Portneuf Kennels and the Cat House
                          The Tail of Taz

Someone gave me an old picture with a saying when I opened my business over 30
years ago and it has hung in my office ever since. I liked what it said but never
really felt the emotion of what it said until the winter of 2004-2005.

It was a speech given by Senator George Graham Vest of Missouri about the love
of a dog, "the one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish
world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or
treacherous...is his dog."

As the cold winds and snow came in January I received an urgent call from one of
the ladies from PAWS asking if I could help them with a rescued dog.  Then I was
told the very interesting and unusual story of "Taz", a small German shepherd mix
who was owned by a transient who had jumped a train and lost his dog.  Many
theories as to what had happened were discussed but I personally think that Taz
either jumped or was pushed off the boxcar and dislocated his hip.  In his pain, he
became scared and took off and was lost.

The PAWS  ladies received a call from a gentleman on North Main who said there
was a dog in his dog's doghouse and it was skinny and hurt.  The ladies rescued
the frightened dog and took him to the vet where his hip was manipulated and
taped.  This is where I entered the story.  I had concerns about the dog's
temperament, as an injured, scared dog might be a handful.  I was assured he was
a most wonderful dog and they were confident I would not have a problem caring for
him.  So I agreed and soon Taz and I were introduced.

Taz was in horrible, horrible condition...the worst I've ever seen.  It seems he had
been on his own for about 12 days and we had had terrible weather and a huge
snowstorm during that time.  If he had found anything to eat it wasn't much.  He was
literally skin and bones and looked like a dog that you would see on the Animal
Planet rescue show.

Taz looked at me and I looked at him and I could tell he was very close to giving up.  
I told him, "don't worry, you will have a warm place to sleep and food now".  I don't
know if he understood but he seemed to relax a little bit.  Because of his condition I
didn't dare give him a big meal, but rather fed him many small meals with constant
encouragement.  After about three days I could see him changing before my eyes,
although he still looked horrible I could see trust in his eyes.  It took about a week
before I saw his tail wag.

I was in constant touch with the PAWS ladies and the story of Taz started to unfold.  
His owner, who I started calling, "Boxcar Willy," was very concerned and was still in
town and wanted his dog back.  The PAWS ladies had tried to get him to sign the
dog over to them so they could place him in a new home but Boxcar Willy wasn't
going to give up his dog.  He was told what bad condition Taz was in and that he still
needed vet care and there was no way he could take him on a train.

Boxcar Willy told the ladies that he had had Taz since he was a puppy and they
were always together.  During the cold weather Taz slept in the sleeping bag with
him.  He dearly loved him and wasn't leaving him.  The PAWS ladies agreed to help
him, but told him Taz was hurt to badly to jump any more trains.  Boxcar Willy
agreed and started working on his own plan.

During this time Taz and I formed a friendship and he started to feel a little better
and put on some weight.  He was still skin and bones but looked better than when
he first came to stay with me.  He had another vet visit and his leg was untaped.  It
would be a long time before Taz was sound, but he was making progress.

In the meantime, Boxcar Willy had come up with his own plan.  He had a friend in
Nevada with a trailer where he thought he and Taz could spend the rest of the
winter.  He left town but promised he would be back to get Taz.  I honestly thought
that would be the last anyone would see of him.

"a man's dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and sickness.  He
will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives
fiercely, if only he may be near his master's side.  He will kiss the hand that has no
food to offer, will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the
roughness of the world.  He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a

About ten days later Boxcar Willy kept his promise and did return with a plan and
was ready to get his dog.  A meeting place and time were picked and Taz and
Boxcar Willy were reunited.  It was a scene of pure joy for man and dog.  Willy was a
big hairy bear of a man and wanted to give one of the PAWS ladies a hug for
helping him.  She said ok.  She later told me she hadn't had a big hairy hug like that
in a long time.  Boxcar Willy was sent on his way with a bag of dog food and
instructions.  He promised he would send some money in the spring to help repay
their kindness.
I was proud to have been involved, in a small way, in the rescue of Taz. I enjoyed
working with the PAWS ladies.  I feel this is a great organization and they have done
some amazing rescues in Bannock County.  If you would like to support the efforts
of PAWS you can send a tax deductible donation to:
                      P.O. Box 1603
                      Pocatello, Idaho 83201

If you would like to make a tax deductible food (dog or cat) donation, you are
welcome to drop it off at the kennel and I will make sure it is delivered.

PAWS is also in need of dog houses, fencing materials, straw and hay.

P.A.W.S.     Portneuf Animal Welfare Society, INC


                            MISSION STATEMENT:
Portneuf Animal Welfare Society, INC (PAWS) provides compassionate
care and service to the animals and people of Southeastern Idaho working in
collaboration with other organizations and community resources.

Anything is "Pawsable" with a little help from our friends

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       about dogs and cats up for adoption thru P.A.W.S.

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