Cover Story

Fur-ever family...

July 10 -16, 2019

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Gulf Weekly Fur-ever family...

Dr Barrie Hamad, Animal Care Clinic’s senior vet and director, examined Tanni and discovered that he had an old fracture in his thoracic spine. That meant that his dream to ever walk independently again was shattered and that is why he is incontinent.

“His spirit and fortitude is remarkable though,” added Lorraine. “As a professional physiotherapist myself, I felt there had to be something that could be done for him and thankfully, our community rallied round to raise the money for his vet treatment including neutering.”

However, they knew that what Tanni needed was a foster family to support him on his path to recovery and finding a loving ‘fur-ever’ family.

He found a friend in Betty the Shitzu and together they were provided a couple, who wished to remain anonymous for personal reasons, to care for them.

The generous duo, that already have seven dogs other than the two newcomers, welcomed Tanni and Betty with open arms and helped them assimilate as much as possible. It wasn’t long for the foster parents to officially adopt them both to their canine clan.

Tanni’s mum said: “He needed a family who would be patient of his situation. We chose to adopt him because that’s the right thing to do. We were committed to taking care of him for the rest of his life and we say that for every dog that we have rescued and adopted.

“He was at first unsure of how to be around the other dogs. He was not the shy type but he was very defensive of himself. That did not last long though. After some time he started chasing them all, sniffing them, mingling with them and come treat time, he would barge in between them.

“Tanni follows them and steals their toys. He has a good appetite and is a happy boy. He also knows he is different which is why sometimes he is uneasy around new people or new dogs.

“Nonetheless, he is doing very well and usually plays with Betty scooting along on his front legs at great speeds while his back legs hang inactive.”

The family and VSOB wanted to take matters a step further and contacted St Christopher’s Senior School to see if their design and technology department could cater to his mobility needs.

Bryon Pearce, the assistant head of senior school, said: “We received original videos and photos of Tanni at the beginning of June and were asked if there was a possibility that we could make something that could help him.

“I prepared some ideas and some of my A’ level students were more than willing to help. One of my Year 13 students, Eleni Sayce, said she was so touched when she saw Tanni and how difficult it was for him to get around that she wanted to do whatever she could do to help!”

It took two prototypes, six students helping at various stages and then the creation of the final design to get it all done.

“We are really pleased with the outcome and the feedback as to what a difference it has made to Tanni,” said Bryon. “My students always make me proud and this is just another example of that.”

Tanni’s fur-parents are thrilled about his cool, black and neon yellow ride and said that although he is still a bit baffled to be on wheels, once he realises that it will help him run around, they are certain he will love it.

“What the students have done is brilliant,” said his fur mum. “We were not expecting that the students will devote their time to building wheels for Tanni. The design fits his needs very well as it was not only his hind legs that had issues. His body weight lies on his left side and with the strong support that the wheels have, he will be at ease with it.

“What the students have done is beyond words. It was really special. A massive thank you to all involved in this project. Thank you very much for dedicating your time and effort. We hope that other youths will be inspired and follow in their footsteps.”

To further assist him, his adoptive parents included regular swimming sessions into his routine, following a starter lesson at the Delmon Kennel and Cattery, and passive exercises to help with his mobility. 

Osteopath Lana Peters, owner of Back on the Move, has also been involved in his care.  She has treated dogs with various spine and hip issues for several years.

Lorraine added: “Tanni is benefiting greatly from his rehabilitation programme. He’s a real character and we hope that the therapy will prepare him to use his wheelchair. Because, while he loves to sit by his new mummy’s feet listening to her play the piano and has great fun teasing his doggy brothers and sisters, the action of the ground on his back joints is taking its toll.

“We are delighted that through their project the St Chris students have not only learned technical design skills but also about the unfortunate street dogs of Bahrain. This is how change can be brought about. His story has brought a whole community together to give him a better life and show how technology can help a differently-abled dog.”

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