This is the story of Taka; an amazing survivor senior dog who will let nothing hold him back in life. The gorgeous Shiba Inu dog has a heart bigger than most, and all he wants to do is share it with those who need it.
In late October of 2018, the 9-year-old senior dog was asleep on his family’s screened porch in Georgia. Little did Taka know that his house had caught fire.
The fire was already raging when the dog’s family realized what was going on and they were left with no choice but to flee the house. Unfortunately, they had to leave poor Taka behind, trapped on an enclosed, blazing porch.
The senior dog is a blessed one, however, because Taka woke up right in time to break free and bolt from the porch, but not without sustaining severe burns in the process.
The poor guy’s eyes, mouth, ears, and tummy had all been terribly scorched. The burns were so bad that Taka tragically became blind from his injuries. Thankfully a neighbor was there to rush the dog to the Care More Animal Hospital to receive treatment.
Taka’s owners were heartbroken about leaving their dog behind. When they saw the extent of his injuries, they decided to surrender him to the hospital for fear of not being able to afford his medical costs.
The staff at the Care More Animal Hospital fell hopelessly in love with the tough old senior dog. One vet named Emily Martin began bringing Taka home with her at night.
“He likes his belly rubs, and he loves food, so he’s a little piggy. He also likes to cuddle,” Martin reveals in an interview with The Dodo.
It took a lot of extra love, care, and medical supervision, but after several very long weeks of healing, the senior dog was finally ready to be fostered.
Though Martin desperately wanted to foster Taka in her own home, it just wasn’t the right situation for a dog in her state. Martin already has a houseful to worry for, including five dogs and a then-infant.
Martin wasn’t the only staff member to develop a soft spot for the senior dog, though. When Martin explained that she couldn’t take Taka in, Chrystal Lesley, a vet tech there, stepped up to the plate and volunteered to foster him.
Chrystal brought Taka home with her but soon realized that, though he loves to be around people, he didn’t so much care for her other dogs. Taka was aggressive toward them and it worried Chrystal that she might not be the right person to foster him after all. That is until she learned about The Canine Training Project, which accepts old and young dogs alike.
“[Older dogs] can be trained just like any other dog. Sometimes it takes a little bit longer, but in Taka’s case he’s nine-years-old and he has flown through his training. He’s brilliant,” explains Mandy Foster, founder of The CTP, to WRDW News.
Taka did so well with his training, in fact, that Chrystal just couldn’t help herself. She was already so in love with the senior dog and so she made it official and adopted him!
Knowing how well Taka works with other people and how much he adores them, Chrystal decided to further his training. She trained Taka to be a therapy dog for other burn victims.
“He’s got the right temperament for it. Of course, he has the scars to show for it and he can relate to a lot of the people there so I think it’s going to benefit both him and the patients there,” continues Mandy.
The senior dog took the Canine Good Citizens test to become a therapy dog earlier this year in July. As everyone had expected of the friendly pooch, he passed with top marks. Taka has been comforting burn patients in their hardest of times ever since.
“To see that he could be an encouragement or at least a light at the end of the tunnel for a child or anybody that has gone through what he’s gone through is what all of this is about,” explains Chrystal.
Taka is working wonders as a therapy dog, showing people that life can still be good even if it feels sometimes like it’s all going to fall apart. We are so grateful that this senior dog’s story has turned out to have a happy ending, and that there are people out there like Emily Martin and Chrystal Lesley. They never gave up on Taka, and everyone is receiving so much love for it in return.
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H/T: Animal Channel