Posted by: notsofancynancy | August 19, 2012

The Dogs Who Loved Me Series~Kiva

Kiva’s Story

Kiva’s Internet Picture

Just a youngster herself Viva came to the shelter emaciated and had an infection which caused her to lose all her hair. She was attacked by a large dog and she is now on the mend and is looking for her forever home. She will be a lovely gray color when her hair grows back. She is a cuddle bunny and is happy to meet new people.

That was my internet introduction to Viva. Because of my newly diagnosed illness, Fibromyalgia, I was looking for a small dog to train as a therapy dog, and my Hubby had suggested maybe a Chihuahua mix.  I searched the internet and found this dog named Viva who I would later rename Kiva for the Ancient Native American round ceremonial rooms called Kiva’s in the ruins of places like Mesa Verde.

All I saw in the whole ad was “Happy to meet new people.” All Hubby saw was sick, sick, sick. I e-mailed an inquiry about her explaining that I was in search of a dog to train as a Therapy Dog.  I wondered if Kiva would be want to fill that position.  Right away I got a response that Kiva would not only be perfect for the position, but she would LOVE it.  Jennifer from Ruff Riders Rescue explained that although Kiva was not in good shape when they rescued her she was eating, playing and snuggling like the youngster she was. She also said that Kiva had two babies that had to be taken away from her because she was too weak to nurse and was lactating when they sprung her she still needed to be spayed.  This would be done after she finished this heat.

Kiva on the Mend

On Monday February 14th I got an email that Kiva was going in to be spayed. On Tuesday I had to go in for pre-op for some minor female surgery to be done on Wednesday. That night I got an e-mail from Jennifer:

 Thank God we took her in yesterday. I assumed that she had been in heat all this time when really she had pyometra….infected uterus…. If we had waited any longer it would have ruptured and she would not be with us today. I feel horrible for her and for not knowing she was sick!  She was playful and eating so there were no signs except the bleeding.  I saw her last night and she was woozy. They are keeping her on IV fluids and antibiotics.  Poor little angel. Thank God she is OK. I’ll give her a smooch for you.

Was it a sign that both Kiva and I were both having female problems?

Kiva March 2005

Through the next week I kept in close touch with Jennifer as she gave me daily updates on Kiva’s health.  Before I inquired about her Kiva had been attacked by a large dog and was also healing from the encounter with ten stitches in her chest. She was first and foremost a survivor and she was getting better by the day.  Running around like the young dog she was.

I learned a whole lot about Jennifer and her rescue work.  One day while particularly frustrated about her rescue job she wrote,

 Rescue is so layered in that there is the actual rescue, medical and emotional healing process, the financial and organizational work, the screening and placement process, adoptions, outreach, etc…but there is also the education and example setting that we are attempting to accomplish.  Unfortunately we have not had the time or resources to get into the educational realm yet and really, until people value animals, nothing will change.  We are putting a band-aid on a hemorrhaging wound and we know it.  It’s sad but true…but important none the less.  It means the world to one dog like Kiva, so we keep going.  Please know that if not for loving hearts like yours none of this would be possible.  As much as we love them, we can’t keep them all and they need to go to their forever homes.  You’ve made that possible, and your love for Kiva inspires me to continue. (Humm, another sign?)

Here was my response:

 Jennifer, First of all let me say that the first dog I ever rescued in 1981 was from the Baldwin Park shelter (another sign? Jennifer works out of the BP Shelter that is where Trouble came from). I had that dog for 19 years, she helped me through some really bad times and if not for her I do not think I would be here today. Which guides me on my quest to have and train dogs to be therapy dogs so other to benefit from the unconditional love they provide. Part of our programs include going to Schools to do demonstrations on humane education. That is another reason that Kiva strikes my fancy. If she makes it through Therapy training for her to have her tragic story told would probably make a big impact on at least some of the children’s minds. Also I hope this helps take a little of the burden off your mind. We do promote education, and if Kiva makes it, she will be a big promoter for you!

On February 19, 2005, during one of the worst rain storms in history of the California desert, Doug and I waded our way to Pasadena to meet Kiva. The first time I saw her she was being held by one of the volunteers, wrapped in a blanket.  She had a tiny t-shirt on.  I cried as I took her in my arms and held her. She was scared and shaking but I knew that even though she might never make it as a registered therapy dog she would be MY THERAPY DOG!

Kiva Finally looking Healthy

The poor little angel had no hair on her ears and top of her tail.  Her body had just a stubble of hair, like when you don‘t shave for a day.  I have never felt a dog as skinny as she was, couldn’t have been more than three pounds on a five pound dog.  As I hugged her close to me she put her head up and kissed the tears off my cheek.  In that moment we bonded so tight that none of our health ailments mattered.  For that moment in time, I was not thinking about my pain.  My focus was on this little angel sent me to take care of.  This was my new mission to do my best to rehabilitate this earth angel. I carried her around for a whole month (maybe longer) until she put some meat on her tiny bones.

I have had Kiva seven years now and most of her hair did not grow back. She is very smart and has learned to sit, shake, down, crawl, over, sit up, come, puts her nose to a book when asked to “Look,” clap, play patty cake and wave.  She is a wonderful cuddle bunny and loves to stay close to her Mommy.  Unfortunately she does have her problems and with positive reinforcement we have overcome a lot of obstacles and achieved things that I thought we would not be able to do.  Although it took four years to retrain her Kiva had tested and passed her Therapy Dog test and was a Registered Therapy Dog with Therapy Dogs, Inc.  We were also a Reading Education Assistant Dog (READ) Team. We worked from 2006 until I retired her this year. She is getting a little grumpy in her old age and that is a call I had to make. But during her career she made a great reading partner and would even clap when the kids were done with their books.

Look at her waving!

Kiva and I did promote human education in schools, local business meetings and the local Juvenile Detention Center. When I was able to tell her story and show her “before” and “after” picture it really made an impact on a lot of kids. Even some of the hardened juveniles in the detention center softened and were gentle with her.  It bought a tear to my eye more than once.

One day a new girl was in our detention center class. She had been crying and withdrawn from the class. I took Kiva and set her in this young girls lap while I told Kiva’s story. By the end of class the girl was smiling and they were the best of buddies.

I know that everything happens for a reason and I know that Our Creator gave me Kiva when I needed her most.  My health is really beginning was fail and this little girl has given ME the therapy I need to keep going.  Each day I wake up to her sweet kisses and I know I need to get out of bed and tend to this little angel that has been entrusted to me, and nothing will stop me from taking the best care of her I can. One of the biggest things I learned from her and Tyler (our feral dog rescue) was patience. It took a lot when working with an abused dog. It takes patience, perseverance and really good treats.

© 2012 notsofancynancy

Related Posts

Thankful Tuesday~One from the Vaults~Princess Kiva

Kiva Rehabilitated

Finally a Friday~One from the Vaults

Almost Wordless Wednesday

The Dogs Who Loved Me Series, Prologue.


  1. What an inspiring story and what a cutie Kiva is. We always seem to end up with sick cats and while it’s not what I would choose, it always seems to be what I need. Animals have a way of persevering through hardships that is an important lesson for us all.

    • Well said! We could all take a lesson from their perseverance.

  2. A delightful story and a gorgeous pumpkin. It’s good of you to reinforce that taking on a rescue animals takes time, patience and treats but the effor is worth it almost 100% of the time.

    • I feel that rehabilitating my dogs it one of my greatest achievements. What I took from the experience (their undying love, was 100% worth every minute I spent working with them.

  3. you and I could sit for day with laughter and tears over the dogs we have loved Let’s make a movie 🙂

    • Lets! lol I know that my life would not have been as meaningful without them!

      • Mine have saved mine on more than one occasion lol then all who follow us can say they knew us WHEN lol

      • As you have probably surmised from the stories mine have too! Thanks goodness for Dogs!

      • Amen Sister AMEN!

      • Amen Sister AMEN!

        I notice I have weeded out most of my non dog loving friends lol THEY JUST DON”T GET IT!!!

      • ah hahahah I only have dog loving friends! Nothing is better than spending time with your dog but if we have to spend time with people they must be dog loving!

      • Since I have exited my rig for good they say I no longer am just friendly with ALL others I choose them much better now before it seemed to be for entertainment value lol my man and cat and of course JT our female border collie are really all I need these days to truly amuse me they are a HANDFUL 🙂

  4. A lovely post, very inspiring 🙂

  5. What a beautiful story. Great post. It’s nice to have dogs that fit so nicely with our own personalities.

  6. Lovely story. And yes, working with an abused dog takes patience, perseverance, and really good treats…and then more patience and more treats! But it is well worth the effort. Great story!

    • Very much worth the effort. They make the best friends.

  7. What a beautiful story Nancy. She may be an angel to you but you are most certainly an angel as well.

  8. I am honored to nominate you for The Super Sweet Award! Please pick-up your award at Copy and Paste the Award to your blog and follow the rules of acceptance. I wish you all the best in life and Congratulations!

    • Thank you so much now I am honored!

      • Your very welcome, I love your blog! Keep up the good work. I think what you write is real, beautiful and unique to this site period 🙂

      • What a great compliment, you warm my heart, thanks

  9. What a beautiful story and a beautiful best friend! And I agree you are indeed super sweet!! Congratulations. Blessings – Patty

    • Awe Shucks! What a swell compliment, thanks.

      • 😀

  10. What a precious pup! It does take special attention and dedication to raise a rescue dog! Debra

    • Yes but the end result is always worth it!

  11. It was destiny, lucky you and lucky Kiva.

  12. What an inspiring tail. Thank so much for posting. My rescue pup Gracie came from a high kill shelter in Arkansas. I adopted her and she me, a year ago. I’m hoping to train her as a therapy dog. She heals my soul every day. I struggle with PTSD and it’s many symptoms and she has become my therapy dog. I am grateful for the woman in Arkansas who saw the light in Gracie’s eyes and pulled her from a certain death.

    • Rescues make the best therapy dogs. It is like if they can overcome their pasts and love us unconditionally there is hope. They certainly are healers of souls. If you have any questions about therapy dogs I was a tester?observer for Therapy Dogs Inc. for 4 years and I happen to know a lot about the subject. Good luck and I say go for it!

      • Thank you and I will probably take you up on that offer some time. I will be dong some posts about therapy/service dogs as well.

      • Just let me know how I can help!

  13. What a wonderful love story!!

    • Thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment! Thanks again!

  14. I love your blogs Nancy and the wonderful pictures of your Father and your dogs. You are a special lady.

    • Thank you kindly! It really mean a lot to hear it!

  15. oh gosh what a lovely heart warming story, I always have rescue dogs, they give so much to you, and like you but for slightly different reasons, I am not sure where I would be without those trusting eyes the wet nose and the massive tail greet , Have a happy retirement Kiva you have deserved it

    • Kiva is a special little girl. Such a princess! lol

  16. Amazing, beautiful, inspiring story and what a little sweetie…so cute. You hit the nail square on the head with your last sentence. Bless you for loving and caring for this precious dog. Kiva and you were meant to be!! Hugs and give some hugs and nose kisses to sweet Kiva for me.

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