Kuma, the Miracle Dog
January 1998 - June 2009

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           Having More Brushes With Death Than A Cat
     The Great Escape

What a dog!!  The second day I had Kuma I took him with me to an appliance junk yard looking for some parts.  It wasn't hot and I was just across the street so I could watch Kuma in the truck.  The next thing I knew, Kuma was standing beside me.  The sliding rear window of the truck was open just an inch and Kuma figured out how to slide the window open. He then jumped into the bed and then over the tailgate into the street. He had known me for less than a day and he didn't run off, he came to me.



   Breaking and Entering

Kuma was a thinker.  If escaping from a truck isn't enough here's another feat. We had a female Akita rescue named Mindy in the home.  We had to leave for an hour so for protection I put Mindy in a Giant Vari-Kennel in the living room and we placed Kuma outside in a large 7X13 foot kennel so there would be no way they could get together.  We were gone for only an hour and when we returned I opened the door and there was Kuma, standing beside the Vari-Kennel where Mindy was still laying
Kuma had worked the chain link until enough links were broken and then pushed his way out the small hole and into the back yard.  He then went to a bedroom window that was open only a few inches.  Kuma ripped the screen off and slid the window up and then climbed into the house. It was pure luck that Mindy was still in the Vari-Kennel. You can see in the picture the broken links I re-connected and then placed a license plate over that area to protect that part.  Those Kennels certainly weren't built with commercial grade wire.

Kuma's Story

 Kuma passed that test but we had our 7 month old Chica (German Shepherd) with us to see if they would get along. We brought Chica out of the van and let them sniff for a while and everything looked good.  Like Dummies we loaded both into the back of the van.  We are so lucky that they became fast friends.  They played together, trained together, lay together and were pretty much inseparable.
Our Kuma was turned in to a kill shelter to be put down in Jan 1999. The reason..... he wouldn't get along with the other dogs. Kuma was just let loose into the back yard with several other large dogs and they expected everything to be fine. Luckily when talking with the "dog-catcher" he mentioned Kuma to us. He had Kuma at his farm with more than 100 other rescues of all breeds. They had Kuma in a crate and brought him out to us on a leash.  We knew absolutely nothing about Akita behavior. Gabriella was closest to Kuma as they led him out and she was a bit scared of Kuma. Gabriella said his name softly and Kuma stood up putting his paws on her shoulders and gave her a kiss. (Licked her nose). 


 An Animated Story


Kuma was airborne much of the time he and Chica were playing.  He was always a Jumper.


Just through luck we ran into a lady at Petsmart that recognized Kuma as one of her pups.  We learned Kuma was 12 months old and had been through 3 different owners and pretty much ignored. Through the paperwork we registered Kuma as "Chicas Care Bear Kuma".  The name fit, on many walks we encountered stray loose dogs and the ones that wanted to fight always attacked Chica. Every time Kuma would charge the dog to protect Chica. It's funny, more than once we saw Kuma turn and swing his back side into the other dog with enough force to knock the other one off its feet. Most took off after that, if they didn't Kuma went for the throat and would not let go until we pried him off the dog.

Kuma's Puppies

Kuma was so aggressive toward other dogs when Chica was around we actually thought we shouldn't take them both together to obedience training.  It turns out Kuma was a big softy. We took in several Akita puppies from Austin Texas that needed bottle fed.  The mother was on medication that would harm the pups if she were to nurse them. Kuma adopted them and took very good care of the little rascals

Kuma counting the pups.  All There!!!

Kuma checking the toy to make sure it's OK for Smoky to play with.

Going Exploring

     Alpha Dog

They have to be separate at all times. Every once in a while we made a mistake and they came together resulting in an instant attack. The last fight Kuma was in the back yard and Gabriella's mother mistakenly let Blitz out in the yard. Blitz attacked Kuma, who was blind along with all his other problems. Chica didn't hesitate, she rammed into Blitz and grabbed him by the neck skin and pulled him off Kuma. Blitz stood there with Chica beside him holding him by the mane. As soon as we got Kuma inside Chica was fine, let go of Blitz, and continued running and playing with Blitz just as if nothing had happened. Blitz is a big strong mean dog but he submitted to Chica this time. After all those times Kuma jumped between Chica and another loose dog, Chica protected Kuma this time, it was a sight to see.
We have a German Shepherd here (Blitz) that came to hate Kuma and Kuma hated him right back. Both wanted to be the Alpha Dog.

Blitz, aka Psycho-dog



Tootsie Roll Pop Bandit

Kuma loved Tootsie Roll Pops.  I know chocolate is harmful to dogs but he loved them so much I let him have one once in a while.  

As soon as Kuma saw the sucker in my mouth he slowly crept up to grab the stick, pulling the Tootsie Roll Pop out of my mouth.  :)

Kuma thought he was sneaky.  He very slowly pulled the sucker out as if he thought I wouldn't notice

 And Then!!!!

 He wouldn't share!!!

Kuma finds a Kitten

I was walking Kuma on a 15 foot Flexi Leash on a country road near my home in Killeen.  He had plenty of leash to go sniffing and exploring and all of a sudden he jumped into the brush.  He came up with a tiny kitten in his mouth.

Yelled for him to drop it, and thanks to obedience training, he did. I never thought that training would come in handy.

I picked the kitten up and it was all limp.  I didn't want to leave it in the Texas heat to die so I carried it home to bury it.  About 100 feet from my house the kitten woke up.

 And he wasn't happy.  Sharp teeth and claws everywhere.  A feral kitten being held for the first time scared him to death.

Keeping him as in inside cat was impossible.  Our doors are always open and even in the winter Gabriella opens the house to air it out several times a day.  It's a German Thing. And it's COLD...

People can say what they want about cats learning.  I went outside at night and called Tiger in.  I didn't meow, it was more like a crow calling, but Tiger answered. Usually he was in the field behind out home but he would talk to me all the way in.  I would hear the chain link fence rattle as Tiger climbed it.  

Tiger died of Leukemia at 10 years old in March 2009.

Kuma making his Mean Faces





Kuma goes Blind

At 5 years old Kuma went totally blind.  The eye specialist diagnosed Kuma as having PRA, Progressive Retinal Atrophy and it was evidently genetic.

Kuma adapted well and would have done OK if being blind was all he had to worry about

Pancreas Failure (unable to digest food)

Then Kuma had his Pancreas fail and was unable to digest food.  He was skin and bones before the Vet finally figured out what was wrong.  We were able to help Kuma by adding some special digestive enzymes to his food so he could digest it. Of course the enzymes had to be ordered. Kuma never did gain all his weight back but was at least active.

Kuma Bloats

Bloat, Torsion. Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) is a serious, life-threatening condition.  When torsion occurs, the esophagus is closed off, limiting the dog's ability to relieve distention by vomiting or belching. Often the spleen becomes entrapped as well, and its blood supply is cut off.
The blood return to the heart decreases, cardiac output decreases, and cardiac arrythmias may follow. Toxins build up in the dying stomach lining. The liver, pancreas, and upper small bowel may also be compromised.  Sometimes the stomach ruptures, leading to peritonitis.
At 7 years old Kuma Bloated. That is when the stomach turns and twists cutting all the blood flow off to the stomach and other organs.  It was after 1:00 am and we loaded him up and drove 20 miles to an Emergency Vet Clinic. The Vet woke up and did an xray and confirmed the stomach had twisted.  He tried to tell us Kuma would not survive and that Kuma, at 7 years old, was an elderly dog and we should let him go especially as the surgery would cost more than $1400.00 dollars.  We always thought the Vet only wanted to go back to bed. We told the Vet we wanted to surgery to straighten out the stomach.  The Vet seemed to work in slow motion and we thought that every minute counted toward the dogs chances of survival. In the end Kuma survived another brush with death and looks happy to be home.

The other dog is Shadow.  She was so scared when we took her in that I had to carry her into the Vet Clinic to get her shots.  She isn't too happy about Kuma sharing her room but Kuma lets her know if she gets too possessive

Skin Problems

If going Blind and Bloating weren't bad enough Kuma developed terrible skin problems. We tried many treatments and after a bit the skin started clearing up.  The tail never grew hair back but he looked much better.

Kuma with all the skin problems.

Kuma gets Cancer

At nine years old we noticed a growth in Kumas mouth and took him in to be checked.  It was Cancer.

At that time the Tumor was much smaller than shown in this picture.   We took Kuma to Texas A&M to get a Cat Scan.  Of all the procedures we could have taken we decided to go with Chemo.  Our Vet was very worried and told us to order the Chemo with overnight delivery.  Our Vet thought Kuma might live another 6 weeks and tried to get us ready for that. You can see the tumor pushing out of his left cheek.



The results showed the tumor had already destroyed the bone in the left side of the face.  There were several courses we could take and because removing the tumor might cause problems with eating and getting food into the airway. 

You can see the Tumor pushing the left side of his face.

Kuma and Shadow would  play in the back yard.  Shadow would start racing around Kuma getting Kuma to chase her.  Kuma always stayed in the middle of an open area during the games.  There are also rabbits in the woods behind our house and if Shadow would suddenly take off after a rabbit, Kuma would be right behind her running full speed following Shadows scent.  How Kuma never ran into a tree is beyond me.  Their sense of smell makes up for some of the  loss of sight, at least a bit.

Kuma had memorized the 2 acres of woods behind our house and would walk back in the fields and lay down to rest. You could hardly tell he was blind.

Kuma would find a cool spot way back in the woods and lay there for hours.

Finally at 11 years old, more than 2 years after beginning Chemo, Kuma began to lose his bearings. He could no longer find his way around the room and had a hard time finding his way in the back yard. Kuma then started having severe breathing problems and couldn't sleep.  He would have to raise his head and stretch his neck out every few minutes so he could breath.

Kuma making a mean face at Shadow when she growled as he climbed on the bed.

I think all his life long problems just suddenly overwhelmed him.

He would bite into the tumor causing severe bleeding.  All we could do was sit with him and try to add pressure to the area of the bleeding trying to get it stopped.  The Vet gave us some medication to help the blood to clot more and it did help.  The Vet also checked his blood and told us Kuma was almost to the point of requiring a blood transfusion.


It's hard when all you can do is pet and comfort a pet in need.

The tumor became so large it was pressing against the eye.

Kuma cheated death many times in his life and I'm just glad he gave me so much to smile about over the years, but it was time. 

He couldn't remember how to walk around the room and he was lost outside.  He couldn't breath normally and had to raise his head and stretch out his neck to get some air.  He had to do this every few minutes.

 We carried Kuma into the Vet Clinic for the last time.  We miss him every day.  


What makes it much worse is we had to carry Balto into the Vet for the last time only a few weeks ago.  Balto was 14 so he lived a long life but it was too short for us. We miss him.  It's a hard thing to determine that a pet no longer has the quality of life he/she needs.  Balto was paralized.  At first his hind legs wouldn't work very well.  We could hold him up in the rear so he could walk outside to do his business.  Then the front legs ceased to work.  We had to carry him around on a stretcher.  He brought us a lot of happiness.

     Someday Soon