Last December after more than twelve months of preparation including all of the veterinary procedures, gaining of permits, and fundraising I was finally able to bring Tigon home to Australia!
This was to be another chapter in this amazing travelling dog’s life- a dog who had been given to me as a pup in Kazakhstan in 2004 and travelled 10,000km with me and my horses across the steppe to Hungary.
As you would probably know, he flew into Australia on the 11th of December (see my story about this on my website: /page/journeys/on-the-trail-of-ghengis-khan/iridium-expedition-diary/tim-s-reunion-with-tigon--18-12-08/ ) and was transported straight to the quarantine station in Melbourne. There he needed to spend one mandatory month, during which time I was allowed to have two visits per week. Tigon did not even hesitate when he heard my voice on the first visit and came running over and soon had his paws up on my chest. he wanted everything: a pat on his tummy, a scratch behind the ears.
The quarantine station was a fascinating place where dog lovers from all over the world came to picnic with their animals while they were in this ‘detention’ of sorts. Tigon had recognized me without hesitation on the first visit despite the fact that I hadn’t seen him in twelve months, and with every visit his excitement seemed to grow.
Then, on the 10th of January, came the big day. I drove down to Melbourne, bought about 15kg of bones from a local butcher, and walked Tigon out the security gates into freedom!
To drive him up the drive into the family home in Gippsland felt surreal- like the tale of Gulliver's travels, this dog who I spent three years with on the steppes, who went through so much with me, is now here, living proof. It felt like I had been reunited with more than a dog, but a an old friend.
It has been fascinating to watch his reactions- everything was new for him including the bird sounds, the smells, the plants, and concepts such as 'fences.’ He has stopped several time with his head cocked in intrigue at the sound of kookaburras, galahs, and cockatoos.
The day I brought him home from Quarantine actually turned into a bit of a circus. I took him down the back paddock of our property in and gave him the command to run- since it was his first opportunity off the leash and out of a pen in Australia. However as he bolted off realized that what he thought I asked him to do was chase down a rabbit.....then screaming at full tilt coming back up the paddock were our two alpacas, Tigon sprinting behind. This went on for some time until they spat all over the poor dog. By the time I came to the rescue Tigon had been christened with a green mash of chewed grass and stinky saliva- but hey, spit happens.
He has since calmed down and is settling in remarkably well. He managed to tough out the heatwaves and the Victorian bushfire smoke under the fronds of ferns in the garden. The other day he caught his first Australian rabbit, and he hasn't dug up my mothers garden yet, so he is so far in the good books.
Currently I am working on a book about my journey and hope to write children’s book about Tigon.
I would like again to extend my thanks to the many people who helped me to raise the funds needed to get Tigon home. In particular all those who came to the Mountain Designs sponsored talk in Perth in November, those who attended the Horses and Horseman arranged talk in Margaret River, and the many individuals who have supported me ranging from the business community in Wollongong to many others, strangers and friends. Thanks also goes to Janos Loska and his family for all of ther patience and help in looking after Tigon in Hungary, and to Edit Budik, the Hungarian Vet who arranged the final preparations for his departure.