“My friend, Beliko” – A Georgian Hachiko Story
12 June, 2014
“My friend, Beliko” – A Georgian Hachiko Story

“Someone left behind an amazingly beautiful dog. It had no water, no food, just a dirty empty bowl in front of him…”

One late evening, my dog, an Alaskan Malamute named Beli and I were taking a walk. The dog suddenly rushed towards the bushes, tugging me along. He began whining and I finally saw someone’s head in the bushes. Shocked, I called the police. Police cars quickly appeared followed by an ambulance.
The man was brought to his senses, hauled to his feet and finally taken to the homeless shelter. He survived the frostbite that day. I don’t know where he ended up afterwards, or whether he is alive even now. I buried the dog that saved him a few days ago and I don’t think the pain of my loss will ever be soothed.
This was not the only time when Beli helped someone in trouble. One autumn evening in 2008, he refused to follow my brother into the house; instead, he started howling, motioning for us to follow. He did not leave the unconscious man’s side until the paramedics arrived.
In the winter of that same year, late at night, there was a car accident on Kazbegi Street. The car spun around and hit a wall. We were right next to it. Beli threw me a glance and bolted towards the wrecked car. An unconscious man was at the wheel; his feet were stuck. Until the police and the ambulance arrived, Beli kept licking the man’s face.
Malamutes are known as some of the best rescue dogs, guide dogs and nannies. Beli loved children a lot… Once he heard a child crying while in the park. A woman was scolding the child, which only resulted in more tears. Beli ran up to them and started barking and growling at the woman in his own language, cuddling up to the child in the meantime. Soon the child’s crying turned into laughter. The woman, surprised by the unexpected protector’s appearance, asked me what the dog wanted from her. “He wants you to stop making the child cry,” I replied. “Ugh! Last thing I need is a dog teaching me how to behave!” huffed the woman, who turned out to be the child’s nanny. Beli was an unusual dog. We affectionately called him Beliko. In the clever gaze of this constantly disheveled, shaggy fur ball resided the soul of no ordinary animal, but of something else entirely.
Beli had an equally unusual relationship with his “wife,” a female that he got paired to in one of the zoo’s enclosures. We had taken Beli for a walk to the zoo. He memorized the route and one morning snuck away to meet with his beloved. He stood in front of the enclosure and howled songs to his wife. People say that such behavior is a characteristic of wolves rather than dogs. Indeed Beliko’s breed, the Alaskan malamute, is a distant relative of arctic wolves.
Beliko and I actually met thanks to Kviris Palitra. One day, when I came to work and went about my business, I heard howling outside. I looked out of the window and saw that behind the office, in a fenced area around School №161, someone had left an amazingly beautiful dog. It had no water, no food, just a dirty empty bowl in front of him… I found the dog’s owner, who worked at the school. It turned out that his family had become fed up with the dog’s howling and decided to just leave it for dead out in the open – hoping that someone would recognize the breed and its value and decide to buy the dog – and profit from getting rid of the dog. Fortunately, I managed to convince the man to simply give Beliko to me. Both the dog and I were extremely happy when I finally took him home…
First thing I did was to take the dog to a vet to revive it via transfusions. He obediently gave his paw to the doctor to insert the catheter, while resting the other paw on my lap, as if asking me to stay at his side. After he became convinced that I would not leave him, he leaned his head against me and began crying… We both cried. These dogs acknowledge humans as their kin.
My Beliko had been fighting a terrible disease lately, a splenic tumor. After an incision in his abdominal cavity by the surgeon, it was determined that he had survived peritonitis in the past. According to the vets, the conditions he grew up in, coupled with incorrect feeding and numerous untreated diseases that he endured eventually became the reason for the tumor. In the last 12 days of his life, Beliko refused to eat anything, subsisting only on transfusions that I provided in my futile hope that health would return to him after surgery.
He lasted only one day and one night after the surgery, dying on May 29th. Despite valiantly enduring pain without uttering a sound, he couldn’t help from breaking into a terrible howl as death approached. While he was still lucid, his eyes silently begged me not to leave him. Even in his final moments, I held his paw in my hands.
During the last two weeks of his life, seeing that all strength had left him, I asked him to urinate on a rug. He would look at me with puzzled eyes as if saying, “How could you even think I’d do something like that?” and then proceed to drag his pain-stricken body over the stairs, through the yard and to the street, asking me to take him for a walk. He did the same even after the surgery; He was a worthy, clever and loyal dog. Sometimes I think that Beliko was my guardian spirit and that his soul lives on in everything around me: the grass, the trees, the birds and animals…
I believe that Beliko appeared in my life to foster a human in myself; a human who would learn compassion, care, loyalty, wordless understanding, patience and many other things from him. Unfortunately, even after escorting him to his final journey, I don’t feel that I have passed all the trials.
Some may consider my attitude towards Beliko overly sentimental because this is the age of dog eats dog, an age where children do not trust their parents and parents do not trust their children – an age where spouses do not trust each other and friends throw each other to the wolves… Some say that the only time your dog hurts you is when it dies. This pain is unquenchable.

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