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  • Writer's pictureKatherine Goliboski

The story of Sheba.

Let me tell you a little story of a new member of our household.

It is a fable - you learn a life lesson from this tale.

To begin with, you must be told that we are Sheba's fourth home (that we know of). As such, she is a little confused sometimes on how to behave, and what is expected of her. She has experienced many things in her young life, and not all of them good.

But let's start at her beginning, what we know of it.

Sheba was imported from Russia at the approximate age of 3.5 months (we assume, as 3 months is the youngest you can legally import dogs to Canada, and her microchip was implanted shortly after her 3 month mark). However, she did not come the way we imported Felipe. When we imported Felipe, he had to not only have all his vaccines suitable to his age (he was not allowed to have his rabies vaccine as he was too young), but also with an import pedigree (minimum of four generations), a copy of his new ownership, a form from the CFIA and a few other documents from his veterinarian. He had a BUNDLE of paperwork.

When we received Sheba, and were able to acquire her "paperwork" it consisted only of a blue Russian "Pet Passport" that contained her name, the name of the 'owner' who shipped her from Russia, the person receiving her on the other end, her vaccines, microchip, deworming, date of birth, and name (originally 'Pearl').

The advert that had advertised Sheba for sale from her second owner described her as "registered championship line Tibetan Mastiff". This shows you the ignorance of the general public. She had no registration. She had no 'lines', as they are not documented anywhere.

I want to say at this point, I have been in contact with her second owners a number of times now, and they are kind people. They did not import her, and as far as they understood her passport was 'papers'. I respect them for knowing they had a dog that was not suited to them and rehoming her. They did not acquire her by choice really, and they treated her well while they had her -- but they just do not understand the breed, or the process in which she should have been acquired from Russia.

Since having Sheba, we have tried desperately to find the background of this dog. Her second owners have even been kind enough to contact the person they received her from, as well as the people who have her brother (who was imported at the same time) as his new owners had asked the first owner for more background information on him as well - all has yielded no results. We ourselves have contacted a number of Tibetan mastiff breeders in Russia, as well as the Russian Kennel Club, and a number of Black Russian Terrier breeders have also done a lot of ground work for us in St. Petersburg (where it stated she was shipped from). This dog just does not exist in anyone's knowledge.

As far as those in Russia (who checked for us) can tell, the person listed as 'owner' does not exist at the address listed in the book, and no one can tell us where this dog is from. The microchip company offers no help in finding her past - which we can understand from a legal perspective, but it is still frustrating.

Sheba even has a tattoo on her belly - but no one can make hide nor hair of it.

How we acquired Sheba was her third home was not working out. The resident dog had taken an instant dislike to her, and it had been horrible for her new owners to try and balance to two strong-willed girls. Katie was contacted as she had know one of the owners a very long time, and they knew she was very involved in the dog world.

When Katie saw that Sheba was a Tibetan Mastiff, one of the rarest breeds in Canada, she knew she had to step in and help this dog.

As Tibetan Mastiffs are very rare in Ontario, let alone Canada, it is not an easy thing to just re-home Sheba. The TM is a very primitive breed, with a high prey drive, a strong will, and very big teeth! Especially given some of the past experiences we have been told about, and the behaviours she has exhibited, Sheba is not a dog to just be 'placed'. Not every owner understands or can handle such a power-packed little package as she is. She is a guardian dog, who for the most part has settled in with our Pyrenees pack. She is slated to have her spay in the New Year, and for the foreseeable future will be a resident at Cidwm.

The lesson to be learned? First, research and meet the breed! Should they be suitable, when purchasing a purebred dog for a decent amount of money (just because the price tag is high does not mean the dog is correct, purebred, or quality) - be sure it is being done right! Ensure the paperwork is real, in order, and legally binding. Take time to investigate the seller of the dog, ensure they are on the up-and-up. If importing a dog, it must have a four generation pedigree, registration with the national club, the CFIA should be involved, you should have a number of contact points for the seller (including address, phone number, email) and independent communications with other owners of animals from this seller. You should be able to contact the veterinarian on record if necessary, as well as have a letter and health certificate from that veterinarian stating the animal is who it says it is and is healthy.

Really, all of the above (barring the CFIA) applies to the purchase of any animal!

Sadly, Sheba's importer did not follow these precautions, and as such - Sheba now lives with us.

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