By Byron Christopher
May 13, 2018
It was the summer of 2013 when a small Yorkshire Terrier cross was dropped off at the Humane Society in Edmonton.
[‘Dropped off’ is code for “We can no longer deal with this dog. He’s yours …”]
That happens a lot. Unfortunately. A once-loved pet becomes too old or sick … and its owners don’t know what to do with it. The animal shelter becomes a convenient dumping ground where unwanted pets are either adopted … or “put to sleep.” Exterminated.
Things didn’t look good for Timbit. The five-year-old Yorkie was in bad shape. He was suffering from a skin condition that left him with open wounds — the result of him scratching nonstop until he bled.
Yorkies are cute, but this one wasn’t. His entire side was swollen and blistered. Pus oozed out. Much of his fur was gone.
There was a good chance the small dog with the clinic ID of 66959 would have to be put down.
Lucky for Timbit, he was given a reprieve … thanks to a kind veterinarian at the Humane Society. She made sure that the dog’s walk on the mythical Rainbow Bridge was put on hold.
She gave the Yorkie emergency medical treatment. If the meds had failed to work, the animal would have been euthanized and cremated.
[Above photo was taken in early 2018]
A NEW HOME
But that never happened — and it was because the vet went beyond the call of duty.
Veterinarian Melanie Bouclin fell in love with Timbit. In spite of his health issues, ‘Doctor Melanie’ saw a lot of potential in him.
She wanted to save the little guy. It was noted that Timbit was quiet, gentle … and got along well with other dogs at the shelter.
He got along well with humans too — especially Dr. Melanie. “I could tell Timbit wanted to be cuddled,” she recalls, “and so I cuddled him.” “He was full of love.”
Right then and there, the young doctor made it her goal to save him.
Medical treatments began, but progress was slow. In the opinion of others at the shelter, Timbit should have been given a lethal injection. But Dr. Melanie put her foot down and said no. She promised to find a home for him.
“He’s adoptable,” she assured co-workers. In animal shelter parlance, Timbit could be ‘re-homed.’
The vet’s wish would come true.
Within a few months, Timbit was living the dream in a clean home in a new subdivision in the west end of Edmonton. The small doggie with the missing fur and the scratching problem was off death row and enjoying life.
He arrived with all his earthly possessions — a small circular bed that looked to be older than him, a blanket spotted with dog logos, a body harness, and a leash. That was it. Oh. And some healthy dog food.
Timbit was a bit of a mystery. The new owner had no idea who had him previously. All the animal shelter would say was that he came from a home in the northeast part of Edmonton — many miles away — and that a granddaughter was moving to Ontario and she couldn’t look after him.
See you later, Timbit. Thanks for the memories.
Was Timbit’s original owner an elderly person who had died? Your guess is as good as mine.
The little Yorkie knew the answer but he wasn’t talking.
… AND A NEW LIFE
According to adoption papers from the Humane Society, Timbit was ‘house trained and crate trained.’ In other words, he knew about puppy pads … and he’d been transported safely.
If Timbit needed to go outside to do his business, he would stand quietly at the door and glance backward, a signal he wanted out. How badly the dog needed to go was shown in the number of times he pawed at the door.
The Yorkie’s first stroll in the backyard indicated he was a house dog. Timbit ‘high stepped’ while on the lawn, an odd behaviour for dogs. Walking on grass was obviously a new experience for Timbit. He may have spent most of his days in a high-rise.
The adopted Timbit was anxious to check out his new digs, inside the house and out. He sniffed everything he came across. He was checking things out and getting a lay of the land.
Wild rabbits continued to hang out in the backyard … but their visits declined when Timbit began sunning on the deck. He did a lot of that in the spring and in the fall.
Timbit did not bark. No yappy dog here. Then it happened. It was a short woof and it came after he spotted a magpie on the deck, his deck. It had taken Timbit several months, but he finally found his voice.
Timbit then began barking when the doorbell rang. If no one went to the door immediately, he danced about anxiously, his toenails making a clickety-clack sound on the wooden floor.
As small as this animal was, he was protecting his turf.
And like all dogs, he was loyal.
Here’s a short video of Timbit in action, recorded a couple of years ago. When you view the clip, try to imagine the dog’s condition when he was dropped off at the Humane Society.
This is NOT the same dog … notice how he’s full of life:
The short clip of a dancing Timbit became a favourite on CISN-FM’s Instagram page [CISN is one of the top radio stations in Edmonton.] DJ Randy Marshall posted it.
Doctor Melanie pointed out something I hadn’t given much thought to — that rescued dogs show more appreciation than those from the so-called puppy mills. That’s because they’ve been given a second chance at life and they’re forever grateful.
In any case, dogs are always forgiving and full of unconditional love — but for those who’ve been spared the gallows, there’s appreciation in spades.
What was going through Timbit’s mind when he was dumped at the animal shelter? Why am I here? Where is my owner? What’s going to happen to me? We can only imagine what was running through his mind.
How he must have missed his previous owner.
The sad part is that the little dog hadn’t done anything wrong. He hadn’t attacked anyone, had not destroyed furniture, nothing like that. Timbit was on death row because someone couldn’t handle the disease that was killing him.
And so they turned away.
Complete strangers at an animal shelter would now decide his fate.
Timbit’s darkest memories — and God only knows what they were — would return to haunt him. The dog would sometimes whimper in his sleep, obviously struggling with some grief or fear. He battled his demons, that’s for sure.
The longer Timbit stayed at his new home, the less he cried in his sleep. Often a gentle pat on the head with a reassurance he was “the best dog in the world” did the trick.
The same love Timbit had shown strangers was given to him in return. This is what happens when caring is a two-way street.
Timbit wasn’t just like a family member. He was a family member.
VISITS WITH MELANIE
Dr. Melanie continued to see Timbit, sometimes at his new home, sometimes at her parents’ cottage … and often at her clinic. [She had moved to the Rosslyn Veterinary Clinic at 135th Avenue and 97th Street.]
Timbit was never happy to leave the house to have his nails cut or fur clipped, or drive to a vet’s clinic. That’s understandable. He never really knew where he was headed and, I guess, he didn’t know if he was coming back home. Timbit cried and hyperventilated and wouldn’t sit still. You’d think the world was ending the way he carried on.
I realize many dogs behave like this when they pull away from the house in a vehicle but I suspect Timbit’s behaviour was over the top because of what had happened to him.
The moment Timbit spotted Dr. Melanie, he was in Heaven. He was reunited with the Angel who’d saved him. His tail never stopped wagging. He was saying “thank you … thank you … thank you …”
A SAD, QUICK END
Timbit died suddenly late Sunday afternoon, 22 April 2018.
The pet who’d been nicknamed ‘Mr. Timbit’ and ‘Timmy’ passed away from congestive heart failure. It was a terrible shock to all.
He also died alone, and in his favourite chair.
A couple of months earlier, Timbit had been around to Dr. Melanie’s clinic for a check-up and to have some teeth removed … and there was no sign of trouble.
Timbit — his body still warm but his eyes fixed, staring into space — was rushed to an emergency vet clinic in the north end of town.
Pacing anxiously in the parking lot was Dr. Melanie. She flung open the car door, took one look at her old friend, grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and dashed into the clinic with him.
A long ten minutes later, Dr. Melanie walked solemnly into a private meeting room, head down, holding a lifeless Timbit wrapped in a blanket. She didn’t say a word. She didn’t have to. The tears streamed down her face.
Timbit was 10 years old.
NOTICE POSTED ON MAILBOX
Here’s the notice that was posted on a mailbox in Timbit’s neighbourhood. The dog was well-known and well-liked.
People thought his name was cute.
After the notice sent up, neighbours appeared at the door with condolence cards and flowers.
NATURE IS AWESOME
Explain this to me.
The day after Timbit ‘crossed over,’ a pair of wild rabbits scurried about his backyard, running from the front to the back and back to front again. They had not done that before.
And several robins — which hadn’t been seen until now — were perched on the deck railing. That was odd too.
It was as though the wildlife sensed Timbit was no longer on this plane and they were paying their respects.
Somehow they knew. Just like Dr. Melanie knew.