tichka (pronounced tishka), my baby girl, and i found each other in ouarzazate, morocco in the summer of 2002. i was there working on a film. i remember my exact words as i noticed an animal lying on the steps of my hotel. as i got closer and realized what this little creature was i squealed, “IT’S A PUPPYYYYYYYYY!!!!”.
the moment i saw this dirty, flea-ridden little street puppy i was in love (tell me that THIS doesn’t melt your heart).
i immediately took her in and had her cared for by a vet. she lived with me at the hotel and came to work with me everyday at the studio. she became the crew mascot. wardrobe made her a collar and an outfit and the construction team built her a dog house (i wonder if the ‘tichka house’ still stands today?).
(sidenote: i later found out by a few of the crew members that they fed a stray puppy that looked liked tichka at a location out of town two days before she showed up on our doorstep. i believe it was her. tichka would follow her nose anywhere…and film sets always have the best food you can find.)
i named her after the highest peak of the atlas mountains. the drive through those mountains was one of the highlights of my life.
when it was time to leave morocco, i arranged everything with customs on the canadian end so that she would land and clear immediately (which she did). i had to go back to london (uk) with the crew, so my family picked her up in toronto.
it seemed like the longest month ever, before i came home to canada and we were reunited.
being one of the smartest dogs i have ever met, also means that she is the most trouble. she was such a little devil as a puppy and still challenges me to this day! i channel her crazy energy into tricks and agility. she has some truly unique tricks in her arsenal…not to mention that she tries to climb trees.
there is so much more behind her eyes than most dogs. i am positive that she’s trying to figure out the secrets of the universe. she’s my thinker and she feels things deeply. i sense how connected she is to everything i experience and feel.
nicknamed ‘depresso’ by one of my friends, tichka can also put on the ‘woe-is-me’ face like no other dog i have ever met. she is the canine charlie brown. even if she’s in a happy-go-lucky mood, she can pull that face out of the hat within seconds (delicious smelling food is usually not that far away). it’s the ‘poor me-feed me’ street dog mentality that continues to break my heart every time. speaking of…her favorite foods are chicken, cheese and steak (and will lick her lips at the mention of any of those words).
yet a squirrel within stalking distance trumps all food temptations (hence the attempts at tree climbing). and she is FAST! i actually warn the park squirrels when i unleash her.
her favorite place in this world is our cottage in muskoka. she gets to run through the woods with her cottage dog pack, frolic at the beach, go for boat rides, chase birds and chipmunks galore.
although she remains the alpha of the family, she adores her little bro and every once in a blue moon she will submit during their wrestling matches. she also gets along fairly well with the cat, but every once in a while i will find a piece of skin missing from the tip of her nose.
now because of her unique look, i often get the question, “what breed is she?”. hmmm…well, she has sharp sense of smell and if i consider her colouring…could be some shepherd? and her body shape, speed and keen eyes…could be some sight-hound? being a street dog she probably has generations of a lot of everything. so my answer is, “she’s a moroccan squirrel hound.” i try to keep a straight face as they mull that one over. (why not? there are nova scotia duck tolling retrievers and australian cattle dogs).
as you may know, tichka was also the inspiration for my photography business. she is my beauty, my love, my life, my everything.
i could not imagine my life if we had not found each other.