Ragz: A Tibetan Terrier’s Legacy Of Love, Laughter, And Loyalty

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Welcome to a dog’s tail tale!

Strap in, for a tale sprinkled with paws, laughter, and a dollop of doggy love. This isn’t my usual mind-bending, skill-enhancing post. Today, it’s all about Ragz, my Tibetan terrier; my ‘Ragamuffin Dog’.

Born on a day when love is celebrated worldwide (Feb 14 for the non-romantically inclined!) Ragz has been a constant presence in both my life and my work. As many of you who’ve crossed paths with us know, Ragz was more than a dog—he was a character, a companion, and a source of countless smiles and endless love.

Today, I’d like to share with you not just the story of his passing, but a celebration of his life, a life that intertwined deeply with mine and left paw prints all through my heart. Ragz’s journey with me was more than just walks and wagging tails; it was a lesson in love, laughter, and the magic of close companionship.

Ragz, left this earth plane on Tuesday morning 26-3-24.

Ragz’s early days

Ragz has been my constant companion for the last 14 years—literally—he’s had separation anxiety since the day I got him.😊 He was flown up from Christchurch and I picked him up at the Hamilton airport when he was just eight weeks old.

I took him out of the crate that kept him safe on the plane and he held my arm between his tiny front paws with a vice-like grip, as if he was hanging on for dear life.

Maybe he was.

I picked the best

Tibetan terrier Ragz at 6 weeks old

Ragz at 6 weeks old

I was fortunate to have the pick of the Tibetan terrier litter in 2010, and I chose Ragz because the breeders said he loved to cuddle. He was also the biggest dog in the litter. (Having had Bearded Collies for years, I hoped he’d be a slightly a bigger version of the Tibetan terrier breed because I didn’t want a tiny dog.)

He was a tri-colour. He had black, white and tan markings. I knew these colours would blend together and that, eventually, while he’d probably look ‘dirty’—the perfect look for racing around on our black sand beaches!

Overcoming obstacles

Dogs weren’t allowed in the Raglan CBD when I first got Ragz, so this made coping with his separation anxiety exhausting and stressful. I couldn’t even walk into town with him to get shopping.

Fortunately, after some lobbying from our newly formed Raglan Chamber (of which I was a founder member), the council lifted their ‘no dogs in the CBD’ ban. Today, there’s even a cafe that welcomes dogs inside (as long as the owners are well-behaved!)

He was certainly easy to train

He was only six or seven months old in these videos


Challenges and triumphs

From when he was a puppy, a very dear friend, Wendy, volunteered to take care of him for me while I was training or not able to take him with me. If I was facilitating a training course, I obviously couldn’t have him with me all day.

Usually he’d tag along while I set up the room, and again when I packed up everything at the end. He was comfortable at Wendy’s place and I always knew he was well looked after. She always said he was very well-behaved.

When he was 9 or 10 years old, the separation anxiety eased a little, but when he was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease last year, it became much worse again.

I could not close a door when Ragz was on the other side

Even last week, I was sitting on the step outside the (glass) French doors. Ragz was inside, lying about 50 centimetres away from me. He was barking at me because the door was closed. I opened the door for him to come out. He didn’t want to come out—he just wanted the door open!

While his separation anxiety has been a real struggle to deal with at times, it’s meant that he’s gone just about everywhere with me—like we were joined at the hip. He is well known around Raglan. He was quite happy to wait outside a shop, not even tied up, while I was inside shopping with visiting friends.

Cuddlesome

Tibetan terrier, Ragz lying beside a woman on a chair.

Wendy with Ragz, being a lapdog.

When I first got Ragz he was obviously tiny and easy to pick up and cuddle. But as he grew, he got too big to be a lap dog.

He didn’t get that memo—as you can see in this photo of him with Wendy. As far as he was concerned if you had legs and arms, that was all the equipment necessary for cuddling him.

He’s been to places most dogs haven’t; public and private meetings, cafes, dinners with friends, the dentist, osteopath, hairdresser, on holiday.

For most things—if he couldn’t go—I couldn’t go either! And people always commented on how well-behaved he was. I always got invited back, so that told me I’d trained him well. 

But don’t for a minute think he was an angel

He was food-obsessed, and I remember one night, we were having ‘Girls Night In’ at my place. I’d put out some nibbles on the coffee table, including a large block of cheese.

I was in the kitchen and out of the corner of my eye I noticed Ragz had gone out onto the deck and seemed to be eating something. He’d pilfered the complete block of cheese from under my visitors noses and was wolfing it down.

He had an amazing internal clock, always letting me know—by barking loudly—when it was time to leave, or give him his dinner. Wendy would sometimes drop him at my training venue at 6.00 pm and he’d rush in, barking at everyone to let them know he’d arrived and training was over for the day!

Ragz superpower?

I think every dog has a superpower. Ragz had two.

Ragz, Tibetan Terrier at 11 months

Ragz, at 11 months.

His first superpower was strategic lounging

He could turn himself into a furry road block without even trying, disrupting a room’s traffic and causing major inconvenience to the greatest number of people—for as long as possible!

I’d have to physically drag him out of the way (like dragging a large fluffy mop) if it was a smooth floor, or shout at him to move.

His second superpower was making people feel comfortable

He wasn’t the dog who gets in everyone’s face, although he always made a lot of noise for those he knew and loved. He would lie on his back next to clients, visitors or me, and gently raise a front paw as if to say ‘hold my hand’.

He’d lie like that for ages, with you holding his paw, and if you forgot he was there and loosened your grip, he’d gently offer his paw again to remind you. A friend of mine always said he was ‘needy’ when he did that, but I felt it was his way of connecting with people.

I’m sure he considered himself a ‘therapy dog’ and clients—especially children, always loved having him there. A ball of friendly fluff, without an aggressive bone in his body.

How to exercise 20 dogs at once!

This is what dog walks were like in Raglan. There was no agreement for us to walk together. Everyone just turned up, and this is what happened.

Quirky traits

I’d taught him (don’t ask me how!) that if I said “Can I have it?” he’d pick up whatever ‘it’ was (usually a stick, a toy or a ball) and run off with it. Then I’d have to chase him—that was the game!

He liked to have ‘conversations’ with people. I’d often come out of a shop and find him having a conversation with someone he knew. It was hilarious. He’d reply to every question or comment with a combination of growls, barks and yodels. It sounded as if he was being severely tortured, but his tail would be wagging the whole time. Here’s an example, but it’s nowhere near as impressive without the growling and yodelling.

Size wise

At 18 kilograms (40 lbs) Ragz was a big Tibetan terrier. He was slim, but was about a third bigger than the average TT that I’ve seen. That’s exactly what I wanted, and people often commented on what a wonderful size he was; he wasn’t a tiny dog, yet wasn’t too big to lift if I needed to. (Read more about the breed here.)

Ragz had three beds (don’t even go there!)

One beside my bed in the bedroom, one in the office and one in the lounge. One of Ragz’s mates, Fly, just loved Ragz big bed and would make a beeline for it whenever possible. Ragz never worried too much. Mind you Fly was twice Ragz’s size—and just as good natured.

Despite this three-bed extravagance he’d often insist he join me on my bed. He’d never just jump on, he’d always ‘ask’. Asking came by way of pawing on the side of the bed, and if that didn’t work, low, barely perceivable growls, gradually increasing in volume if there was no response, until he was barking at full throttle!

If he got off the bed and wanted to get back on, he’d start over with the whole ‘asking’ procedure!

Even in Teeny Tiny caravan Ragz often demanded he get on the bed with me. Because he was so persistent and I believed he’d only stay there for a few minutes, I’d allow him to jump on. Plus, it was obvious I would get no peace until he got his own way.

It was a ridiculous situation—me and a dog in a 60 cms (2 feet) wide bed, with my feet touching the side of the wardrobe. Unable to move and sometimes even breathe properly, I’d lie there waiting for him to get too hot and jump off. However, as the weather got cooler—and he had less hair—the time extended up to 30 minutes. 

I discovered it’s impossible to turn over without moving your legs (try it if you don’t believe me!)

Tibetan terrier—the non-water dog!

In summer, if I put my swim suit on before we went out, Ragz would get really excited. I’d always wear something on top of the swim suit until we got to the beach and I was ready to swim. But Ragz knew I had that swimsuit on!

As soon as I even thought about swimming, he’d start racing around the beach, barking and making sure he stayed out of my reach, so I couldn’t catch him. He loved the game of being chased—but he hated the game of being caught.

Being caught meant he was going swimming with me!

He wasn’t a water dog by any means! I guess there’s no sea swimming in land locked Tibet, and as the Tibetan terrier breed is over 2000 years old I suspect the anti-water trait is inbred.

The problem was that if I left him on the beach, he’d race up and down like Lassie, barking until people on the beach were as agitated as he was—and convinced I was drowning!

He was happy to play in the sand though

Tiny house life

I’m so glad he got to experience life in our tiny home and cabin for the last 10 months, especially after our tumultuous previous year. He loved going backwards and forwards between the house and the office, and being able to wander around the rural property here (although much less so in recent weeks).

An expected passing

Although I was expecting his passing at some stage this year. I am still broken-hearted. The house feels soulless and empty without his energy and his ‘voice’. His passing has left a big gap in my life and it’s eerily quiet here now. It seems even Shaggy has nothing to say.

Ragz has had a wonderful life

He was extremely well-loved, by me and many others. 

Ragz has taught me that ‘where there’s a will there’s a way.’ Before I got him I wouldn’t have believed that I could have included him in so many aspects of my life.

Ragz is no doubt running around on the other side of the rainbow bridge, reuniting with some of his mates, (including Snoop, below) playing chase and enjoying a new life of freedom as only dogs can. Who knew a dog could teach us so much about living life to the fullest?

Did you notice the joy?

In all these videos, you can probably hear at least me laughing, if not the other people I was with. This is the kind of joy Ragz brought into my life.

His passing has given me some food for thought

  • You really don’t know how much of an impact you have in the world. Like dropping a stone into a still pond, the ripples can extend a long way. This applies to animals as well as humans. If a dog can have a big impact, just imagine how much impact you have.
  • Every one of us is needed, because we all have an effect on the systems of which we’re a part. The world is never the same when one goes.
  • It’s important to treasure your pets, keep them safe and love them dearly. I believe that once you accept an animal into your life, it’s your responsibility to do whatever you can to make sure it leads a happy life.
  • Dogs should be so well trained that you can take them anywhere—and be welcome to take them back again.

Ragz’s passing is not just an end, but a legacy of laughter and love that will echo in our hearts.

Rest in peace and love my little Ragamuffin Dog

I found this poem and it seemed so appropriate because it illustrates the loyalty and unconditional love of our canine friends. I hope you enjoy it.

The Creation

When God had made the earth and sky, the flowers and the trees,
He then made all the animals, the fish, the birds and bees.
And when at last He’d finished not one was quite the same.
He said, “I’ll walk this world of mine and give each one a name.”
And so He travelled far and wide and everywhere He went,
a little creature followed Him until its strength was spent.

When all were named upon the earth and in the sky and sea,
the little creature said, “Dear Lord, there’s not one left for me.”
Kindly the Father said to him, “I’ve left you to the end.
I’ve turned my own name back to front and
called you dog, My friend.”

~~Author Unknown~~Dedicated To Ragz~14-2-10 to 26-3-24

I’m all ears and paws!

Now, it’s your turn to share tales from your furry sidekick’s playbook. Drop a comment below—let’s turn this into a celebration of our four-legged teachers.

Tags: Thinking and mindset

27 Comments

  1. Alena

    Aww Steph, I’m so sorry to hear of Rag’s passing. Sending lots of love your way. He was such a special companion, what a beautiful celebration of his life this post was 💛

    Reply
    • Stephanie

      Thank you Alena, I wanted to do his life justice. ❤️

      Reply
    • Kayt Ziadi

      Such a beautiful, thoughtful, heartfelt tribute to your dear friend

      Reply
      • Stephanie

        Thanks Kayt, I hope I did him justice.xx

        Reply
  2. Jamie Bruce

    Hi Steph. Sorry to hear Ragz has gone. I remember you telling us stories of him way back when we were in Chamber of Commerce together and how he’d want to be with you all the time. There’s a strong bond between people and their dogs. Thanks for sharing about his life.

    Reply
    • Stephanie

      Thank you Jamie, he was at some of our Chamber meetings, I was probably hiding him under the table! At least he was well-behaved (mostly!)

      Reply
    • Sue Fayter

      So sorry you’ve lost him. So glad you had him. Ragz will live on in your memories and in the memories of those who met him.

      Reply
  3. Tracey Brake

    Kia ora Steph
    Sweetheart. My heart and love is with you. Ragz was truly one of a kind. I remember him insisting on holding hands whenever I was sitting with you while you coached me.
    He was a wise soul.
    Aroha Nui
    Tracey xxx

    Reply
    • Stephanie

      Kia ora Tracey, thanks so much for your heartfelt comment. Yes, Ragz was a lot more ‘user friendly’ than Shaggy (how’s your finger? 😜) He had an ability to help people feel relaxed. Much love to you.

      Reply
  4. Julie Rowlands

    Aww Steph, so sorry to hear of Ragz passing! He was a wonderful friend and as you said brought so much joy to everyone. Sending you a big hug and lots of love xx💜

    Reply
    • Stephanie

      Thanks Julie, yes I’m pretty sure Ragz knew more people than I did! Sometimes I’d have to introduce myself to whoever he was ‘talking’ to because I didn’t know them! 😊

      Reply
  5. Jane

    Ah Steph, so sorry Ragz has gone to play at Rainbow Bridge, he’ll be waiting for you there ❤️🐾. Wish I’d got to meet him in person, he sounds an incredible guy and the love you shared immeasurable. Big hugs and love to you both xx

    Reply
    • Stephanie

      Thank you Jane, he was an incredible little mate with a big personality. Always in my heart. ❤️

      Reply
  6. Alisa

    Hey Steph, sending you and Shaggy much love at this sad time. I am glad that I got to meet Ragz and when he came to the end of the daily workshops, everyone enjoyed his energy and love.

    Thank you for sharing his life story in part as well as the fantastic videos. What a keepsake.

    Take care.

    Reply
    • Stephanie

      Thanks Alisa, yes, he loved all the attention he got from everyone at the end of a training day. He was always ‘full of the joys’ when everyone else was tired! 🤣 So glad you enjoyed the post. It was a joy to create it as a lasting memorial for him.

      Reply
  7. Marsha

    Dear Steph, a beautiful n heartfelt tribute to a wonderful companion. Much love to you 💝
    An old soul so full of joy de vivre, n personality.
    It’s been a delight to know you both.
    Reading n watching, reminders of my companions, their shorter lives, so blessed n privileged to have had more than one … love n hugs 💝🌈

    Reply
    • Stephanie

      Thank you Marsha, I’ve always thought Ragz was an old soul— and he certainly had personality! 😊. Yes, we keep getting companion animals and then grieving when they go before us. Then we rinse and repeat 🤣. Love to you.❤️

      Reply
  8. Heather-Anne

    Ahhh Steph! so sorry to hear about Ragz! I know the loss of a dearly loved pet! The memories will live on and give you much joy cuz! hugs and smooches!

    Reply
    • Stephanie

      Thanks Heather-Anne, and you’re right, even writing the blog post and adding the videos reminded me of some of the joyous memories we shared.Love and hugs back at you.❤️

      Reply
  9. Alaine Carter

    Hi Steph
    Hope you are coping a wee bit better now.
    After reading the blog/story about Ragz’s journey through his life . I feel as if Ive just met him for the first time. What an amazing soul he was & such a cute wee man when he was a puppy.
    Am sure he will walk with you on your many walks along the beach.
    Certainly has stirred up blocked emotions when I lost my wonderful four legged friends.
    Thinking of you Steph.
    😘

    Reply
    • Stephanie

      Aww thanks Alaine. Yes I think any kind of grieving stirs up similar emotions in others, but especially our 4-legged friends. Glad it helped you get unblocked. Writing it helped me such a lot too. Much love, ❤️

      Reply
  10. Sharon Stannard

    Beautiful writing from the heart filled with your love and joy. There were several points where I could barely read it for the emotion. Including the last few lines of the beautiful poem. Love and blessing to you and Ragz always xxx

    Reply
    • Stephanie

      Thank you Sharon, I just wanted to record our life together and share some of the joy that Ragz has given not only me, but hundreds of others in our community as well as clients, course participants and friends. I hope my words validated my special Valentine.❤️

      Reply
  11. Raewyn Doe

    Oh My, what an amazing friend to have. A lovely tribute to a great mate. So sad to have him leave. Thank you for sharing this and know that there is a listening ear not far away with the lovely friends you have. Hugs to you.

    Reply
    • Stephanie

      Thank you, Raewyn. Yep, Ragz has been a great mate and it was rewarding for me to be able to share some of our experiences, including photos and videos to give you an idea of our time together. xx

      Reply
  12. Margaret Walker

    Stephanie, I spoke briefly with Robin yesterday and was so sad to hear of Ragz passing. I well remember his anxiety as a puppy and in particular the damage that occurred in the back of the red car you had at the time .. I think it was red .. and how much work you put into helping him live with it. I think it must be a TT trait as Dawa had separation anxiety to a degree and Roshi has it also. Funny you should mention his dislike of water as Dawa also hated water and Roshi is the same with the exception of the hose which she loves to bite and subsequently choke from the water rush down her throat.
    Memories will keep Ragz active in your thoughts and mind and you will talk to Shaggy about him, often, I am sure.
    Much love to you…

    Reply
    • Stephanie

      Hi Margaret, thank you for your kind thoughts. Ragz’s separation anxiety seemed to ease a little when he was about 9 years old, but with the onset of Cushing’s disease last year, it got worse again. When I was researching a website about TT’s for the blog, the one I linked to—under Adaptability—gives only one star for ‘tolerates being alone’. I did a LOT of research on the breed before I got Ragz, and nowhere did it mention this. Admittedly this was over 14 years ago, so I’m glad people can find this out about the breed now. Having said all that, he was such a gorgeous dog, and we created some great memories together, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m still thinking “OK, can I take Ragz” before I do anything, I’ve gotten so used to taking him everywhere or leaving him with Wendy, it’s my automatic thinking process. I guess it’ll take a while to get out of that mentality. Very interesting to see your confirmation about your two TT’s anxiety and their dislike of water. Ragz would go for a paddle, and maybe up to his tummy if he was with other dogs (didn’t want to seem like a wuss!) but not if he was just with me. Much love to you too. xx

      Reply

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