September 29, 2016, is the day our lives at KEI were changed by a dog who was living tied to a heavy rope amongst discarded automobile tires and garbage. He had given up hope and laid silent in the dirt. The police were clearing the property of other dogs and intended on putting this particular dog out of his misery.
That is when this dog found the strength to lift his weary head and signal he was indeed alive. Two women, local rescuers in the city of Cairo were on the property and seen him move. They hurried to him, helping him stand, quickly moving him to their vehicle, they had no plan in mind, just that today was not going to be his last day.
Within minutes photos of the dog flashed across my messenger. I rolled over in bed, looked at the photos and read the message. The message being from a new acquaintance, Stacey Edge, asking if KEI could help. Help? Help how? We weren’t a rescue, sure we had rescued some dogs, but that wasn’t our mission. But there he was in those photos, barely standing, eyes filled with puss, neck rubbed raw, cuts and fur loss, he was a train wreck and I kept saying to myself, “please someone take that rope off his neck”. I could not unsee what I saw and I soon found no one else could either.
I quickly forwarded the photos to our board members for approval and then contacted my rescue mentor Donna Moyer-Shelby, All Life Is Valuable Rescue, to ask if she would call the animal control representative and secure his release. Donna was out of town on business, didn’t matter she stopped what she was doing at the sight of the photos and called for his release.
One of his saviors boarded him for the night in her outside kennel, giving him plenty of fresh water and food. We went to work to figure out transport to bring him the 8 hours north to Naperville from Cairo, IL. Then again Stacey and her friend, Amy Jackson stepped up, a pair of friends who had put in many miles through the years transporting dogs to a safe haven. They wanted to go immediately the next morning in time to make the trip back to Naperville before the hospital closed. His saviors agreed to drive an hour north to cut down on travel time.
On that fateful day, September 29th, he stumbled into the hospital and into our lives. The fleas on his body were draining him and the first order of business was two doses of flea medication. Within the hour, you could see the piles forming on the floor of dead flees. Before he was tucked away into his private kennel, he received a complete exam, brought up to date on vaccinations and placed on an IV of fluids & antibiotics. He was safe, alive and going to get the care he deserved.
I will always be grateful to Suzy Holland & Lisa Darnell for saving his life, taking him into protective custody. To Amy Jackson and Stacey Edge who made the long drive ensuring his medical care would begin sooner than later. As well to Donna Moyer-Shelby of All Life Is Valuable for making the call and entrusting us with his life.
He needed a name. I searched the web looking for a name befitting him and the journey he was embarking. I discovered that Cairo, (القاهرة) as in Eygpt, translated to “Victorious” in Arabic. Our Cairo would be victorious over those who caused him suffering and left him for dead. He would win. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
As the days passed we took turns sitting in his ISO room with him, simply letting him know we were there and he was no longer alone. Soon he would lift his head and then came the day he stood up, came out of his kennel and would crawl into our laps. Our big boy was a lap dog.
In time he moved from ISO to the suites where we continued to learn about him. He didn’t destroy his blankets, he enjoyed holding onto stuffed toys, and loved everyone he met on staff at the hospital. I walked into his kennel run one day and there on his kennel door a staff member had written on his cage card, “King Cairo”. He had taken his place in their hearts and now ruled over his kingdom.
Soon the King had volunteers visiting him, bringing him gifts and falling in love with the gentle giant of a dog. His soulful eyes and gentle nudges for pets showed what a gentleman he was and indicated that he had been someone’s dog before ending up on the end of that rope. He would walk in step with you without a lead, he exited and entered his kennel on command, knew basic commands and had no issues with his roommates.
When it came time for his neuter he developed a hematoma and had to return to ISO in the treatment room. He was not a very good patient as he hated his cone of shame and being placed in a small crate to prevent him from opening the wound. We tried a Kong soft donut and he bit a hole in it. Back to the e-collar and him sulking as if the vet techs were torturing him, despite them giving him daily gifts of treats and new chews to keep him busy. Eventually, he was back to health ruling the kennels with a doting staff of admirers.
Up next, as he gained weight we discovered he would need entropion surgery. He came through it like a champ and soon he was showing signs that although he loved the staff and accommodations at the hospital, he was ready for a home.
In stepped his foster Mom. She had read his story on our site and knew she had to help him on his journey. She arrived at the hospital to meet him and it was love at first sight as he leaned in for pets. The real test would come when he met his foster canine sister and would she accept the King?
I dressed him in his winter coat a gift from Chicagoland Eskie Rescue whose board members were in his fan club, all his toys he had received over the months, he said his goodbyes to the hospital staff and we drove north to his foster home just in time for Christmas.
Didn’t take long and foster sister Zoe opened her heart, home, and family to Cairo. They soon were two peas in a pod as Cairo re-learned what it meant to live indoors and with a family. His foster Mom did an amazing job of helping Cairo progress to the point that he was ready to move on again. It was a heartbreaking decision for her to allow him to go to another family, however, she felt if she found the right family, she will have fulfilled her promise to him.
As it turned out, his new family lived in Chicago, they took a chance of driving out to Naperville to a meet and greet in hopes of meeting him. His soon to be Mom had also read his story and felt she needed to meet him even if she wouldn’t be able to adopt him. They brought their young female pitbull who had been missing her brother since his passing.
They sat on the floor in the store with Cairo, admiring how wonderful he was in person and was living up to the hype of King Cairo. Their petite pittie girl, Clementine, was in his face and Cairo turned away ignoring her advances. He had plenty of practice with his foster sister in dealing with over-exuberant females.
Didn’t take long after moving in that Cairo became the best big brother EVER to his little sister. Cairo had shown with his foster sister Zoe, that he loved the role of big brother. And then a setback for the big guy occurred when it was discovered he had heartworm disease. We were in shock at the rescue as we had him tested twice. As is the case with heartworm, microflora cannot be detected with a snap test alone, as the worms grew they were then detected.
His family kept us updated on his progress through the treatment and we are happy to report that as of yesterday he is off restrictions on activity and can begin going for walks and playtime with his sister again. His mom reports that he put on some pounds over the months as he underwent treatment and the limited exercise will do him good.
All the dogs who come into our rescue are special to us for each is unique in their personalities, needs, and journeys. King Cairo stands out not only for being an amazing soul, who beat the odds but for being the catalyst for K9 Enrichment Initiative moving forward with setting up the Southern Comfort Coalition program to provide support to our southern Illinois partners to save more lives.
Cairo is proof that it takes a village and when people choose to focus on the dog, miracles are possible.
Long live the King and his legacy.
Thank you to the staff at Springbrook Animal Care Center for your commitment to Cairo’s well-being. To Mary Field for listening to your heart and wanting to lead Cairo down the path to his forever family. To all the volunteers who visited him while in the hospital. To Shamra, Neb and Clementine for opening your hearts, home, and lives with the promise of loving him forever. To Cairo for loving us all.
Photos from today…Happy Freedom Day, Cairo!