Tisha Maniram arrived in the UAE seven years ago for career growth. “I am grateful for the many opportunities, the melting pot of cultures and inclusivity I feel in the UAE. But most of all because the UAE gave me Gucho. It’s here that I met and welcomed Gucho into my life.”
Gucho is Tisha’s canine companion. He was abandoned by his previous family when they decided to leave the country. They tied him to a pole in the Deira area and left him there. He was found by a local shelter and placed in foster home. On an adoption day in June 2021 Gucho met his forever human Tisha.
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What does the name Gucho mean?
Tisha: Gucho means strength, resilience, power and good fortune. His previous family had named him Gucci, but I’m simply not the kind of person who you’d find with a ‘Gucci’. For me the name Gucho resembles my boy’s personality so well. So, Gucci became Gucho.
Did you grow up with dogs? What are your earliest memories of having a pet?
Tisha: We had four dogs in South Africa where I grew up. I was 18, when I had my first dog, a Dachshund called Biggs. He was a puppy when he came home. I remember how I used to be overwhelmed with school etc. But within two days Biggs took over my life. I had to earn my own pocket money, so I’d do chores around the house, cleaned the neighbour’s garden and even worked as cashier. With my first earnings I bought a small stove so I could cook for Biggs. He brought love and light into my life.
Could you please tell us a bit about your journey with Gucho?
Tisha: This is a story that deserves to be shared with the wider community. Because it is a story of faith, patience, love, resilience and hope. Since Gucho was abandoned, he suffered from severe anxiety issues. His previous foster had shared that he is good with cats and fine with other dogs too. Little did I realise that it was quite the opposite. Gucho was riddled with fear, cats peeve him off, he lacked confidence and was severely traumatised. We had five bite incidents with Gucho. Several failed training attempts and nine trainers later, we finally found an excellent trainer in Enric Girones. He worked with us to help Gucho regain confidence and learn to trust humans again. Although a few trainers asked us to give him up, it was never an option.
[We will run a separate story about Gucho and Tisha’s training journey next week.]
Have you had to deal with an accident or illness concerning Gucho? If so, how did you deal with it?
Tisha: Yes. A few months ago, Gucho picked up an infection on his paws. Home remedies did not work and in December 2021 he bit me because I had touched his paws. When it happened, I immediately shouted so he would wake up from that dizzying state. So, with the recent infection, we visited the wonderful Dr Dorian and Dr Alberto at SaBB Veterinary Clinic and Laboratory who have been phenomenal. We had to give Gucho a muscle relaxant for them to clean the infection. When the medication took effect, I could see him fall and tears ran down my face. In between my sobs, I realised that my whole world revolves around Gucho. So, while Dr Alberto worked on cleaning his paws, I had his favourite video on with horses and calming music and I stroked him gently while Dr Dorian comforted me.
What are some of your favourite things to do with Gucho?
Tisha: Gucho is my sous chef. We cook together, eat together and play together. I love our walks; it is reserved as ‘our’ time. I enjoy helping him learn new things every day. He gets to choose one toy and I enjoy watching him decide what it will be for the day. Similarly in the evenings when he has a three-course meal, I love watching what he picks first and let him choose his favorites.
On days you feel blah (we all have such days) how does Gucho motivate you to still get up and show up?
Tisha: Gucho and I have a very special language. To those trainers who told me that saluki mixes cannot be taught – how wrong were they! We learn from each other daily. He can sense when I’m upset, and I know when he wants some extra loving. Just him placing his paws on my face every morning is good enough for me to wake up sleepy-eyed, ready to take on the world. I will continue to advocate for him, share his story and help empower other people with dogs who have gone through similar trauma. To me Gucho’s transformation restores the meaning of hope and all that is good in this world.
What is the craziest thing that you’d do for the love of dogs?
Tisha: I recall getting down on my hands and knees and digging just to distract him from other dogs on our walks. I’m the crazy lady who talks to Gucho on our walks. We are constantly engaged with each other. Since I talk to him the whole time, people think it’s funny, but I don’t mind. I also cook elaborate meals for him daily. He gets a three-course dinner comprising raw and home-cooked meals.
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