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Saturday June 15, 2024 stacysue


If you would have met me 18 years ago and told me that I would be intermittently crying torrential tears over a little white puppy dog, I would have thought that you most definitely had the wrong gal. While I empathized, I never fully understood Lassie or Old Yeller or when others would explain how much they loved their pets. I admit—I was the eye-roller.


That was then.


Fast forward and here I am.


Placing my little 8 lb. Maltese, a “white ball of thunder” and a girl’s best friend to rest this past week, was one of the most heart aching days of my life. Tagalong passed in our arms as he crossed the rainbow bridge, finding his peace after a long life of health issues. Embraced.


Over the years, I did backflips to care for him. We had visits to ophthalmology, dermatology, 3 ER trips (one in which I even took out a credit card), torn ACLs from jumping, allergic reactions to vaccinations, and nephrology with 2 surgeries. As a little pup, I fed him water with a syringe when the vet (I canceled that vet), took out all of his baby teeth during a major surgery.


Tagalong, lovingly named after the girl scout cookie by my daughter, Grace, was our world for 16 and half years. Despite every issue, he was adored by myself and my children. He stood by our side through thick and thin, always giving us a cuddle or engaging in precocious antics like the time he stole the bag of corn chips and ate the entire package while hiding under the armoire. I lost him, in the house. Tagalong ferociously chased down a deer in our yard to protect us and clearly never let a squirrel harm any of us, and there were a lot in our woods. He hid in baskets of laundry clothes and flew through the air, as a puppy, down a hill of green ivy, bounding from limestone wall, to greet my daughter after school—yes, unscathed. He never got lost in the neighborhood, but did get loose a couple times venturing to the neighbors’, yet he always came back for a “peanut-butter treat.” Oh and he voraciously devoured handful after handful of multi-grain Cheerios, and one time, jumped from the floor onto the table and ate a Chick Fil A Chicken strip whole. I administered the Heimlich 3X over the years-thank goodness I am CPR trained. His curiosity never, ever let up even in his elderly years and neither did his love. He lived up to his name, Tagalong, and without a doubt did not want to leave our side. His persistence and resilience were unmatchable. No matter the illness (until his last), he bounced back every single time.


As my daughter says, “He changed us.”




Yes, he did.


At the same time, I know nature and nurture. I understand development. I watched him learn to communicate more and more: vocalizing, gesturing with a paw tap and holding “paws”, smiling a toothy grin, sniffing and gazing through his black marble eyes. Tagalong showed sweetness, the stubbornness, diligence, and tenacity that each one of my children and I have. Clearly this has to be part of how we raised him. The similarities were uncanny. He was a true family member, bred through and through not by the breeder, but through our interactions. Through our love.


Tagalong in one word was—extraordinary.


I know that you think that perhaps I’m a “biased dog mom” but the fact is that anyone who encountered him, knew it, saw it and lived it and immediately, loved him right back because he radiated a presence like none other.


Pets have such incredible places in hearts.


In our families.


So, Tagalong has taught me that those eye rolls were clearly judgmental (please forgive me). Perhaps I was much younger and not as wise back then. That said, I understand when you say your pet is part of you, your child and your family. I get it! I have welcomed many cats, dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, chicks, horses, chickens, lizards and even snakes, some from afar, at ETC. I know these creatures are yours. I too, know their names and share your affection for them. They provide organization for routines (very much more meaningful when one has passed, seemingly more like a loving ritual) and are part of daily family life. They provide comfort when you are down, and above all, give faithful companionship and an enduring love. A love that lasts even when they are gone. A love that is indelibly engraved in your hearts and minds representing true




In honor of Tagalong. For teaching me a new way to love and sharing his gifts so that I can learn to better serve you and your families. May you rest gently my sweet little puppy. You remain with me, and Grace, Kate and Andrew, always.


~Dr. Stacy


Author: Stacy Sue Rosello, OTD, MA, OTR/L


Founder, Embrace the Child, ® Ltd.


Editor: Grace Anne Rosello, BA


In loving memory of Tagalong 11.15.08-6.1.24

Copyright © 2024 Stacy Sue Rosello


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