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Searching for the Light

by LM Segal 11 months ago in dog
First Place in 24/7 Companion ChallengeFirst Place in 24/7 Companion Challenge
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How my faithful friend of 12 years taught me the value of simplicity

Tagg, looking towards the light | Photo Credit: Leah Segal (Author)

There are moments in life, so fleeting and seemingly mundane, that it is only upon later reflection that we understand their profound significance. This is my journey to that moment.

A Wish Fulfilled (Finally)

As a child, I wanted nothing more than a dog. I begged, pleaded and even bargained for the better part of a decade to no avail. However, upon reaching my 13th birthday and completing my Bat Mitzvah (a significant milestone for a Jewish child), I broke the chains of parental resistance and began the search for my first dog. On July 3rd, 2009, I found myself overcome with pure, unadulterated joy as I rode home with my arms wrapped around an absurdly mangy puppy plucked from a morally questionable eBay classifieds ad. From that moment forward, I knew this tiny creature would steal my heart and become one of my dearest companions.

One of my very first photos with Tagg | July 2009 | Photo Credit: Leah Segal (Author)

My Most Faithful Friend

The name “Tagg” was settled upon shortly after bringing him home- his original moniker, “Butterball,” brought plenty of laughs, but failed to capture the true personality of this scruffy puppy that weighed no more than four pounds. And with each passing day, Tagg became my closest friend and most trusted confidant- especially during stressful and anxiety-inducing situations. As a nervous child, the new school year always brought forth a fresh wave of fear. However, Tagg always waited faithfully with me, every morning, as I stood at the bus stop, only turning around (to go back to sleep, of course) once I boarded the bus and rode away. And after a long day at school, Tagg dutifully waited for me at the front door, ready to shower me with kisses and his tail wagging excitedly. When sharing words with family and friends proved too difficult, I knew I could depend on him to lend an ear. Even though he may not have understood my feelings exactly, Tagg's comforting presence and warm eyes always lightened the load of my heavy heart.

Over the years, he watched me grow from an awkward 13-year-old girl, to a confident, happy woman- and loved me all the same. I started dating, driving, and traveling. I even graduated college and started my very first professional job. All the while, Tagg remained my constant, a reminder of my childhood and simpler days. No matter how far or how long I roamed, I knew Tagg's sweet face awaited me- just like those afternoons when I returned home from middle school.

Tagg, fulfilling his "guard dog" duty

A Whole New World

The early days of COVID-19 fueled more global terror and heart-ache than I ever thought possible. Like the majority of the world, I found myself sinking beneath the inexorable weight of uncertainty and fear that accompanied this strange, deadly virus. I spent my days at home, filling the hours with work, new hobbies, and social media "doom-scrolling." The safe, COVID-free refuge that my childhood home offered starkly offset the television's incessant tales of doom and gloom in America and abroad. Luckily, I had Tagg.

I felt as if I time-traveled and found myself 13 again. Tagg - now much older, slightly more grey, and a bit chubbier - still surrounded my family and myself with pure happiness and assuaged our fears with his care-free, cheery disposition. I realized all the years I roamed far from home, learning and exploring, I forgot the sweetness of Tagg's small world- filled with comfort, consistency and love. His schedule remained much the same, eating from his favorite teal bowl, napping on the ottoman, and carrying his "baby" (a scraggly, yellow stuffed animal that resembles a loofah) around the first floor of my parent's home. From the very beginning of quarantine, Tagg offered a glimpse into the beautiful world of the mundane. While COVID-19 ravaged and stole so much from my life (and the world's), I felt extraordinarily grateful for Tagg's gentle reminder as we rode out the initial storm of pandemic uncertainty.

Hanging out with my best buddy | Photo Credit: Leah Segal(Author)

My Moment: Forever Finding the Light

In late February 2021, after 12 wonderful years of life, I had to say goodbye to Tagg, my beloved companion. However, a few months prior to his passing, I had the inexplicable urge to grab my camera and photograph my surroundings. The charm of being a full-time homebody wore off and I searched for creative ways to fill my time- and photography seemed like a perfect fit. All the time I spent homebound afforded me the luxury of spoiling Tagg with affection and observing his daily routine. I watched everyday as he followed the patch of sunlight across the living room floor, adjusting his little body so that the incoming golden rays fully encompassed him.

And on April 8th, 2020, I snapped the photo of him fully enamored by the light. Not truly staring at anything in particular, just basking in the glow. But, looking back at this photo, I realize its incredible significance. Tagg always brought the light and positively into my life when I needed it most. He gave me the love and support to face my fears, my darknesses. I am forever grateful that quarantine gave me the opportunity to return to my roots and appreciate his beautifully simple life.

Tagg looking towards the light | Photo Credit: Leah Segal (Author)

Since Tagg's passing, his love and companionship inspired me to adopt another furry friend, a mini Aussiedoodle named Theo. Being able to watch another puppy grow and discover this strange world brings me the same happiness that I experienced as a 13-year-old bringing home Tagg. And even though he has passed on, I will always remember to seek the simple and find the light.

Tagg (left) and Theo (right) | Photo Credit: Leah Segal (Author)

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LM Segal

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Comments (36)

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  • Laura Pruett17 days ago

    Nicely done!

  • kward zerre25 days ago

    Your story warmed my heart so much. Thank you.

  • Peter Kent25 days ago

    Well done.

  • Vytas Stoskusabout a month ago

    Your story warmed my heart & reminded me of a buddy I had decades ago. If I were Robinson Crusoe & got to pick a Friday, it would be my buddy DaVinci, a Welsh Springer Spaniel--pure love.

  • Randy Kaplanabout a month ago

    Thanks for your response and stay well. Randy.

  • Randy Kaplanabout a month ago

    What a lovely story. It is one of the wonderful things about life that we can share our lives with dogs. I have a coccapoo. She's about 8 years old and she is my buddy everyday. This year I spent some time in the hospital and when I returned home for her it was like I never left. I had an older coccapoo that had to leave us. He lived for 18 years. I still miss him and will for the rest of my life. Although i get lots of pleasure from Winnie the younger dog who looks like Tag i do not look forward to her time either. Bit now i have her e everyday and that is andolutely wonderful story. Randy.

  • Lori Lamotheabout a month ago

    As the owner of two rescue huskies, I loved this. Congrats!

  • Roger Gowensabout a month ago

    As a fellow dog lover I can relate to this story very well... When most people see my dog Carter, a 9 year old rescue dog who will have been in my life for 8 years later this month, they see an "ordinary" tan colored retriever mix.. When I look at him I see the best part of myself (other than an occasional accident on the floor of the den.;) He loves to fetch tennis balls and I will nearly throw out my right arm playing the game we created together in our back yard.. He catches them as they roll off the roof pretty often and always comes running when I grab a tennis ball.. Well done!

  • Efulabout a month ago

    Good Job, I love your articles

  • Joe Moreland2 months ago

    Great job with this. Not just the story, which is excellent, but in the structure as well. You took us on a well-mapped journey through your life with Tagg. It never bogged down in the metaphor you were building and it never lost my interest. I have to say I agree that this is a winning piece of writing. Congratulations!

  • Loved your story! Brought tears to my eyes with how you explained Tagg's passing - sad yet so very sweet! <3

  • Diane Siefkes2 months ago

    A great ode to a beloved pet. And a commentary on living simple.

  • Tang Tonrey2 months ago

    I want to praise you

  • Martin Thomas2 months ago

    Really great post

  • Lynette Sherece2 months ago

    So beautiful!!! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  • Annie Edwards 2 months ago

    This is absolutely beautiful! It brought tears to my eyes!!!

  • Seamons Mahall2 months ago

    Well written👍

  • Matilkova2 months ago

    Thank you for sharing, great write up!

  • Threna Jane 2 months ago

    Absolutely loved this. Thank you for sharing it with the world. I also had a close small companion like Tagg, her name was Sophie 💛

  • Ma Jia La Shi2 months ago

    Well written

  • Mark Graham2 months ago

    Your Tag reminded me of my dog Misty a cock-a-poo who also it seemed left too soon. Loved the pictures.

  • Sotomayor Paley2 months ago

    Great writing

  • GABRIELA LUPU2 months ago

    Beautiful!!!

  • Em Starrrrr2 months ago

    Beautiful heartfelt story.

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