Kaleden family gets second-chance

In Hong Kong for life-saving surgery last spring, a Kaleden couple found they had no choice but to take a Chance.

Mike Watson and Lisa Needoba with their children Shae

Mike Watson and Lisa Needoba with their children Shae

In Hong Kong for life-saving surgery last spring, a Kaleden couple found they had no choice but to take a Chance.

That’s because Chance was a rollicking, year-old, three-legged Shar Pei-Shepherd cross who was literally on death row at a city pound, with only days to live.

“I have this running joke with myself that Hong Kong gave us a chance again,” said Lisa Needoba, who donated a portion of her liver to her partner Mike Watson. “There’s so many parallels between his (Chance’s) story and our story and the timing was incredible and it just all fell into place.”

Without the surgery, doctors had told the couple, who have three young children, Mike had very little time to live.

Read more: Tearful welcome for South Okanagan liver transplant patient

It was actually Lisa’s sister Shannon who is involved with dog rescue in San Diego, Ca., that planted the seed about getting another best friend.

“That was really early on, Shannon said; ‘you guys should think about bringing a three-legged dog home because the dogs I’ve seen with three legs have this really contagious spirit that’s a lot like Shae (the couple’s youngest son). I think Shae needs a three-legged dog,’” recalled Lisa.

Shae, now five years old, has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a brittle bone disease and has already suffered 20 fractures but remains a high energy little boy.

“It’s been quite a challenging experience for us but Shae just bounces. That’s the way he is, he just has that resilience in him,” said Lisa. “He really doesn’t let it get him down, he’s just full throttle all the time.”

Fast forward to their recovery time in Hong Kong and the couple had just moved to their second apartment when Lisa noticed on the map there was a dog rescue centre right across the street.

In the blog she found online by the centre’s founder was a picture of a dog with only three legs who was in desperate need of a home.

“The lady named him Chance because that’s all these dogs ever get,” said Lisa. “I sat with it for a couple of days and I said: ‘I can’t not say something.’”

The centre could only get the dog from the pound if there was someone interested in adopting it.

She and Mike went to see Chance, who was not in good shape having lived on the street for some time, and took some video they sent home to the kids.

“The children locked onto him right away, clearly this is a happy feisty guy,” said Lisa. “What sold us on him is he’s a dog that has an instant friendliness, his face smiles and when he wags his tail his whole hind end wiggles.”

When Mike and Lisa returned home in May, Chance remained in Hong Kong, like Mike, until he was well enough to travel and got the doctor’s OK.

The dog finally arrived at Vancouver International Airport in mid August and Lisa and daughter Laila, 8, went to pick him up, unknown to Shae and older brother Aidan, 11.

“Over the moon,” is how Lisa described the reaction of the boys when they finally saw Chance in person.

His addition to the family also filled a very deep void, having lost their 14-year-old German Shepard the previous November.

“The kids hadn’t lived without a dog so I think we all felt a piece of us was missing,” said Lisa.

Laila agreed: “I think one of the reasons we got him was because I was falling apart. I needed a dog, I just had to have one. Even after having a guinea pig, I still feel that half of me was missing.”

With the family now once again complete, Mike’s doing well and is back to work, they are all happy to have one more Chance.