Laika’s story with our family began in a busy supermarket car park in Miri, Sarawak. She was probably little more than a year old, heavily pregnant, and living off scraps from a nearby hawker stall and goodies that people doing their shopping would buy for her. She wasn’t very keen to come home with us – she preferred to keep humans at a safe distance back then – but we managed to persuade her with some chicken pieces. She promptly vomited these up over me, my husband and the back seat of his company car on the drive home.
A week later Laika gave birth to five beautiful puppies in a sunny corner of our home. She was still very wary of both me and my husband but she needed our help with her puppies and gradually started to trust us. She was a wonderful mother and was constantly looking after and looking out for her five energetic and demanding babies. With the help of the PAWS network in Miri we were able to find five good homes for the puppies, but Laika stayed on with us. This wasn’t a straightforward decision. We already had a dog and two cats and we thought carefully about the repsonsibility and cost of taking on another pet when we were certain our future would involve further travel and postings abroad in different countries. We didn’t know Laika’s background but her wariness around people and an injury on her front paw suggested she hadn’t had an easy start to life. But she had come to trust and depend on us and we had grown very attached to her.
With her puppies rehomed and her mothering responsibilities over we got to know Laika better. She liked to go for walks and adapted quickly to walking in a harness and on a leash, but she loved being off the leash and running along the local beach, usually at quite amazing speeds. She loved being around us and would sit quite happily at our feet while we worked or watched TV or follow us around the house from room to room. She loved being stroked, especially on her tummy. You could fuss over her for hours and she wouldn’t get bored. And she loved food and was always a little worried about where the next meal was coming from or whether she could gobble up her dinner before someone else got to it. She got along well with our cats and, after a few disagreements over food, became friends with our other dog. She is still sometimes a little unnerved by sudden movements or excited squeals from our three year old daughter, but this has never caused us any significant concern.
We also learned that she didn’t like loud noises or crowds and would pull out her harness if we came across a large group of children playing in the street. She became very nervous if people approached her on the street and it took time for visitors to the house to gain her trust. She was completely disinterested in playing ball or fetching sticks. She only chewed things when she was stressed or upset. After our first long holiday apart from her we came home to find an apologetic pet minder and the contents of the bottom row of our bookshelf in shreds on the rug. She’d demonstrated her displeasure at being left behind by chewing her way through half of the complete works of Charles Dickens. And we’d never got round to reading them first.
We are heartbroken that we may lose Laika from our family. Although she is healthy and active, New Zealand Bio Security has denied her entry to the country because she has tested positive to having had Babesia Gibsoni (a variety of tic fever) at some time in her life. Even though the tests show she has fully recovered, the fact that she had it in her past, is enough to bar her from entry into NZ or Australia. We are having the tests repeated to ensure there was no mix up in the samples and are still hoping against hope that there may be some way around this problem, but are preparing ourselves for the worst.
We would love to find Laika a loving home if we are unable to take her with us. She is a wonderful pet. She is loving and loyal and the perfect companion and will be your loving shadow when you are with her. As I write this she is curled up behind my chair and if I whisper her name I will receive an answering flick or two from her tail.
Please help. I have never been more attached to a dog or more sure that she will bring huge joy to anyone who can offer her a loving home.