Almost two years ago, and half a world away, a local teacher stumbled upon an abused dog and her nine puppies cowering in a gutter.
“I saw the mom first and she was so friendly — despite how horrifically abused she was — and then I saw these tiny white puppies,” said Spencer Sekyer, who was volunteering at a school in Kabul, Afghanistan when he found the pathetic pups.
“I took one look and knew I had to help them.”
The junior high teacher has spent several summers volunteering at schools in some of the most violent and poverty-stricken countries in the world — including Afghanistan, where stray dogs roam the streets by the hundreds.
After taking the scrawny animals to get vaccinated, he found three of them “forever” homes in the Afghan city, he said.
But when he realized there were no more takers, he decided to fly the rest of the litter and their mom home to Canada.
“The expenses to get them over here are daunting,” said Sekyer who added the rescue came with a whopping $28,000 price tag.
“Luckily, Nowzad — a shelter in Kabul — offered to house them until we could figure it out.”
Sekyer returned home and, along with his wife Christie, began to brainstorm fundraising ideas.
Remembering they had a trip planned to Mount Kilimanjaro, they decided to use their climb to raise thousands of dollars for the pups.
“It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done,” he said. “But I kept thinking how bony those dogs were, and it kept me going.”
It usually takes a dedicated dog lover to go to such lengths to save a handful of strays, but Sekyer said he just wanted to do the “right thing.”
“I think it was Gandhi that said, ‘You can judge a nation by the way it treats its animals,’ and that’s something I fully agree with in my travels,” said Sekyer.
“The better we are to animals, the better a place it is to live.”
After making a video about the dogs’ plight and posting it to YouTube, the couple was contacted by an Air Canada employee who offered to help bring the dogs to Canada.
“A woman who works for Air Canada heard about Emma and the puppies and wanted to help,” said Sekyer.
“She actually flew them part of the way here for free.”
The journey from Afghanistan to Canada was a long one, he said. The entire trip took almost two years and about 18,400 km.
Travelling in seven crates, the pups flew from Kabul to Dubai, then from there to Frankfurt, Germany. After that, the pooches landed in Calgary where Sekyer, his wife and their sister-in-law picked them up Friday and brought them to back to Edmonton.
But, he says, they’re not home yet.
An owner of two dogs himself — one a rather territorial female — he’s not able to keep them.
He’s hoping to find experienced dog lovers in the area to adopt them and he’s willing to give them away for free.
“My sister-in-law is taking one, but that leaves five puppies, and Emma,” he explained.
“These girls have endured so much so it’s really important to me they have the best homes possible.”
Experienced dog owners interested in adopting one or more of the Afghan dogs for free can phone the Sekyer’s at 780-499-4324.