When Brenda Biekx stopped into heavy traffic halfway around the world to save a dog with a broken leg, she entered a sort of fairy tale.
Complete with royal family.
The Windsor woman, on a temporary gig since Aug. 19 as a learning-support teacher with a private school in Doha, a city of 1.5 million and the capital of Qatar, was driving home after work in late October when a curious thing happened. Amid notoriously crazy traffic she braked to avoid hitting a dog. So did others.
The animal struggled to cross the busy road with half her leg flopping in the air. But while other motorists drove off, Biekx followed the distressed canine for more than a mile. She had to talk her way into a desert-like construction zone before finally catching up to the saluki-dalmatian mix when it collapsed on a hillside.
“She always seemed like a gentle dog,” Biekx said Tuesday by phone from Doha, where her husband Darcy Haggith and son Matt are visiting from Windsor. “She seemed like a family dog. She was so beautiful.”
She phoned her friend Christine Cornejo and an animal rescue operation. By the time they could wrap the two-year-old pooch in a blanket to drive her to the animal hospital, a full moon gazed down at the operation. So they named their new best friend Luna.
Biekx agreed on the spot to pay for the surgery to fix an injured paw and the front leg snapped in half, costs which have climbed to more than $3,500 ($10,000-plus Qatari riyals), not including other incidental costs she and Cornejo have covered to the tune of about $1,000. She then launched a GoFundMe campaign and raised about $3,800, more than half coming from Canada including a big chunk from Windsor and London, where Biekx was born.
But the GoFundMe campaign lured more than money. It also attracted an email from the dog’s owner. It turns out that Luna was actually named Leslie, and is owned by Mariam Al Thani, 25, a member of the Qatar royal family.
Biekx and Cornejo were invited to the young woman’s home to discuss transferring the dog.
“When we got there, Christine said, ‘This is the place,’” Biekx recalled. “I said, ‘That can’t be right. That’s not a house, that’s a mall.’ We went all the way around this enormous block and I pulled my unwashed Kia Soul up to those huge gates and said, ‘Is this where Mariam Al Thani lives?’ And he said, ‘Yes, Ma’am, we’ve been expecting you.’”
The gates opened onto a wonderland. She parked her car beside various Mercedes in a fabulous rotunda and followed staff into luxury.
“We were ushered into this glass room with overstuffed, beautiful brocade sofas that overlooked a pool with nannies playing with children,” Biekx recalled. “It was unbelievably grand.”
They sipped tea and nibbled French macaroons and met a real Sheikha and her daughter. It turns out that Mariam Al Thani missed her pet terribly, ever since the skittish canine ran off and lost her way.
“She was very gracious and so, so grateful,” Biekx recalled of her young hostess, who offered to pay all costs. “It was surreal, and something out of a movie or storybook.
“We were very calm and cool and casual while we were meeting with the Sheikha and her daughter. But when Christie and I got back to the car, we screamed like little school girls: ‘Oh my God!’”
The next day, a refrigerated truck pulled up to Biekx’s apartment compound with a three-tier chocolate cake brushed with edible gold leaf.
“It was the best cake I ever had in my life,” Biekx said with a laugh. “I ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
She also shared it with co-workers who donated to the cause. Meanwhile, Biekx and Cornejo plan to donate all the GoFundMe money to the Second Chance Rescue in Doha, which helped their royal pal.
For now, Luna/Leslie still lives in Biekx’s two-bedroom apartment, given that the dog has pins in her leg and needs more rest before heading home. So perhaps Biekx has one more royal visit in her future, maybe around Christmastime.
It was surreal, and something out of a movie or storybook
Either way, the storybook ending could come in the form of an actual storybook.
“Miriam is an English literature student and loves, loves, loves writing,” Biekx said. “And one day Christine and I said out loud, ‘Leslie and Boom. That would be a great book title.’ Christine confessed that she always wanted to write a children’s book. I finished her sentence and said, so do I.”
So they figure an English/Arabic children’s book called Leslie and Boom, recounting the improbable story of how two royal dogs were separated and eventually reunited — with a royal ordeal in between — might do well.
All thanks to the friendly spirit of two strangers and one determined dog.
“The nice thing is,” Biekx said about the furry friend she will be sad to see go, “she’s gone from really shy dog to a dog that is much more approachable.
“It has worked out great.”