Travis the Tank Engine’s Happy Ending


Travis the Tank Engine

Much has changed at the SPCA since this article was written, some for the better and some for the worse. Read more: The BC SPCA Now.

Travis was the biggest Dalmatian that AAS had ever rescued, so we called him Travis the Tank Engine.  He was an American puppy-mill pup, sold by a pet store to owners who knew nothing about dogs and had no love for their pup. The SPCA gets hundreds of complaints a year about these cruel stores, but they have said that the complaints are trivial. (See Pet Store Pups) They chained him up soon after they bought him. He cried because he was unspeakably lonely. He jumped in friendly greeting on his owners when they brought his food and water once a day. They wouldn't touch him. Neighbours phoned the Vancouver/Coquitlam SPCA over and over, and always got the same answer: If he's got food, water and shelter, there's nothing we can do. (See Why do we criticize the SPCA? )

Finally, after complaints about the barking to City Hall, Travis's owners dumped him at the Coquitlam SPCA, which transferred him to the Vancouver facility (they aren't "shelters"). At the Vancouver SPCA Travis was put in a cold, frightening cell. Imagine the fear he must have been feeling. So when a uniformed stranger came into his cell, he backed up and showed his teeth. That did it! He was labeled a fear-biter" and scheduled for destruction. (See Dorothy Beddows's story of Dudley and how the SPCA labels dogs for destruction). So far Travis's life has been unmitigated suffering, and now he was going to be killed.

AAS asked a trainer we know to go to the SPCA and find out if this was just another case of the SPCA mis-labeling a dog - something they do so frequently, we just expect it. The trainer went into Travis's horrible cage, and poor Travis backed up, not knowing what to expect from yet another stranger. Within minutes, the trainer had Travis smiling and wagging and begging for a pat. The SPCA agreed to let the trainer have Travis, and AAS paid the bill to get him out.

Travis is remarkable - he LOVES other dogs and kids and any person who speaks kindly to him. Even in very stressful situations (at the vet for example) he doesn't even snap. He's momentarily afraid of strangers not close enough to identify, but then most dogs are. He needs gentle reassurance that strangers aren't dangerous. He's getting better at this behaviour every day. It's just people at a distance that worry him; people who come into his house are welcomed with frolics and kisses.

Travis has just learned the joys of water play and he's almost swimming. We hope Travis's new family will take him swimming often.

We held onto Travis for a year waiting for the perfect home, and finally Gerald Thompson flew down from Whitehorse after seeing Travie on our web. Stayed tuned for the rest of Travie's Happy Ending!

From Gerald, whose generous heart understood Travis with all his problems.

July 27, 2006

"It is with a heavy heart that I have to let you know that Travis passed away today. His health complications finally got him as we had him to the vet numerous times with various problems, the worst being his thyroid problem. He keep putting on weight and we couldn't figure out why as he was not overfed in fact he was getting the same as his 65lb sister and she never gained an ounce so we had blood tests taken and had him on thyroid meds for the last couple of years. The vet seems to think that their was a tumor on his liver and this caused his liver to shut down. I have been with him for the last 3 days, 24 hours per day straight hoping for a miracle as I really came to love Travis even though we didn't start out on the best terms.

"When I picked him up from the airport when he first arrived he lunged at the cage door with his teeth bared and I don't mind telling you that he did frighten me to the point that I jumped back. This lasted for about 10 seconds until I realized that I was boss not him so I told him so and we got along famously after that.

"My first walk with him was a fiasco, we did about a 5K walk and he was with me and his sister Pepper. He was with us the whole way until we went over the rise at the end of the walk and a short distance from the house... no Travis. Well I called him and called him but he never came so I did a reverse of the same walk thinking I would find him but alas I did the whole walk and no Travis. I was devastated, my first walk and I've lost him! I figured I would go home get my ATV and continue to try and find him. Lo and behold! I came into the driveway and who do you think is sitting on the deck with a big grin on his face that said "Well where have you been and what took you so long".

"He really did love the water, you couldn't keep him out of it and that included mud puddles with and inch of water and three of mud, flop down he went into it. Not only did he love the water but he loved the snow as well. Being as he was Vancouver he didn't know about snow banks and you should have seen the expression on his face when he started walking across it and ending up two feet into it. Pretty sure I could have won a prize at Funniest Home Videos if only from the size of his eyes.

"This last Christmas I decided to take him on holidays with me to the interior BC, and looking back now I'm really glad that I did, as he loved to go for truck rides but most likely it was because he got to be with me. We also used to travel to Dawson City every summer, sometimes 3-4 times a summer for up to a week at times, and he got to run around on the creeks and all over the bush to his hearts content. He was inseparable from me when I was around and I am going to miss him for a long time even though I feel like I was cheated on the short time that we had I'm thankful that he came to me as I'm not sure if anyone else, other than yourself, would have looked after him the way he was looked after."

Sincerely in mourning

Gerald Thompson

[ back to top ]