Wendy And Her Babies

Finding Love Across Continents: Our Journey with Diana

In June of 2021, my husband Steve and I found ourselves enjoying a refreshing beverage in the warmth of the sun while our senior pup, Rudy, relaxed in the grass beneath him. Little did we know, this seemingly ordinary day would mark the beginning of a remarkable journey that would bring an unexpected treasure into our lives.
It all began with a serendipitous encounter on the Free Korean Dog’s website earlier that day. There, I saw the sweet face of a puppy named “Dara” who was seeking her forever home. In that moment, it felt as though our souls had intertwined, and I knew she belonged with us.

As we sat in the backyard, with a mixture of excitement and apprehension, I turned to Steve and uttered those fateful words, “I would like to adopt a puppy from Korea.” The conversation proceeded as follows, Steve said, “No”. I replied, “But I have so much love to give”, with emotion welling up. Steve said, “I would like to adopt a puppy from Korea”. I said, “I’m glad because you, our son Max, and I have an interview with EK later this week!” And just like that, we found ourselves on the path to welcoming a new member into our family.

Dara’s Arrival in Canada

The journey to bring Diana (Dara) from Korea to Canada was not without its challenges. Hindered by COVID travel restrictions, she embarked on a journey across continents, arriving in Toronto via Air Canada cargo. At one point, her trip was almost delayed due to the hot weather (animals cannot be flown via cargo if the temperature is 30+ degrees in either the departure or arrival country). As we locked eyes for the first time, her message was clear – Diana was ready to embrace her new life, but first, nature beckoned urgently!

When we got home, Steve and our son, Max, left Diana and I in the living room together. I opened her crate, and she came out right away. She wandered about and then sat down in the hallway. She looked so tired and sad! No doubt she missed her Mom Hangu and her sister Gana (now Luna). She wasn’t sure what was going to happen to her.

And then Diana saw Rudy, our senior boy. Rudy, a King Charles Cavalier cocker spaniel, was an old soul. He was gentle, affectionate, patient, and laid-back. At first, Rudy wasn’t sure what to make of Diana – she was very high energy, wild, and tried to eat his food! Diana looked to him for guidance right away.

Later that first night, Diana sat beside me, ate the food I put in front of her, and asked me for pets. She was less comfortable with Steve and Max, barking at them with the penetrating sound of a much larger canine counterpart for over a week.

For the next 7 days, Steve and I moved our mattress to the floor and Diana slept in her crate beside us. Soon, she began approaching Steve and Max for treats and pets too. As she navigated the unfamiliar territory of her new home, Rudy emerged as her steadfast mentor. He helped her to acclimate, with Diana eagerly soaking up each of his lessons.

A New Chapter Begins

Within 10 days of her arrival, Rudy and Jasper (my brother’s dog) led a nervous Diana out to our backyard for the first time. Once she overcame her uneasiness with the stairs to the backyard, she was thrilled to run outside! Diana was clearly athletic, fast, and agile. Her hindquarters were so strong that when she jumped, it seemed like she was levitating. My mind started to work overtime… Diana was high energy, clever, and mischievous at times. I knew we needed to find a way to tire her mentally and physically — to fend off those “silly ideas” she sometimes gave into. Like stealthily stalking squirrels with the grace of a lioness on the Serenget.

As the days turned into months, Diana’s transformation was remarkable. We enrolled in obedience courses and then agility. I hope it’s not too braggy to say that Diana was unafraid of obstacles, very fast on the course, and agile. Her determination and joy shone through with each leap and bound – especially when she “freestyled it” as our trainer said with a smile.

We have had a lot of fun with agility. I believe it strengthened our bond and developed Diana’s confidence (mine too). I also think it was important for Steve and Max to let her settle in without any pressure, and for her to have a calm senior pup at home. It was a mutually beneficial relationship – Rudy seemed to be five years younger, and Diana was loved and supported by him. Sadly, Rudy died this January.

Today, as I reflect on our journey, I am filled with gratitude for the joy and laughter Diana has brought to our lives. From her appetite for adventure to her unwavering loyalty, she is our funny, quirky, sweet soulmate. Across continents and borders, she found her way into our lives, leaving an indelible mark on our hearts forever. And for that, we are eternally grateful to Free Korean Dogs.

Written by Wendy Mataija

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