Life Lessons


Tiny Taco, squirrel fighter, 3 months old and a big attitude


This wasn’t the best week, but it will be memorable. After 6 1/2 years our chihuahua’s liver finally stopped functioning. I say finally because he was born with a liver that was too small – imagine how small that must be in a 6 pound dog – and his blood vessels didn’t attach properly. We found this out on a trip, one winter where we met this wonderful vet, who saved his life with emergency surgery. This week, in that same spot, at the same vet’s, it all came to an end. 

I can’t tell you how tired I am, tired from the sadness and the worry. Tired from years of not sleeping because the little one had to get up and pee a million times a night. Tired right into every cell. Exhausted from always waiting for this to happen. Knowing it would and knowing it would be so devastating. I wouldn’t change any of it.

In the last 6 1/2 years I have learned a lot from a very small dog, rescued from a puppy mill by the great people at the SPCA. Some things we all know we should do, but need a reminder every once in a while, and we had a daily reminder in the little Mexican. These are a few that I have been thinking about this week.

Embrace every day. You never know what will happen tomorrow. Taco was enthusiastic for all the things he loved. For napping, peanut butter, the warmth of the sun, tofu, carrots and cabbage. Most definitely for cabbage. He loved being held, constantly. He loved attention. He loved having his picture taken. Walking down Main Street, shopping, having people say “oh, look at how cute he is”,  he really turned on the charm when he heard that.


In the hot sun, the best place to be.


If you don’t like it, don’t do it, or eat it. This included dog food. That was for dogs and clearly I am not a dog. I am a diva. I am a tiny tough guy. But, I am not a dog.

Take naps. At least one daily. He never refused a nap. If you spent too long sitting on the couch, before you knew it there was a chihuahua napping on top of you and that is a very difficult spot to get out of. Now we can no longer say, “sorry, can you get me whatever I need right now, I am trapped under a chihuahua”. I learned the value of napping thanks to the Little.


Napping, can be done anywhere.

Be bold. It doesn’t matter if things look impossible. If the couch is three times your height, you can get up on it. Ask for everything, you never know, you just might get it. We used to say he was the MexiCAN not the MexiCAN’T. I think this is a pretty good attitude.


On the Pacific Crest Trail, Cutthroat Trail, Washington State. He hiked the whole way up.


Don’t be limited by your size. Taco climbed mountains, hiked on the Pacific Crest Trail, went swimming, went to Agility – and was a “natural” according to the instructor. He took on dogs 10 times his size. He had a giant personality in a very small package. We all could use a little of that zest.

Get down here, what are you afraid of?

Get down here, what are you afraid of?

Don’t worry about pleasing everyone. You won’t anyway. Taco didn’t like walking away from town. He wanted to be the centre of attention. When we lived in Vancouver, going to Robson Street, Kitsilano, Yaletown, Main Street were all acceptable locations. He could strut down the street, do a little shopping and be admired by all. When we moved to the mountains if we went toward a trail, ugh, dirty trails, this was not his favourite. He would put his little head down, spread his front legs and stop walking. You could drag him if you really wanted to keep going, but you know you look like a monster dragging a chihuahua… He didn’t like getting his feet wet, or cold, or touched. Clipping his toenails was a two person job, screaming (Taco’s) included. He wanted everyone to know he didn’t like this. Monsters were touching his feet. So, if you really don’t like something let everyone know, chances are you will not have to do it very often.

I am not going outside, it's raining.

I am not going outside, it’s raining.


Eki and Taco being a busy body.



Be enthusiastic and love your family. He loved his brother, he especially loved to bite him. He wouldn’t let me pet Brio, ever. He was the centre of attention, he was my little boyfriend. He would try to bite Brad if he thought he was getting to close or had undesirable intentions.


Taco and Brio, looking for something.


He was charming. He would gaze at you, snuggle his little nose into the corner of your elbow, and dig himself a little deeper into your heart. I can’t imagine that he really is gone. That I won’t hear the soft tick, tick, tick of his tiny feet on our floor. Or have him do laps around the house when we get home, because he loved to be home. Or have him run into the bedroom after Brad takes the dogs out in the morning, trying to leap back into the bed to get all cozy and warm, to sleep in just a little bit longer. He isn’t coming for coffee anymore. He won’t be waiting outside the grocery store with Brio and Brad. He was always the first to see me and so excited, every time.


Hiking up Maple Pass, Washington State


I am going to try and not cry when I see cabbage at the grocery store. I managed to pet a chihuahua today without losing it. I know it will get better and one day they will all be great memories, but right now I have a chihuahua shaped hole in my heart and space on my lap. This is my reminder that life is unpredictable. Don’t miss an opportunity. Be loving and enthusiastic. Be a little demanding. Be a diva. Take more naps.

Love Taco


At the beach

At the beach

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5 Responses to “Life Lessons”
  1. Joanne Bjornsen says:

    Mary told me about Taco and I am so sorry, I know first hand how you are feeling! Loved your life lessons, I have always said we can all learn so much about life from animals. Joanne Bjornsen

  2. Shayla says:

    Thanks Joanne, we were lucky to have him.

  3. Debbie says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Taco. You know I know how you feel. You are so right though, dogs have so much to teach us if we just pay attention. Sounds like Taco gave you a lot in just 6 short years. Hang in there. It gets easier with time.

  4. Ava says:

    Very sorry to hear about Taco. Seeing his photos puts a big smile on my face. The life lessons are good ones to do.

  5. Pat says:

    Shayla and Brad
    I’m so sorry to hear about Taco his life was too short! I know he will be missed. Love to both of you. Talk soon Pat and Ken


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