Sheik (Ghasak Shi’Rayan)
Sheik is not a rescue dog, rather a selflessly rehomed dog by his former owner. However his story is included in our website as an example of how a responsible breeder will always take the best care in ensuring their dogs are in happy homes throughout their lives no matter how circumstances may change. His new owner tells his story…
You Never Know When Love Will Find You…
An appreciation for seniors, and those little events that allow you to find each other
Hmmm another dog… That prospect hadn’t occurred to me in a while, but somehow, if you listen, another one comes along to heal your heart and fill your soul. Through SFAA, I had experienced that when I added Azi, my Azawakh rescue to my household, then several years later, senior Sloughia Jasmine lived with me an all-too-short time until I helped her cross the Bridge.
In the Fall of 2006, I was recovering from the loss two months before, of my 16 1/2 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback, Telly, when I was contacted about the possibility of opening my home and my heart again.
This time, it was truly a re-homing situation, not a typical rescue. It was being done after long consideration, much heartache, and out of love by the dog’s owners, and also by his breeders, Dominique and Bernd (Shi’Rayan).
Sheik (Ghasak Shi’Rayan) had lived for over nine years with his loving owners, Ron and Dee, in Florida. Several years ago, they went through a hurricane that made a lasting impression on Sheik. He gradually developed extremely severe storm fears that no amount of medication, acupuncture, crating or calming techniques could help. With the lightest rain eliciting panic in Sheik, and storms occurring frequently in their town, Sheik’s owners eventually found themselves unable to leave him alone at all. They worked closely with Dom and Bernd throughout their ordeal, but together, and with heavy hearts, they made the difficult, but loving decision to re-home Sheik.
“OK”, thought Bernd (Dominique was out of town at the time), who, lives in a non-stormy climate, and is crazy enough to try and work this through… EMILY!?!? And the emailing began.
Since this was being done with the cooperation of everyone who just wanted Sheik to be happy and healthy, I received all the information and medical records I could want. I knew nicknames, routines, everything about Sheik. Still, the thought did occur to me, WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING?? A senior, and a storm phobic one to boot!!!
But, as I mentioned before, I have a particularly soft spot for the older dogs. I cry when I watch the Veterans classes at dog shows. I always volunteered to foster the senior Greyhounds with the adoption group I helped in Texas. I was hooked on the gentle graying faces. So now, I wasn’t just getting a graying face, but one big, gray dog!!
Sheik’s wonderful owners drove him up personally from Florida and stayed around for two days to make sure things would work out. We laughed, we cried, we parted friends and I know in my heart they truly did this out of love and concern for Sheik. Now it was my turn to try and take care of this boy as well as they had.
Sheik had lived with a cat, but as an only dog, albeit a well socialized one. We thought that perhaps living with other dogs who weren’t afraid of storms might help him. Still, I was geared up for a long journey through his phobia. I had alerted our local Animal Control Officer (a good friend) and introduced him to Sheik just in case Sheik panicked when I was gone and somehow got out. I alerted my neighbors too. I notified my vet at Sheik’s introductory appointment, and contacted others who have dealt with dogs fearful of storms.
As it turned out, all I had to do was sit back and let my dogs do their thing. My biggest problem turned out to be getting Sheik through his sadness over leaving his first loving home. But again, my dogs seemed to know what to do, and my little Greyhound Barbie took him under her paw, so to speak. She kept a close eye on Sheik and did her best to take care of him, whether he felt he needed it or not! As a result, he learned a lot from her, and I would often find the two of them curled up together.
We do have a short rainy season here in the mountains, and it gets very loud as thunder echoes off the surrounding peaks. But seeing how calm my dogs were, especially Barbie, it was like watching a miracle unfold. None of the panting and drooling he exhibited in Florida. A little pacing and fretting, but gradually, even that subsided. We went for walks and hikes in the rain. Sheik was able to go outside for a quick potty break in the rain.
Now, eight months later, Sheik is an old hand here and has settled in well. He’s made friends throughout the town. He gave me great comfort when his dear friend, my little Barbie, passed away unexpectedly in Solvang, California where the two of them had accompanied me for a dog event. Sheik’s grace, charm, and wicked sense of humor have won him fans far and wide. He now graces two calendars (SFAA’s and next year’s West Coast Greyhound Gathering memory calendar) and has had his share of photos taken by admiring tourists here in Sedona. His introduction to everyone in Solvang even precipitated the saving and adoption of a sighthound mix from a sanctuary in Spain!
Sheik has learned to appreciate the myriad coats I fasten on him during the winter, and loves to sunbathe out back when it’s sunny. He always talks my dog sitter into ‘Just one more treat, pleeeeease!’ and, truth be told, he’s charmed me out of more than his share of treats too.
As my household (myself included) turns gradually grayer, I sometimes wonder how I have the energy to keep up. But then I hear Sheik’s little high pitched, ‘Boop!’ as he tells me I have obviously forgotten to feed him quite enough, or I feel that prodding nose under my arm while ‘m resting and turn to see those soulful, sweet eyes of his and I know I could never have it any other way.
Written by Emily Danskin