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Abby's Rescue Story

The Story

     The call came in on Good Friday 1990.  I was working as an ACO for a 4
town shelter in southern Connectict.  I was told that a stray dog was seen 
near the woods of the State DOT garage.  When I arrived I saw what I
immediately recognized as an Akita.  I parked a distance from him, and did 
my usual act of eating something to get the dogs attention. He watched, but
showed no signs of coming close.  I walked closer, acting as though I did not
see him, and continued to eat and talk to myself.  When I got within about 
30 feet of the dog, he stood up and trotted into the woods.  I called, but I
never chase a dog as that will only make him run further away from you.  
I opened a can of dog food and scooped it out of the can and onto the ground.
I was hoping that he would come back after I left the area. I drove away and
came back in about 20 minutes.  The dog had not returned and the food stood 
untouched.  As this location was adjacent to a local highway, I was concerned 
about his being hit by a car.  I returned the next day, but the food remained
untouched and the Akita was no where in sight.  I did not know anyone in the 
area who owned an Akita.  The dog was very thin and I was fairly certain that 
he had been dumped by a motorist, due to the fact that we were so close to a 
major highway.  

     Three days later I received a call from a homeowner.  Her female lab was
in heat and there was a stray dog hanging around her property.  When I
arrived,to my surprise, I saw the same Akita that I had seen at the garage.
Once again as I approached, he slowly got up and walked into the woods.  I 
did not want to scare him off so I went back to the house.  The homeowner 
brought her dog outside to see if the Akita would come closer to get near to 
her dog.  He showed no interest and remained in the woods.  I set the largest 
humane trap that I had, but I could tell by the size of the dog that he would 
never fit.  Over the next 2 weeks I brought food every day for the Akita. 
As hungary as he obviously was, he would not come over to me. On the 20th day,
the Akita was laying on the front lawn of the home when I arrived.  I sat on 
the curb and took out the spoon and can of food. I tossed a small bit of the
food close to him.  He ate it.  I tossed the next bite a little bit closer.
Eventually, I had the dog close enough so that he was eating right off of the 
spoon!  I had a slip lead in my hands and I slowly put this over his head.  
I prayed that he would not try to bolt when he felt the pressure of the lead,
but he did not.  I stood up and walked him over to my van and helped him to
jump in.

     As with all stray dogs, I placed an ad under the lost and found section
of the local paper. I also started searching to see if I could locate an
Akita rescue group. I knew that this is a breed that must be placed carefully.
I felt that I was not equipped to properly interview prospective owners, so
I felt it best to leave it to the experts.  During the next few weeks I spent
a lot of time with this Akita.  His temperament seemed to be incredible.  
He showed no aggression towards people or the other dogs at the shelter. 
I was able to leash walk him,without any problems.  I had contacted a State 
K9 Officer who I knew loved Akitas.  She came down to see the dog,but in the
end, decided not to take him because his backround was unknown. I spoke to 
3 different people who did work with Akita rescue groups.  They thought they
might have located the owner at one time.  She had lost her 2 Akitas when
they took off into the woods chasing after a deer.  They had been missing for
over a month, and the description of her male fit this guy to a "T".  She 
drove up to see my Akita, but it was not hers.  When I contacted the Akita
rescue again, the best they could do was to place him in a home where there
were already 2 Akitas.  She was honest in telling me that this dog would have 
to be crated almost all of the time because of her dogs. I understood her 
decision, but I could not let this dog go to this kind of life,for who knew 
how long, after all that I did to catch him.  I told the rescue worker that
I would keep him myself.  I already owned a female Bernese Mountain Dog, 
and a male Borzoi,another one of my rescues, but I knew that this could work.

     Before bringing this dog home, I made an appointment to take him to my
vet. They checked him out, gave him all the neccessary shots, and scheduled
an appointment for him to be neutered. He weighed just 75 pounds.  That
afternoon the vet contacted me to say that his heartworm test had come back 
positive.  I had no choice but to treat him.
I had named the dog "Abby".  Abby was about 6 years old at this time and 
we were concerned about the treatment.  At this time they used arsenic to
kill the worms.  It was risky and expensive, but worth every dime, to bring
Abby back to good health. The treatment went smoothly.  All the vet techs 
could not believe how good Abby had been. Now I had to keep him quiet for
the next month.  No kind of exercise at all. Just out to do his thing, and
then back inside.  Fortunately for me, he was a real trooper. When he went
back in to be checked, the vet said that he was fine.  We made his 
appointment to be neutered and life went on.  Abby's final weight, after 
months of careful feeding, was 115 pounds!!

     At this time in my life, I had a 1 year old son.  I was always very
careful with him around any of the dogs that I brought home.  One day 
however, Abby was out in his pen eating.  Andrew had walked over to the
pen and before I could get to him, he had put his hand through the fence 
and into Abby's bowl of food.  Abby simply sat down and waited until I 
came to retrieve my son. This was to be only the first incident where 
Abby proved himself to be an incredible dog.  I started taking him on
nightly walks, once he was fully recooperated from his heartworm 
treatment. One night, after dark, we were walking down our street and I
could see a neighbor walking up towards us, but on the other side of the
road.  I felt no threat because I knew who it was, but Abby, who had been
walking very nicely on my left side, very  calmly crossed over to be on my 
right side.  He never barked or growled, but he put himself in what he 
perceived to be the line of danger.  One of the last great incidents to
occur in Abby's life was when my vet called me one day.  They needed a
blood donor and asked if they could use Abby.  They had remembered how
well behaved he was for the IV during his heartworm treatment.  I agreed
and Abby did it willingly. Abby went with me on occassion to the local
nursing home I visited on a monthly basis. He loved the attention. 
Of all the dogs that I have had in my life, he was the only one who 
would sit patiently while I put the food bowl down, and then kiss me
before starting to eat.  We had a special bond that I will never have with
another animal.  I was lucky to have Abby in my life for another
5 1/2 years. He appeared fine when I left for work just 2 weeks before
Christmas in 1995.  He had eaten his breakfast and wagged his tail as I
left.  When I came home I was not immediately alarmed not to see him 
waiting for me.  His hearing had been going, and his naps seemed to get
deeper.  I could not wake Abby when I returned home on this day.
He had passed on to a better place and is waiting for me over the bridge.

     Due to my rescue work at the shelter I could not get another Akita
right away.  Probably best. When the time was right, I did my research,
read many books, visited and spoke to some local breeders and then
finally found "Tugger".  I could never replace Abby, but Tugger has 
filled a void in my life.  I often wonder if I ever would have known the
joy of owning an Akita had it not been for Abby.
I'm just glad I'll never have to know.

  

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