a degree and a dog: Meet the alumna and dog who went viral

Whenever a Liberty student sees a dog, it’s usually a big affair involving a sudden squeal and a request to pet the dog.

Liberty alumna Laura Seymour’s story goes a bit differently.

Seymour first saw Takia, an American akita, during her commute from her apartment to class at Liberty in February 2016.

“I just started to notice there was this dog there, and I have no idea how I saw her because the house is up a hill and it was behind a tree, but I saw this little black-and-white figure,” Seymour said.

Driving up the road to get a closer look, Seymour found the energetic and sweet Takia tied to a tree outside a home, her black-and-white fur turned brown from the mud she had made into a bed. She looked underweight for her breed, her doghouse was full of sticks and the food and water dishes lay empty, only filled by the Lynchburg rainstorms she endured outside.

In the fall of 2016, with pepperoni treats, twisted sticks and dog toys in hand, Seymour began feeding Takia three to four times a week. Not wanting to be on the owner’s property without consent, Seymour tried knocking on the door and leaving notes offering to walk the dog for CSER hours, buy dog food or give them money for Takia. After months of never seeing the owner or food, Seymour decided to call animal control.  

“She’s there all the time, sleeping in mud, and you could see her spine and her ribs sticking out. So I (thought), ‘I can’t just sit here and let her do this every day,’” Seymour said. 

Photo Provided 
NEGLECTED  — Seymour found Takia tied to a tree and covered in mud. 

Seymour said animal control only made the owner lengthen the dog’s chain. Seymour continued to visit the dog through the spring semester until she had to return home to Winchester, Virginia, for summer break. In July, she returned to Lynchburg to move into a new apartment and took her mom to meet Takia. 

“She had actually gotten a lot worse and her ears actually had gotten to the point where they were deteriorating, and there were maggots and flies, and they had eaten away (some of the) flesh on her ears,” Seymour said. 

Seymour decided to call animal control again, and the next day she heard back that the owner had to surrender the dog to authorities. When animal control asked her if she knew of anyone who was interested in the dog, she immediately jumped on the opportunity and called the Lynchburg Humane Society where Takia was being sent for treatment for two weeks. 

Seymour then had to overcome another challenge before she could adopt Takia. 

“Alright, I’ve got two weeks to do this. I’ve got two weeks to sell my parents on letting me have this dog,” Seymour said about convincing her parents to let her adopt the dog.

Her parents, who had always owned golden retrievers, were weary to let an akita, a breed known for its temperament, into their home. However, two weeks later, her parents agreed, and Seymour drove back to Lynchburg and adopted Takia.

Seymour paid the extra fee to have a dog in her apartment and brought Takia back to Lynchburg just a few weeks after adoption as she returned for the fall 2017 semester. Takia became a frequent visitor to Liberty, even going on a wild chase through campus after a squirrel. 

“That was actually my fun thing to do – to take her on a walk through campus,” Seymour said. “She actually helped a lot. People loved being able to see her. It’s like a really calming stress reliever.” 

The now 7-year-old Takia lives in Winchester, Virginia, with Seymour and her family. Takia has Lyme disease and arthritis but is otherwise in good health and at a healthy weight for her breed. She is also extremely well-behaved, especially considering the circumstances and her breed.

“For a dog that was chained up for five years though, she has never gone to the bathroom in the house, she has never torn up anything. She doesn’t get on the furniture,” Seymour said. “She has been the most amazing dog.”

During the time when she was still unsure whether or not her parents would allow her to keep the dog, Seymour shared her story with The Dodo, a media outlet that shares animal stories, in an effort to find someone nearby her home who would be willing to take Takia. Though the story was not posted until December 2019, the video has been viewed over 22 million times and received a flurry of support. Later, her story was picked up by other media outlets such as USA Today. 

The previous owner’s daughter saw the story and messaged Seymour saying that her father did not have the time or money to care for Takia and is glad she is being well taken care of. 

“I’ve been shocked by how nice they’ve been, so I got pretty lucky,” Seymour said. “We definitely got lucky.”

Seymour, who graduated in January 2019 with a degree in criminal justice, now works with Child Protective Services and is in the Army National Guard. Takia serves as a sweet reminder of Lynchburg and Liberty.

“I guess Liberty turned out even better too. You don’t go to school thinking you’re going to get a great dog, but I did,” Seymour said while petting the slumbering Takia. “I got a degree and a dog!”

Hale is a feature reporter. Follow her on Twitter.

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