Back in July of last year, we were asked to help with a heartbreaking case. A mama dog and her babies had been left alone, shut in an apartment. Filthy, starving, and depressed, mama Bella was desperately trying to care for her pups, with no-one to look after her. The puppies had not been handled and at eight weeks old were terrified of human touch. Huge, frightened eyes stared out of pinched little faces, as their skinny bodies and bloated, wormy bellies broke our hearts. They were filthy, covered in poop, and smelled horrific. The first order of business was to get everyone a bath and the vaccines, dewormer, and veterinary care they needed, and then began the long process of feeding everyone up and teaching them to trust. Mama Bella was a darling - despite her awful plight, she held no grudge against humans and soaked up all the attention we gave her. She was so tired of trying to care for her babies though, and while they still needed her some we gave her lots of time alone, plenty of food, and a whole lot of TLC.
The shelter environment, however hard we tried, was overwhelming for the pups. Each time a visitor walked by they would crawl under their cots and hide. The saddest pup of all was the little boy we named Zorro. He was so tiny, and weighed half as much as his larger, braver siblings. Whilst they were all scared, Zorro was by far the worst. Gentle coaxing (and food!) would slowly tempt Zing, Zahara, and Zane out of hiding, but little Zorro was too scared even to eat unless he was left alone with his food. And that’s where an amazing foster stepped in. She took on the huge responsibility of FOUR rambunctious, scared, very much NOT housetrained puppies at once, and we may have cried when she said she would take them home! We loaded her up with puppy pads, high quality food, a whole lot of towels, and all the other supplies needed. As much as Bella loved her pups, she seemed to heave a sigh of relief when she realised her mothering days were over!
Zorro and his siblings spent the next two weeks in foster care, and they progressed in leaps and bounds! They gained weight so fast they had DOUBLED their intake weight in just one week. They learned to play, and explored new things. Their foster called to fill us in on all that was happening, including their amazement the first time they enjoyed playtime in her large yard.
When they arrived back at the shelter, they were so, so different to the puppies who had left. Bigger, stronger, with gleaming coats, shiny eyes, and plump bodies. All the medicine, high-quality food, and loving care had made an unbelievable difference, and it was finally time for these darlings to find their forever homes.
Remember Fonzie from last week’s Spotlight post? Well, little Zorro was at the shelter at the same time as him. When a wonderful, kind hearted lady came to visit, she had originally been interested in Fonzie, but something about the scared, shy little Zorro (he still had a LONG way to go) just stole her heart. She spent ages cuddling with him, gently coaxing the nervous puppy out of his shell. That was the beginning of a whole new life for Zorro. When he visited us a few weeks later, the transformation was even more incredible. Now named Askit, this little pup was for the first time in his life a spoiled ‘only’ pet. It wasn’t an easy road, as his lack of socialization early on had lasting effects. Askit was a shy boy for a long time, and might never be the most outgoing dog in the world, but his confidence has grown and grown...and so has he! We cried happy tears over the photos of this beautiful, grown up boy now - a whole year old, and a world away from the sick, scared pup who arrived with us last July. Here is what his adopter had to say - “He's still a bit of a skittish adult doggy but he loves his people! His new favorite thing is just laying out in the sun and watching the kids of the neighborhood. He also has no concept of personal space! We may spoil him with cooking him his special dinners and he also gets a burger every once in a while…”
Friends - rescue saves lives. Fostering saves lives. Adoption saves lives. Without the person who intervened to get these dogs out of a horrible situation, or the shelter to take them in (and the SUPPORTERS who make our work possible), or the foster who opened their home, or the adopter who saw the potential in a little puppy who had a rough start in life, little Askit probably wouldn't have survived. And look at him now. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and we think his before-and-after photos certainly fall in that category. There’s a saying quoted often in the rescue world, and it applies here - “Adopt. If you can’t adopt, foster. If you can’t foster, sponsor. If you can’t sponsor, volunteer. If you can’t volunteer, donate. If you can’t donate, educate.”
It truly takes all of us pulling together to save and change the lives of the pets of Madison county, but it is so, so worth it. A million times over. So to everyone who makes stories like Askit’s possible, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.