It’s an animal tale worthy of Walt Disney himself.
Five years ago, a young Dalmatian-beagle cross was one of 57 animals – in various states of distress – seized by the BC SPCA from a property in south Cloverdale.
At the time, officials called the situation a “disgusting” display of neglect. But for one pup, at least, this sad story has had a very happy ending.
The dog, now, now named Tika, has recently been living the high life in England, where, according to the BC SPCA, she has “walked and sniffed almost every corner of London, from the posh neighbourhood of Chelsea to busy Trafalgar Square to even historic Buckingham Palace.”
Tika, along with the other dogs seized from what the provincial rescue organization now calls a “puppy mill situation,” was initially kept in total isolation as she underwent treatment for various parasites, including ringworm. As well, because the dogs were never fed proper food, Tika also required extensive dental work.
In total, 35 dogs, 16 horses and six cats were rescued from the property, where they lacked proper access to water, food or shelter. The cost to treat the animals was expected to reach $20,000, the organization said at the time.
Tika was “probably one of the dogs that was better off physically,” according to Charly Jarrett, the BC SPCA’s digital giving specialist. However, “she was very much affected mentally.”
However because she wasn’t as dependent on her siblings as the other dogs, Tika was able to be adopted out as a single to her new pet guardian, Stephanie Goldberg.
Goldberg said she fell in love with the pup the moment she saw her on the SPCA’s website, but because she had never had a special-needs dog before, she had “a million-and-0ne questions” about training and rehabilitation before she could seriously consider adopting her.
Eventually, her questions were answered and the adoption process was approved.
While training Tika was ultimately a “breeze,” said Goldberg, it wasn’t without a few challenges.
“Tika was a very nervous little pup when I first got her,” she recalled. “She received excellent foster care but still had a long way to go.”
Stairs were a struggle for her at first, and she was confused about the purpose of a dog bed.
“I’d gotten her a dog bed, but at first she just sat beside it. I don’t think she knew it was for her,” she said.
“I kept putting treats in it and she’d crane her neck over the edge, grab the treats, and take them away to eat.”
Walks were also a challenge at first because Tika “was very scared of just about everything.”
Gradually, however, Tika began to improve, and Goldberg would take her on walks through Pacific Spirit Park in Vancouver.
In 2017, the pair moved to London, where life for the now 11-year-old Tika has continued to be good.
“She has made a ton of friends here (four and two legged),” Goldberg said. “London is actually incredibly dog friendly, and many pubs and restaurants have dog bowls and treats for any dogs who come in. Tika has become a big fan of pubs.”
Goldberg and Tika belong to a dog social club in London, which Goldberg says has been great for her furry friend.
“She’s gotten to know and build up familiarity with a pack of dogs and we do all kinds of things together like go on trips to the beach, go to different restaurants, and go for walks together.
“Tika has absolutely enriched my life, no question about it. The experience of caring for a dog with special needs, helping her relax and gain confidence and watching her progress and grow has been amazing. She’s been the calmest, chillest dog I’ve ever known.”