I was recently thinking about all the rescued Samoyed dogs that have passed through my door over the years. Some were fostered and rehomed and some have stayed in my family to live out their golden years. I have been helping out with rescuing and rehabilitating Samoyeds of all ages for over a decade. First, for Auckland Provincial Samoyed Association (APSA) and now also for Humane Rescue Rehabilitation and Rehoming Charitable Trust (HURRAH). Both organizations are in New Zealand.
It can be challenging to not get overwhelmed with some of the cases rescue group fosterers see. We must learn to be strong and put our own emotions aside where needed when a sad case shows up in desperate need. Here are just three that have deeply touched my heart.
One sweet soul was Minnie who came to live out her time with me in 2007. Minnie was neglected and given up on by her family at 12 ½ years old. She ended up at the animal shelter until the APSA rescued her. It was my job to pick her up and I took my boy Blake, a 4 year-old Samoyed, along for the ride.
My jaw dropped when I saw this pitiful creature heading towards us. I had never seen a coat so matted and so smelly. She was brown, not white and it was from flystrike, fleas and filth. She was a bit lame which we learned from the vet was from an earlier cruciate injury and she had bad teeth, a lump on her side and was overweight. The shelter thought she was only part Samoyed because she looked so bad.
I took a deep breath when I got over the shock, put on a happy face for dear Minnie and got her in the car. I may be good at hiding my shock but Blake was another story. I’ll never forget the look on his face with this thing sitting beside him. He shuffled up to the window to get as far away from it as possible, wouldn’t make eye contact with it and stayed that way all the way home. He can be a bit precious. My car stunk!
Minnie was welcomed into the pack by my other Samoyed dogs and was immediately taken under caring Sassy’s wing. Sassy loved old Minnie and guarded her for the rest of Minnie’s happy life.
On day two, she got clipped to the skin at the groomer’s and until then hadn’t made a peep of a sound. Maryanne, the dog groomer, who had donated her services, helped me to lift her into the car, and sweet old Minnie barked and barked thanking Maryanne for making her feel so good. We both cried like babies.
Minnie lived with us for 18 months until her unhealthy start to life caught up with her and cancer took hold. She was 14 when she left us but it felt like a lifetime that she’d been in our pack. She was sponsored by others who loved her, not just me and never was in need of anything ever again. She was a very special soul.
Unfortunately, this is not uncommon for families to take their dogs to shelters when they get old and ailing. It happened to Chester, who was age 10 ½ and had lived with his family since he was a puppy, and also Silver, aged 11 when his owners dumped him with bone cancer.
Last year I took in blind Ada, age 10 ½ from HURRAH. Ada is an enigma. When I saw her, it was like seeing Minnie again. She comes from the same breeder and is a cousin or niece but so much like Minnie that it feels like I’ve picked up where Minnie left off in 2009. She even has the exact same yodel!
Ada is another who was dumped at a rescue group after living her whole life with one family. When my friend Sarah from HURRAH collected her, she noticed that Ada is blind which the family had no idea about because she lived her whole life outside and we suspect, chained up. Anyone who knows Samoyeds knows that the breed must have contact with their family. They just adore humans.
Ada soon got her bearings and became part of the pack. She, like Minnie had to have teeth out and was shorn like a sheep because of terrible matting. She was also obese and had very sore joints. She would fall over and couldn’t get up. Her weight was 31.5 kg which is 12 kg more than her ideal weight of 19.5 kg.
In the video above you can see her rounding up my alpacas, Milton and Lancelot. She seems to be their favorite dog and they’re very gentle with her.
Ada's senses are incredible and she always knows exactly where she is in the paddock. Sometimes at night she walks into walls but her radar is perfect most of the time.
She has no medications for her joints now and can run fast, barking like a typical Samoyed all the way.
Ada is 11 now and has been with me for almost a year.
The last rescue dog story that I want to tell you is of Bella whom I bred myself and who is my Blake’s litter sister. They are 12 years old now but we’ve only had Bella with us for last 2 years. All her previous life she had lived with her family since leaving the litter at 9 weeks old.
Two years ago I got an email that a Samoyed had been rescued from a burning house with another dog. They were in the garage, locked in the car and there was an explosion in the kitchen upstairs. Fire leapt through the house quickly, and the sole occupant was the woman who was the dogs’ owner. The woman was rescued by the neighbors and taken to hospital but no one knew where the two dogs were…
Then suddenly the garage door exploded open and the car shot out onto the street from the heat by about 10 meters. Luckily no one was standing in the way! The door handles were hot and it took a while before they could smash the window to get the dogs out which were both calmly sitting in the back seat, luckily not too traumatized and not burnt.
Sadly, the woman died in hospital a few weeks later, and her neighbor had the dogs. It was just by chance that they contacted me as a fosterer for the APSA and when I put two and two together, I realized that it was my Bella whom I hadn’t seen for 8 years!
I was over there in a flash and happy to have Bella join us. She started out being a bit aggressive and would glue herself to my legs for several months. Then she relaxed and is now quite independent, aloof and comfortable in her own skin.
She and Ada have words on a regular basis but she never attacks Ada like she would have done two years ago. Blind Ada gets away with a lot and takes liberties. The other dogs are very tolerant and make exceptions for her.
We rescuers care as much as any owners about all the dogs as if we’d bred them ourselves. In Bella’s case that’s me anyway.
About the Author
Guest written by Marilyn Begg. Marilyn Begg is a personal dog lifestyle trainer (or personal trainer for dogs and their owners) in New Zealand. She helps dog owners with issues they may have whether they are physical, behavioral, nutritional or medical and refers them to specialists when needed. Owner and Manager of Beggs Gourmet, she produces Blake's Bikkits dog treats. Please visit her company's website or a Facebook page. Photos Credits: Marilyn Begg.