Finding Kiki and Nerica
or How Kiki Adopted Us
It was heart-wrenching to lose such a joyful being that was with me through the thick and thin of it all. It’s almost tragic to know that it is likely that we will outlive our furry friends. So, after my dog, Chelsea died I waited 3 years before deciding to bring another dog into my life. Deciding to care for another life was a serious and thoughtful decision. Caring for another being requires time and commitment and in 2008, my schedule no longer required me to be out for long periods of time and I had more time to care for another being. Plus I always loved dogs. Even as a child, there was a time that I thought that being a veterinarian would be my future occupation. That never happened. The tragedies, that beset many animals bringing them to the vet’s office, are simply too much for me to handle emotionally and visually on a daily basis. My heart is too soft and as a visual person images stay with me longer than wanted. But that never meant that I had to be without a dog.
So, it was time and I began by looking at old pictures and watching Youtube videos of dogs that were known or unknown — cute puppies and grown dogs. Personally, my interest was in adopting an adult dog, which by the way is highly recommended. They are smart, no longer teething and the level of puppy destruction is kept to a minimum.
Watching at all the videos, all the furry love beings inspired me to search for a local rescue org in Cluj-Napoca, my hometown. Happening upon a site called NUCA, there she was, a picture of a dog named Kiki. It was love at first sight and before I could change my mind was off to meet her. It was thought that she was approximately one year old. She had a permanent scar on her leg where her hair no longer grows. She was a rescue. Someone rescued her and had taken her to the University after having been hit by a car.
She lived in a small room with a few other dogs in a crate and after her leg healed she was let loose daily in the enclosed campus grounds to run wild with her best friend Ursi. Ursi was a three legged fur ball. Ursi and Kiki were the lucky ones as there was only limited space to keep a few dogs. Alina Banu, one of the founders of NUCA, met me at the vet school and introduced me to Kiki.
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Kiki had one last run around the veterinarian school campus with her BFF Ursi and then we were off to Kiki’s new home, my city apartment. I wasn’t able to adopt her friend, but was glad that at the very least Kiki would have a home with me.
Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made. — Roger Caras
There were some challenges. Kiki had never climbed up or down stairs before and I lived on the 4th floor with no lift. Going up was easy for her but going down now that was a challenge. We spent 15 minutes, 2 times daily getting closer to the stairwell. Her body was glued to the hallway wall. No amount of love or yummy crunchy biscuits could get her down the stairs, so I carried her.
I carried her down the stairs for 4 months then something wonderful and amazing happened. One beautiful spring morning sitting on the balcony, we both observed a man riding his bicycle and running alongside him was his dog. We both looked at each other and it clicked, it was the moment, the inspiration that would conquer fear — quickly Kiki was on her leash and for the first time she climbed down the stairs all by herself — it was a miracle. Kiki and I walked all over the city, all the time. She even went to a few cafes with me. Kiki made a couple of dog friends in the neighbourhood — Mariana’s dogs, 2 beautiful Irish Setters and another ‘vagabond’ boy dog that was sometimes roaming in the area.
In early summer we started to walk along a new route at least once each week, we were anticipating moving in the fall to a new apartment with a very large balcony and I wanted Kiki to get acquainted with the area. It was exciting but scary because there was a street dog in the area that was larger than Kiki and was still caring for the last puppy she had birthed just a few months earlier. She barked and defended her territory. We tried to avoid that corner but we still had to pass nearby.
Later that summer we were walking towards the crosswalk which was near the grassy patch where the black dog stayed and much to our surprise, the black dog was with Kiki’s vagabond boy dog friend. The boy dog came running to greet Kiki since they were old friends and following a few steps behind was the black dog — with whom he seemed to communicate letting her know that Kiki was a friend and it was okay. From that moment forward, the barking and aggression ceased, they did their doggy sniffing thing and Kiki and the beautiful black girl dog became friends.
By the time it came to move, the puppy was gone, an older woman with a courtyard took it in and the boy dog had left the area too. The beautiful black dog was left behind. Our daily walks now included a visit with the black dog to bring her biscuits and we learned that some of the women in the area brought her leftovers, scraps and water. We also found out that one of the women named her, she called her Nerica. The name made perfect sense to me since întuneric is the word for darkness and adding an ‘a’ at the end of a noun in Romanian denotes that a noun is feminine. So we called her Nerica.
As the weather became colder we convinced her to come home with us. We were unsuccessful in our first attempt. It was freezing outside and we got her all the way to the front door of the building but unfortunately, she was afraid of boys — some had tormented her or beaten her in the past. As we were about to enter the building, 3 boys came barreling down the stairs and she ran off. What was worse is that she seemed to disappear for a few days and it was so cold. I was desperate to find her and when she reappeared, her leg was injured — luckily it was a minor injury. I called Alina from NUCA and asked for her help. She came with her car and we got Nerica to one of the veterinarian’s offices that works with NUCA and Nerica was sterilised. The next day she came to her new home, a warm apartment.
Nerica also had some challenges, she was not thrilled to have not just one bath but a few within the first week, in order to get the years of grime and dirt off of her. Here are some things I learned about her —
She never did complain about wearing a collar or harness and learned quickly how to walk with a leash. She slowly came to trust men and boys, although she is still wary of groups of them. Like Kiki she didn’t know how to climb up or down the stairs. But another miracle happened and Kiki taught her.
Nerica celebrated 8 full years with us this past November and Kiki celebrates her 9 year anniversary this month. The yin yang sisters are inseparable. My life is better because of them. They even let me make silly pictures with them.
Words aren’t enough to describe how wonderful it is to have my the two of them in my life. So I want to take a moment to recognize the organization that helped me to get Nerica off the street and who rescued Kiki, bringing us together — NUCA. NUCA is a non-political and non-profit organization run by volunteers who do what they say in their mission. Their mission which is to reduce the number of stray animals through spaying/neutering programs, to facilitate and encourage adoptions and to teach the respect towards every form of animal life.
Kiki still wears her adoption tag in her ear. It’s a great conversation starter, giving me the opportunity to encourage dog adoption and to tell people about the valuable work that orgs like NUCA accomplish every day.
Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace. — Milan Kundera
Thanks for taking the time to read the story of how Kiki and Nerica came to live with me. I can’t imagine my life without the unconditional and undying love of my dogs, that is why I’m writing this article today to encourage anyone and everyone to consider bringing a wonderful companion into your life and providing them with a home, because dogs need homes.
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About The Author
Amy Adams is a fine artist (MFA), caretaker and companion to 2 rescue dogs, living and working out of Cluj-Napoca, Romania. She is passionate about dogs, the visual arts, music and story telling. You can connect with her on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and her website.