Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened
It’s no surprise that the last blog I would write before I left New Zealand was about my dog.
So here it is. This is a story about Kyra.
It all began in July 2013 when I picked my daughter up from her friend’s house. I waited in the car and she came out and planted a cute little puppy onto my lap. The pup had a tiny, scrawny little body, big sad eyes and she was licking me with excitement. “Please mum can we take her home, my friend doesn’t want her anymore and she hasn’t been feeding her.” I could see it’s ribs poking out of its tiny frame and my heart sunk. I wasn’t looking for a dog but I was a soft touch when it comes to animals and seeing her in such a poor condition, I knew I had to bring her home with us. “Alright, we will look after her until we find her a home.”
And so it was done. I drove home with my daughter and a helpless we pup of about 6 weeks old on my lap.
I filled up a saucer of warmed, watered down milk and she was so thirsty she fell head first into the saucer as she was drinking. My daughter told me that the girl had been feeding her pizza crusts and apple cores, not a very conducive diet for a puppy that should still be drinking its mother’s milk!
It angered me that she was taken away from her litter so young and was almost destined to die from malnutrition at the hands of a careless teenager.
The next day I bought her some puppy milk, food and some worming tablets and I spent the next few days nurturing her back to good health.
She improved quickly and grew stronger by the day. After the first week of sleeping in my bed, I put her out in the lounge on her own bed and she scratched and cried at my door all night. It was like I was going back in time when I was weaning my daughter out of my bed. I felt guilty to leave her out there in the cold on her own so I eventually gave in to her whines and let her sleep back in my bed.
We all fell in love with her and I didn’t have the heart to re home her so I decided to keep her and she became a part of the family.
She loved affection and always wanted to be near one of us. She followed me around like my shadow and didn’t let me out of her sight. The bond we shared was intense and I didn’t realize at the time, that we would go through so much together.
One day, my father walked up our steep driveway to the shop and without knowing, Kyra followed him. As he was about to cross the main road, she ran out and got hit by a car.
I was out at the time and got a call from him saying she had been severely injured, so I raced home and took her to the local vet. The vet said the damage to her leg was really bad and we had one of three options. We could spend thousands to put a plate in her leg, we could amputate it or we could put her down. I cried so hard, it was like my heart was breaking. I had already grown so attached to her and putting her down wasn’t an option but I didn’t have thousands of dollars to save her leg and I also didn’t want her to be a three legged dog so I decided to take her to another vet for a second opinion.
The second vet took another x-ray and said her leg would heal naturally if I limited her movement for a month by putting her in a crate. Kyra was always a very active pup that was allowed to run around the house as she pleased and I couldn’t imagine containing her in a crate for so long but I thought I’d try anyway.
So we took her home and gave her a bean bag which at the time she couldn’t move from because her leg was too sore, we fed her up on bone marrow and one of us sat with her continuously until her leg healed. We even carried her outside at regular intervals to go to the toilet.
Her leg eventually healed and I was so glad I didn’t listen to the first vet.
One year later, Kyra knew there was something up when we stated packing up the house and she became anxious. Moving day had come and I didn’t have a house to move to so Kyra lived in the van with me.
Having Kyra limited me to where I could stay, most campgrounds didn’t allow dogs, and I didn’t want to give her up, so we spent a few months freedom camping at Piha together.
I felt safe sleeping out in the wilderness with her. She would bark at the slightest noise around the van and she wouldn’t let strangers come near me, but sometimes it became a hindrance, especially if I was trying to catch up with a friend.
She became my protector and my best friend. I didn’t feel so alone at night with her and I used to cuddle up to her in bed and we would keep each other warm.
Her anxiety got worse being homeless and she became anti social with people. I guess living on the road with me was tough for her and she missed being settled in a house. Walks now had to be done on a lead, as she would bark at people passing by.
It wasn’t until we started staying with people that problems started arising.
My sister offered us to stay at her house so I parked my van in her driveway and we slept in the van. Her youngest son got on really well with Kyra, but he hassled her a lot, as young children do, she was very tolerant of him and never snapped, but I could see she was scared of him.
She loved my family, and my sisters older sons would often come over and play with her, but she was still scared of strangers so every time someone new would visit I would have to tell them to ignore her when she barked and not to pat her.
On one particular day, my nephew’s friend came to visit and I told her what I always tell everyone, just ignore her and don’t pat her, but my sister asked the girl, who had experience with animals, to check her face for something so the girl got up close to her face and Kyra snapped at her face as a warning, just missing her skin.
This frightened the girl and she backed off and I told Kyra off but thought it was silly that both her and my sister hadn’t heeded what I had said.
This event got blown out of proportion and suddenly Kyra was labeled a dangerous and vicious dog that had bitten my nephew’s friends face.
One morning, when mum had come down to stay, my sister bought up the ‘dog story’ and mum told her that she had always been an overly imaginative child. This angered my sister and she said I was lying, so she kicked Kyra and me out of her house.
Upset by her reaction, I drove with Kyra to my daughters place to visit her, and then we ended up staying back out at Piha. It has been one year and I haven’t seen my sister since.
Another month passed and an old friend of mum’s offered my daughter, Kyra and I to stay at his place in the Waitakere’s. I gratefully accepted his offer of help and I set my daughter up on an airbed in his out-house and Kyra and I slept in the van.
Kyra fell in love with him and she would often sleep next to him on the couch. The only time she barked was when someone came to visit, and I would always say the same thing, just ignore her and don’t pat her.
On one particular occasion, a male visitor stayed the whole day and every time she would see him she would bark. This was obviously getting annoying for the house owner and he eventually kicked Kyra hard with his gumboots at the front door and yelled at her, then redirected his anger towards me and kicked us out.
How could one dog cause so much discord with people and get me kicked out of two consecutive houses?
I had now given up on staying with anyone and resigned to freedom camping but I knew I was going overseas soon and I had to find her a place to stay while I was away.
We ended up going north to my mum and her partners land and we stayed there for 3 months. At first I thought she could stay with my mum while I was away as she lived on a big farm and she already had another dog that got on really well with Kyra, but then mum decided to go to India with me.
With a heavy heart, I decided to advertise her up north as time was running out and she eventually went to a nice man’s house and I left her there in tears.
Little did I know, when I drove away she chased my van down the gravel road and he luckily caught her but she bit him in the process. He put her in a dog cage and he phoned us the next day to come collect her.
This was the first and only time she had ever bitten anyone and I know she did it out of fear because she was trying to get to me. I was devastated at not being able to re home her as her future was now looking grim. I was due to get on a plane in a few weeks and there were no other options.
I tried everything I could to save her life, it wasn’t like I wasn’t used to saving her. I kept in close contact with my dad about her situation as he lived with us before we moved and loved Kyra too. He initially wanted to help and he wanted to have her but he had now moved into my sister’s house and his attitude slowly changed. I guess he believed my sister’s story around me, who was angry at my blog. This caused a lot of friction between my father and I, and he eventually sided with my sister and believed her ‘dog story.’
I prayed so hard that I would find a home for Kyra but my hands were tied. I thought of cancelling my trip but I couldn’t. I would loose too much money on deposits and it was my dream to go to India to do a yoga teacher training course.
It was almost as if the universe was looking down at me and laughing, saying “okay Taleta, you can either give up on your dreams and keep your dog or kill your dog and follow your dreams.”
The decision was heart wrenching. I loved her just as much as my daughter. She had become family to me. Everyday I would sway between the two choices right up until the day before her planned death by way of lethal injection.
I was wrought with pain and anger towards my family and I told my mum’s partner, who was quite capable of having her on the farm, that I would never forgive him for not helping and for Kyra’s death.
This seemed to strike a nerve in him and we ended up having a huge argument while mum was yelling at me to go and help her dig a grave down by the river.
I refused to dig the grave and spent the last night cuddling Kyra.
I woke up the next day full of pain. I hugged her tightly goodbye and drove off to Kaitaia library, knowing that I wouldn’t see her again.
I sat frozen in the library, in disbelief that it had even come to this. Everything that I had done to save her life. The family fall out. The things I had sacrificed to keep her alive. And now she was going to die.
Then my phone rang one hour before the vet was due to arrive and mum told me that her partner had changed his mind at the last minute and had decided to keep her.
I danced for joy and thanked the universe for stepping in. He must have taken into consideration what I had said to him the night before and the fall out with him was worth it to save her. The fall out with everybody was worth it to save her life.
So I drove back and gave her the biggest cuddle and she licked me back, not knowing that she had come that close to death again.
It was now time to leave and embark on my trip around India and Nepal, and I could now, knowing that she was still alive but I wasn’t sure if I was going to see her again as mum’s partner was still going to try and re home her while I was away.
Two months passed and while I was in India mum’s partner seemed to harbor resentment towards me for having Kyra and he deleted me from his face-book.
I retuned to New Zealand and she was still with him on the farm but I would only see her twice in the 5 months that I was back and I received enormous amounts of pressure from both my mum and her partner to re home her. They wanted me to take her back and continue living in the van but I had to put my daughter first and say no, my priority was to first focus on finding us a home before I could help with the dog.
I wanted to keep her but coming back from India and living in a van with my daughter in winter was very difficult to do, so I stayed at my cousins in Whangarei while I looked for a house. We initially only started looking for a house that allowed dogs but I realized it was virtually impossible to find one, especially considering my daughter was taking on the tenancy as i was moving overseas, and she didn’t have any references or rental history.
After a few weeks of sleeping in my cold van and on the couch at my cousins, we decided to take anything we could get out of sheer desperation. Then within one month we ended up getting a flat because the owner was really nice but we weren’t allowed to have any pets.
With continued pressure from mum and her partner and a few more arguments, I was finally able to focus on finding her a home now that we were settled. I advertised her on every dog group I could think of on Facebook and Trade me and I got a few calls, so mum set up a day for prospective owners to meet with her.
The second and last time I got to see her was when mum and her partner drove her to my daughter’s house in Whangarei, after she met with a family that was going to take her. Kyra was still not good with strangers and she snapped at one of the family members so they realized that re homing her wasn’t going to work. I told the landlord the situation and asked him if we could have her while we tried to think of something but he was firm on his No. Mum had already told me that they weren’t going to take her home with them so I felt cornered and didn’t know what to do.
They ended up dropping her off at a animal rescue and Kyra ran away 2 days later.
My daughter and I drove back five times to the area, which was an hours drive away from us, and each time we had no luck finding her.
She still remains missing and I pray that someone will find her and I will be reunited with her one last time before I leave the country.