Note: This page was on my Pet-Tails site for years and people seemed to enjoy it. All of these animals have now gone to the rainbow bridge, but I’ve included their stories are here for posterity.
Every rescue has a story…and here are the stories of my pets
Leia (Black Border Collie Mix): About a month after moving to Idaho, I started volunteering at the local animal shelter. There I met a fuzzy little black pup who wasn’t healthy. She also had the disadvantage of being a black puppy and getting older, so no one wanted her. The folks at the shelter said she either had kennel cough or distemper. I decided I didn’t want that little black pup to lose her chance at a home, so I adopted Leia, and took her to the vet. The problem turned out to be kennel cough and a few antibiotics later, as you can see, Leia is a happy, healthy hound. Her main vice was separation anxiety. In other words, when we left her alone, she tried to eat her way out of the house. We tried many things, but basically the best thing we did was get Tika. We always say that Tika is Leia’s dog and it’s true.
Tika (Golden Retriever): Her story starts off badly. She began her life as a puppy mill puppy. When the mill was raided in the winter of 1997, she was dumped in the street and was found with her feet frozen into the ice by an elderly couple in town. Tika was about 6 weeks old at the time and her medical records said she was “immunosuppressed.” But the older couple took her in and put her in the back yard. Unfortunately, by the time Tika was five months old the couple could take her hyperactive ways anymore and brought her to the animal shelter. When I adopted Tika, she had almost every behavior problems in the book. Submissive urination, excitement urination, jumping on people, you name it. She couldn’t focus on anything long enough to even begin to be trained. Suffice it to say, Tika was completely out of control and James couldn’t touch her for the first 6 months we had her. After consulting with a behaviorist and vets, I discovered that Tika is hyperkinetic (the doggie equivalent of ADHD in kids), a situation that has been resolved through obedience classes and behavior modification training.
Cami (White Samoyed/Aussie Shepherd/Lab Mix): Cami was the cutest puppy I had ever seen. (And as an animal shelter volunteer and employee, I have seen a LOT of puppies.) When I was volunteering at the shelter, I spent some time holding and cuddling her. After I got home, told my husband about the tiny fuzzball puppy I’d met. When I showed Cami to James, it was love at first sight…he cuddled Cami and couldn’t leave the building without her. Cami was adorable and well adjusted, until she hit 4 months old. Then she became psycho weirdo dog. I thought I knew about dogs, but I couldn’t figure her out. No one else could either. After three years filled with vet trips, university consultations, medications, and socialization classes, I ran across a reference to a study indicating that thyroid imbalance can affect canine behavior. So she had the vet do a “full thyroid panel” and lo and behold Cami’s problems were a lack of thyroid hormones! Now with her daily thyroid supplements, Cami is a happy, happy little hound again.
Leto (Great Pyrenees/Retriever mix): The big boy’s story is a tale of travels. Originally, Leto was picked up as a stray in Los Angeles, California. Because he was white (sort of), the shelter called Samoyed rescue. He looks nothing like a Samoyed, but because he was SO nice, the rescue folks took him anyway. He went to foster care in Temecula, CA and then later Redding, California. Meanwhile, because of Cami’s myriad behavior problems, I had subscribed to an online Samoyed discussion list (SamFans http://www.samfans.org). The link to Leto’s picture was posted and I saw it and fell in love with his gentle brown eyes. After much e-mail discussion and applying for adoption, the task of getting him to Idaho presented itself. Enter the Canine Underground Railroad, a network of volunteers who drive dogs to their “forever” homes. So all told, Leto went from Lancaster (LA County) shelter to Murietta, CA: 120 miles; Murietta to Redding, CA: 325 miles; Redding, CA to Vancouver, WA: 430 miles, Vancouver to Seattle, WA: 164 miles, then Seattle, WA to somewhat north of Sandpoint, Idaho 400 miles. For a grand total of 1439 miles! When I got him, he was extremely skinny and after months of the “good life” here in Idaho wasn’t putting on weight. After conventional medicine failed, I cured his digestive problems through more alternative means.
Alia (gray and white tabby): We adopted Alia and her sister Chani from a group in San Diego that takes cats on death row, Friends of the County Animal Shelters (FOCAS). However, Alia and Chani never spent any time in a shelter because they were fortunate enough to have a mother cat who was found by a FOCAS volunteer in the dumpster in her condo parking lot. The volunteer took in the momma cat and let her have kittens in a spare bedroom. Then she adopted out some of the kittens to us. Although they didn’t enjoy it, they left the sun of Southern California and survived the move to Idaho. Alia is still going strong, but Chani who was the runt of the litter died in 2000 from kidney failure.
Troi (brown tabby): We adopted Troi from a humane society south of here because Alia was incredibly depressed after the death of her sister Chani. I never would have believed it if I hadn’t seen it, but cats do grieve. Alia would no longer get up and wander around. All she did was eat, sleep and cry mournfully. She got hugely fat and we were afraid we’d lose her. So I consulted a behaviorist who suggested getting a kitten who looked as much like Chani as possible. Oddly enough, the shelter only had one tabby in residence at the time: Troi. We took her out of the kennel and played with her for a while. She seemed nice, but we decided against adopting her. I put her back in the kennel and said goodbye. As I was walking out of the room, I looked back at her. She gave me a look of such disappointment I knew I had to take her. So we adopted her after all. Named after Counselor Troi in Star Trek, she has done a tremendous job of counseling Alia. And the odd thing is, she grew up to look almost exactly like Chani who was a very small, rotund cat. It’s weird. Even though Troi has a completely different personality, sometimes I think Chani’s spirit is in there somewhere.