Brandy and Nikki

Two Old Dogs
Matted and Ill, They Awaited Death
How Brandy and Nikki Were Given the Gift of Real Love At Last

by Hiroko Nakagawa

Brandy and Nikki

About 9 years ago…

   Not long after starting volunteer work for Animal Advocates Society, I was asked to go and check on two old dogs at the North Vancouver SPCA pound on Mansfield Place. AAS was seriously concerned about their fate after finding out that a 10-year-old dog had been brought there and put down on the same day by its owner’s request, with no questions asked.

   Among the animals in a pound, it’s generally the younger ones who get adopted, given second chances as family pets. The older ones are mostly left out. Who would want to bring them home, knowing they’d only have a few years together?  And what about the medical costs which would surely come with various ailments of old age? What awaits them at pounds is euthanasia in the backroom where executions by injection take place.

   But can it really be called ‘euthanasia’?  For the animals, after spending days in confinement with all the fear and sadness, what would it be like to be taken out and led to the execution room?  How might it feel for them to lie there on the same table where hundreds and thousands of animals ended their lives before them?

It was one unusually cold afternoon in early April when I first met Brandy. When I first saw her, she was sleeping (or trying to get a sleep) like a dirty pile of rags on the concrete floor of a kennel of the SPCA. She was a medium sized dog with long hair. A mixed breed of Spaniel and other kinds. According to more information put out, she was about 10 years old, went through 3 homes in the past, and had chronic skin problems, which I suspected was the reason she had been surrendered by her owner.

   There was another dog in the same kennel. It was Nikki, a small black Terrier cross. She was also surrendered, but by a different owner. The SPCA didn’t have much information on her, but one thing was certain and that was she was not needed any more, and she was an old girl.

It was impossible to take them out of the shelter right away. My house being full with three cats and one terribly wild dog I was fostering, we had to find a foster home first, then search for a permanent family who would be nice enough to adopt them despite their age.

   However, their time was running out. Having spent two weeks in the pound, we found out they were destined to be put down any day, any time. Sounds cruel and merciless, but that was how the things were operated then.

   Being afraid of the euthanasia that could come tomorrow or even today as the worst scenario, I made it very clear to the staff that I was interested in adopting them (meaning “Please don’t kill them yet”), and asked if I could walk them a little bit. 

   The leashes were put on the dogs, and the three of us were out of the building.

It was so sunny and bright outside that I had to squint my eyes. And that was when I noticed the remarkable transformation in Brandy. It was just as if suddenly a worn out stuffed animal came to life. Stretching all four legs onto the earth, and shaking her whole body vigorously, she started to dash out. And she just ran. Ran at a full speed further and further away, non-stop. Nikki also ran like crazy, crying out with high-pitched voice of excitement.

   I was running too, being pulled by them, still surprised. “Where are you going?” I yelled at them.

   Brandy briefly stopped, turned back, and looked at me with her round big eyes, as if making sure of something, then ran again.

   But I had heard what she wanted to answer me back with. She didn't say it, but I knew. It was, “I want to go as far as possible. I don’t like that place, please I don’t want to go back there. I want to live!”

   When I decided not to go any further, knowing I shouldn’t be taking too much time, we turned around, and the dogs’ speed slowed down. They trod face down.

Back into the kennel, they started to look again like old and dirty stuffed animals.

Just before the kennel door was locked, Brandy’s eyes and mine met for a friction of second.

   And today, even after so many years, I can still picture them clearly in my mind.

That look was the saddest I had ever seen. It was filled with deep sorrow and resignation, and yet it showed some strong appeal for one last chance.

Walking away, it was then and there that I made a promise. To myself and to Brandy. The promise that I would come back for them, and get them out of there no matter what. “I will find homes for them, and they’ll live, yes.”

   And you know what?  Brandy lived for 3 more years and 8 months exactly, happily ever after.

   Both Brandy & Nikki were pulled out of the SPCA the next day, with the assistance of the AAS (they paid for the adoption), had a check-up by Dr. Burt at Marine Drive Vet Clinic, shampooed and brushed by Jen Dickson, and they were so clean and fluffy, looking like two young gorgeous ladies.

   Brandy and Nikki were adopted together shortly after by Haruyo and her family of North Vancouver, who had happened to call the AAS inquiring about a puppy of a large breed. Imagine their surprise when the two small dogs showed up at the door instead, with us convincing them that they were to be a foster family for only a little while until the AAS would provide them with a lively, large puppy.

   After about a month with no suitable puppy available yet, I had a phone call from Haruyo telling me that she didn’t have a heart to move them to another home. The dogs were already very happy there. The family was adopting them both. I found her exceptionally kind and selfless.

   Nikki enjoyed following the children rollerblading everyday. Her life was the happiest, filled with lots of fun until she died of stroke two and a half years later.

   Brandy kept on, with no more skin ailments as a result of the best foods and medical care, and she was secure and loved, together with a family cat, until one day she finally succumbed to illness.

   “She was in such a pain and suffering we had to put her to sleep", Haruyo informed me much, much later. The loss must have been too big for them to let me know sooner.

   I believe the family was with her until the last minutes when she went to Heaven.

   Judy Stone, the president of the AAS once said, “We never give up on older pets. It’s worth the effort to save them even if they only have a year or two left, or sometimes for just a few more months. Having gone through years of many anxieties and hardships, if they can finally find a home where they can be loved and cherished with no worry of abandonment, that’s all that counts. They will go to Heaven with memories of the happiness, nothing but. And about the life they had before, it must be all forgotten by then (they’re that forgiving, aren’t they)?”



[ back to top ]