Five years ago, I adopted an Australian Shepherd from Aussie Rescue & Placement Helpline (a national rescue group) and shortly after adopting, I started fostering for them. When we bring in a new foster dog, they always get a new name. Dogs don’t have any special affinity for their names and they can easily learn to respond to a new one. In the past, most of my foster dogs have been named after places I have lived. Seneca, Slater, Manhattan, Verona, etc. But sometimes, a special foster dog deserves a special name. A name that really fits.
In the 4 ½ years that I’ve been fostering, I’ve had several puppies/dogs that had health problems. Heartworms, bacterial skin infections, mange, respiratory issues, retinal tear, etc. All of them have been somewhat sad cases but recently I agreed to foster a dog with one of the most obvious and disturbing medical issues I’ve seen.
On October 25, 2016, I drove to a county animal shelter here in Texas to evaluate a dog that they would only release to rescue because he was in need of medical care. The Animal Control Officer (ACO) took me back to the kennels and there I saw one of the most pitiful looking Australian Shepherd I’ve ever come across. Underweight, dirty, and stinky. But what was most disturbing was that he was dragging around an immense tumor! How does an owner not get something like that taken care of? No way this boy was a stray. He could barely walk with that on his foot. He had obviously been dumped by his owners. And yet, he was as happy a dog as I’ve seen. Many Australian Shepherds don’t have a tail. They have what we loving refer to as a “nubbin”. And his was twitching so hard his whole butt was moving. There was no question he was going to come into the rescue program. No matter what it cost to remove that “parasitic twin” attached to him. The ACO had to carry him into the office where I needed to complete paperwork. He laid him down on a towel near the desk and he just laid there watching people coming and going and wagging his nubbin. At one point, I had to go out to the car to get some additional paperwork and when I came back in, he stood up and came to greet me like I was his best friend and he knew I was going to help him. When he got to me, he lifted his paw with the tumor—like he was showing me his “boo boo”. At that moment, I knew he needed a special name.
What would be a good name for a dog that was so happy and glad to be getting taken care of by a total stranger? Grateful? Lucky? Thankful? How about just Thanks? YES! But that was kind of awkward. Maybe in another language? Gracias? XieXie? Danke? Merci? Hmmm, I spent 17 years working for Nokia….how about Kiitos? I liked it! The other members of the rescue thought it was perfect! And that is how a Texas stray dog became known as Kiitos.
Today, Kiitos is minus the 2 lb (~1 kg) non-cancerous tumor that was attached to the side of his leg and which the veterinarian felt he had been carrying around for several years. Luckily it was not attached to his paw. While it took several weeks for the incision to heal and there will probably never be hair on that area, he is walking perfectly and is running and playing like it was never there. He still shows everyone where his “boo boo” was by lifting that paw for them to see. He isn’t over all of his medical issues yet as he does have heartworms that need to be treated but he is a truly sweet boy that has the potential to be a therapy dog as he is calm, well mannered, and loves everyone he meets. He has tugged at the hearts of many generous donors and now there are thousands more people who know what “kiitos” means.