Dog severely burned in a house fire will now be a therapy dog for a burn unit

A house fire nearly took this dog’s life and left him disfigured—but now he’s on track for an exciting new career that he’s perfect for.

Back in October, the home of 8-year-old Shiba Inu dog named Taka caught on fire. His family was unable to free him from their screened-in porch before they had to flee from the house.

Luckily, Taka managed to get out on his own, and was discovered by a neighbor who brought him to Care More Animal Hospital—who did their best to heal Taka’s severe burns.

“He had burns around his eyes, his mouth, his ears, his belly,” Taka’s vet Emily Martin told The Dodo. “We really didn’t know how severe his injuries were initially, just because we had to worry about inhalation burns.”

Posted by Care More Animal Hospital on Wednesday, October 24, 2018

While he had a long road to recovery, in the hospital’s care Taka showed continuous improvements.

His original family agreed to surrender him for the sake of his health, but was later adopted by Crystal Lesley, a vet tech at the hospital who was by his side throughout the whole journey.

“When you’re seeing somebody through or an animal through something like this, the bond is so strong,” she told WJBF. “The thought of him kinda going anywhere else was stressing me out.”

“I just feel like he was meant to be mine.”

Crystal giving Taka one last kiss

Posted by Care More Animal Hospital on Friday, January 4, 2019

It wasn’t a totally smooth transition: Crystal told WRDF that Taka didn’t get along with her other pets, and would instigate fights.

Crystal then found out Taka could be trained for his behavior, even though he was a bit older.

“They can be trained just like any other dog,” Mandy Foster, founder of the Canine Training Project, told WRDF. “Sometimes it takes a little bit longer, but in Taka’s case he’s nine-years-old and he has flown through his training. He’s brilliant.”

Posted by Care More Animal Hospital on Sunday, December 23, 2018

Taka’s training also led to an exciting new opportunity, one he was uniquely suited for: becoming a therapy dog for a burn center, giving hope and support to burn victims like him.

First, he’ll have to pass the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen test, but his trainers believe he’ll be perfect for the job.

“He’s got the right temperament for it,” Mandy said. “Of course he has the scars to show for it and he can relate to a lot of the people there so I think it’s going to benefit both him and the patients there.”

It will be a fitting happy ending for a dog who almost didn’t make it, but made it through with perseverance and the love of some humans.

“I’m very proud of him,” Crystal said. “He’s a very good dog.”

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