Column: Thankful for life lessons from Tag the dog

By CAMAL PETRO,

If you’re Facebook friends with me or follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’d know about my dog, Tag. Sometimes I think I’m annoying people with all of my dog posts, but then I think to myself, ‘Tag is the cutest dog in the world, who could possibly be annoyed by excessive posts?” Answer – nobody.

We got Tag from Southern Pine Animal Shelter here in Hattiesburg, and I definitely recommend everybody should do the same. Tag-a-long was his name and he was a shy eight-month old pup who was already house trained.

We got lucky with him. 

I grew up with a yellow lab named Emma who was one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met. Tag gives Emma a run for her money, that’s for sure. Other than a few growing pains when he was a puppy, which should be expected with any puppy, he’s been nothing short of an awesome companion. A man’s best friend, you could say.

He even hops on the paddleboard with me when I’m on the lake. He’s not the biggest fan of water, but he’ll lay there with a paw in the water as I cruise around.

We actually didn’t adopt him at first. We decided to go the foster route because we thought he was already adopted from a family out-of-state. After the weekend was over, we wanted to try and adopt him ourselves. We weren’t 100 percent sure if he was already claimed, but that was the assumption we were under.

As it turns out, he wasn’t going to another family but instead he was going to go right back in shelter where he didn’t belong. He was too handsome, and we couldn’t bear to leave him. We made the quick decision to make the plunge into dog-parenthood.

Notice I’m saying ‘we’ throughout this column. That’s because I adopted Tag with my then-long-time girlfriend. Her and I split everything 50-50 everything for more than a year until the inevitable happened. We broke up. Folks, do not adopt a dog with a girlfriend or boyfriend, even if there’s high-hopes for the relationship.

I’ll admit I was adamant about keeping Tag early on after the breakup. I didn’t want to give him up for months at time, and the thought of split-custody on a dog is just silly. After a few months of going back and forth with her, I knew she loved Tag so I agreed to let her have him a week or so at a time when it was easy for us to switch. She lived five hours away so rotating every few weeks was difficult.

Eventually, the conversation would have to happen. We couldn’t keep going back and forth for the next 10 years of his life. It wasn’t fair to him and it wasn’t fair to us.

The split-custody aspect brought on a lot of jokes among my friends. For the last year, we’ve basically traded Tag off every few months. We’re not going to live that close, or any closer, for the rest of Tag’s life so something tough decisions had to be made.

There was a huge fight a couple of months ago. I didn’t want to give up Tag and I was prepared to do anything to prevent it.

She was ready to do the same.

After weeks of trying to come up with a conclusion, I had nothing. Did I really want to be connected to her for another decade? Nothing against her, but I’m sure she feels the same when I answer that question with a ‘No.’ As much as I want Tag in my life, I can recognize the quality of his life will be better with her. I work a lot of nights and I got out of town for work a lot, while she does a lot of outdoor activities that Tag will thrive in, like hiking, camping, etc.

That’s not to say sports writers can’t have pets. I’m not saying that at all. However, a lot more factors went into this incredibility painful decision. I’ve been questioned with ‘Why are you letting her have him?’ Well, as tough as it is, I can recognize what’s best for Tag.

I’m going to miss that furry face when he does leave me later this month, but he’s leaving me with a lot of lessons learned and memories that I will cherish.

 

Camal Petro is the soft-hearted sports editor of The Hattiesburg Post, The Lamar Times, and The Petal News.