Kimi’s rehoming story
It was the video that did it. A terrified and skinny dog, desperate for some food being left on the side of the road by volunteers from a rescue organisation in central Greece. I watched, transfixed, willing this lad to find the courage to grab some kibble and not to disappear into the hinterland once more. Finally, after skudding away at every sound and movement, he managed to take some. Then, after what felt like an eternity, he accepted a gentle hand under his chin. He appeared to give in at that moment, taking a leap of faith, and she who gathers neglected, abandoned and broken dogs into her arms was able to embrace him and take him away from the cruelties of his past.
I looked at the photographs from his two years in rescue. The frightened boy sitting in a corner at the back of his kennel, head bowed. Then the gentle boy, allowing the volunteers to stroke his flanks and chest. I watched snippets of video showing small interactions with another dog and recognition of the volunteer who had saved him from the streets. Never did I see him wag his tail beyond a twitch. This most beautiful dog was broken, and so was my heart.
It’s true what they say. Kimonas saved my life that day. Many people dismiss how much we owe these sentient creatures, believing it is man who is the rescuer, to guide and to reshape. My experience with my previous third-hand dog, and now with Kimi, has shown me something different: that if we are able to tune into their past by closely observing their behaviour, and to identify the missing pieces of the jigsaw, we are presented with a see-saw that can help each recalibrate the other. By listening carefully to their unspoken language, we can allow them to guide us to a place of mutual recognition, trust and love.
Six months after coming home to Somerset, Kimi continues to grow into a more confident version of himself. The terrified dog that had to be lifted off the transport bus and cowered in terror when we ventured outside the house, is revealing his skills, wit and intelligence with every passing week. He is an exceptional hunter, alerting me to wildlife long before I am conscious of it. His post-breakfast antics bring laughter to the beginning of each and every day as he seeks to gain my undivided attention by running his toys through for an interactive game. He is teaching me how to become a tracking dog handler through his astonishing abilities, previously untapped but evident even to this unenlightened but eager student.
But this is no fairy story, even though it may seem that it has a fairytale ending. Kimi’s emotional and physical scars will be ever present, and I am mindful of his needs. In equine parlance, he has curby hocks, probably from being kept in a cage with restricted room from a young age. This has left him flat footed so that he has a loping gait, and I can only predict that he may suffer as a result as he transitions from an active 5-year old into later middle and old age. He is also prone to bouts of dry coughing and retching, which I now know is likely to be caused by scarred lung tissue as a result of having had lung worm. Less transparent though are the ghosts from his past that cast long shadows over the present and the future. I quickly engaged the expertise of an excellent behaviourist, plus her colleague who has her own pack of Pointers, has fostered several from abroad, and knows this breed exceptionally well. They have helped me to recognise, to interpret, to start to re-route Kimi’s thought processes so that he can become a healthier, more balanced and happier dog. Perhaps that fairy tale ending is achievable after all but, even if it isn’t, Kimi will remain good enough for me as he is. He is my teacher. I just hope I am good enough for him.