On Tuesday, Valley Calderoni, a woman who works for a Canadian animal rehabilitation center called Canine Valley, was out for a hike with her colleague and dogs at a popular trail in British Columbia. She and her co-worker, Markie Blackburn, had ten dogs altogether, and, like most of their routine hikes, had no problem with any of them.
Once they were finished and began leashing all their animals, however, tragedy struck one of Calderoni’s dogs — her four-year-old Tamaskan, Kaoru, pronounced Kah-oh-roo.
Kaoru was her love, to say the least. In a heartfelt Facebook post, Calderoni opened up about the “hours working with her and training her to be a service dog,” and the sweet creature she’s been since Calderoni got her:
My dog was amazing … she was named after a Japanese hero of mine. When she was a pup, she was mischievous always stealing socks, shoes, tapes, toothbrushes hiding them around the house or tearing them apart. I loved this dog; I laugh so much at her antics … and I loved that she always [remained] wild.
Kaoru was training to be a therapy dog, and Calderoni wrote that she was most impressed by the dog’s interaction with autistic children:
These beautiful kids have episodes and would sometimes be rough with her, but Kaoru was amazing and followed her training perfectly. She would squint her eyes, lay down, and let out a sigh, the kids then would slowly begin to calm down as their hands crunched tightly on Kaoru’s fur. Kaoru has worked with many kids and people, from PSD to regular children, elders and adults. I loved my dog so much and watching her give herself so entirely to anyone that let her has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
Sadly, Kaoru’s life was cut short.
Today my dog, my partner, was killed at point blank.
According to the woman, she was busy leashing the dogs one by one after their hike when she heard a gunshot. She said:
It was so loud, my instinct made me crouch down.
Her next instinct was to check and make sure her colleague and dogs were okay.
Sadly, Kaoru wasn’t— her fur was covered in blood. Calderoni wrote:
…I saw 10 feet in front of me my dog shot. She screamed, and looked at her wound with disbelief and then looked at me with the absolute feeling of betrayal. I ran towards her as she stumbled down the road where she collapsed. I tried to save her, I held her, I just knew it was not good. I did not want her to suffer, and I told her “just go, just let go baby girl.”
Moments later, her dog was dead.
According to officials, per CBC News, a trophy hunter shot Kaoru in what’s being reported as a misunderstanding.
Conservation officer Kent Popjes told CBC News the hunter was a local who has been hunting for a while:
“He was completely cooperative with the investigation. It appears to be an error in judgment.”
As of Thursday morning, no charges have been filed, but the investigation remains ongoing.
Calderoni, however, was shaken, writing:
This man took my dog’s life because he thought she was a wolf surrounded by seven other dogs and 10 feet away from my teammate and me. We could have died. I hike in that location with kids all the time, could you imagine if a child had to experience that or worse if he had hit a child?
She continued, mourning her dog:
I never cried so hard in my life. I was faint; I could not breathe. The amount of pain I feel should never be experienced by anyone, ever, for any reason.
Now, Calderoni is using her beloved dog’s story to expand the no-hunting zone around the popular hiking trail, but sadly, she’ll never be able to walk it again with Kaoru.
Note: the video below contains graphic content that may disturb some viewers: