I am currently mulling over a fantasy piece where my beloved pet, Tatsu the bearded dragon, will be the hero of the story. It's an unconventional love to blog about for the big Hallmark day, but there's a reason behind it. Tatsu passed away on December 4, 2010. I had him for almost eight years. He was a wonderful pet, friend, and even a matchmaker. (Yes, he even introduced me to my husband online on a pet forum). He was a late Valentine's Day gift almost eight years ago that changed my life forever.
He was running around, climbing on the other juvies, and trying to get my attention. He did and he came home with us to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My husband and I named him Tatsu, which is Japanese for dragon.
We quickly learned that Tatsu had quite the personality. He liked soft blankets, baths, and Saturday morning cartoons. He also had his own favorite T.V. programs that he would come running up to the front of his tank to watch. I don't know how he recognized the music to his shows, but he did. Tatsu loved snuggling with me on the couch.
In 2005, I was going through a divorce and I had been on a pet forum for bearded dragons for a few years. I started chatting with members all over the U.S. and soon became friends with my current husband, Will. I traveled to Albuquerque, NM to meet him for the first time in August of 2005 and to celebrate my 29th birthday.
We hit it off. In 2006, he came to Wisconsin to move Tatsu, my cat, Tiggyr, all my belongings, and me to The Land of Enchantment. We had quite the road trip.
Tatsu always loved being in the car. In fact, he behaved better than my tabby, Tiggyr, who cried the entire 1500 miles over three days.
Not only did my love for bearded dragons lead me to my second husband, but his love for bearded dragons inspired him to create his own custom lizard harness business, in which Tatsu frequently modeled. Taking pictures is one of my hobbies and I accrued a mass of Tatsu pics over the years in various harnesses. These are a few of my favorites.
He was so gentle; we could even get doll boots on him. This is his Darth Vader costume.
Tatsu went everywhere with me -- to the library, to restaurants, to Petroglyphs National Monument to hike, various pet stores in three states, even to Walmart and Home Depot shopping. He loved meeting people. There are dozens of photos of my husband, me, and our dragons in strangers' vacation albums somewhere. We were stopped together all the time in New Mexico.
Tatsu became a legend on the beardie forums because of his size. He was exactly 2 feet long and had all his toes and a complete tail, which is a rarity. People loved him so much, they were inspired to send me artwork of him. He even amassed his own army of over 250 dragons by the time he passed. I answered his fanmail for him weekly. It was a joy to write as Tatsu trying to take over the world.
He even has his own oil painting my husband commissioned for my birthday.
R.I.P. my friend. Happy Valentine's Day to you! Thank you for your many years of unconditional love and for inspiring me to write a wonderful short story. I'll be working on it soon.
For those of you who have lost someone, working through your grief in writing is very cathartic and a beautiful way to remember your loved ones.
I hope everyone has a Happy Valentine's Day.
As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!
Postnote: After posting this blog article, I went to the beardie forum where I first introduced Tatsu to the world. They are starting a memorial booklet: Tatsu's Celestial Army. It is a book of memorials to bearded dragons that have passed over The Rainbow Bridge. I was touched they named it after my baby, and of course, I am submitting his picture and a paragraph about him as well!