The Final Years:  New Family (Part 1)

by Saralouise Anderson

This is the accounting of Thumdru's final years after leaving his first American family in West Virginia.

It started in early September 1980, when a friend came to visit us in Northern California. We had met Ann Rohrer when she placed one of her Tibetan Mastiffs with us back in 1978. Jim-Pa was a two-year-old black and tan male. He was already labeled a troubled adult dog due to his early upbringing—or better said––lack of upbringing. By the time he was two, he had been in fourteen different homes. Because of this background, he came to us with some very serious problems. He would run away all the time and he was extremely claustrophobic. It was because of this particular visit and our success with Jim-Pa that we were introduced to the Taylor-Ide family and shortly thereafter, Thumdru.

Ann had come to see Jim-Pa's progress. When she entered our home, she found Jim-Pa sleeping on the couch in the living room with a twelve-week-old kitten sleeping soundly between his front paws. She was amazed at this because, unknown to us, Jim-Pa had been taught by one of his previous owners not only to hate cats, but to kill them. Along with the help of a dog trainer, Inga, we also cured Jim-Pa's need to run away by simply making him feel secure only when he was with us.

She knew of someone who was searching for a home for a very special and rare dog. She casually mentioned that she had been contacted by a friend who was living in West Virginia who was looking for a home for his dog that had been imported from Tibet. She asked if we'd be interested.

Judd, my husband, looked over at me:  I was shaking my head "No". I pointed out that we already had five dogs plus a recent litter of puppies and I felt that was plenty. I reminded my husband of the conversation we had shared two days earlier. I wanted to bring home another kitten, but he felt we had enough animals already. Now he was asking me to add another dog?

Then Ann produced two pictures of Thumdru:  One was a head shot; The other was a picture of him running full out through the West Virginia snow. Judd and I were both hooked! We fell in love with Thumdru in a heartbeat. Thumdru looked like a prize thoroughbred at full run—he was magnificent. We told Ann we were interested, so she told us she would have to make a phone call to West Virginia.

While Ann placed the call, Judd and I talked about this special dog. We discovered we had a million questions, but the one we didn't have was whether we were doing the right thing—we both knew in our hearts we were.

We met Daniel Taylor-Ide that September day over the phone, and he briefly told us about Thumdru. He said he would follow the phone call with a detailed letter about the dog.

Within the next few days, we received a five-page, single-spaced, typed letter from Daniel telling us all about Thumdru. We were told of Thumdru's amazing beginning in Tibet and about the history of the nomads with their dogs. Daniel described Thumdru's special personality:  his ability to express his love with a maturity that is quite un-doglike. Daniel also gave us a little background on himself and his wife Jennifer. We eagerly read and learned about Thumdru's training commands, which were in Tibetan. We seemed to take it all in at once with excitement and anticipation.

Then, on page 3, Daniel began telling us of Thumdru's aggressive traits:  how he had already bitten 20 people in the protection of his beloved home and family—about Thumdru's deep sense of loyalty.

Now for the majority of the people in this world, these statements would mean that they wouldn't even think about having a dog with such a history in their home—especially if they had young children like we had. Our son was only five and our daughter nine. But to us, this letter was a cry for help—help to give a wonderful dog as good and loving home as he had with the Taylor-Ides. We knew we'd be taking risks, but we also realized how special Thumdru was—not only because he was the only one of his breed outside of Tibet, but also because we felt he needed our understanding, patience and ability to comprehend what comes naturally to a dog with his background.

Judd had spent some time working with hyenas, lions, leopards, and tigers through his training at Gentle Jungle in Southern California. He trained with Boone Narr and Ralph Helfer––both gentlemen are well known for their work training exotic animals for television and the movies. Judd's great fascination was for the hyenas, and we classified Thumdru in this same area. We would be living with a dog with the natural wildness still instinctive of the untamed environment of Tibet.

As we read further in Daniel's letter, we both became more and more convinced that having Thumdru come to live with us was the right thing—for not only us, but for Daniel, Jennifer and most importantly, Thumdru.

The decision was made.

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THUMDRU––The Long-Haired Immigre
THUMDRU––The Final Years (Part 2)
THUMDRU––The Final Years (Part 3)
THUMDRU––The Final Years (Part 4)
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