Saving Tikka

Saving Tikka

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Tikka Then & Now

One of the biggest complaints I had after I rescued seven dogs from the streets of Kabul in 2010 was “how about animals here? Why aren’t you helping animals in your own country?” Well as far as I’m concerned, humanity, compassion and caring have no borders and have no limits. Whether the animal is injured or in need, across the street, in another city, or another province, Kabul Afghanistan or here at home my compassion and love is the same.

I walked in the white clean antiseptic room lit by fluorescent lights as well as the sun illuminating the gray skies through vertical blinds dangling from the large windows. With the usual friendly greeting from the receptionists from Greenbank Veterinary Clinic, on this day that I had my own dog Mac, a twelve-year-old Alaskan Malamute at the clinic. Mac had been suffering through renal failure that we found out many dogs can live years comfortably with this condition if it is managed properly. I had just come into the clinic with Mac and sat down in the waiting room as I noticed a lady probably in her late 40s or early 50s and what I could gather was her teen son, lanky with a flat rimmed baseball cap on discussing their dogs future with the receptionist as their brown lab very happily wagged her tail beside them.

As I watched this scene unfold I sat there in astonishment and couldn’t believe what I was hearing. These people had brought their lab Tikka I guessed probably 10 years old into the clinic to be euthanized. Tikka certainly did not look in the best of shape; she had huge patches of pink skin showing through her sparse chocolate lab brown coat that she scratched at incessantly at intermediate times. Even with that ailment she seemed delighted to be there. As I often do I went over to greet and pet the animal. One of the greatest pleasures in life is to receive the unconditional love and joy of an animal that is just simply happy to be in the moment and get a pet or a scratch under the chin and that is what I did to Tikka. I ignored the lady arguing with the receptionist lavishing pets upon her animal as I felt my stomach clench listening to the lady argue with the veterinarian Dr. Revas who had now stepped out to speak with the owner. What would come out is that the owner wanted to have her dog put down. I heard this and when this happened I return to my seat.

I eavesdropped as the vet told her “I already explained to you. If you keep the dog on the medicine she will be fine.” To which the lady argued that she just simply couldn’t afford the drugs that were $42.00 a month. I sat there thinking, “if that dog leaves what will be her fate? “Will this owner simply take it to another vet clinic to have it euthanized? Or will she drop it off on some country road? Or simply tried to do the job herself? I know that most of the girls at Anne’s clinic all have an assortment of rescued pets brought into the clinic like many vet clinics everywhere I presume. At any rate I couldn’t sit there any longer. Having already petted the dog as happy as any lab could be. She was so friendly and gregarious and filled with life and joy. I got Mac into my truck walked over and said I’ll take the dog.”

I didn’t know what I was going to do with this animal but like most things in life it’s simply took that small bit of courage to take the energy to stand up and step in. I recalled something I had told my students a few days earlier “if you remain neutral in situations of injustice you are taking the side of the oppressor.” I didn’t want the dog to leave the clinic; I would’ve never forgiven myself. After that the lady was very thankful telling me how much she loved her dog and stated all the great things about the dog I was so angry with her but I tried not to lose my temper with her and show it. I was unable to look her in the eyes but didn’t want to tell her what I thought at that exact moment because I was afraid that my emotions would get the better of me. For the good of the dog I thought if I lost my cool she might end up backing out of the deal. Although my initial emotion was one of disgust. I had to let go of that negative feeling immediately as I didn’t know this lady, her situation or what was happening in her life and maybe she couldn’t afford to help the dog. However it seems to me as though there are far too many people who don’t take the dog, all animals really, as part of the family and a living loving sentient being. Many see animals simply as a possession not unlike a piece of furniture to be discarded when it is inconvenient or costs too much money. However, I tried not to be too judgmental and I let those negative feelings go as my focus now was on the dog, it’s happiness and the daunting task of finding it a great new owner. This dog although happy had special health needs & would require a certain kind of owner dedicated to the ongoing treatment and financial needs of this animal. I immediately put the dogs plight out on social media and with my two Alaskan Malamutes Mac and a 14-year-old female, Chloe, who is very alpha in completely uninterested in sharing her home, owner or possessions with any other animal it made it very difficult to keep this dog in my home. I was also able to contact Tikka’s breeder who since her divorce was no longer breeding dogs. She was absolutely horrified when I sent her the photos of Tikka & explained to her what had transpired. It was apparent that Tikka had also whelped several litters to a back yard breeder

Once again Leanne Barker from Canadian K9 came to the rescue and I was able to board Tikka there as we tried to find her a great forever home. Leanne an expert, also vetted and screened potential owners. We had a few bites immediately. A wonderful yoga instructor and his wife very bravely after they expressed interest realized that they didn’t have the time in their schedule to look after this animal in a proper fashion something I really respected. A student of mine also was very interested. But as it turned out through the vet clinics manager’s friends we had a lead. Hope!

One of the receptionists contacted a friend of a friend who set Leanne up with the meeting with these new potential adopters and Leanne the very experienced animal behaviourist, trainer, groomer and breeder who properly screened and interviewed potential adopters. Once again like with the Super Seven we were so fortunate to have great adopters like the man and his partner who adopted Tikka. The before and after pictures were astounding and we were so delighted to hear from our friends at the clinic tell us that they have absolutely poured love and attention into this animal treating it as their own child. I touched base with these two wonderful men occasionally and was always so happy to hear how terrific and well cared for she was

As the receptionist told me later, it was just one of those serendipitous moments where if I had walked into the clinic 5 minutes later or 5 minutes earlier & been placed in one of the examination rooms I would have missed Tikka leaving for her unknown destiny. Fate smiled on many of us that day myself, her owners & most of all Tikka who is living the spoiled good life every dog should be lucky enough to live