Nika, Kaiser

I had given my daughter a purebred Siberian husky for her 16th birthday—the only pet we ever purposed to get, all the others over the years have been strays or giveaways. We named her “Nika” and had her for several years. Unfortunately, she died quite suddenly, which left an “opening” in our family. About a week after Nika’s passing, my sister called to see if we were ready for another family member. Seemed her next-door neighbors’ 10-year-old Weimaraner—“Spike”—was in need of a home. Spike’s then family had kept this male purebred locked in a backyard dog run since he was a puppy, and more times than not they forgot to feed and water the poor animal. Over the years, my sister checked on Spike occasionally and that last time, when he raised his head at her calling, the look in his eyes broke her heart. She related later that she burst into tears because she could tell his spirit had been completely broken and she doubted that he would last much longer. Then she heard that we’d lost Nika, so after letting us have a week’s mourning period, she couldn’t stand it any longer and gave us a call. Ordinarily, we wouldn’t have been ready for a replacement after such a short period, but under the circumstances, we relented and allowed her to go speak to her neighbor, who said we could take him. So the next night my daughter and I drove to my sister’s and picked up Spike—whom we renamed Kaiser (a more fitting name, I thought, for a German!).
Kaiser had a lot of medical problems. According to the vet, in his hungry periods (when his family forgot to feed him), he’d chew on rocks and pebbles he found in his run. This caused most of his teeth to either break or wear down. He had never learned to lap water out of a bowl. Apparently, they would squirt him with a hose and he’d drink water that way! Because he was rarely groomed, he would violently shake his head because his earmite-infected ears constantly itched, which caused his long ears to beat against his head and he ended up with scar tissue that practically closed off his ear canals, making it impossible for us to completely clean them, but we tried to provide as much relief as possible. He also was never housebroken, and almost immediately after we got him home, he raised one of his hind legs on the kitchen range! My mother’s heart went out to this dog, which was something to witness in itself. Mom wasn’t reared with pets and never really got that close to any of the ones we’d had over the years. My father was the one who taught me and my sister to love animals. But for some reason, Mom fell in love with Kaiser. She’d get up in the middle of the night to housebreak him; and she hand-watered him with a large syringe until he learned to lap from his bowl. He ended up sleeping with her and as large as he was, he became her “lap” dog.
In spite of all this, Kaiser turned out to be one of the best dogs we ever acquired. After we got another stray—Raymond, whom we still have—they became great friends (although Kaiser eventually became very protective of his food and water dishes—he did not like having to share with Ray!). And anytime we had to leave the dogs alone, Kaiser would get my stuffed Polar bear and sit with it until we got home! After we’d return home, we’d take it from him, put it back on my bed, and the next we’d have to leave, he’d go get it again. What a sweetheart!
We were blessed to have Kaiser for two plus years. He eventually lost most use of his hind legs so that he could only walk short distances; and if he had to urinate, he would collapse and let go wherever he happened to fall. We tried to physically help him for a while, but it eventually got to be too much for three women, so we ended up having to have him put down. It was devastating, but as the vet told us, at least his final two years were spent in comfort and a loving home.

Ruth from CA