandmother brought home from the pound when I was in high school. But it was clear to everyone in the family that I was her ultimate favorite person in the world. She was my little furry soulmate. We shared the same birthday — hers was September 29 and mine September 28 — and the same love for great cheese, deli meat, and naps.

Taco and I reenacting an illustration we found online.

Taco and I reenacting an illustration of people napping that we found online.

For a long time I wasn’t in a position to take care of my own dog. I was constantly moving from country to country, house to house, and Taco always lived with my large family in the same house. On Friday evenings we would venture out to Fairfax County to pick her up, and she would faithfully wait for me by the steps.

Alastair feeding Taco popcorn before we left Tia Liza's house for the weekend.

Alastair feeding Taco popcorn before we left Tia Liza’s house for the weekend

Our relationship became a little more complicated when my husband Alastair and I felt financially stable enough to have a dog of our own. But as we reached this point in our life, my grandma and grandpa moved out of the family house — and this changed everything.

For years grandma and grandpa lived with Tia Liza in the family house, but decided to buy a smaller house in Cambridge, Maryland, and took Taco to live with them. Cambridge is about three hours away from Northern Virginia, so the move meant significantly less Taco-Angie time on the weekend. But Taco was happy in her new house in Cambridge and grandma was happy with Taco.

For weeks we went to visit grandma, grandpa, and Taco in Cambridge. We even took Taco to her first trip to the beach, which she hated. But, hey, it was a fun adventure and she really enjoyed seeing the ocean for the first time.

Taco loved seeing the ocean but hated the heat, sand, and lack of a comfy couch.

Taco loved seeing the ocean but hated the heat, sand, and lack of a comfy couch.

Spending some quality Taco-Angie time on the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland.

Spending some quality Taco-Angie time on the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland

After going back and forth for months, we finally realized that grandma and Taco were perfect for each other and decided to get a new puppy.

Arthur and Taco met for the first time at my birthday party last September.

Arthur and Taco met for the first time at my birthday party last September.

Despite our best efforts to introduce Taco to Arthur, you could tell that Taco’s little heart was broken. And so was mine. As much as I loved Arthur, he was not Taco and I knew that she had always wanted to live with us. Furthermore, this was a complicated situation that I couldn’t communicate to her.

“I’m so sorry, Taco. I love you and I wish you were mine,” I’d cry as my grandma would take Taco out of my arms just before I’d leave Cambridge.

As a family we weren’t sure how Taco would handle the situation. As the weeks progressed she became closer to grandma and expected to see me less frequently on the weekends. According to grandma, Taco became very sad and missed me and Alastair. I missed her too. Taco was never a healthy dog, she always had arthritis and a terrible heart murmur. Over the winter it progressively got worse.

Taco taking a nap in our old apartment in Alexandria.

Taco taking a nap in our old apartment in Alexandria

The last weekend I spent with Taco, we went on a trip to Mount Vernon. I can remember a group of school kids bombarding Alastair and I at the entrance to the house asking if they could carry Taco. As they picked her up and passed her around, you could see how tiny and frail she had become. Her thin rib bones were prominently sticking out of her side more than ever before and her breathing was labored. She couldn’t walk around the whole house, so I had to carry her most of the way in my arms.

My grandma didn’t tell me this was going to be Taco’s last weekend before she put her down, she was too kind to tell me, and I’m grateful for that. What I remember the most about our last day is how loving Taco was being towards me. She didn’t mind that I was taking care of a new dog, that I had stopped coming to visit her in Cambridge as often as I used to, or that it was abominably hot that day in March. She was just happy to be along for the ride. Even though I still felt terrible for adopting Arthur, she forgave me and loved me anyway. A true best friend until the end, her final gift to me was forgiveness.

Our dogs and cats only have a short amount of time with us. I feel very fortunate that I was able to spend a majority of that time together with my best friend. We have so many wonderful memories together. She is certainly missed.

Taco and I walking around Anacostia Park.

Taco and I walking around Anacostia Park

Alastair and Taco walking around in Eastern Market.

Alastair and Taco walking around Eastern Market

Snuggling on a brisk spring day

Snuggling on a brisk spring day

The three of us on a road trip adventure to Cambridge.

The three of us on a road trip adventure to Cambridge

Taco begs to be picked up while on a walk in Meadow Wood Stable Park.

Taco begging to be picked up during our walk around Meadow Wood Stable Park

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