In early July last year, a tiny, scrawny pup arrived at the shelter. He was a stray from Madison County, brought in by a kind member of the public. We were horrified at his condition. Emaciated, with a swollen belly, his coat was patchy and his skin covered in ticks. He was lethargic and miserable, and severely dehydrated.
Under the care of the vet clinic, we poured hours into caring for this little guy - he received fluids, was hand-fed tiny meals of soft food (he had no appetite), held and comforted, and of course we bathed him and spent ages removing all the ticks buried into his skin.
I remember sitting on the floor holding him as the fluids flowed into his limp body without a single protest or wriggle from this young puppy, and being sure, even while whispering comforting words in his ear, that he wasn’t going to make it.
And yet, we were to discover just how much spunk and fight was in that skinny little pup! Somehow, against all odds, Fonize, (as we had named him) hung in there. Slowly, hour by hour, he improved. It took several days for Fonzie to start eating by himself, but once he caught on, he was determined to make up for lost time and became the hungriest pup around! He LOVED his food - wet food, dry food, treats and snacks - he’d scarf it all right up!
Fonzie was the cutest fella, with his short, stumpy legs, square face, brindle coat, and funny manners. It was, however, extremely hard to figure out what breed mix he might be, as his looks were constantly changing as he grew and filled out. He had floppy ears for the first few weeks, and I remember so clearly walking into the kennels one morning to greet him and being shocked to see he suddenly had upright, ‘donkey’ ears...literally overnight! For a few days they wavered between standing straight and folding over, until they eventually stood up like antenna all the time.
Most people like to know what breeds are mixed in a puppy they are looking to adopt, and a bit of uncertainty on this point coupled with the fact that she shelter was full of younger, smaller pups, meant our no-longer-so-little guy was getting passed over. Six weeks after his arrival, we held an adoption event at the Tractor Supply store and took along a number of puppies and dogs. Fonzie was so cute, we were sure he’d be the star of the show! He did ham it right up, playing with and kissing everyone, dancing around with the other dogs, and generally being charming, but we were so disappointed when the day came to a close and Fonzie had to return to the shelter with us.
But this cloud had a silver lining...in fact, it was meant to be. We walked back into the shelter to several missed calls, Facebook messages, and emails from a young couple who were desperate to meet our Fonzie. They had been following his story online and had fallen in love, but when they arrived at the shelter that morning to meet him, he was at the adoption event. They turned around and drove back to Springdale...only to find we had left Tractor Supply less than half an hour before their arrival! After all that craziness, we were able to arrange for them to come and finally meet Fonzie, and it was love at first sight!
Eight months later, they can’t imagine life without this special guy. Here’s what they have to say about him; “Fonzie received his new name Joey in remembrance of his big sister Zoey, who had recently crossed the rainbow bridge. Boy, does that name fit him well! We all recently relocated to Kentucky where Joey & his sister Stella have a big back yard to play in & bake in the sun. He’s the best little companion, loves to cuddle, is obsessed with his sister, will literally lick your face off if you let him & can definitely be a little trouble maker. We wouldn’t trade him for the world!! His ears are as big as his personality!”
Fonzie stole all of our hearts, and seeing his happy photos made our week! He’s the perfect example of why we do this job...a life saved and a lonely, sick stray puppy now a treasured member of a wonderful family. As the saying goes; “Saving one dog will not change the world, but for that one dog, the world will surely change.”.