Rescued August 2013 and became a foster failure...

Mia’s Story

Most good stories have a sad undertone that makes us realize how lucky we are. Our companions have a love for us that we ourselves couldn’t write in words...but, I’ll try...

It all started out when I received a call from Charnell Ruth of Husky Rescue KZN, asking if we could foster a difficult puppy. She had been in several homes already but for various reasons could not be kept there for any length of time. So after a call to my wife, Kori, we decided to give her the opportunity to stay with us in an attempt to rehabilitate her – or as I like to put it “reintegrate her” into a loving and caring home. Within minutes arrangements had been made for her to be brought to our home in the South Suburbs of Durban. We were elated at the thought of being able to assist with another canine! A sweet and well-mannered lady (whom we’ll call “Carol”) met me at home around 5 and brought this little bundle of nerves and energy to meet our two furkids, Toffee and Tara. Kori got home about an hour later and immediately fell head over heels in love with the cross-breed, fluffy ball of nerves. I didn’t know it yet...but so did I.

We quickly realized that our girls would take to her just fine. So, it was decided that she would stay on for as long as need be. Within a few hours we had done a preliminary assessment of what could be done to help her. But something did not add up and I just could not put my finger on it... The following morning I contacted Carol in an attempt to ascertain exactly what the puppy’s circumstances were. After listening for what seemed like an eternity I eventually got the entire story. The pup was abused both physically and mentally by her male handler. She was one of a litter of eight puppies, chosen by her handler to stay behind with him. The handler had three dogs on the premises already, two males and a female, malamute, a GSD and a husky. Our pup seems to have all three breeds in her, but looking more like a malamute though. Things didn’t go too well while she was in that home, and this young pup was about to find out exactly how her life should not have started. Being a pet owner means your pups get what they need: love, care, food, water, training and safety. Depriving them of any of these is both cruel and unjust...They deserve our best. After all they give us their best at all times, come rain, shine, sickness and health.

Malamute and Husky breeds are known to be both vocal and full of energy, both as pups and adults. It’s two of a long list of wonderful traits of the breeds – something we have grown to love in our own canines. By the actions described to me by Carol I came to the conclusion that the handler could not cope with the pup’s constant vocalization and energy, thus tied her up. Unbeknown to him, this just made everything worse for him and the pup. She was tied up permanently. She’d cry and howl for attention and to get free...she was rewarded with anger and unjust treatment.

A neighbor noticed the pup and the conditions in which she was kept. Out of concern they contacted Carol, and a while later the pup was voluntarily handed over to this rescue group by the owner. She was then transferred to Carol’s home for well needed R&R. Unfortunately she couldn’t stay there for too long as Carol already had a number of canines on her premises. Both fosters and her own babies. From there the pup was unfortunately being bounced from foster home to foster home. Her mental and emotional state had already taken its toll on her and the foster parents were unable to cope.

This brings me back to the beginning of my story....

The next few weeks would prove to be heart-wrenching and difficult for both the pup and us. She tore, ate and broke every single item she could find, from the leather couch to our shoes. She cried all the time, with 20 min intervals, and could not be left alone. She would go into full panic mode, howling – or rather screeching – at the top of her lungs. Initially nothing could calm her down, but soon my wife Kori broke through the barrier the pup had built around her little heart. She grew to love Kori like few pups could show any human...and so her journey to rehabilitation began at last. Slowly Kori showed her that there were other ways she could live and be treated, and the pup slowly accepted Kori’s advances. With a little coaxing and a lot of playing the pup eventually came around to feeling safe and coming close to me. From personal experience with abused canines I know how hard it must have been for her to trust another male human being. It started out really slowly but soon cascaded into both love and trust between her and me. We called her Mia. Mia never left our home, she took us in – instead of us her, and became a permanent foster. She is now rehabilitated and socialized – but will forever be with us! She grew in leaps and bounds as her trust developed, even though she was a handful many times. But she succeeded in becoming just what nature intended. She is smart and vocal and oh so loving.

She is our daughter, our baby. Our Mia...Kerwyn Smith