A Hidden Treasure

You’ve heard the saying when it rains it pours but in this case it was the opposite. There were fires burning almost everywhere in the Santa Monica Mountains in November 2018 and we had to go. First in Malibu, then Agoura, then Calabasas. They were closing in.

All the exotic critters were evacuated and kept safely in a garage, porch, and yard of a nice big property in Woodland Hills. While we were busy shuffling the critters to the backyard pens during the day and then into the safety of the garage at night I got a phone call.

It was about a dog. A collie dog named Treasure. She was in Sedona, Arizona and I needed to pick her up. Perfect timing…..

This may seem like an amazing story so far, but the beautiful Collie has quite the story of her own. In the beginning poor Treasure had it rough. She was found as a young adult wandering in the deserts of New Mexico and was extremely undernourished. Southwest Collie Rescue took her in and they were able to track her owner who was a less-than-responsible breeder. The woman evidently didn’t like Treasure (huh?) and put her in a small outdoor run with another dog that wouldn’t let her eat. There was no shelter over the run and Treasure’s fur was literally burnt from sun exposure. It was bad. Thank goodness she fell into the right hands and was nursed back to health and fostered by Kathy, the director of the rescue.

Then, one day, someone very special saw her photo on the internet. It was my friend of over 30 years, Lee Crockett.

I met Lee in 1985 when I was an employee at the Sedona Humane Society and she was a volunteer. We hit it off immediately.

Lee was a “collie person”, and when a surprise cancer diagnosis swiftly took her prior dog's, Abby, life at age 9, Lee was beside herself with grief.

Paul and Kariina, close neighbors and dear friends, searched the internet and showed Lee the photos of Collies up for adoption at Southwest Collie Rescue in New Mexico. Treasure was on the list. A little red bow was attached to her luxurious fur which just may have been the deal breaker!  At the time Lee was 80 years young, so Paul and Kariina drove and Lee rode along  from AZ to NM to pick up Lee’s new (and last) furever friend.

I got to know Treasure over the years and my dogs Hopi, and then Star came along for visits. The pups got along famously and Lee, who had a very nice home with some fragile items on display, would cover her eyes as they went running wildly through the house!

Sadly, from the phone call during the evacuation, I learned that Lee, who was now over 90 years old, had taken a turn for the worse. From the beginning of our friendship I had promised that if something happened to her I would care for her dog. And that time had come.

Once all the Wildworks animals were safe at home, I made the 1,000 mile trip.  Over the last years, Lee (and Treasure) received excellent in-home care.  I was so fortunate to visit her to say a final good-bye. The tears flowed when I saw the photo by her bed. It was Treasure and Hopi.

When it was time to leave, poor Treasure didn’t want to get in the car. But when she saw Patty the Papillion sitting shotgun, Treasure fell instantly in love and the trip home was a breeze.

What happens when a dog who has lived most of her 10 years with one person as an only pet moves to a wildlife center?

Apparently, nothing.

It’s quite amazing but it’s as if Treasure has always lived here. She loves horses, goats, chickens, housecats, every dog and every human and is unfazed by foxes. mountain lions, bobcats and the like. Wow. We’re impressed.

We set up a sleeping kennel for her like the one Lee had provided. She puts herself to bed every night in the “Treasure Chest” but I know if she were a little younger, and could jump up on the bed, she wouldn’t hesitate to sleep with me Patty, Star, Sky and a cat or two!

And the best part of this Christmas Eve story is that in caring for Treasure I can remember Lee. A part of her is here with me. Two people who’s friendship was sealed forever--- for the love of dogs!.

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