When Tashi Met Tashi

An unlikely meeting of dogs and people.

In October our Tibetan Spaniel Milo developed a cough. Ten days later he was dead of an enlarged heart. Judy and I were devastated. Milo was fourteen, but our previous Tibbies had lived to almost twenty.

Judy had sworn up and down that Milo would be our last dog. Within hours of Milo’s passing we were talking about a puppy. I contacted a breeder in Washington State, who sent this picture:

He was a little older than we’d hoped — four months — but the picture sold us. Judy traveled to the wilds of Washington State and brought him home. We named him Tashi, a common Tibetan name.

I’ve been walking him most days at the Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve near my home in Oakland, California.

One day we encountered these two:

Tashi is very interested in other dogs, unless they’re much bigger than him. This dog was about the size he’ll be when fully grown, so he ran right up, tail wagging. The white one was a little standoffish — I figured he was an older dog uninterested in puppy play.

The woman was with a bearded guy, both of them in their thirties. The dog was clearly hers. While the dog wasn’t smiling, these folks were — beaming warmly in a non-bullshit way that had me thinking neo-hippies. But I figured that thought was just projection from a first-generation hippie lonely for his tribe.

The woman asked, “What kind of dog is yours?”

“Tibetan Spaniel.”

She nodded to her dog. “She’s a Shih Tsu.”

I explained how Tibbies are the root stock of the Shih Tsus, Lhasa Apsos, Pappillons, all the Asian dogs.

“Oh.What’s his name?”

“Tashi.”

Her eyes twinkled. “This isTashi, too.”

“No.”

But someone who smiled like that wouldn’t make such a thing up. Some obscure organ in me used to believe in synchronicity and superstition and all that woo woo stuff. It’s shrunk considerably with age, but now it was registering a little tingle.

She got right to the point. “Does he still have his balls?”

“Yeah. Funny you should ask. We’re taking him to the vet tomorrow to discuss having him neutered.” He had been getting pretty frisky. (As I wrote this I just meant generally “full of beans,” but as I saw Tashi contemplating this possible mate I flashed on that old song “California Sun” — The girls are frisky in old Frisco. A sentiment that I’m sure is way un-PC now, but does PC apply to dogs? But I digress.)

“Can you wait? I’ve been looking for someone to breed with her. She’s three.”

“Uh, I’ll have to talk to my wife.” Not the first time I’ve used that cop out.

“I’m serious. Give me your phone number and I’ll text you. I’m K.”

K. The same name as a woman who’d tormented me through much of my 20s. The tingle got stronger.

As you can see from the photo above, our Tashi is cute. What you can’t see is how every other person with a dog at Sibley — and we meet ten or twenty a day — says, “Oh, how cute!” “He’s so adorable!” even if they don’t give me the time of day.

But this was the first time he’d been propositioned (by proxy.)

By the time I got home I was dreaming of the romance between Tashi and Tashi. Judy said, ”Well that’s very sweet, but I don’t think….”

Of course not. Our Tashi was showing all the signs of being a teenager, stealing my glasses and Judy’s favorite watch, keeping us up all hours with the crazies. He’d only just lifted his leg to pee for the first time the other day. And this was just the beginning. There was marking off and roaming to worry about…which was why we’d planned to have him fixed.

But then Judy saw the picture of the two Tashis together. “Aw, they’d make such cute puppies.” She emailed the pic to her sister, who agreed. And we could probably have one of the puppies….

We took our guy to the vet. He got Tashi’s mouth open and discovered a dental nightmare — adult and baby teeth all mixed up and crooked. Our dog needed dental surgery. And he had a small umbilical hernia, which should be fixed, plus we wanted to chip him. Bottom line was we didn’t want to put him under twice. So we scheduled the surgery for the next week.

I played phone tag with K, worrying about how disappointed she’d be. (They would have made such cute puppies.) When she finally got to me she said, “Sorry, I was with clients.”

“What do you do?”

“Ozone therapy….”

Hm. Maybe I wasn’t wrong about the neo-hippie thing.

I gave her the bad news.

She asked, “Who am I to argue with the universe?”

I was definitely not wrong.

I softened the blow by putting her in touch with Tashi’s breeder. His dad looks a lot like him, and as a show dog he hasn’t been fixed.

She said, “Maybe we’ll drive up to Washington….:”

I told K. I was a writer and wanted to blog about this story. We agreed to meet at a dog park to get better photos.

She showed up with her Tashi and another guy, her partner. And the three of us just started opening up to each other, talking the old hippie talk — though there were more “awesomes” than “farouts.”

K asked what kind of music I liked. “Bach.”

She nodded fiercely. I asked him.

“The Grateful Dead.”

I told him how I’d spent 5 hours interviewing Garcia when he was tripping on acid. The guy told me how he’d grown up on Haight Street, and was currently renting a place on land where the Dead and Janis Joplin supposedly used to trip. His place is right across the street from Spirit Rock, the meditation center Judy frequents and that I go to from time to time. More mysterious coincidences.

It’s great to know that there’s a new generation of seekers, people who are looking for more than a cute mate for their cute dog. (But that, too.)