THUMDRU—The Final Years (Part 4)

by Saralouise Anderson

Life with Thumdru settled into a pretty regular routine after that. He was with me nearly all the time, along with Jim-Pa.

One day, I had taken him with me to the storage area where we still had some things we wanted to sort through. I had him on a short chain snap-clipped to a special eye bolt that Judd had installed on the bed of the pickup just under the cab window.

I was just a few feet away from the truck and was struggling with a rather large box that needed to be moved when two very nice young men from the storage unit next to ours saw my efforts and offered to give me a hand. I smiled and thanked them. As they walked closer towards me, I began to back up to give them room to work. I nearly tripped over Thumdru standing right behind me. I was surprised to find him there: I'd left him in the truck, and chained—at least I thought I had.

He didn't growl, but he did let me know that he didn't know these two fellows and didn't care for them being in such close proximity of me. I checked his collar to discover that the chain from the truck was hanging from it with the snap clip missing. I assumed he had merely broken the clip and jumped out of the truck. I returned him to the truck to find the snap clip still attached to the eye bolt. Puzzled, but in a hurry to get the job done, I re-attached the clip to the eye bolt and chain and returned to help with some other boxes. Just as I reached the young men, one of them pointed and said, "Will you look at that!"

I turned around just in time to see Thumdru, using his teeth, release the snap clip. It took him about four seconds, and he was over the side of the truck, once again to stand at my side. I was amazed, and so were the two young men. They offered to load my truck while I held onto Thumdru's lead. I thanked them for their help and answered what questions I could about Thumdru. They were fascinated. Needless to say, I let him ride in the cab of the truck with me until we could get another type of clip for the eye bolt.

Our Jim-Pa passed on in 1984—it was very hard. (See the book series KMK—By Invitation Only! soon to be published for more details about Jim-Pa and the Tibetan KyiApsos.)

* * *

On May 21, 1985, when we had retired for the night, Thumdru jumped up on our queen-sized waterbed, which he hated, and snuggled himself between us. This was totally out of character for him. He licked Judd's face and then mine. I was thrilled. I told my husband I thought he was finally feeling really at home with us. I put my arm across Thumdru's shoulder and kissed his nose. "I really love you, sweet Dru", I said as I both heard and felt him let out a deep sigh. I slept very soundly that night, feeling safe and very much loved by this special dog.

When the sun brought the day into the world the next morning, my arm was still lying across his shoulder, but there was no sign of life under that wonderful black coat. During the night, he had passed away peacefully, while being held safely and securely in my arms. He had come up on the bed to say goodbye. Our treasured and beloved Thumdru was gone.

I sat and held his lifeless body for hours that day, unable to get out of bed or to let him go. I refused to let my husband take him until he could tell me what was going to be done with his body. I wasn't going to let him be just thrown away or discarded.

Judd made a couple of phone calls, and with special permission through a friend who works for the State of Colorado, we got permission to take our precious Thumdru into the National Park and bury him next to a large stand of aspen trees near a mountain stream in an unmarked grave. We had returned his earthly body to the mountains where he began life. In doing this, we believe we also released his spirit back to Mt. Kailash in Tibet.

I cannot begin to describe the pain, hurt, loss and emptiness our family went through. Now, so many years later, when the aspens change color and the wind blows through them, we think of Thumdru. We have planted two aspens in our front yard in memory of him—memories of how he loved to lie outside in the spring and fall and let the wind blow through his fur. When the first snow falls each year in Northern Colorado, we remember how he would run and play and romp through the snow like a young puppy.

To love and be loved by a dog as special as Thumdru, an imported Tibetan KyiApso, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This dog never hesitated to sacrifice all he could for his human family. He never thought of himself first. His loyalty and devotion and obedience were, and remain, unmatched.

The pain is still with us—it has never left completely—but time is now beginning to make his memory for us of the happy times. We have been incredibly blessed by this wonderful dog sharing in his life. When the snow is falling and the wind is slightly blowing, we can still see our precious Thumdru running through the pasture on his fifty-foot nylon lead; only now, no longer burdened by his earthly body, he is free to run as God intended him to be—free to run through the high plateau of his birth.

We have other KyiApsos now, and our lives are full of TK hugs, kisses and good times. We've had five litters of puppies born at our kennel home and have had five of the six imports pass through our lives. There is no exact count of how many TKs have touched our lives—either directly or indirectly—but each one left their mark on our hearts. Although each Tibetan KyiApso is special in their own right, there will never be another Thumdru. We have finally accepted this and will forever treasure the memories of KyiApso Thumdru of Kailash.

Thumdru is a dog with what most people call "a history". In the five-plus years he lived with us, he bit four people. All four bites were determined to be bites provoked by the people bitten. Some people today would label him an overtly aggressive dog, but we would not. He was a dog who merely did the job for which he was born, trained in Tibet, and lived for: protecting his family.

For those who may think keeping a dog like Thumdru wasn't costly:  one of the people he bit—although it was determined by the Humane Society that it was also a provoked bite—sued us. The person sued for much more than our homeowner's insurance would cover. The judge in the case decided in favor of the person bitten. This person gave us a choice:  pay off in full, or if we would put Thumdru down, he would settle for what the insurance had offered. For us, there was no choice:  we sold our house, our horses, everything to pay this person off. Some won't understand this; some will. For us, even today, we made the right choice because the fact that Thumdru was one of a kind, so rare and so special made it the only choice for us. We have discussed this many times since Thumdru's passing, and every time, the joint decision in our family is the same: we would do it again.

In 1990, two more Tibetan KyiApsos were finally brought out of Tibet, and a third was imported into Canada. In 1994, three more imports (two more bitches and a male) were rescued from Tibet, making our import total six. As of December 1997, there were 66 TKs alive and living in the U.S. and Grand Cayman Island with 11 litters on the ground. These 66 dogs are registered with the Tibetan KyiApso Registry. Of this number, not all are considered breedable. TKC was formed to preserve this very rare and endangered breed of dog. For more information about the Tibetan KyiApso, write to Diana Quinn, 1203 E. Capital Street S.E., Washington, D.C. 20003—E-mail or call (202) 544-7011.

UPDATE:  There is no confirmable number of how many TKs remain in the United States. There are no active breeders.
This page last updated: 1/1/2006

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THUMDRU—The Long-Haired Immigre
THUMDRU—The Final Years (Part 1)
THUMDRU—The Final Years (Part 2)
THUMDRU—The Final Years (Part 3)
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