Sometimes The Spirits Need Help


L  to R  Dr. Cottrill, Aniuk, Vet Tech Denise Stina

In August of 2002 a bi-eyed husky puppy was seized by the ACO on the streets of Buffalo, NY.  The pup spent five days in the City Animal Shelter, about to embark on a journey that is still ongoing. Within hours of the little black & white females' arrival; a shelter volunteer mentioned her plight to our representative.  At that time every foster home available to Tundra was filled.  The shelter worker advised that the puppy was generating no interest and time was running out.  On the fifth day a teary-eyed shelter volunteer advised a member of our staff that the puppy was scheduled for euthanasia the next day, and asked if there was anything that we could do.

When we received the message that evening with an attached photo , it was plain to see why the puppy was having difficulty finding human friends.  She was very tiny and at least one of her eyes appeared to be injured.  After hours of searching for at least a temporary home, something told us that this husky was "special". All rescues are special, as we know, but something about this situation called for extra-ordinary action.  The distraught Buffalo volunteer offered to take the pup home that evening because she also had a feeling that the next morning would be too late, even with the promise of a rescue.  Several phone calls later and the pup was safely ensconced at the volunteers' home and one of our transporters in Buffalo would pick up the pup the next morning.

After a five hour drive one of our staff pulled into the rest area to meet the latest Tundra Spirit.  In only seconds it was obvious that this little pup was the product of a BYB and had been dumped because she was afflicted with a cataract in at least one eye.  Her cheerful demeanor belied the fact that she had been only moments away from the fate of thousands of her fellow canines that day.  She rode well on the return trip, was introduced to the pack at a staffers' home, and fit in as if she knew what was required of her.  She was named Aniuk. A vet check confirmed the diagnosis of JD and the decision for an evaluation at Rowley Memorial Clinic in Springfield, MA was made by our VP.  The earliest appointment available was a month away.  As we waited for that day, it became obvious that Aniuk was losing her sight.  Although her demeanor never changed, there were times when she seemed puzzled when she bumped into things. Time was running out once again for this little rescue, and this time her fate was up to a Higher Power. The appointment day came and now Aniuk was to meet the special helper that sometimes even the Spirits require.

The resident ophthalmologist; Nancy B. Cottrill, DVM, MS; was pleased with the evaluation and advised that Aniuk was indeed a candidate for surgery in both eyes.  The surgery would need to be accomplished soon, because Aniuks' sight was failing rapidly. Both Dr. Cottrill and her wonderful vet tech, knowing that Aniuk was a rescue; were concerned when they advised us of the cost involved.  After having watched little Aniuk go thru the eye examination and accompanying tests without so much as a struggle or a whimper, our VP decided to go ahead with the surgery.  What better Christmas gift could a person give than the gift of sight? On 12/17/02 we left Aniuk with a clinic nurse and sadly made the two-hour drive home with a prayer for a successful operation.  December 18, 2002 was a beautiful, sunny day and we waited anxiously for the call from the clinic.  The call came at 2:07 PM (who was paying attention?) little Aniuk had new lenses in each eye and the surgery was successful in all phases.

The follow-up exams, recuperation and the gentle cooperation from her housemates all seemed anticlimatic. Little Aniuk, despite all efforts, has not gotten any bigger than 37 pounds.  Her personality has blossomed, and she seems eager to please.  She seems to delight in watching birds fly overhead, and can spot a chipmunk a block away!  Aniuk has since gone on to finish obedience training, and is on her way to earning her CGC and therapy dog certifications.  It has become apparent to us that Aniuk is indeed special.  It is well known amongst rescuers that the animals we save often are aware of the efforts made on their behalf and respond in kind.  There is something in her demeanor and a depth in her gaze that seems to say that she has a mission here with us. Aniuk helps test all new rescues for temperament.  We here at Tundra understand that she has earned a unique place in our organization, and would be lost without her.

Because, sometimes even the Spirits need help.

Do Obedience Classes make a Difference?

Thinking of enrolling your dog in an obedience class and wondering if it's worth the time and money? I rescued my dog when he was about 16 months old. He had very little socialization and discipline. When he was in a car and the windshield wipers were turned on he barked and tried to reach them. When he saw someone new he would bark. All this was out of fear. I know someone in Tundra Spirits who suggested that I enroll him in basic obedience and 7 weeks later he was a different dog. I attended classes with several Tundra rescue huskies. Training continued every night and weekend. The lessons I learned to do in class were repeated during the week. Now he no longer barks at the windshield wipers and when he meets new people the tail wags and he almost turns into a helicopter and takes off. He now knows that people are not going to hurt him and he wants to be petted. You may get licked to death now instead of having your eardrums burst. The basic commands like sit, down, stay, come and heel were learned and he now feels like he has a purpose and wants to please. It took a lot of time but the results are worth it. We are now enrolled in intermediate class and he enjoys the training. I made the decision to rescue and make a commitment to him knowing it wasn't going to be easy but the results are well worth it and the feeling is great. While my dog is a Cocker Spaniel and not a Husky, Tundra Spirits gave me a lot of guidance and I now assist Tundra in their Husky rescues, and Buttons is now a certified Therapy Dog.