Chi Chi’s Story I

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It’s remarkable how people, often strangers, pull together in incredible ways during a crisis. The following true story is one such example of how twelve strangers from four different countries, each in their own way doing everything they could, all for one very special dog. I was so looking forward to my vacation to get away from a busy schedule and looking forward to returning to the resort I have been to before in Punta Cana, Dominion Republic. It began innocently enough. There was a very young; around 7 months old, stray dog on our beach. She was very sweet, playful and full of life. Dogs are not allowed on the resort and all the staff would attempt to chase her way. She was very frightened of them. But with all the guests she was very happy. We started to bring her food and made a fuss of her. We named her Chi Chi after a local cocktail drink – very sweet and addictive – just like her.

chichiThere was a family from Switzerland who Chi Chi really connected with and got so excited when they came to the beach. I spoke to the Swiss women (Barbara) and she said she had inquired into taking the dog back to Switzerland, but the airline does not take animals. I was very upset at the thought of Chi Chi missing this family when they have to leave. I also worried whether or not there would always be someone else to look after Chi Chi. So did Barbara. We assured her that we would look after her while we were still here and that we would find someone to take over from us when we have to leave. Eventually the day came and the Swiss family left. Now each day when we got to the beach she would run towards us pleased and excited we were there and she would spend the day with us. We brought her a tennis ball to play with and she would run and fetch the ball. She also played with the coconuts on the beach. At the end of the day we would go back to our room and she would follow us up to a certain point. She seemed to know her boundaries. Although each day it got further and further! At night we would go back to the beach and she would come running to us again. We would feed her and stay with her for a while. This was good as the beach was deserted and she would run around and play without any fear. Then we would go to bed at night and she would stay around the beach area. We would worry every night whether she would be safe alone at night and would she be there the next day. But we told ourselves that she is a survivor, she’s smart, and she is very fast.

Sure enough, our worst fears came true. On Friday we went to the beach and called for Chi Chi, but she was nowhere to be found. I was frantically looking for her when I saw Tatjana, a German lady who had also been feeding Chi Chi. She was in tears. That morning, she saw the gardener put a rope around Chi Chi’s neck and drag her for a long way. He nearly killed her. Tatjana screamed at the gardener and so did some Spanish people. He stopped and took off the rope but Chi Chi just laid there limp. They thought he was dead. Then he touched her and she jumped up and ran away into the bush. She was limping. When Tatjana told me this story, I was crying my eyes out and said I would go and find her. So we went in the direction of where Chi Chi ran off into the bush and kept calling her name. I was so worried that we would not find her and if we did, what would we find? Eventually she came to us, frightened stiff. She was Ok, but limping slightly and she had a sore spot on her face from where the bastard had dragged her. We cuddled and stayed with her in the bush all morning. “And what did you do on your vacation?” What could we do? We couldn’t leave her.

I eventually went to the hotel and spoke to Alexandra, a representative, and told her the story with me crying all the way through it. I wanted to try to find a good home for her. She was very kind and sympathetic and wanted to help. She said come back in an hour and she would see what she could do. When I returned she said that is it is the hotel’s responsibility and that they will capture her and take her to the local village and let her free. She told me people often feed stray dogs and it is usual to have many dogs in the streets. I thought to myself, yes and most of them are starving. She assured me not to worry, the dog will be taken away no problem and they would not hurt her.

We realized that we could not spend the rest of the day in the bush, so back to the beach we went, and if Chi Chi chichifollowed us, we would have to hide her. We spent the rest of the day with Chi Chi sleeping under our beach bed while considering all possible options for her safety. We told Tatjana not to worry and that everything was taken care. She was leaving for Germany that night. I went to Alexandra the next day and said don’t worry I have taken the dog to the village. Of course all lies. I could not allow that to happen, just to dump Chi Chi at a village and starve, or get run over. WE asked a few people about taking her back to Canada and everyone said it was a 6 months quarantine, We felt this was totally out of the question. It would be awful to keep her caged up for that amount of time. Also, we already have dogs at home and cannot take another one. So even if there weren’t any quarantine I would have to find a home for her. We decided she was better off where she was. She is a survivor. The hotel guests would feed her. And we would pray that on one would hurt her. I had to convince myself she was better off staying on the beach. We spent the next few days hiding Chi Chi under our sun bed during the day, visiting her at night, and praying that she would be there the next day.

Our next problem was finding someone else we could trust to look after Chi Chi when we go home. I saw a very kind looking women who seemed to be searching for something on the beach. I smiled at her and she asked me if I spoke German. I replied no but lifted up my towel on my beach bed to show her Chi Chi sleeping underneath it, out of sight. She smiled and said yes. She had some food in her hand. I was thrilled I have found someone to carry on looking after Chi Chi when we leave. Her name was Doris and her husband Peter spoke very good English. They were from Basal, Switzerland, the same town as Barbara. What a small world. They told us they would look after Chi Chi and feed her. I started to feel some relief.

Then our greatest wish comes true, Barbara plans to adopt Chi Chi. Rudy and Edith, a Canadian couple who speak German, tells us the good news. They received a call from Barbara in Switzerland that morning. Apparently when she returned to Germany, Tatjana called Barbara and told her of how they had dragged Chi Chi and nearly killed her. I have no idea how she knew Barbara or how to contact her or how Barbara knew to contact Rudy! The plan is Chi Chi has to go to Germany as the quarantine is less there than Switzerland, and the flights to Switzerland do not take animals. After her quarantine Barbara will then drive to Germany to pick her up. For this plan to work Barbara needs our help and will be calling back at 2 pm.

chichiOf course I am thrilled to hear Chi Chi would have a home with Barbara, someone who loves Chi Chi as much as I do. This was cause for more tears, but this time happy ones. I could not bare to leave Chi Chi in the Dominican. So Rudy, Doris and Peter and myself all waited in the lobby for Barbara’s call. It did not come. We kept checking with the front desk, but no call. After a period of time I tried calling Barbara but all the lines were busy. We waited for over an hour and I tried again and this time the call went through. Barbara had been trying five times to get through and could not. Through the others translating Barbara told us we have to get the vaccinations and a flight to Germany and a passenger on the same flight to say that they owned the dog, as Chi Chi could not fly alone. This was going to be hard. Barbara also told us the vaccinations should really be done 30 days prior to her entering Germany!

Now that we knew Chi Chi would have a proper home we had to do everything we could to protect her until her flight. This time when Chi Chi followed us back to our room we didn’t send her away. Instead, we carried her up to our room and place her on one of the beds. She stayed there all night didn’t make any mess. Each morning we left our room at 5:30 while it was still dark and before any staff were around so they would not see her. We did this right up until we left. We did not let Chi Chi out of our sight. We had the beach to ourselves at this early time in the morning, so Chi Chi ran for ages in the morning, and then she slept most of the day, hidden under our beach bed. We would take it in turns to go to breakfast and lunch so as not to leave her alone. At night we would stay and play with her on the beach again, with no one around. Unfortunately, I was not feeling too well at this point. I had an upset stomach. I did not go to Dinner and Sandra would bring back my dinner for Chi Chi. She lived on Chicken and steak and some cheese.

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AEROFLOT'S BORZOI  •  Barbara Wickli  •   CH 4106 Therwil