The Story of a Survivor!

Callie was perhaps the strangest looking husky I had ever laid eyes on. In fact I was dead sure that she was a case of mistaken identity until I saw one little blue eye look up at me. Callie was found on Higginson Highway on 11 November 2009. Because she had a micro-chip, we were able to trace her back to as far as Waterfall, but could not locate her exact address as the microchip company had not received change of ownership details. One can only imagine how she found her way from Waterfall to Chatsworth!

Callie weighed a mere 15kgs when she came into our care. Seriously underweight for an average sized husky that should be between 22 and 27kgs! Two weeks later we took Callie to our vet for sterilisation and vaccinations. Two days later we rushed her back to the vet as she had become very ill post operatively. Her ill health was not related to her operation, but most probably due to an underlying illness that was triggered by the stress of her sterilisation procedure. Five days later she was discharged back into our care weighing a mere 13kgs.

With lots of good food and TLC, Callie made a remarkable recovery in a mere 6 weeks weighing 24kgs, and hardly recognisable from the strange looking husky that first came into our care.

She was more than ready to go back to the kennels and onto the adoption list. However, when push came to shove we did not have the heart to take her back – surprise surprise!

She had won the battle with our hearts being the victims! One afternoon I was contemplating the arduous task of integrating her into an already growing pack when she took the task upon herself and when I looked again Callie was running ahead with the pack following – a natural born leader is she! And so she became husky number 6 in our own personal pack of rescues. When one is involved in the rescue of animals there is a fairly regular stream of incoming and outgoing dogs as we rescue and re-home. Some go into kennels and others, in order to save costs, come home and become part of the existing pack. Thus the pack dynamics is in a constant state of flux, changing and shifting, just like the tides of the sea.

Disaster struck on the 10th of May when one of our ‘newbies’ had been with us long enough to decide that she wanted to increase her status within the pack. This was an Alaskan Malamute, same family as the Siberian but different in that they are not typical pack animals and don’t do well living in large groups. Sasha decided to challenge Callie’s status one morning and a very nasty dog fight ensued leaving Callie’s head literally in tatters. My beautiful Lion Girl was in serious need of veterinary care. An overnight stay in hospital had her patched up and medicated enough to be able to come back home. And “Lion Girl” came home looking like a lamb and feeling very vulnerable.

Callie lived in my mom’s bedroom for almost 3 weeks before she found the courage to face the other dogs again. In the meantime we had managed to find an excellent home for Sasha the Malamute, and so she was adopted. We very slowly re-integrated Callie back into the pack and today she once again stands in her position as alpha, albeit with a few battle scars, which fortunately we can hardly see as her coat has grown back beautifully.

My Lion Girl has a beautiful spirit and the vet that took care of her the first time actually said that there was something about her that made him want to fight for her life and not make a decision to give up on her. Thank you to both Dr K. Landsberg from Umhlanga and Dr C. Mostert and team from Kloof for taking such good care of Callie on the two occasions when she needed it the most, and giving a gal a second chance.

The KZN Sleddog Club was established in February 2010 as an extension of Husky Rescue, to get more people involved with Husky Rescue but also to create an outlet of activity and stimulation for the rescues. During the course of 2011 the Club members decided to take their recreational sport of Dryland Sledding a little more seriously and participate in a National Championship, and so began our historical journey.

The KZN Sleddog Club is the first Club of its kind in our province and this would be the first time a KZN Club participates in a National Championship in the 20 year long history of this sport in South Africa. There are several classes namely beginner, intermediate and advanced as well as several disciplines namely Cani-cross, Bikejoring, Scootering and 4 to 8 dog Team Carting that ‘mushers and their dogs’ can participate in. Callie was a very enthusiastic and successful ‘wheel-dog’ in our four dog carting team! (back right!)