Chief, the dog that helped me
I have been working with Animals in a shelter setting since 1996 first as the assistant Manager and Dog Control Officer for the BCSPCA and later to become a Special Constable and Manager of the Kitimat Branch until April of 2005 then became the Manager of The Kitimat Community Humane Society.
I have always loved animals and vowed to change the lives of animals in the North West I can tell you 21 years later we are making small dents in how animals are treated but none the less we are getting there one community at a time.
We have tougher adoption policies and application processes than ever before and should be this way. Too many get pets because its for their kids but never consider the whole responsibility it comes with, vetting, good food, socialization and most important being a part of the family like you would any human family member.
Next thing that happens the pet becomes isolated or turned loose in a back yard with no human interaction or worse yet abused and neglected. If we are lucky the owner will surrender that pet to the shelter or a local rescue, but many do not. I have seen plenty of things with this life job that is burned in my memory.
There was a time when I first started working at the BCSPCA they euthanized regularly and usually for space, and in our little shelter it was euthanasia day every Friday. I struggled with this and would take pets home until I could find just the right owner as I knew that if we gave them enough time that most could be placed. I remember placing pending adoption signs on their kennels just to save an animal and give it a little more time. I cried many tears and wanted to quit on many occasions but when I would look at the many beings that just wanted a home and a family of their own, I would sit with them cry my tears and vow to never give up on them.
For those that were extremely sick and at that time little money was spent on medical it was always the easy way out by euthanizing them. Everyone kept telling me we can’t save them all and trust me I know full well I can’t save them all, but I sure can give my all and save them one at a time.
In the summer of 2005 I was called to a remote community as they wanted me to remove this big collie/rotti cross named chief as they felt he was a danger to their community. Kids kicked at him he had rocks thrown at him and all he wanted to do was to greet them. When I went to his owner’s house which you could see they loved him, and he was being blamed and removed from the community when the dog that was identical to him was living next door and showed a lot of aggression. Chiefs owners did not want to risk Chief being put down because of mistaken identity so agreed to let me take him.
Chief was very timid and scared, and I could only imagine what was going through his head being loaded into a kennel in the back of my truck and being taken from his home. When we arrived at the shelter, I set him up in the one large dog run that we had out of 6. He was scared and would try to back away from everyone. On the 2nd night there he found a way through the wiring in the back-dog run that was starting to separate from the concrete and he squeezed through and escaped. For 4 days we had sightings called into us, but we never were lucky enough to find him until on the 5th day I received a call from a District worker that there was a big black and brown dog laying on its back enjoying the sun in front of the Chinese restaurant down the street from us. I headed out the door immediately and there he was in all his glory sound asleep on his back basking in the sun. I slowly approached him and gently put the leash around his neck and started petting him. He was so tired and enjoying his pets then all sudden opened his eyes and seen me and then he realized he had been caught. After bringing him back to the shelter I knew he couldn’t go back to the kennel he escaped from and needed more reassurance and to know he was safe with us, so he stayed with me and then slept in the front office. It wasn’t long, and Chief started greeting everyone that came into the shelter and loved going for walks with our volunteers.
Then one day we had a very sweet kind lady that just loved Chief and wanted to adopt him. She was perfect. We helped him into her car and sad to see him go and I stood their crying like a baby but tears of happiness because this boy was going to have a home of his own. Well the next day I pull up to the shelter at 7:30 am and thought I was seeing things and there was Chief laying down by the shelters front door waiting for me to let him back in. I was shocked I called his adopter who was beside her self as she had been out looking for him and couldn’t find him anywhere, I told her he was sitting in front of the shelter this morning when I arrived. Once again, we loaded him up and off, he went then again that night I received a call at home from his owner that Chief had escaped once again. I went looking right away around his area in Nechako and no sign of him. I drove everywhere now worried something had happened to him. I decided to head to the shelter and who I do I spot going over the bridge walking along the side of the road, but Chief. I pulled over and called him and he came running over like I was his long-lost friend. I called his owner immediately she came down and he looked at her happy to see her but stayed close to me. The owner said I think this is his home. Please love him and make him yours. She cried a few tears and he licked her face and then she left. From that day forward Chief became our shelter mascot.
Chief had been an amazing addition to our shelter and we loved him so much. He was the happy door greeter but also my consoler when things would go wrong. Lots of times I would just sit with him on his blanket and cuddle him, but I will never forget that horrible day when we received 2 litters of puppies and they came in with that deadly virus parvo. I was instructed the best thing to do would be to put the whole litter down. My heart was in my throat and I wanted to be sick. I shut the shelter down that afternoon to deal with inevitable the toughest thing I ever had to do.
One at a time I put them down through tears god knows how I could even see. After I was finished and washed up, I was still bawling. Chief came over sat pressed against my legs and pressed his head into my hands. I sat down beside him he licked at my tears then rested his head in my lap consoling me.
This dog helped me in so many ways and was my push to make changes for animals no matter where they were.
Chief has been gone for four years now but his memory is forever burned in my heart and I will always think of him and feel his gentle nudging that I will get through this as well and to please keep on fighting.
Well Chief I think you would be proud of me I am still fighting and still hanging in fighting for all the animals one animal at a time. I know you walk beside me, and you are always watching over everyone here at the shelter, but If I could have one wish It would be to have you here beside me and your head on my lap.
I love and miss you Chief.