WESLEY CHAPEL — Every night, Malene Pashalidis searches for Tasha's face online, scanning a half dozen different sites — petfinder.com, pet-detective.com, pets911.com and on and on. Malene's husband, David, has begun to ease her into the idea that too much time has passed and maybe, she should just let Tasha go. But Pashalidis can't. She wants her home. But if something terrible happened to Tasha, she wants to know.
"I need closure," she said.
Pashalidis got Tasha 11 years ago in Crystal Springs. Her parents had a rental property there and the tenant left a dog and her 10 puppies there when she moved. Pashalidis planned to take only one, but as she walked away with her chosen puppy, she saw another who looked so pathetic — sick, tail between her legs, so tiny and skinny, slinking alone. So she took both home, sisters named Goldie and Tasha.
They were so tiny, Pashalidis could hold both of them in her hand. A few years later, Tasha gave birth to a litter of puppies; all of whom were adopted except one — a black and white girl named Reba — that Pashalidis kept. Tasha, who is gold and white, never did get very big; she always was fine-boned and only about 20 pounds. Pashalidis thinks she is a mix between a Chihuahua and a rat terrier.
Pashalidis' dogs were there with her through everything — divorce, being a single mom, finding love again, battling breast cancer, remarriage — and so it was heartbreaking when her asthma worsened last year and her doctor told her to get rid of her pets. She just couldn't and kept putting it off. But she became very sick, coughing constantly and short of breath.
So Pashalidis found one friend to keep Goldie and another to house Reba and Tasha, until she could find a medicine that worked well enough to bring the dogs back home. Reba and Tasha were staying with a woman who lived near Old Pasco Road and Dayflower Boulevard in Wesley Chapel. And during a terrible thunderstorm in February, both of them dug underneath a fence and escaped.
Pashalidis and her husband swooped into action — driving for hours trying to find them. They made posters and plastered them all over the area and, when those kept getting soggy from rain, they made huge laminated posters. Pashalidis drove around searching before work and after work. David went to the animal shelter every two days. Three weeks after they disappeared, Reba was found in a neighborhood several miles away near Curley Road. But Tasha was still missing.
David kept going to the animal shelter for months and, on weekends, he and Pashalidis would drive and drive looking for Tasha. Pashalidis searched online and posted ads on Craigslist.
Pashalidis can't let Tasha go. She knows it's been five months. But she feels that Tasha is somewhere, she hopes being taken care of by a kind soul who doesn't know her owner is searching for her. She doesn't know what to do that she hasn't done already.
"She's the sweetest little dog and so easy going," Pashalidis said. "She needs to be home."
Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 909-4609.