Dear Friends – these past few months have been somewhat traumatic for me on many fronts: the loss of trust; a mighty adventure; major surgery and emotional recovery.
It all happened one Friday afternoon when Moomin (my energetic puppy neighbour) and I took our owners for a clifftop bush walk to the deserted and remote Mickeys Beach. On our way we climbed the cliffs to the headland, enjoying the incredible view down the Channel to Antarctica and headed to the beach that can be only reached by roughly cut stairs that slip down the cliff face to the pristine waters of the Channel. So we ran and ran and once we reached Mickeys stairs, abruptly stopped.
There at the top of the stairs appeared a big brown bear with grey whiskers (so we thought). Klady mentioned that while she wanted to give this animal a pat, she wasn’t taking any chances as it didn’t wear a collar nor any identification. And so we continued down the stairs for a very refreshing swim and brisk run.
It was cold but fun and finally Moomin and I decided it was time to go home so up the stairs we raced only to meet this beary beast again. What was really fascinating was that it led us deep into the bush and then stopped. And now we saw what it was trying to show us!
Our neighbour MssK (Moomin’s owner) was in hot pursuit and suddenly shouted out to Klady: “There’s a dead dog here”.
Klady also ran into the bush and saw a dog with a huge swollen belly lying on its side, panting heavily. “No, no. I think it’s pregnant and giving birth!”
Suddenly I had visions of puppies running though my house, chewing my bones, stealing my toys and keeping me awake.
Two minutes of quick planning left MssK and Moomin staying with the animals while Klady and I ran back to Randall’s Bay to pick up her car on the way calling SirD to bring water, food and blankets as it appeared that these two dogs had been abandoned and were starving.
Once we returned to the dogs, Klady tried to call for help but as it was a Friday afternoon no one was around. SirD arrived with food and water but the big bear refused to get into the car. In the end it took a sling made from towels to lift the second dog into the car and the bear quickly followed to stay with her. Such a touching sight!
Klady set off to the emergency vet while Moomin and I went home. And then the call came.
The vets had checked out their ownership microchips and the big bear was a 10 year old Japanese Akita named Tilly; her companion was a caramel and white husky named Shiraz; and both weren't registered to live in Tasmania. The vet's examination revealed that there were no puppies but two huge tumours the size of soccer balls and Tilly had led us to her to rescue her. Shiraz was dying.
Klady and MssK conferred with the vet and there was no hope of any rescue or treatment – the dogs had been abandoned in their greatest need. It was agreed that Shiraz would be put out of her misery and so Klady sat with Tilly and Shiraz giving them both cuddles through the tears. After an hour of mourning, Tilly decided it was time to leave, walking to Klady’s car and jumping in.
Imagine my surprise when late on that Friday afternoon, Klady arrives home with a big, cuddly and very smelly dog. “It’s alright, she can sleep in the garage where she will have a bed, blankets and be warm,” Klady said confidently. Not so. At 2am, all the neighbours heard howling and barking and Klady stumbled down the stairs, letting Tilly sleep inside the house. Then we heard the thump, thump, thump as Tilly made her way up the stairs to our bedroom and there she stayed throughout the night!
The next morning proved to be another adventure as it became obvious that Tilly had never encountered stairs and couldn’t work out how to move down to the living areas and garden. Help came again from SirD and our neighour MssK; SirD pushed Tilly, MssK pulled Tilly and Klady laid doggie treats on the stairs. Finally she made it to the ground floor and we all agreed that she would need a lot more practice.
And so life proceeded for 10 or so days. I tolerated Tilly, while she kept wanting to snuggle up to me and be best friends. What disturbed me was that she became totally obsessed with Klady, following her everywhere – even into the shower. She desperately wanted to be loved and had separation anxiety while I on the other hand, tried to keep it all together, establishing boundaries that I was the top dog and luckily Klady and SirD also tried to do so – feeding me first, only allowing me to jump on the bed, being first in line for treats and toys.
In that time, Tilly was vaccinated, washed, brushed and cuddled and I saw that Klady and SirD became very fond (even proud) of her – a gentle, cuddly, furry bear of a dog.
All seemed to be going well and on yet another Friday afternoon, Klady and I were playing football in the garden. “Tilly, come and chase the ball,” Klady called out. She did but in doing so ignored the ball and attacked me, sinking her teeth into me and tearing through the muscles in my legs. Blood everywhere, Klady made yet another Friday afternoon dash to the vet where I was drugged, sewn and stitched up. Meanwhile poor Tilly was shaking and cowering, knowing that she had made a huge mistake.
So I came home wearing the ‘cone of shame’ and Klady , SirD and MssK agreed that Tilly needed to find a new home with no other pets or little children. And that is how Tilly arrived at the amazing Brightside Animal Sanctuary, near Cygnet, that has had great success in rehoming animals.
Klady and SirD were crying having become so attached to her but I feel they were also relieved as I could never have been left alone with Tilly because she was so possessive of Klady and jealous of her attention and affections.
After all of this, Klady kept apologising to me for this recent event as this is not the first time she has unsuccessfully adopted lonely dogs (Louie was finally flown to Glasgow, Scotland to be reunited with his original owner). This time Klady pinky-promised that she would never, ever do this again!
On the other hand, I'm also relieved as Tilly was rehomed within a few short days to a suitable caring family and I know that as the hair from my operation is growing back very slowly, Klady feels super guilty when she looks at me and so I now get even more special treats!