Rescue Me: The beauty and her beasts

Dec 19 2017, 8:43 pm

Sometimes it takes someone with an open mind and a very big heart to see past the problems of a shelter animal.

Let’s face it: Not all the pets that end up there are going to win beauty contests. First impressions mean a lot in a world where adopters may only see their potential pets in photos online before making a decision to go see them in person.

That was certainly the case for Lucia and Lucas. The Great Dane mix puppies were in rough shape. They both suffered demodex mange, which gave them raw and painful patches of skin. They were malnourished and stressed in the shelter and no one wanted to adopt them.

Luckily, the Vancouver-based group Big and Small Rescue scooped up the pair shortly before they were scheduled to be euthanized at a high-kill shelter in the U.S. three years ago.


That’s where Leana Ahachinsky comes in. She saw the pups in a Facebook post from the group and said she and her family fell in love right away.

“When I saw their photo I just knew it. I really didn’t want them to be adopted separately,” she tells Vancity Buzz.

Despite being a very petite person, she wasn’t intimidated by the dogs’ substantial size. She and her family had a wonderful big dog before, a Fila Brasiliero whose life was cut short because of liver failure.

“After we lost our dog, I only wanted to adopt. I felt it was the right thing to do,” she says.

In this edition of Rescue Me, Leana tells the story in her own words of why she opened her heart to these two gentle giant “ugly ducklings” and why it’s made her a huge supporter of animal rescue.


Big and Small Rescue Society completed a home visit before the final go-ahead. They walked around our garden, looked at fencing, talked to everyone in the house and made sure this was a happy and safe environment for the puppies. It was very professional. I was very happy with every step they took to make sure the dogs were in good hands; and that we, as adopters, were also comfortable and happy. I am all about adopting rather than buying from a pet store for many reasons. Mainly because it’s the abandoned, mistreated dogs that need our love and care the most. These dogs deserve a second chance.

Large dogs like these are definitely not for every owner. We put the pups through multiple obedience classes. These are strong dogs, and they are protective guardians. It’s in their blood. It’s only natural. So they need strong alpha owners and lots of discipline. They are gentle giants overall – they love people, little kids and most friendly dogs and cats. They are a handful at times but we manage well. Now, that I have a baby, I don’t have as much time to take care of them and that’s where my family helps a lot. We also have a miniature pinscher and two cats. It’s a zoo here but we all get along and couldn’t imagine it any other way. These dogs are amazing. They are very special and they are very grateful dogs.

image5If it wasn’t for Big and Small Rescue we would never have met our precious dogs. They are from the States, where so many dogs suffer from abandonment. Rescues are such an important part of helping to stop suffering by providing necessary vet care. I now volunteer with Big and Small, and see that their biggest challenge is dealing with all the medical bills. They run a spay and neuter program, assess all dogs entering the rescue and then have to fix dogs that are suffering from neglect, disease and pain. These dogs enter the rescue because the group cannot bear their suffering and they commit to fixing them. This is immensely expensive. The adoption fees, which is the principal source of income, is just a struggle to cover the basic vetting.

Funding is always a challenge so we’re working on a number of upcoming fundraisers – to help the rescue with things like medical bills, transport and pet food. One will be an ethereal photo shoot to showcase our four-legged friends – and highlight the plight of rescue dogs. The second will be a gala filled with food, fun, and wine.  For more information about these events visit Big and Small Rescue.

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DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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