Quilla

The year was 1995. I was serving in the USAF, stationed in Germany with my wife Laura, my 2 year old daughter Lexi, and our newborn girl Macy. We had talked for a while about adopting a dog. We’ve always loved dogs and we knew our home was warm and had lots of love. We decided a new pet would be great for Lexi, especially since we’d be giving her new baby sister so much attention.

Laura found a classified listing in “The Eifel Times”, our base paper, with a the headline: “Friendy (F) Jack Russel Terrier Mix, 2 years old. Good with children. Bitburg Housing.” We promptly called and visited with children in tow to the military housing at a nearby Bitburg Air Base. The family had explained on the phone that they were moving to Seattle, and feared winter travel in an aircraft storage area during winter would be too much for “Tequilla” to handle.

When we arrived to meet Tequilla she ran to the door barking. We noticed this all blonde dog was friendly and had a lot of “bounce” to her step. She looked much more like a Cairn Terrier mix. She was small, about 14 pounds and wore a pink collar with bells on it. After visiting for a while, the father gave us the go ahead and approvingly told us the inside scoop on this teddybear-like ball of affection. The father exclaimed “Tequilla loves to have her belly rubbed like this.” He warned us that she would occasionally get into the trash and loved to watch birds and chase squirrels. We went home with Tequilla that day and welcomed her into our family.

We kept her the name Tequilla, but nicknamed her Quilla. We learned from the military vet, that we were this young two year old pup’s third family. We believed she had some abuse in her past, because whenever we’d come home to find she had gone though the trash, she would cower into a corner and pee. We showed Quilla lots of love and attention, and eventually she stopped peeing, but she still loved the trash. Somehow it took us the next ten years to figure out that the canister style trash cans were “Quilla proof”. Sorry it took so long Quilla!

Over the years we showed Quilla as much love and attention as she showed us. Eventually, her nervousness went away. She walked with a confident strut. She’d sleep in the kids bed every night. Upon waking, she would begin sniffing around. It didn’t matter if we were inside or out. The smells were always her wide screen TV! Quilla loved to dry off after a bath. She would run so fast around the house that sometimes her hind quarters would get ahead of her. She would rub into the carpet until every last drop of water had dried. Then suddenly she would stop and stare at you, then resume running around the whole house until the kids would chase her laughing and yelling.

After living in Germany for four years, we decided to leave the military in pursuit of a civilian career. Laura and the kids went to the states, but Quilla stayed in Germany with me to keep me company for the last four months of service until I could join them. This only reinforced our special bond. I took her into local stores with me as dogs in Germany are allowed almost everywhere. Quilla did get me into some trouble in the hotel I was living in. She would usually bark the entire time I was gone. I think she was really feeling lonely, especially without the girls.

When we flew home to the states, Quilla was so happy to be reunited with the family! She showered the girls with kisses. She quickly fell back into her normal routines. Over the next year we moved three times before settling in to our home here on Cape Cod.

Another favorite activity was playing ball. Actually, it was more of an attempt at playing ball. Quilla was so clumsy that she would never really get the ball. She’d bat at it with her fluffy paws a few times and if she was lucky she’d move it around a little. That changed when we got our second dog, Hunter. She’d try hard to compete for the ball, and when the kids held Hunter back she would actually retrieve it.

On July 4th, 2001, our first 4th of July on the Cape, Quilla and I were outside at my home with a friend watching fireworks. Quilla suddenly ran to the back of the house barking, only to have her barks replaced by yelps. I ran to the back of the house yelling, just in time to see a dark shadow running off in the woods. Quilla was whimpering and shaking near the house. I took her inside and found she had been attacked by a Coyote. Under the advise of my father in law, the doctor, I dressed her wounds and took her to the vet as soon as possible. She ended up having 27 stitches when all was said and done.

I still believe Quilla only made it out alive because the confidence she learned with us and her inner strength. She ran from the coyote toward the house where she felt there was always safety. Had she still been the dog we adopted, she would have cowered away and died. But she was strong, and lived for another eight wonderful years. She participated in birthdays and always loved Christmas. Quilla became like a mother to our new dogs Hunter and Joey, always keeping them in line and establishing balance in our family.

Quilla slowed down a little over the last couple of years, and also went mostly deaf, but she still had a little bounce left in her proud step. She was never short of love either. Quilla always made a point of loving everyone around her. She recently became very ill and was bleeding quite a bit. As the end approached, she gave us two good days. We played, took her to the beach and hung out with all the dogs. It was her last goodbye. In the end she went quickly, with my daughter Lexi holding her at the vet. It was very emotional for all of us. We miss her and will always remember all the years of joy that she gave us. Quilla is now on Rainbows Bridge!

We love you Quilla