Our newest dog, Kahlil, came from the Seattle Animal Control. Ryann let us know he was there, and she called to say we were interested. Since we worked with them before (Winston and others), they said we could pick him up. They neutered him the next morning and said he would be available in the afternoon. Hans and Holley picked him up and brought him here. Melissa arrived the next morning, and she will foster him at her home.
Kahlil is one of the biggest Samoyeds we have seen, and his head is immense. They say he is only nine months old, so we wonder how big he will eventually be. The story we heard was that he was found in a dog park, and they were able to find his owner, who said he has cancer and left Kahlil there out of desperation. He is a big goofball, not well trained but willing to listen. We need to wait for him to recover from his neuter surgery, but in the meantime we will be searching for the right home for him.
Five years ago this week, we took in three Samoyeds from a backyard breeder, Prairieland, in the Vancouver area. He had leased five pregnant bitches from White Fire, already pregnant. You may recall White Fire as the Iowa breeder that got in trouble for terrible conditions not long after that; the dogs were seized and given to the ASPCA. By the time all had been placed, the total number of dogs was over 300. Prairieland’s arrangement was to return all five to White Fire after they had their puppies, and split the money he made from selling the puppies. We were never told why, but he called us to take three of the girls, and delivered them to Melissa’s home. The next day she met Kathy and transferred them to us. Sophie and Fena were litter sisters, and cousin Tessa was a few months older. They were practically feral.
We emptied our garage and gave them a place in one corner for beds, with pee pads on the other side of the garage. Kathy and I took turns sitting in the garage getting them used to us. We added a large x-pen so we could sit inside it with them. After a few months, we opened the door to our laundry room and let them come inside as they wanted. With a little more time they began coming into the kitchen. Eventually we closed the garage door and they lived inside.
Although we wanted to place these dogs, we decided any adopter much have a double fence so an escapee would still be contained. A friend and previous adopter, Kathy Bacon, came to visit and meet the girls. Together we decided Fena was the best candidate to adopt, and she has done spectacularly well there.
Sometime in the past a man must have treated them badly. They eventually accepted Kathy getting close, and petting and scratching them, but the only time I can touch them is when they are in their crates getting bedtime treats, or when they are in their “safe place,” a shower in the bathroom. Sophie has begun coming into the office when I am at my computer and taking treats from my hand. Tessa still hangs back. From time to time they wouldn’t come indoors after being in the yard, then just as abruptly would begin coming inside. Currently they currently refuse to enter; if they get outside they won’t come in, even for their dinner. Kathy has to walk them on a leash several times a day.
We need to find homes for them. They feed off each other’s fear, and we are sure if we split them they might do as well as Fena. The right home must have great security, so if a dog escapes through a door they are still secure. Because they are afraid of men, we also need a home where there are no men. Most of all, their adopters must have patience.
We are getting old and facing the fact we will need to move in the next few years, maybe sooner. If the two girls are still here, the only current option we have is to ship them to a sanctuary where they will live without people. If anyone has ideas, we would very much like to hear them.
We still think Harmony is younger than the 12 we were told by the shelter. The only evidence of age we can point to is her eyes, which are cloudy. Still, we have seen younger dogs with similar eyes. She has boundless energy, which she uses up by barking. She runs circles around the other dogs. She is the smallest purebred Samoyed we have had. Because of her age, or at least what we were told about her, she stays with us because we foster seniors. It’s very difficult to place a 12 year old dog. There is a new DNA test that promises to give nearly exact age, but as of February 10 it was taken off the market because it wasn’t working as well as promoted. The company, Embark, promises an update next month.
Bella was listed on the Beaverton Craigslist in 2014, and went to a family in Seattle. In August 2021 she was listed again, and we heard about her. She lived in an apartment and had to be walked, and her family had a new baby and no time for the walks. They said she was 11, based on what they were told when they got her, but we know info on Craigslist is often optimistic. She may have been older.
A few months later we had her at the vet for a check-up when they found a lump on her neck. An ultrasound showed it was probably a thyroid tumor, so we took her to a veterinary oncologist. The tumor was confirmed and they suggested a high dose of thyroid meds. There was no other treatment. Since then we watched the tumor get bigger, though her behavior didn’t change. Until recently it didn’t bother her. Her breathing got progressively louder, but she continued to be active and enjoying life. Last month it got worse and we waited for her to tell us it was time.
Wednesday morning she let us know. She didn’t want to eat, and her energy was gone. Kathy carried her in from the yard while I tried to reach our vet. I couldn’t get them to answer, but I called a vet who does home calls, and she said she would come the next morning. Bella slept well and even rallied a bit. She asked to go into the living room, where we helped her up on the sofa, her favorite place in the world. She stayed there, quietly, until the vet arrived. The end came peacefully.
Over 22 years of rescue we’ve been through this many times, almost once a year, because we foster the senior dogs. This one hit us hard. Bella was special. She loved people and everyone who met her loved her. Every night after dinner I went to my room to read for a half hour, and Bella always joined me. We really feel her loss.