From a feral pup to working in a Vancouver animation studio, this is Tikka’s story.
My husband and I have always had dogs but after our senior guy ‘Elvis’ passed away we were heart broken and didn’t want to look for another companion right away. Instead we decided to wait for our ‘it was meant to be’ moment when a dog would find us. And 17 pounds of awesome surely did.
After a few months of light browsing through the local shelter adoption photos (as one often does when at a dead end resolving a broken formula in excel at work) we came across this cutie and thought, she looks just like Elvis would have as a puppy! The next day we stalked her profile, repeatedly going back to the Vancouver HomeFinders Animal Rescue site to look into those eyes again and again and again….
We inquired about her, fully expecting she would already be spoken for, but we were ecstatic to find out that HomeFinders was still working through the applications and they could add just one more to the pile. During the adoption process we were told her back story and the reality of what dogs go through to find their homes (the lucky ones) is always heartbreaking.
Tikka was brought to Cam Bellamy at Northern Animal Rescue Alliance (NARA) as a pup in the back of a pickup, skinny and matted with dirt. The people that brought her in were kind enough to catch her from her feral state, and get her to a shelter. But they didn’t want to touch her (insert sad sniff) – they let her roll out of the back of the truck when they dropped the tailgate. She fell right into her rescuer’s arms and Cam held her tight, telling her she will be loved from this moment on (insert happy sniff).
It took Tikka a while to warm up to her new surroundings – this was the first note I had about her background:
Tikka was born feral and then mishandled which is a nice way of saying moderately abused… she has come miles and miles….When Cam up in Terrace first got her she would scream and pee herself anytime anyone came in the room, scream when handled, terrified of household objects, noises.. couldn’t handle a collar or a leash.
After spending a few weeks with Cam and her foster cats, she was ready to find her forever home. Through NARA’s connections, she was flown from Terrace to Vancouver via HawkAir (this airline does amazing things for rescue animals) and was put in an amazing foster home while getting socialized and spayed. That’s how she ended up in Kristy’s care, who gave her nothing but love and confidence and a cat family to curl up with at night. And a lot of socks to steal out of the laundry basket.
My husband and I were vetted with meet and greets, home checks and email discussions. A lot of time is spent getting the right adopters and adoptees together, as good rescue groups always have the animal’s welfare as a priority. The much awaited ‘big thumbs up’ finally came to us and we were ready to take her into our own arms!
Respecting her nervousness to the world she was getting used to, we took things at her pace and kept reinforcing her with positive training and a safe environment. Tikka never wanted to do anything wrong and she had so much try in her personality, we knew her nervous behaviour was a result of her early environment and not her default nature. As she became braver through positive experiences in familiar and then new places and new people her confidence grew… And within months she was excelling in her obedience classes, flying around agility courses and learning odor detection with a police officer and a class of 100 pound dogs. Our latest adventure is search and tracking and we both love it.
There will always be a feral side to Tikka, even as assimilated as she appears to be and there are remnants to the abuse she suffered. There is a lot of respect for these traits and experiences she had but we treat her like the incredible, stable dog we always knew she could be.
And she would never be the dog she is today without all the amazing network of people that led her to us. A million times thank you!