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Scruffy the Magnificent

February 3, 2017
Scruffy, our sweet little rescue dog, has had trouble getting used to the Canadian snow. Tiptoeing gingerly down the icy pavement, he stops and looks at us in dismay, as if to say: “What is this stuff? What kind of cruel joke is this?”


Sweet little Scruffy has reason to be confused: we rescued him in the Middle East and his little paw pads are paper-thin. Here he is in the sands of Bahrain.

Scruffy’s story started when I was working in Saudi Arabia – believe it or not – and living in the Kingdom of Bahrain, a tiny island nation just below Saudi Arabia. That’s me in an abaya, below. More about that in a future post…


When my husband and son joined me from Canada, one of our first forays was to the Isa Town souq (market) in the capital of Manama. We were looking for temporary mattresses and bedding, but I also thought the strange, sprawling night market would be fascinating for our then-12-year-old son.

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Known locally as the Iranian market, this is no gussied-up tourist attraction. It caters to the locals and it’s kinda cool, like a giant outdoor Dollar Store selling perfume and plastics, flimsy kitchen utensils, lumpy mattresses, garish sofas (see below), and sandals and oud and spices. Oh, and peacocks.

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Yep. Rabbits, budgies, cats, dogs, roosters, baby chicks and even your very own pet peacock (which are actually common in the lush gardens of Bahrain).

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night market bahrainAt the edge of the market, a stack of cages housed some dogs for sale, most of them wild or “desert dogs.” Three of them were clearly groomed enough to have been pets at one time (pet theft is common in Bahrain – so scary).

One little wretch stood out because he was the scruffiest of all, but his tail wagged non-stop and he licked our hands with such abandon. He was so cheerful and happy. Nik plucked him out of the cage, and that was that: $180 US later, Scruffy was ours – no negotiating, despite the fact that our new pet was matted, mangy, underweight, toothless, nameless and ageless.


Did I mention that we already owned two little dogs? Doodles and Butterball were already on their way from Canada.

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Nik with Doodles in Canada

But Nik was not about to leave Scruffy behind.

We will never fully know the secret life of our pet but the Bahrain vet told us Scruffy was probably four years old, a Shitzu/Terrier mix, and had possibly lived in a cramped cage or kennel all his life.

His tongue hung out because he had been kicked in the head and had lost some teeth. An X-ray showed a previous head fracture.  He also had – predictably – internal infections, ticks and mange.

Here’s Scruffy having his first haircut from a mobile groomer who came to the house (love that idea!). He adored it…

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Isn’t that the silliest tongue you have ever seen? I think it’s longer than his body.


Scruffy the rescue dog

A very healthy, affectionate, grateful Scruffy loves hanging out in the kitchen (above, in Bahrain). And he has become good friends with his “brothers,” Doodles and Butterball.

Back home in Canada, Scruffy still eats toilet paper from time to time – likely a hangover from the days when he would have had to eat paper or cardboard to keep his stomach full. Awwwwwwww… He is the best-natured, loving little guy, despite all his hardships.

Love you, our brave, loving little Scruffers. xx

P.S. It was so hard to leave the other dogs and cats in that market — watching the sellers roughly dumping the unsold dogs back into one large cage, like you would empty a bag of potatoes. Looking at the water dishes slicked with green slime, I knew how much these dogs would suffer in the 35-40 degree (C.) heat of Bahrain. But we couldn’t save them all.
Stray dogs and cats, abandoned dogs and wild “desert dogs” are a huge issue in Bahrain. There is no law against selling maltreated dogs and cats in a market, even if they are clearly stolen pets. It’s heartbreaking. The BCSPCA does what it can and so does the absolutely incredible Tony the Godfather’s Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre.

*Note: Here in Alberta, you can support a similar organization: Second Chance Animal Rescue Society (SCARS).

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