Taz was abandoned when he was six months old.
However, fate smiled down upon him, because Love a Golden, a St. Louis group that rescues Golden Retrievers and Golden mixes, took in Taz.
When he was born, he didn’t have a name. Or perhaps he did, but he never bothered to tell anyone what it had been because Taz, you see, had a birth defect. His leg might have looked just a little “different” when he was a tiny puppy, but after a few months, it was apparent it was never going to develop properly.
His owners decided the best solution would be to take the “not right” puppy out into the woods to starve. After all, shooting it would have been too cruel. From their perspective, it was best just to let nature take its course…
Luckily for Taz, along with his forever family, a neighbor called Love a Golden. They took in the young dog, immediately got the leg amputated, and worked on getting him rehabilitated. Right away, it was obvious that this puppy was full of “personality” (which is dog rescue language means “mischievious”) so he was named Taz. His foster family fell in love with him and were unable to give him up, so they adopted him. And the rest is history.
When he became an adult dog, Taz went through the training and passed the rigorous requirements to become a Therapy Dog. Every week he went to Griffith Elementary, in the Ferguson-Florissant School District, and helped children learn to read. His owner and trainer, Jan Knoche, would sit with the same book in her lap that the third graders had. Taz, sprawled in the middle of the circle of students, soaked up the petting and the love. Knoche would occasionally make comments like, “Read a little louder. Taz can’t hear you,” and “You’re reading so well. Taz really enjoyed that story!”
Taz also went to hospitals and nursing homes, but he also lived up his name. Capable of hearing when the door to the basement craft room has not clicked shut, he would scamper downstairs so he could tear up things. Quite often the mischief in the house was Taz’s fault. Only having three legs has never hindered him.
Now Taz is an old guy. For the most part he has retired from therapy work. Most of his day is spent being pampered at home. But hundreds of children’s lives are enriched because of the three-legged dog named Taz. They know that being “disabled” doesn’t mean you aren’t able to overcome your obstacles. They know that Taz never said, “I can’t” and neither should they.
Who decides what lives are worth saving? Who determines what dogs are “keepers” and which dogs should be discarded like worthless rubbish? Thankfully, in this case, it wasn’t Taz’s first owners who made that decision.