It was on Tara’s birthday in 2010, after spending almost all of 2009 in and out of school with one infection or another, that she was given a formal diagnosis of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, along with Orthostatic Intolerance and gut issues. The illness was severe enough to require her deregistration from school, which meant she never attended secondary school, instead studied as and when she could at home.
As you can imagine life changed completely and my once active, permanently fidgeting daughter, who attended tap and modern dance as well as musical theatre classes, became bed then sofa bound, on rare occasions she could go for time outside in the wheelchair. She lost contact with many of her friends and couldn’t participate in social activities.
At this point we already had Taylor, our male Border Terrier, who joined our family to provide comfort and company for me after my mum passed away. Tara, seeing how much Taylor was helping me had started saving money and in early 2011 she announced that she would like to have her own dog, that would be entirely hers, to keep her company and help fill the void left by not being able to do the same as her peers both educationally and socially. She had the funds and so said she would buy her own dog, so we went from being a one dog family to two dog.
After much thought we decided on another Border Terrier, but a bitch this time. The search led us to a breeder in Northampton, she had a large litter of Border Terrier puppies for Tara to choose from which had been born on 18th June 2011. The puppies were all gorgeous but one in particular stubbornly attached herself to Tara making it difficult for her to interact with any of the other puppies. She was the smallest of the litter and incredibly cute. It, so it transpired, was Skyla who chose Tara. The love affair had begun.
Tara christened her new companion Skyla Minx and the two became inseparable. Whenever Tara was having a bad day we would find the pair of the curled up against each other sleeping. Wherever Tara went Skyla followed. She loved fuss and tummy tickles, bathing and having her toe nails painted. Tara confided in Skyla, sang to her, played with her ~ in particular the “sleeve game” which she would only play with Tara, chasing and trying to grab Tara’s sleeve and hold onto her. She loved cuddles and was a dog you could pretty much do anything to without any complaint.
Skyla’s only foibles were her barking and anti social behaviour to dogs outside of our family. Skyla would bark just for fun and as she did her front paws would lift ever so slightly off the floor, she always put maximum effort into it. She would pretend to greet other dogs nicely and then just at the last minute nip them on the nose! She loved being outside and would go out in all weathers (except rain) and lie on the decking. On rainy days she would refuse to go out as she didn’t enjoy getting her paws wet.
Here are some great photos showing the love between girl and dog…
The relationship between girl and dog was one of unconditional love and friendship. The love was tangible which made what was to come all the harder to bear.
The morning of Saturday 28th January was nothing out of the ordinary. Our 3 dogs, Taylor, Skyla and Loki came downstairs for their breakfast followed by a brief snooze and then mad charge around the garden playing. At lunchtime Skyla seemed more drowsy than normal and then violently vomited. She then seemed to sleep and settle in Taras arms in her bedroom, snuggled on her bed, but after a couple of hours it became clear that something was really not right, she didn’t seem able to walk and could barely stand. We immediately rang the vet and took her in. They were very concerned and examined her ~ she was obviously in a lot of pain and had a very high temperature. The vet gave her two injections, one for pain and one for nausea then rang the animal hospital to tell them to expect us immediately and that she would send them Skylas notes. Cradling Skyla in our arms we drove to the hospital, by the time we arrived she was barely conscious. I will spare you the details but she was immediately admitted to intensive care and ensuing hours were spent do everything medically possible to help our little girl. By Sunday tea~time, after a blood transfusion, she seemed to be rallying. Sadly, Monday morning on 30th January, only hours after taking her in, we received the call that nothing could be done, Skyla had taken a drastic turn for the worse during the night and was bleeding internally. Thankfully, we all made it to the hospital to be with her whilst she said farewell to this earth and made the transition over the rainbow.
We were all heartbroken, but none as much as Tara, she had just lost her best friend and constant companion. Skyla had been there for her and supported her through the difficult early years of her illness. It was devastating.
It has to be said the house isn’t the same without Skyla. The Hairy boys are lost without her mothering and forceful personality. The house is quiet, the barking of our little girl over absolutely nothing, has gone. The dynamic of the pack has changed and the boys are doing what they can to cope without their top bitch. Tara is also being amazingly strong but is grieving deeply for her friend.
The vets at the hospital very kindly sent us some of Skylas fur and also a paw print. They were incredibly supportive and kind, which will stay with us. Skylas ashes are now in Tara’s bedroom on her bookshelf and her collar is around a monkey soft toy on her bed. Both of these bring some comfort to her.
Our little girl may be gone but she will never ever be forgotten. Today, we planted a blossom tree in our garden in Skylas memory. We have no intentions of leaving this house and will enjoy watching the tree grow and bloom and maybe during the summer we will buy a bench seat to place near it, but that end of the garden will need a little work first.
Tara chose the tree and the placement is in a part of the garden we would always find Skyla mooching about in. The leaves change to a gorgeous reddish colour and the blossoms will be big and pink. Suiting our little Skyla Minx perfectly.
The tree, freshly planted today, has many buds which are not visible in the picture but hopefully we will see some blossoms this year.We were going to put Skylas ashes beneath the tree but Tara felt she couldn’t part with them, so we have named it “Skylas Tree ” instead.
As a final tribute Tara has had Skylas life size paw print tattooed onto her wrist, this way they will always be together.
Skyla Minx, Born 18th June 2011, passed away 30th January 2017, a life cruelly cut short by a virulent bacterial infection that was just too much for your little body to fight. You gave Tara 5 amazing years full of love and laughter. There will never be another dog quite like you, so much character and quirkiness which matched your mistress so beautifully. Have fun chasing Tetley (my sisters dog who passed a few years ago) without pain. We love and miss you but promise to take care of your Tara for you and help her smile and laugh as she thinks of you and all your antics. We know now you were the naughty one, leaving the little presents on the kitchen floor early in the morning, which we always blamed Loki for. Your mischief copying the Andrex puppy and pulling the toilet roll and trailing it all round the house from the downstairs toilet (and teaching Loki how to do it too). To barking at nothing, encouraging the Hairy boys to join you in howling barking chorus, serenading all who dare come within your view, even if it’s down the road. For you riding Taylors back whenever we came home to stop him getting all the fuss. For nipping inquisitive dogs noses who weren’t part of the pack. For your flobbling tongue and incessant licking of the Hairy boys ears, our ears, piercings (with odd nibbles) and any patch of bare exposed skin you could find.
Skyla thank you for the love and for the memories, rest in peace little girls.