Titi and Benji were homeless when they first met.
The stray dogs shared a crumbling foam couch on a beach in Bahrain, a small Arab state situated in a bay on the southwestern coast of the Persian Gulf.
Titi, a Saluki and German shepherd mix, and Benji, a yellow Labrador, spent their time together – playing during the day and sleeping side by side at night.
So, when their story was featured on a Facebook page for strays in 2017, P.E.I. native Susan Stevenson was moved.
“Benji had been hit by a car. And the people who feed dogs in that area had taken him in for an operation to get his leg fixed. They fell in love with Benji and didn’t bring him back.”
Back at the beach, Titi, was lying on the side of the road, grieving the loss of her friend.
“She was completely depressed. And a young man living in an apartment building across from the beach had sent out a plea for help.”
Stevenson, who lives in the Arab state, arranged for Titi to be rescued, neutered, vaccinated and, after fostering for a year, rehomed her with Kim Myers in Pleasant Grove, P.E.I., through Rays of Hope.
However, the rescue wasn’t as straight forward for Benji.
After being adopted for over a year, his owners heard they were being transferred to Germany with the U.S. military. They would be living in an apartment building that couldn’t take dogs.
“They were concerned so they started calling around to all the different dog feeders, asking who took Titi to safety.”
Last December, Stevenson received a call from a woman she didn’t know.
“She said, ‘do you think whoever took Titi would be interested in Benji?’”
She said yes.
“I knew Kim was looking for a partner for Titi. And I thought it would be a perfect match.”
So, Stevenson brought Benji to Canada to live with Myers in May.
By the numbers
- Benji is one of 204 dogs rescued from the streets of Bahrain and sent to Canada in the past 18 months.
- Six have found homes on P.E.I., while the majority have been placed in Ontario.
- This volunteer work has meant hundreds of hours of air travel for Susan Stevenson who has accompanied many of the animals who go from the emergency shelter, Delman Boarding Kennels & Cattery in Bahrain, into foster homes in Canada until they find their forever home.
- She also finds volunteers to be flight buddies. “Sometimes people are interested in coming to the Middle East. And now they have a purpose. So, they buy their tickets, come to Bahrain. We host them for a couple of days, and, in turn, they bring the dogs to Canada to the rescue centres (at no cost to them). And the rescue centres do all the rest.”
- On P.E.I., Gillian Darte (A Little at a Time) has agreed to be a rescue partner. “It’s awesome. It’s a wonderful opportunity to rescue animals. We look forward to saving more dogs’ lives, a little at a time.”
- Anyone interested in being a flight buddy, fostering or adopting is asked to call Darte at 902-393-6836.
It was a “magical reunion” for the dogs.
“We walked out of the driveway with each of them on a leash. I was ahead with Titi and Susan had Benji,” says Myers.
When the canines caught up, they instantly recognized each other.
“After the dogs smelled each other, their tails started wagging and they bent down to play. They were beyond themselves.”
Stevenson says the experience was “very emotional”.
“I couldn’t talk.”
Then she looked at my brother who was capturing the reunion on video.
“The (camera) phone was shaking because he was bawling his eyes out. It was magical because they hadn’t seen each other for over two years.”
Then they took them down to Keppoch beach.
“They were running and playing and have been inseparable ever since.”
Over the next few weeks, they’ve noticed some positive changes in the dogs' behaviour.
Being reunited with Benji, has returned to Titi to her former confident and playful self.
“If anyone came to the door, she would be timid. But now that Benji is here and he’s so outgoing and friendly, she’ll see him go over to greet somebody and she’ll go right behind him and lick their hand,” says Myers.
When she thinks of what the dogs have been through – separation, starvation and loneliness – she’s moved.
“It’s amazing to see them back together again. It’s nice to have a happy ending.”
Rays of Hope fast facts
- The organization’s goal is to find the right dog for the right home – the right people who will genuinely love them through the good times and the bad.
- Before the dogs are placed, they are neutered, vaccinated and pass the international health requirements checklist.