Polish Tatra Rescue Saga

 rescue |ˈreskyoō| verb ( -cues , -cued, -cuing ) [ trans. ] save (someone) from a dangerous or distressing situation

I've written in the past about my work in the world of rescue. That is, of unwanted animals needing a new home. I consider it a non denominational tithing portion of the work I do as a professional dog trainer. I am neither a shelter nor a non profit and I am a single parent of 3 kids so I have to pace myself within this world. So it is through petfinder I have a place where I can list animals in need of homes -- dogs, cats, the occasional ferret or bird or tortoise or rabbit or ... -- and there is an ebb and flow to the numbers. Never terribly high. About once every summer I take on a litter of orphaned kittens and socialize them and find them homes. I admit that about every other year I seem to take one of the kittens on as a full time dependent -- my most recent Gretchen The Male from earlier this year. But rarely do I take on dogs as relinquished animals and find them homes. In fact, the ones I have taken on in the past have all generated their own tales -- Bosco the border collie mix, Dolly the Bichon, Kody the Aussie, Sadie the Puggle, Tommy the Wizard Shih Tzu all within the past two years.

This time it is about a rare breed of dog with a sad tale to tell. Her name is Kaja. Pronounced Ky-ah (in Polish the "j" is a y so I've learned!) A 5 1/2 year old Polish Tatra Sheepdog, aka Owczarek Podhalanski or the Polish Mountain Sheepdog. There are reportedly less than 300 in the U.S. and only about 7,500 world wide. The dogs are livestock guarding dogs and are Old World. Not recognized by the AKC, and nearly made extinct after World War II, there is some interesting history. Go HERE for more on that.

From my perspective, I took her on because:

a) I am a sucker for a sad story -- owners relocated to Alabama, unable to take her along is the short version

b) I was caught in a moment of vulnerability -- timing is such an important variable in life!

c) I was interested in learning about a new breed I knew nothing first hand about.

d) I was caught in a moment of vulnerability - see a, b & c

So I agreed to take on her relinquishment pending a spay. Which I've done before. Pick up dog after neutering appointment, help them recover and then find new homes. With Kaja there were complications. I wanted to have her spayed and picked up on Tuesday, October 30th but there was Hurricane Sandy so we had to postpone. She ended up having surgery on Thursday, November 1 and was picked up sight unseen.

Our first meeting. She was very thin and dirty and wrapped in tape along her midsection and around her foreleg where she had received an IV for anesthesia. But she exuded a sort of stunned sweetness and easily came along with me. A helpful boost and got in my car and home we went. Introductions with the dogs went well. Sophie helped out and seemed to take a special interest now that she's in her third month of teaching herself Polish online. Tethered to the treadmill, Kaja spent the evening quietly. With just a little bit of fussing, she went to sleep tethered to a radiator next to my bed. In the morning when I went to wake her for a potty break at 6:45 am, she looked up, stood up and collapsed. Then up again, outside after a series of staggering steps and another collapse. She was hemorrhaging and getting weaker by the minute.  

Off to the E.R. Vet with daughter (who would now be late to school) in tow. Within 1/2 hour of arrival she was rehydrated with an IV, retaped and put on a gurney to go back in my car and return to vet for a second 2 hour surgery to repair the hemorrhage. It was recommended she have a blood transfusion but since it was a $500 - $1,000 cost but that was an amount of money I just didn't have to put into a seriously ill dog I had just met. So instead Kaja returned to my home and was installed into a special 4x4 space I had set up complete with heavy padding and plastic tarps in between blankets. She was to have total bed rest for at least 48 hours. Needless to say it was a very long weekend leading up to today, election day. I'm happy to report that Kaja has gotten through the storm retaining her strong spirit and sweetness. True to her nature, though, she is suspicious of sound and sights she deems worthy of her guardian pedigree. And as she is gaining strength, she is gaining energy for fun things to do. So, fun things to do with a dog on limited freedom. In photo montage above, you can see I have some creative solutions. A 4x4 pen inside where she can gnaw on bully sticks (she goes through 4-6 a day right now which is okay because I want to fatten her up and keep her sane -- if I could run her about and go for a long walk I could probably cut out at least half of them), eat several small meals a day -- both warm Drywater as well as frozen squares (I call it Drywater Pone!) she can gnaw and crunch on in her indoor area and dispense kibble out of a Bob-A-Lot for slightly more active food eating She would prefer total freedom outdoors but she's enjoying being outdoors in stellar fall weather in the cabana, a 4x4 pen I have outside.

Helping an adult dog, unknown to me, who comes from a difficult background with a recent negative history as well as surgical complications is much harder than raising a puppy. But the appreciation for her care and the hope that she will find a forever home where she can fulfill her potential as an ambassador of her breed is the aim. Stay tuned for more adventures on Kaja by joining Facebook Fan Page. In the meantime, I'm working on my vulnerability!