It was the summer of 2013 when a small Yorkshire Terrier cross with the cool name of Timbit was dropped off at the Edmonton Humane Society.
‘Dropped off’ is code for “We can’t deal with this dog. He’s yours …”
That happens a lot. A once-loved pet is too old or sick … and the owner doesn’t know what to do with it. The animal shelter then becomes a convenient dumping ground where unwanted pets are either adopted or “put to sleep.”
Things didn’t look good for little Timbit. The five-year-old was in bad shape, suffering from a skin condition that left large, open wounds — the result of him scratching nonstop until he bled.
Yorkies are cute, but Timbit wasn’t. His entire side was swollen and blistered. Pus oozed out. Much of his fur was gone.
The dog with the Humane Society ID of ‘66959’ was on Death Row.The Yorkie was given a reprieve … thanks to a veterinarian at the Humane Society who went beyond the call of duty. Melanie Bouclin was going to put Timbit’s walk on the Rainbow Bridge on hold.
The young doctor gave the dog emergency medical treatment, including some pills. It was also put on a strict diet.
If that didn’t work, Timbit would be euthanized and cremated, along with other animals.
[Above photo was taken in early 2018]
A NEW HOME
But that never happened.
Dr. Melanie fell in love with Timbit. In spite of severe health issues, she felt the dog had a future — and that he’d bring joy to others.
The skinny on Timbit was that he was gentle, quiet … and got along well with other dogs. He also got along well with humans — especially Dr. Melanie. “I could tell that Timbit wanted to be cuddled,” she recalls, “and so I cuddled him. He was full of love.”
Right then and there, the vet made it her goal to save him. She began medical treatments, but progress was slow.
Co-workers felt Timbit should have been given a lethal injection.
But Dr. Melanie put her foot down and said no. She promised to find Timbit a new home. “He’s adoptable,” she said. In animal shelter parlance, the small dog could be ‘re-homed.’
The vet’s wish would come true …
Within a few months, Timbit was adopted and living the dream in a home in a new subdivision in the west-end of the city. The Yorkie with the missing fur and the scratching problem was off death row and enjoying his second life.
Timbit arrived with all his earthly possessions — a small bed that looked to be older than him, a blanket spotted with doggie logos, a body harness, and a leash. That was it. Oh. And some dog food.
Timbit was a bit of a mystery. No one seemed to know where he’d lived previously. All the shelter would offer 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 couldn’t look after him.
See you later, Timbit. Thanks for the memories.
Had Timbit’s original owner died? Your guess is as good as mine.
The Yorkie knew the answer but 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 was familiar with puppy pads … and he’d traveled about safely.
If nature called and Timbit needed to get outside, he’d simply stand quietly at the door and glance backward, a signal he wanted out. How badly was shown in the number of times he jumped about and pawed the door.
The Yorkie’s first stroll in the backyard indicated he was a house dog. He ‘high-stepped’ on the lawn, an odd behaviour for dogs, even a small one. Timbit likely spent a lot of time in a high-rise because grass was a whole new experience for him.
Timbit was anxious to check out his new digs, inside the house and out. And so he sniffed everything he came across. He was checking things out …
Wild rabbits continued to hang out in the backyard but their visits declined when Timbit took a liking to sunning on the deck. He did a lot of that in the spring and in the fall.
Timbit did not bark; this was no yappy dog. Then it happened. It was a short woof and it came after he spotted a magpie on the deck, his deck. It had taken the mutt several months, but he finally found his voice.
Timbit then began barking when the doorbell rang. If no went to the door immediately, ‘Timmy’ went into panic mode, dancing about, his toenails going clickety-clack on the wooden floor.
As small as this guy was, he was protecting his turf.
And like all dogs, Timbit was loyal.Here’s an 8-second video of Timbit in action. When you watch the clip, try to imagine what he looked like when he was dumped off at the Humane Society.
This is NOT the same dog …
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.
Dr. Melanie pointed out something I hadn’t given much thought to — that rescued dogs show more appreciation than those from the 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 the mutts who’ve been spared the gallows, there is appreciation in spades.
What was going through Timbit’s mind after he was dumped at the animal shelter? Why am I here? Where’s my owner? What’s happening to me? We can only imagine what was running through his mind.
How the dog must have longed for his previous owner.
The sad part is that Timbit had not done anything wrong. Not a darn thing. He hadn’t attacked anyone, had not destroyed furniture, nothing like that. Timbit was on death row because someone couldn’t or wouldn’t care for him.
And so they turned away.
Strangers at an animal shelter would now decide his fate.
Timbit’s darkest memories — and God only knows what they were — returned to haunt him. The dog sometimes whimpered in his sleep, obviously struggling with some grief or fear. He sure battled his demons.
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 that he was “the best dog in the world” did the trick. A lick on the hand meant ‘thank you.’
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 … a living being with feelings and compassion. There’s a four-letter word for that: love.Humourist and lecturer Henry Wheeler Shaw summed things up rather nicely. “A dog is the only thing on earth,” he once said, “that loves you more than he loves himself.”
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 home to have his nails cut or fur clipped, or to drive to a vet’s clinic. That’s understandable because the dog never really knew where he was headed … and he didn’t know if he was ever coming back.
The Yorkie cried, 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 leave the house in a vehicle but I suspect Timbit’s behaviour was over the top because he’d been abandoned before. It was as though he was reliving a nightmare. He trembled with fear.
But the moment Timbit spotted Dr. Melanie, all that changed. He was in Heaven, re-united 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.
Timbit also died alone in the living room — in his favourite chair — his ‘perch’ — his window on the world.
A couple of months earlier, he’d been around to Dr. Melanie’s clinic for another check-up and to have some teeth removed. All was normal. No sign of heart problems.
Timbit — his body still warm but his eyes fixed, staring into space — was rushed to an emergency vet clinic.
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.
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. Tears streamed down her face.
Timbit was 10.
NOTICE POSTED ON MAILBOX
Here’s the notice that was posted on a mailbox in Timbit’s neighbourhood.
After the notice went up, neighbours appeared at the door with condolence cards and flowers. The dog was well-known — and loved.
A psychic once told me that pets are here to show us love. I get it.
NATURE IS AWESOME
Explain this to me.
The day after Timbit ‘crossed over,’ a pair of wild rabbits scurried about his yard, running from the front to the back and to the front again. Back and forth they went. They hadn’t done that before.
And several robins — which hadn’t been seen until then — 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.