Dogged determination helped Kiara Annable save a neglected Siberian husky – and herself.
The 24-year-old Red Deer canine trainer was desolate after her husky Meeko was struck by a car and killed near Penhold two years ago.
“I went into depression for eight months,” she recounted, adding that as a 12-year-old she’d saved $600 to buy Meeko as a puppy and the two grew up together. Although the pain was eased through Sabie, one of Meeko’s female puppies Annable kept to raise, it didn’t erase it.
“I loved Meeko with all my heart. She was the kind of dog that people who don’t like dogs liked.”
In the midst of melancholy, she came across jarring online photos of Merlot, an unwanted male year-old red husky near death due to malnourishment, dehydration and mange.
“I’m a fairly spiritual person and I came across his picture and I felt Meeko beside me and the feeling in my stomach and my head said, I have to get this dog.”
She contacted Husky Camp, the rescue agency outside Hesperia, Calif., where Merlot was under care, to adopt him.
“She said no because I was from Canada,” Annable explained, saying the refusal was based on a prior case of an out-of-state client who gave up her adopted dog inside a week.
After two weeks of thought, Annable obstinately decided not to take no for an answer.
Through two months of patient yet persistent email, she overcame the non-profit agency’s doubts, even altering her backyard kennel and run based on their standards.
Annable and a friend made the 25-hour drive to the San Bernadino area to get Merlot last May.
Volunteers who cared for him believe his terrible condition arose from the pup growing up in a too-small kennel amidst his own urine and feces.
“His feet were all infected from standing in his own pee and poop. They had to wait for his nails to grow back in before they could start treating them,” she said.
Once in Red Deer, he showed his “true funky colours.
“The playful essence of a husky came out. He let loose. He’s got a zest for life.”
So, too, did Annable, the trip and negotiations replacing her despondency with new purpose.
“Once I got him home, I wasn’t depressed anymore. Everything seemed to get better.”
She continued the drug treatment for mange and put him on a high-quality dog food to ensure he’d gain weight.
“He’s about 52 pounds (23 kg) now compared to the 40 (18 kg) when I got him,” she said, adding his coat has grown out to be glossy, soft and red on top.
She also had to work on his eating and drinking.
“He’d scarf all his food and drink a large bowl of water at a time,” she recalled, blaming the behaviour on the lack of food and water from his previously neglectful owner.
Most importantly, Merlot’s personality has fully emerged, revealing a talkative, playful pet.
“He sounds like Chewbacca from Star Wars. He loves everybody and is so friendly. He’s definitely come a long way.”
Merlot and Annable will travel to Ohio this summer so Annable can receive a trick dog trainer’s certification and Merlot can become a trick dog. She’s also working on a curriculum to use Merlot and Sabie to work with at-risk youth.