Dioji has the kind of energy that makes others – both people and dogs – gravitate to him. The 16-pound chihuahua-basenji mix is, according to his adopted mother Jill, a gentle soul. “We call him ‘The Buddha’ because he’s so serene and so calm.”
Such a disposition made little Buddha, a.k.a Dioji (and yes, that is pronounced D-O-G) an ideal therapy dog when he and Jill used to volunteer at a forensics geriatric ward. Although many of the patients there had been convicted of violent offenses, they were always calm with the little dog who would jump into their laps and fall right asleep. “[The patients] would feel that wonderful unconditional positive regard,” recalls Jill. “He had his own little nametag that he wore around his bandana and it was pretty cute. He’s a pretty special little boy. He’s my best friend.”
In fact, Dioji is the leader of his little pack, which includes 3 younger adopted chihuahua mixes, who all together weigh in at a whopping 45 pounds. “They make one medium-sized dog,” jokes Jill, who has had Dioji the longest but just couldn’t stop herself from rescuing a few more pups over the last decade. In all, the four dogs have been together for six years, and they rely on Dioji to keep them calm – especially his brother and best friend Mr. Boo, who has severe medical problems and brain damage.
That’s why they were all so worried when Dioji started isolating himself from the others. From her years of rescuing and fostering dogs, Jill knew that he was likely in pain and started getting more and more concerned with his symptoms.
Jill is on long term disability and has very little disposable income available for pet emergencies. However, living with chronic illness can be extremely isolating and she often depends on her furry family for companionship on her bad days. “The dogs, all four of them, will adjust their activity level to mine, so if I’m having a bad day and I’m in bed, they all crawl into bed and keep me company.”
Just as they would do anything for her, so too would Jill for them. When faced with the necessity of a visit to the veterinary clinic, Jill sold off her one remaining asset: her diamond ring from a past marriage. “The diamond didn’t matter. The dog mattered. And off [to the vet] we went.”
After examining him the vet told Jill the bad news. He had cracked a tooth and needed surgery as soon as possible; the root of the tooth was exposed, causing him a great deal of pain. He also had a growth on his mouth that needed to be removed and biopsied.
Despite not having the funds for his surgery, Jill considered no other options. “Selling that diamond was the last bit of assets that I had, but I literally would have sold every piece of furniture in my home to get my dog the surgery,” Jill says. “The only option was to somehow find the money to get the surgery. That was the only option.”
Sadly, too many pet lovers in Alberta face similar situations where they cannot afford the necessary medical procedures for their furry family members. Pets are often given up or euthanized if owners cannot find a way to raise the funds required.
Luckily the growing public awareness about Tails of Help in Alberta meant that one of Jill’s online contacts knew about and recommended the organization to her. She looked us up online and right away emailed her veterinarian, who filed an application on Dioji’s behalf. In just two days the funding came through, and Jill was left with a much smaller (and more manageable) portion of the expense. “It was incredible and made me feel relief because I knew he was in so much pain,” says Jill.
Dioji’s surgery was a success, and the biopsy results for the growth in his mouth came back negative. However, going home in the middle of a record-breaking heatwave, with an influx of wildfire smoke and ash, did not exactly make for an easy recovery. After a few rough days though, Dioji started coming around back to his old self.
“He’s doing great,” Jill notes with much relief. “He’s such a happy dog and such a character.”
Jill is thrilled that she found Tails of Help and hopes that the organization can continue to help keep Alberta’s pets healthy and with their families for a long time. “I wish that all vets knew about this, and that anyone who was looking to a charity to offer money would look at Tails of Help, so they can help more people like me,” says Jill. “Without them I don’t know what I would have done.”
“It’s a miracle that this all fell into place for me, or for Dioji really,” says a grateful and relieved Jill, whose dogs clearly mean a lot to her.
“When Dioji was getting sick I just didn’t know what to do because I can’t imagine life without him, I really can’t. He is so important to me.” Jill knows that some people say, “well it’s just a dog” but to that she says: “They’ve never experienced what I’ve experienced, and they’re missing out, because these animals are incredible.”