She shares her name with the Australian rapper, and Iggy the one-eyed Cocker Spaniel has certainly had her own international hustle and struggle, going from the streets of Tijuana to her forever home in Montreal.
Now at home in snowy Quebec, this beautiful dog once spent her lonely days as a parasite-infested and feral stray in Mexico, her right eye hanging out of her head. The eye was infected, likely the result of a traumatic injury, and it was causing poor Iggy untold amounts of pain. Thankfully, a Good Samaritan snapped a photo of the sick dog and shared it on Facebook. When the photo reached Eldad Hagar‘s Hope for Paws rescue, her international journey to a better life began.
Hagar and the Hope for Paws supporters mobilized to get her medical treatment and across the border to Los Angeles. Soon afterward, a Canadian woman — Agi Szabo — saw Iggy’s story online and couldn’t stop thinking about the poor pup.
“You see the videos, and you shed a tear, you make a donation, you write a post, and you carry on, but for some reason I got stuck on Iggy’s story,” Szabo says.
An experienced Cocker Spaniel guardian and mother to one human daughter, Szabo had been looking to adopt a senior Cocker since the death of her 16-year-old dog, Buddy, but her daughter wanted a puppy instead. The family ended up bringing home a young male pup named Lolo, and Szabo continued to seek out an adoptable senior.
“Then I saw Iggy, and all of a sudden I thought, maybe it doesn’t have to be a senior dog.”
Knowing that an international adoption would be challenging, and even unlikely, Szabo wrote a heartfelt letter to Hope for Paws, which agreed to consider her application. She began gathering letters of reference, videos, pictures, and other items required. In the meantime, Iggy remained in California, recovering from the surgery that removed her infected eye. She healed well and enjoyed the pack life in her foster home at Road Dogs & Rescue until it was time for her to come north.
“Iggy flew to Canada on August 6,” Szabo recalls. “She was happy, she was very friendly, she was licking and kissing everybody at the airport, but you could tell she was a little dazed.”
The warm welcome Iggy got at the airport was not repeated when she arrived at Szabo’s home to meet Lolo. Although the two Cockers are best friends now, Lolo’s aggressive introduction was so concerning that Szabo sought advice from dog trainers right away — a decision that was obviously the right one, as their relationship quickly improved.
“By day three, I wouldn’t say it was perfect, but definitely fine,” she says. “Within a couple of weeks, it was like she’d been here forever.”
Because Szabo works as a school teacher, Iggy was able to enjoy the rest of August with her new people by her side full-time, becoming best pals with young Lolo. It seemed Iggy was adjusting well, but when school started in September the little dog who’d come so far suffered a major setback.
“When I went back to work, Iggy began suffering severe separation anxiety,” Szabo explains. “She started peeing and pooping in the house — she was laying in it, sitting in it, walking in it. I was freaking out.”
Szabo was bathing Iggy up to four times a day when she again sought the help of dog professionals; she decided to crate Iggy during the day.
“That was not the life I had envisioned for her,” she says. Eventually, Szabo contacted Hope For Paws, explaining that she wasn’t giving up on Iggy, but was concerned about the dog’s quality of life in her home. The organization made plans to come to Montreal and retrieve Iggy at the end of December.
The family was heartbroken, but didn’t stop trying to help Iggy. In the weeks leading up to the dog’s intended departure date, Szabo continued to work with behaviorists, including one who suggested that what the formerly feral Iggy really needed was outdoor space — something their half-duplex didn’t have.
“So I made a deal with my landlord, and I now have access to the backyard,” says Szabo, who adds the change she witnessed in Iggy was almost miraculous.
“It’s only been a month, and she’s perfect. There are no accidents, no separation anxiety. I look at her sometimes, and I’m like, ‘What was that three months that we went through?'”
Szabo no longer doubts that Iggy has found her forever home at last and can’t imagine life without her one-eyed pup. Although she considers herself well-educated when it comes to dogs, she admits to being caught off guard by Iggy’s anxiety issues and suggests that anyone adopting a rescue dog needs to be prepared to work through unexpected behaviors.
“I’m so happy that we invested the time, and in the end it paid off,” she says, adding that Iggy’s ability to overcome adversity and anxiety is inspiring.
“She had been through so much already, that poor little dog,” says Szabo. “I as a person definitely have grown with Iggy in my life.”
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About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.