Dogs of Dr. Tim’s – The story of Sisu, one Determined Dog.

Even with a rough start to life, Sisu, the Red Siberian Husky, has spent most of her days surrounded by love.The story goes that she was abandoned as a small puppy in a parking lot, left to fend for herself with seemingly insurmountable challenges to defeat. Sisu is missing parts of both of her right legs, with the front ending just below her wrist and the back leg ending at the hock. Unable to move much or go to the bathroom without assistance, the outlook seemed bleak, but after she arrived in the right hands, her future turned bright.

It began at the HOPE Animal Shelter in Ironwood, Michigan. From foster mom Betsy Jeske: 
One of my main concerns is that is it clear that I thought she would have to be put down the first few hours we had her. H.O.P.E. is a no kill shelter and they absolutely would have tried many ways to try to help her. I remember her scooting herself out of her urine – trying to get out of the wetness and later the feces all over her body. I remember gently washing her wondering if this was what she had done since her momma was no longer cleaning her. I remember taking a hand towel and putting it under her to steady her so she could stand on her own to go to the bathroom. I remember thinking no one was going to adopt a puppy that was going to have to be held and then washed every time she had to go potty – no matter how cute she was. That’s when I really thought she may have to be put down. I don’t remember how long H.O.P.E. had her before I got her (probably not more than an hour or two) and what they did for her for potty, but I am sure that they never thought of euthanizing her. I do remember by the next day she was standing and falling and standing and falling and the determination in her was overwhelming. I remember how cold she would be when the bare part of her bones would touch the snow at first until she got used to it so I made her some little boots – and then she was off and running…I remember the last day I had her, she discovered our road and her sprinted down it with me trying to catch her – slipping and sliding on the ice! Her determination was unbelievable. Living in a population of many, many Finnish people, I know the only name for her was SISU.

Then Sisu made her way to the home of the Dufay family in Marquette. Their former dog, Crystal, had recently succumbed to a canine version of Alzheimer’s/Dementia, and mom Angela DuFay swore she wouldn’t adopt another dog until she found who needed her. Then came along Sisu, who Dufay noticed on and currently living in a foster home.

In the beginning…

She was an 8-week-old Red Siberian Husky who was missing parts of both of her right legs…If you ask the volunteers at H.O.P.E., they will tell you that the future looked quite bleak for this puppy. It was obvious that her “owner” had deemed this puppy a reject and had not taught her how to walk or go to the bathroom. She was lucky – H.O.P.E. has a handful of trained Angels that take care of these unwanted/uncared for animals. Two foster “Moms” (and their families) stepped up to take over the majority of the care of this little puppy; Jonelle France and Betsy Jeske. I will forever be grateful for their kindness, generosity, love, etc.
I emailed the shelter within minutes of reading the story… I am pretty sure that Crystal sent this puppy to us. One of the people from H.O.P.E. contacted me and told me to fill out an adoption application and that they would review it and decide if we could adopt. I was given the phone number of Betsy to speak with her about the progress/condition of the puppy. Betsy told me that when she first took the puppy home, she thought that she might have brought home a rock. She didn’t move. She defecated on herself. She was breathing, but that was it. It wasn’t looking good and thoughts of putting her down to ease her pain were discussed. Fast-forward two weeks—PUPPY! We were approved to adopt!

Helping Sisu walk and grow.

On the Monday (after we adopted her), Dr. Tim checked her out and allayed our fears about the missing legs – it was most likely due to the Mother being over-bred. Our puppy was a rejected birth defect – what kind of monster would cast aside something that just doesn’t measure up? At least she wasn’t injured on purpose. We were advised to contact Wright and Filippis (an Orthopedic/Medical care supply business) for a prosthetic leg. Within a few days, we met Joe and the entire staff. How many more amazing people can we meet? It was decided that only the back leg needed a prosthetic, so Joe carefully cast the leg for a mold (a messy process even if it’s not for a squirming puppy!). A few days later, it was fit on her. She ran through the entire building! Joe then told us to return whenever the leg seemed to have been outgrown.

We have now had our “puppy” for over a year. She LOVES to go running with me (usually 2 miles). People ALWAYS stare at the mean woman making her poor, handicapped puppy run with her—if they only knew;  I took up running just to keep up with her.

What do people say when they see Sisu?

Wherever we go, we are asked, “What happened!?” We don’t mind telling the story of Sisu – we encourage everyone to think about rescuing a special needs animal even if the special need is just “unwanted.”  Of course, many people just stare and must think the worst – if we see someone staring, we’ll say, “she was born this way” or “genetic mutation” to which the usual reply is, “Oh! I thought maybe she was hit by a car…” The ‘Starers’ have taught me to not judge anyone based on appearances.  You never know the true story. Don’t assume you know – ask! I thought that I had compassion before, but I look back and realize that I have learned so much from being with Sisu.

What is unique about Sisu?

When we first got Sisu, I figured that we would learn about disabilities… we instead learned about overcoming obstacles, not whining, seeing the beauty in everyday things and every person.  Our family motto is now: No Excuses.

She doesn’t know that she’s missing her legs – please don’t tell her. We have gotten to know so many people because of Sisu. She is known at Mares-z-Doats, at Bayshore Veterinary Hospital, U.P.A.W.S., H.O.P.E. Animal Shelter, Wright & FIllipis, and countless other places.
We no longer think about the animal that dumped her; we thank God for her and all that she has brought to our lives. Her name? She was named by Betsy, and know that she is a true testament to her name: SISU. Sisu is a Finnish concept, described as will, determination, perseverance. She is the embodiment of her name.