Two to three times a night Jaew Borng lets out such a loud sigh of relief while he sleeps that he tends to wake the entire Lewis household.
Sara Lewis can’t quite describe the sound her three-legged rescue dog makes in the dead of night, curled up on a cushion in front of the fireplace. But she’s certain it comes from a place of peace, if not pleasure.
“It’s just the deepest, loudest groan, like he’s
saying ‘A hhh, I’m just so happy right now,’” said Lewis. “He does it a lot and I’ve been trying to record the moment but I can’t seem to catch it because you don’t know when it’s coming.”
He began doing this only a couple of months ago.
Try putting yourself in Jaew Borng’s paws for a second. Roughly two years ago he was shot in the midsection and left to die on a roadside in Phuket, Thailand.
Now he’s a full-on three-legged lightning bug, the pride and joy of the Lewis family in Hebbville. He’s also
fed premium dog food every day, enjoys daily wilderness walks, massages and the company of two adoring little girls. Even Dhube, a Nova Scotia duck toller, and Pixie, a border collie, wolfhound mix (also a rescue dog), have welcomed Jaew Borng into the household with open arms.
“Every day I’m inspired by this dog, and I know he’s just a dog, but his resiliency, his spirit,” Lewis said. “He lived on the street
or eight years, he had his leg shot off, lived through that, and then being stuck in a crate and flying for four days to get here. Now he’s living in the cold in Canada and he keeps on trucking. He’s just so happy. He’s one of the best things that has happened to our family.”
Soi Dog Foundation, a group dedicated to caring for tens of thousands of street dogs and cats throughout Thailand, saved Jaew Borng’s life. A pair of workers from the non-profit organization were following up on an emergency call when they found Jaew Borng’s near lifeless body. In one of its medical clinics, Jaew Borng underwent emergency surgery. His leg couldn’t be saved but it proved to be a temporary obstacle and he bounced back after a short rehabilitation stint. He waited at the Soi Dog shelter until Lewis came calling.
Lewis, who had just sold her dog-grooming business in Mahone Bay, was searching for a rescue dog and her efforts at home proved fruitless.
She turned her attention to Thailand, knowing the situation facing the country. Her research brought her to Soi (soi means alley in Thai) Dogs. She dashed off a quick email before going to bed.
“I just said we would take an old dog, a three-legged dog. I would adopt any of them, and I got an email back the next morning from the adoption co-ordinator. She was so excited and relieved, telling me the three-legged dogs and the older dogs are a little more difficult to adopt out.”
The wheels were in motion. After a few mandatory security checks, Facetime phone calls with the family, a home inspection, Jaew Borng was on his way.
It was a four-day journey and Jaew Borng was exhausted upon his arrival at Halifax Stanfield international airport on Nov. 30, 2016. He ate a bowl of food and water, then wandered to the living room and buried himself under a blanket, where he slept for five days straight.
“On Day 5 he perked up and discovered he really loves dog beds,” Lewis recalled with a laugh.
Little is known about Jaew Borng’s history, other than he’s roughly 10 years old and shelter workers named him after a Thai dish.
Lewis had the time to devote to training the household’s newest addition. Slowly he came along, becoming accustomed to a collar, his walking harness. He took to each challenge like an adventure.
“But even now if you pet him too quickly or surprise him, he gets really quite scared. He kind of jumps or cowers. If you pet him from above he always winces and closes his eyes.”
At first terrified by dog toys, he’s slowly come around to love them. Same goes for Christmas.
“Last Christmas he was so nervous by all the commotion. This Christmas he was so into it, opening gifts himself, tearing apart the wrapping paper. It did take quite a while to transition him but it was worth every moment.”
He also maintains a morning ritual that never ceases to humour the Lewis family.
“He stays in his bed till we get up and start
moving, and then he can’t wait to go outside. Once he comes back inside he starts spinning in circles and charges through the house, knowing he’s about to get fed.
“We’ve been extremely lucky with this guy. Our kids can snuggle him, lay in bed with him, kiss him on the face. He loves all of it.”
Jaew Borng doesn’t appear to mind missing a limb. Aside from a few epic wipe-outs caused by slippery hardwood floors, he gets around just fine. He prances rather than walks.
He’s recovering from a back ailment, which doctors attribute to too much exercise.
But he remains determined to take on his daily walks. Some habits, Lewis admits, are difficult to break.
“He’s a professional beggar. He gets that look on his face like, ‘I know what I’m doing and I’m going to get some of what you’ve got.’ He always seems to win.”