Taco - 1976-1987
"Free chihuahua to anyone who wants one."
It was a while after If-if had died. It was time for my mother to get a new dog. So when I heard the ad on the radio, I jumped at the chance and called the owner.
Obviously, the dog would not be a purebred chihuahua, but we hoped that it would look like a chihuahua and have the temperament of whatever other breed it might have. What we got though was someone who looked like a big chihuahua and had the real chihuahua temperament.
What to call him? I wanted a Spanish name. Paco? Chiquita? Carlo? Whatever name we used, the dog just ignored us. One night we were having tacos. I asked my mother to pass another taco and the dog barked. That was it. As far as we were concerned, Taco chose his own name.
Taco didn't have a mean bone in his body. But he did have the chihuahua temperament and was basically a two-owner dog. He was my mother's dog, but accepted me as "one of the family". No one else counted.
We didn't realize we were 'training' him to be more 'chihuahua-like' when we played tug-of-war with him ... we loved to see him hold onto something even if he was off the ground. Then the vet told us that chihuahuas sometimes bite them - and won't let go, even if the vets move their arms away and shake them!
Taco wasn't mean, but he was excitable. He would get so excited with something that he just had to bite something or someone - anyone who was nearby. But he didn't mean to and usually just bit his own tail. I always warned people not to get too close to Taco, and to make sure I was there first. I once spent 5 minutes telling a friend how Taco would bite if startled -- only to have her push ahead of me and try to make with friends with him. Of course Taco bit her! Her husband didn't have any sympathy for her though I was pretty upset. My piano students were generally scared of Taco, so I always made sure I was nearby and, if I had to, I let Taco bite me instead. Still, he did nip a student who was moving away and tried to give me a hug. Thank God he never drew blood with anyone he nipped!
When we were moving from Montreal, we had everything piled up in the front hall. Taco was quite excited and was running around. He tripped over the cord for the record player (remember those?). He must have gotten quite a jolt because he pulled the cord out from the plug and the plug was fused to the wall socket! Afterwards, Taco would never cross any line. You could put a string in front of him; that was as effective as any fence. He wouldn't go near it!
The funniest thing about Taco happened when I had my own church. I had gone to church one time to practice a Beethoven sonata on the piano. Birds must have been in the roof because they started to join in. I was laughing so hard that I couldn't play the piece properly so went back home. When Mom and Taco came for a visit, I told them about the incident and played the record with the same piece. Taco started singing at the same spot!
After that, Taco sang every chance he had. I took singing lessons; Taco joined in. The upsetting thing was that Taco was more in key than I was. If I played the piano, Taco joined in. If I made too many mistakes, Taco would leave the room with a disgusted look on his face. It's hard to play "angry" pieces when you have to listen to a dog accompanying you!
Taco lived 11 years. He developed heart trouble toward the end and seemed to sense that something was wrong with my mother. When Mom had to go to Ohio for treatment of her cancer, Taco became very sick. I commuted between the two of them. When Mom died, I took Taco down to the funeral, and he peeked down into her grave. He took care of his business too, which didn't please my aunt too well but I'm sure my mother got a kick out of it.
Things seemed ok for a while, though Taco seemed to wait for Mom to call and talk to him on the phone (yes, she had spoken to him from Ohio a couple of times). A couple of months after her death, I was down in Ohio again to settle some matters. When I got home, Taco had had a stroke and couldn't even stand up on his own. I had him put down.
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