When we picked Noah up from the shelter in South Carolina, a shelter employee stopped us as we were leaving and asked us why we chose him. She said, “He’s not a retriever and we’re a few hours away from Savannah…how do you decide which dogs you are going to rescue?”
Our response was: “It’s the eyes. He has sad eyes.”
It’s true. We receive multiple emails every day about old dogs who need saving and, at this point, we don’t have enough foster homes or resources to save them all. We often have to make difficult choices. The choice to save Noah, however, was an easy one. He had some of the saddest eyes we had ever seen and we wanted to make him happy.
Noah had good reason to be sad. He was a 10-year old emaciated Great Pyrenees whose owner first tried to give him away in the parking lot of the shelter. When that didn’t work, the owner brought Noah inside, claimed he found him as a stray, and then walked away without looking back. We can’t imagine how scared Noah must have been.
Noah slept most of the way back to Savannah and we quickly realized what a gentle giant he was. He got along with everyone and settled in at our home base right away. We took him to get groomed, which made him look like a different dog. He was so clean and white and fluffy! We also made an appointment for him at Central Animal Hospital, where they donated a series of laser therapy treatments to help his old hips and legs.
It seemed as though Noah had been an outside dog in his previous life because, given the choice, he would go outside and sleep in the dirt rather than resting inside on a comfortable dog bed. He quickly got over that, as you’ll see below in the note from his parents, but all we could do was laugh about the fact that the one dog from our pack who wanted to sleep in the dirt was the dog with the pure white fur.
We sent an email to a couple we had met with a few times already to see if they would be interested in meeting Noah. The Cowarts had been looking to adopt another dog for awhile and were doing their due diligence in finding the right fit. They already had two rescue dogs, Roxy and Merlin, and the new member of the pack needed to be able to fit in. We took Noah over for a meet and greet, which turned into a trial visit, which turned into an adoption. Noah still holds the record for shortest shelter-to-adoption time ever: two weeks! And when we started receiving pictures of Noah and his siblings being spoon fed by their dad, we had no doubt that he was right where he was meant to be. There would be no more sad eyes for Noah.
As with all old dogs, Noah’s time with us wasn’t long enough. He recently crossed the Rainbow Bridge after a brief and unexpected illness. We will always be grateful to the Cowarts for taking a chance on an old dog and making Noah part of their family. They truly gave him the best 6 months of his life. Watch the videos below and read the note from Noah’s dad to learn more about Noah and to see just how much his family loved him. Rest in peace, sweet boy.
A Once Sad Dog: https://youtu.be/3rUYC4gCymk
Noah Memorial Video: https://youtu.be/6RyBrppXSA8
And here’s a note from Noah’s dad about the polar bear they loved so much:
“When we first brought Noah in the house, I remember you telling us how he loved staying outside and did not like beds. We always joked at what a liar you turned out to be as he learned the life of a Cowart child. He grew to love the indoors and the comforts of dog beds and human couches. One day when we were at Petsmart there was a little girl that saw Noah and starting tugging at her mom saying, “Look mom a polar bear.” That’s when I starting calling him my personal polar bear. April came up with his main nickname when she called him The White Knight one day and it just stuck.
I never proved it, but stuff would be missing from the counter constantly. Everything from a box of milk bones to two racks of ribs. Like I said, I can’t prove it, but it hasn’t happened before or since Noah and after the rib incident his face was covered with dry rub, just saying. I remember him having so much fun at Wag-o-Ween that I almost had to carry him to the car. Saturday mornings, before April would wake up it was always me, Noah, and Roxy watching Westerns.
Perhaps the biggest hole left by Noah is next to my desk. Whenever I worked in the office, he was always curled up next to me. About ten minutes after going to the front room to watch TV with April, it would never fail to see Noah poking his head around the corner wondering what happened to me. Noah was such a wonderful name for him as he loved playing in the rain and mud, which is a good thing for a white fluffy dog to do. He loved two things in life, chicken and lasagna. It had to be homemade lasagna though. Frozen is not good enough for my Noah. The one time he would wag his tail was when you brought in a box of fried chicken. He would go absolutely nuts over fried chicken. He was always a blessing when I would get home after work. While he would want to rough house with Roxy and Merlin, he would always back down because of his joints, but when I would walk in the front door, he would just knock them out of his way to greet me.
While Noah was only with us a short time, he made a big impact in our lives. We are eternally grateful for the gift of Noah that Retired Retrievers blessed us with and will continue to help you in anyway possible. After the grieving process we will figure out our next move. Noah was an incredible dog and it was an honor to call him my son for a short time. While there is so much to remember about Noah, I think I have covered the highlights.”
aka Noah‘s dad
The first thing we said when we met Jake was, “This poor old guy won’t be around for more than a few weeks.” One year later, Jake has proven us wrong and we couldn’t be happier about it.
On March 2, 2014, a Good Samaritan named Jennifer found Jake, an ancient three-legged Beagle, trying to drag himself across a road. In the state he was in, she knew he couldn’t have gotten far on his own, so Jennifer picked him up and started knocking on doors to see if anyone was missing an old Beagle.
From what she was able to piece together, it sounds like Jake used to belong to one neighbor, who then had a stroke, and he thought another neighbor had been caring for Jake for the past 4 or 5 years. In reality, it didn’t seem like anyone had actually been “caring for” Jake, and no one wanted to claim him, so Jennifer brought him home, bathed him, and started working on finding a better place for Jake to spend whatever time he had left.
Our friend Amanda, who we met through volunteer work at our local animal control facility, told Jennifer about Retired Retrievers and helped us connect with her so we could find out more about Jake. When we saw the pictures of his sad eyes and toenails that had grown so long that they were corkscrewing and growing back into the pads of his feet, there was no way we could say no. We told Jennifer we would take him and we made an appointment for Jake the next day at Central Animal Hospital.
We took care of his immediate medical needs, including treating his eye infection (we initially thought he was blind, but he is not), trimming his nails, and then soaking his feet to treat the holes in his pads created by his overgrown nails. After that it was a wait and see situation. So we kept waiting and seeing. And seeing and waiting. And waiting and seeing. After a few weeks we realized Jake had decided to stick around for awhile.
The ancient Beagle settled in as a permanent resident at our home base. He kept an eye on the comings and goings of the larger dogs, and seemed content to spend his days eating and sleeping. We started researching wheelchairs because we wanted to increase Jake’s mobility. While some three-legged dogs get around just fine, Jake couldn’t seem to do more than drag himself around, a little bit at a time, using his two front legs. Our friends at Maranatha Farm Animal Rescue let us borrow one of their wheelchairs to see if it was even an option for Jake before we went out and invested in one. Unfortunately, Jake’s front legs aren’t strong enough to make the wheelchair a viable option. Whether he was born with his front legs deformed, or he was kept in too small of a crate for a long time – forcing his legs to grow at odd angles – we don’t know. But his front legs just can’t do what they need to do in order for him to use a wheelchair.
We carried Jake around in a backpack for awhile after that, even taking him on a camping trip. But he really seemed most content when he was napping in his bed, so after some time we let go of our dreams of increased mobility for Jake and just let him be. A few months later Jake went through a rough patch and we thought maybe his time with us was coming to an end. After months of befriending the other dogs and scooting himself around the house and the yard, he no longer seemed like he was getting much enjoyment out of life. We took him back to Central Animal Hospital, but beyond Jake’s typical old dog issues, our primary vet, Dr. Hill, couldn’t find anything medically wrong. He asked about Jake’s daily routine and recommended that we find a way to get Jake out and about for more mental stimulation. He thought spending all day in bed might be contributing to Jake’s malaise. We’re not sure if Dr. Hill suggested the baby stroller or we did, but we left his office that day determined to revisit “Operation Increase Jake’s Mobility”, and a baby stroller seemed like the obvious next step.
A few days later we bought a used baby stroller off of Craigslist (from a young dad who got a good chuckle out of the fact that we were buying it for a geriatric Beagle) and Jake went for his first spin around the neighborhood. It didn’t take us long to realize that he LOVED his stroller. We had finally found an answer to Jake’s mobility issues. He seemed so happy to be out and about, watching the world go by and getting some fresh air. Dr. Hill was right – Jake needed more mental stimulation. Once we made the stroller outings part of his regular routine, Jake started enjoying life all over again.
We’ve learned not to try to guess how much time we’ll have with this little nugget, because he will surely prove us wrong, so for now we’re just taking it one day at a time and enjoying Jake while he is here. He still sees his Good Samaritan, Jennifer, from time to time because she watches him for us when we go out of town. And every time he goes out in public he makes new friends. Children, especially, seem to be touched by his gentle nature and the fact that he doesn’t let his disabilities get him down. If you’re ever out and about in Savannah and you see a smiling Beagle in a stroller, be sure to stop us and say hello!
Happy one year anniversary to Jake, and thank you to Jennifer for saving this old guy and helping him find his way to us.
If you would like to support Jake’s ongoing care, please click here to make a tax-deductible donation. We would also love to get Jake into local schools where he can teach children about people and animals who are different, but we haven’t had much time to explore that option yet. If you have any connections to schools in the Savannah area that might be interested in a Jake visit, please send us a note at email@example.com.)
On January 2, 2014, we arrived at the Effingham County Animal Shelter right as they opened. As we walked from the parking lot to the front door, we looked over and saw a dirty, matted dog lying on the cement in one of the outside runs. It was a cold, drizzly morning and this old guy broke our hearts. When shelter staff confirmed that this was the dog we were there to meet, we said, “We’ll take him.”
The dog – now named “Gus” – was unable to stand or walk on his own, so shelter staff helped us roll him onto a blanket and carry him to our car. He had been picked up as a stray, but in the shape he was in he obviously hadn’t gotten far on his own. We can only guess that he was dumped by someone who no longer wanted him.
We called our usual animal clinic but they were already dealing with a few emergencies that day and were concerned about being able to help Gus quickly enough, so they suggested we try the Animal Hospital at Rice Hope. We had never been there, but it was on our way home and the receptionist told us to bring him right in. Ten minutes later we pulled into their parking lot and two of the veterinary technicians helped us carry Gus in on a stretcher.
Dr. Brandy Bragg and her staff were incredible (especially Jessica). With Gus in their care, we immediately felt at ease. Bloodwork and an initial exam didn’t reveal anything life-threatening, but his skin was badly burned from having lain in his own urine for an extended period of time. In addition to the issue of not being able to stand up, Gus also has a bit of a “leaky faucet” that just never turns off, a combination that left him with painful skin covering most of his body. We left him with Dr. Bragg and her staff so they could shave him, start antibiotics, give him a medicated bath and observe him overnight. We took him home the next day.
For the first few weeks, Gus looked like a plucked chicken with a very cute puppy face and had to wear a jacket on cold days. With a lot of love and good nutrition he got stronger and was able to get up and around on his own. We tried a few different medications to control his leaky urine, but nothing seemed to work. It looked like Gus would need to wear diapers (which really just made him even cuter). He didn’t seem to mind the diapers so it became a non-issue for us, but we thought an old diaper-wearing dog was unlikely to be adopted. It turns out we were wrong.
On February 14, 2014, Gus was the featured pet on WJCL’s Fur-i-day segment. A few times during the interview, we said “it will take a very special family” to adopt this dog. The newscaster said the same. Even though we said it, we weren’t sure that very special family actually existed. Less than 24 hours after the clip aired, however, we met them.
“You know he wears diapers, right?”
“You know he is really old, right?”
“You know he is unsteady on his feet, right?”
And to everything we said, they said, “Yes, we know, we’re very interested!”
When we walked into the Trull’s home for the first time, we could immediately feel the love. They have several other rescue dogs and everyone welcomed Gus with open arms (and paws). We knew right away that it would be a perfect place for an old dog to spend his retirement years.
The Trull family adopted Gus on February 15, 2014, a day we will never forget. We cried all the way home – partly because we were going to miss him so much, partly because we were so happy for him, and partly because of the kindness and compassion of this beautiful family.
We visit Gus and his family from time to time and, whenever see him surrounded by all of that love, we can’t help but get teary-eyed when we think about the condition he was in when we first met him. The Trull family has truly made 2014 the best year of Gus’ life and we are thankful for them and their big hearts.
UPDATE: Gus crossed the Rainbow Bridge in March 2015 but lives on in our hearts.
Old dogs are adoptable. Even the ones who wear diapers.
“We have a retriever who needs to be retired. Can you help?” That was the note we received from our local animal shelter letting us know that Sadie needed to be rescued. She had been picked up as a stray in a grocery store parking lot, had no collar, tags or microchip, and no one ever came to claim her. She quickly became a favorite of the shelter staff and they told us she was just as sweet as she looked in her photo. We said, yes, we can help.
We posted Sadie’s picture on Facebook in the hopes of finding a foster home and, just a few hours later, we received an email from a couple offering to help. Hillary and Daniel and their 6-year old yellow lab, Hailey, who they rescued from another local shelter, said they would be more than happy to foster Sadie.
When we picked Sadie up from the shelter, our first stop was the McDonald’s drive-thru. We don’t typically feed our dogs fast food but after being on her own and then spending the week at animal control, Sadie deserved to be spoiled a bit. We don’t remember where we first heard about this practice among animal rescuers, but treating our dogs to a “freedom burger” when they leave the shelter has become a regular part of the Retired Retrievers rescue protocol. Sadie had no complaints about the extra stop on the way home.
When we showed up at Hillary and Daniel’s house to meet them and to let the dogs meet each other, we immediately knew why Sadie’s picture had inspired them to reach out and offer to help: their dog Hailey looks just like Sadie! She could be Sadie’s younger sister. The dogs got along great and we could tell they were wonderful people, so we left Sadie there to settle in. As the pictures started arriving of Sadie napping on the couch (which Hailey taught her to do) and having Saturday morning snuggle time in bed, we knew this foster home would be a great fit for her while we looked for a forever home.
A week or so later, we received an email with the subject line, “Adoptable Dog?” It was from a man named Al and he said that he and his wife, Jane, lived in a nearby retirement community and had recently lost their 11 1/2 year old yellow lab, Allie, to cancer. As they navigated the grieving process they were exploring the idea of potentially adopting another Lab. He said they had been married for 60 years and dogs had always been an important part of their family life. We thought about the different dogs we had available at the time and Sadie seemed like she might be a good fit, so we responded to Al with a few pictures and some information about Sadie.
That was the start of a few confusing emails back and forth as they told us that Sadie looked just like their Allie, but they referred to Sadie as a “him” asked if he was still in Atlanta. It took some thinking and then all of a sudden the lightbulb went on. Several weeks back, a woman named Amy had emailed us to say that she was coming to town to visit her parents, who had recently lost their yellow lab. She didn’t know if they were ready to adopt yet but she had seen George online and was wondering if he was still available. We never ended up meeting Amy or her parents because they decided they weren’t ready to adopt yet (and then George’s foster family decided to adopt him anyway), but we realized they were looking at Sadie’s pictures and talking about George because George is the dog their daughter had told them about. Ohhh…okay, you’re Amy’s parents.
Once we cleared that up, they told us a bit more about themselves and we told them a bit more about Sadie, and then we all decided we should meet. So we brought Sadie over for a visit and we’re pretty sure it was love at first sight both for Al and Jane as well as for Sadie. A few days later she went back to start a trial visit, which quickly resulted in an adoption, and she’s been there ever since.
We could not have asked for a better fit for this wonderful dog who needed a loving home and this loving home that needed a wonderful dog. The first time we met Al and Jane we could see how much love they had to give and just how raw the pain still was from losing their Allie. And although we never met Allie, from what they’ve told us about her we can see that out of all of the dogs we’ve ever helped, Sadie is the one most like her. As for Sadie, all she wants to do is love and be loved, and she’s definitely getting that in her new home. This was one of those ‘meant to be’ situations that we hope to find for every dog. We could go on and on about this wonderful couple and their wonderful dog, but we’ll let you hear from them instead.
Here is a recent update from Al in his own words:
“Sadie has melded into our lives so seamlessly it’s almost as if Allie never left us. Big reason for this is the similarity in temperament with one difference being that Allie tended a little more to be my dog while Sadie has latched on to Jane which pleases me greatly.
We bought Allie as a puppy. She was the runt of the litter and the only one left. Nobody else wanted her which somehow had its own peculiar appeal, likewise for Sadie. And yes, the breeder was a Mennonite dairy farmer in north Georgia which also factored in because my first lab was purchased from a Wisconsin dairy farmer fifty years ago. (Side story: asking price was one hundred dollars. My brother, who I was visiting, said “tomorrow I’ll come down in my overalls and get him for twenty five” and so he did.)
Allie was a healthy dog all her life though she carried several benign lumps from early on. Her third surgical removal showed what I was told was a contained malignancy. It wasn’t and even with chemo it spread quickly. She was gone in six months at eleven and a half years. Her loss was traumatic for both of us. She had become our child. I said never again, she’s our last dog and irreplaceable, even parrying Amy’s suggestion we think about Retired Retrievers. That lasted about six weeks until one day, implausibly, I found myself tapping out an email to you.
MY favorite thing about Sadie is that she has more than replaced Allie in Jane’s life. Sadie shows and receives affection endlessly and Jane is up to her part of the bargain. For BOTH of us she is an easy keeper, perfectly suited to our age and lifestyle who asks for nothing but to be fed, watered, toileted and petted. Even asking to be let out she’s polite and patient merely standing in front of me with a “look.” As I demonstrated to you she goes in the marsh. It has gotten even better for me. There is now a bench out there so I go out and sit. When finished she comes bounding back to me for her treat. Doesn’t get much better than that for an old guy.”
Al, we’re pretty sure it doesn’t get much better than that for an old dog, either.
On November 24, 2014, we received an email from our friend Jenn at Atlanta Dog Squad. It was a message that had been forwarded several times through various animal rescue networks. The email said that an elderly woman had recently passed away in a rural area about 90 miles southwest of Savannah, GA. When her son came up from Jacksonville to close up the house, he kicked the dogs and cats out of the house and left a bag of dog food in the yard before going home. Two of the dogs were black labs, and one of them was obviously a senior.
We reached out to the original sender of the email, Lois from Brantley Animal Rescue Coalition (B.A.R.C.), to see if we could help. She and her friend Gerrianne had been feeding the animals and already had one of the dogs, a Poodle, in foster care. It had been cold and rainy all week and the animals were seeking shelter under the abandoned mobile home and living off of the kindness of strangers. We told them we would work on finding a spot for the senior.
In order to help this dog (whose name we now know is Shady), we needed to find a new foster home for one of the other dogs already in our care. There are just never enough foster homes for all of the dogs we want to help. Not long after posting our plea, however, we received an email from Chris and Amy, a local Savannah couple who have fostered for other rescue organizations. They offered to foster Walter, a 12-year old black lab who recently joined the Retired Retrievers family. We knew as soon as we met them that Chris and Amy would be wonderful foster parents for Walter. And, they have an 11-year old black lab who looks like he could be Walter’s brother. By helping Walter they helped save Shady. Now that we had an open spot, we let Lois know that we were ready to make plans to pick Shady up.
Just a few days after receiving the initial email, we found ourselves navigating a muddy road out in the country trying to reach Shady. The mobile home sits on a dirt road, but after all of the rain we had been having the red Georgia clay was soft and a bit treacherous. It was the first time we’ve needed to use our 4-wheel drive to rescue a dog.
Lois met us out there and we’re glad she did. We wouldn’t have been able to catch Shady without her. Both dogs were scared and kept retreating under the house. With some offerings of cheese and hot dogs and a gentle voice, however, Lois convinced Shady that it would be okay to let us help her. This picture with Lois captures the moment that Shady seems to realize life is about to change for the better. We put a harness on her and gave her some more treats and love and then Lois vaccinated her and tested her for heartworms (when she’s not rescuing dogs Lois is a critical care nurse, which comes in handy out in this rural area where there are no veterinarians or animal shelters).
We loaded Shady up in the car, said our goodbyes to our new friend (and hero) Lois, and then followed Lois out a different route which turned out to be a bit less muddy and treacherous. Shady slept most of the way home to Savannah.
Now that we’ve spent a few days with her, this is what we know about Shady: She is very sweet. She has no teeth. We think she is about 12 years old. She is heartworm positive. She hasn’t been spayed and it looks like she’s had several litters of puppies over the years. Her back right leg seems to bother her a bit and our vet thinks she may have an old injury that was left to heal on it’s own. She gets along with cats and other dogs (as long as they aren’t too nosy or energetic). We think she would be good with kids. She will kiss your face when she is happy or wants to show appreciation for your kindness. She is a wonderful old dog who has obviously been through some things over the years, but despite all of that she remains a very gentle old soul.
Shady has spent most of the last 48 hours sleeping. It’s almost like she’s catching up on a few weeks or months worth of deep sleep. Once she realized she was allowed in the house and that the comfortable bed with the blankets on it was hers, she hasn’t shown much interest in doing anything other than snuggling up on that bed and napping. She is slowly coming out of her shell and paying attention to what else is happening in the house and what the other dogs are doing. The sadness in her eyes still lingers, but we’ve also seen some hints of joy and happiness underneath. With more time and a lot of love we believe that Shady will realize she is in for a very happy retirement and will know nothing but love and comfort from here on out.
Note: Sadly, the third dog is still living at the mobile home. Big Boy is a 5-6 year old black lab (probably Shady’s son) but he is terrified and runs away whenever anyone gets near. Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida has offered to help him find a home, but in the meantime Lois and Gerrianne and the other B.A.R.C. volunteers will continue to feed him and try to gain his trust. It was a tough decision taking Shady while leaving him behind, but we ultimately decided it was too wet and cold for such an old dog to be living outside on her own. Big Boy will be rescued, it’s just going to take a little longer than we had hoped. We are extremely grateful to the B.A.R.C. team for everything they have done for these dogs. It’s a sad situation that would have been tragic without their help.
Update 4/15/15: Sarge (formerly known as Big Boy) has been rescued by a wonderful young woman who spent 118 days at the home trying to gain his trust. We will help her get him the medical help he needs and she will provide him a loving home.
We welcomed Miss Muffet into the Retired Retrievers family on Saturday afternoon. This old, blind, mostly deaf Cocker Spaniel actually has the Pittsburgh Steelers to thank for the fact that she is out of the shelter. More on that in a minute.
This picture on the right is the picture that tugged at our heartstrings and caused us to say, “Yes, we will take her!” Miss Muffet had been picked up as a stray and spent the next 6 weeks at an animal shelter in the Florida Panhandle. Shelter staff and volunteers worked hard to get her rescued because it broke their hearts to see her spending her days bumping into the walls of her kennel, rather than being loved and cared for in a home. After seeing her sweet face and knowing how long she had been at the shelter without any interest, we said we would help.
The shelter where Miss Muffet was being held is 445 miles away from Savannah. We’ve rescued dogs from that distance before, and we’ve helped other rescues transport dogs from that distance (and even greater distances) before. However, after committing to Miss Muffet, we realized that most of our transport connections are up and down I-95. To get Miss Muffet would require going two hours south on I-95 to Jacksonville, and then taking a sharp right and going another five hours west on I-10. We reached out to our rescue connections for help, but quickly discovered that the I-10 corridor between Jacksonville and Tallahassee and beyond can be a tough leg to fill.
After not having much success on our own, we took the shelter volunteers up on their offer to post a plea for us on Facebook. So they did, and lots of people shared it. About 30 minutes later we received a message from someone named Stefanie, who said she was heading to Jacksonville on Saturday and asked if there was something she could help us with. Our prayers had been answered (Insert angels singing here).
Stefanie wasn’t connected to the shelter and wasn’t connected to us. Someone had posted our plea for help in a Facebook group that she is a part of – and this is where the Pittsburgh Steelers come in. Stefanie lives along the coast between Panama City, FL and Fort Walton Beach, FL. She is a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan and the Steelers had a game in Jacksonville this weekend. So she and her friend Lindsay were planning to drive the five hours to Jacksonville on Saturday for the NFL game on Sunday (Really, we can’t make this stuff up. Miss Muffin getting out of the shelter was meant to be).
We exchanged contact info and Stefanie called us (to make sure we weren’t crazy people and) to determine whether or not we were a legitimate rescue (side note: if someone you don’t know ever asks you to pick up an old blind dog from a shelter for them we recommend you do the same). We provided a few references and must have seemed okay, because Stefanie agreed to pick Miss Muffet up on Saturday morning. We made a plan to meet in Jacksonville on Saturday afternoon. And we did.
The kindness and generosity of people never ceases to amaze us. It would have been so much easier for these two young women to take their road trip without having to go out of the way to pick up a stinky old dog from a shelter (and yes, she was stinky…in their car for 5+ hours) and then have to meet up with us in a grocery store parking lot. They went out of their way to pick Miss Muffet up, they donated one of their beach towels for her to sleep on in the car, and they loved her and cared for her until handing her over to us.
Animal rescue work can be draining. We often see the results of people not caring for animals. We end up with old dogs because someone else let them down. So when we have these experiences where kind-hearted people go out of their way to do something generous without expecting anything in return, it renews our faith in the world and gives us the inspiration to keep doing what we do.
Thank you to the staff and volunteers of the Walton County Animal Shelter (especially Jennifer!) for advocating for Miss Muffet and giving her the time and assistance she needed to be rescued. Thank you to Stefanie and Lindsay for saying “yes” when life presented them with an opportunity to help an old dog in need. And thank you to the Pittsburgh Steelers for having a game in Jacksonville last weekend.
If you’re interested in adopting Miss Muffet, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. If you’d like to donate to support her care, please click on the Donate button. We are a 501c3 public charity and all donations are tax-deductible.
I just got home from visiting Bernard at the hospital. He was in a lot of pain last night and this morning so they escalated him from tramadol to a morphine drip. He was a little dazed while I sat and talked to him, but he was definitely relaxed.
Unfortunately, when they were doing the ultrasound of his heart and spleen today, they discovered a mass in his abdomen, sitting right on his aorta. They were able to aspirate it and send a sample off to the lab, so now we’re just waiting to find out if it’s cancerous or not. We’ll know more tomorrow.
The good news is – if he ends up being strong enough for surgery, our vet doesn’t think he will need to remove the entire leg. He thinks he can repair it in such a way that Bernard will be left with a stump to help with balance and mobility.
Most of my pictures from today looked just like the picture I posted yesterday since he is still just hanging out in his e-collar. So instead, you get a picture of his leg. They did a nice wrapping job. We’ll post another update tomorrow on what we find out about the mass. Thank you for caring about this sweet old dog.
Here is an update on Bernard. For those of you not on Facebook, this update won’t make sense unless you first click on these two links to read the backstory.
We promise to start from the beginning and post the whole story later on, but in the interest of time we’ve provided the most current update below.
Bernard Update (8/19/14)
First the bad news: Bernard’s left hind leg does need to be amputated. Our vet agrees with the shelter vet’s recommendation and, now that we’ve seen the extent of his injuries, we do too. Now the good news: other than being severely anemic, which makes sense considering his condition, Bernard’s blood work actually looks pretty good. His x-rays look good too. There aren’t any other obvious internal injuries or trauma.
Bernard is also heartworm negative, which means one less hurdle for this guy to deal with. There is a little heart congestion, so our vet will do an ultrasound tomorrow just to make sure there is nothing we need to worry about. He’s spending tonight and probably tomorrow night at the animal hospital to make sure both his pain and the infection are under control. The plan right now is for him to then come home with us for about a week, while he rests and regains some strength, and then do one more round of blood work. If all goes well, he should have the surgery sometime next week.
We haven’t had to worry about funds for many months now thanks to our wonderful donors but, as you can imagine, this is going to put quite a dent in our resources. If you’ve ever considered donating to Retired Retrievers, now would be a great time. We are a 501c3 and all donations are tax-deductible.
The picture below is from this evening when we visited Bernard at the animal hospital. The improvement is already dramatic. The dog who showed up at our house last night was in serious distress, having been in pain for quite some time. The dog we visited at the animal hospital today was comfortable, relaxed and happy to be alive.
We have no idea what caused this damage to Bernard’s leg, but it must have been traumatic and painful. Through it all, however, his happy, lovable lab personality continues to shine through. He’s a great dog, very friendly and loving, and he deserves a second chance at happiness. We’ll continue to keep you posted on his progress. Thank you for your support.
We met a young man at McDonald’s this morning, at exit 102 on I-95 in Pooler, GA. It wasn’t a chance meeting, we had planned to meet him there. The last time this young man saw his family dog, Bo, was two years ago. Bo recently ended up in our care and we set up the early morning McDonald’s rendezvous to reunite Bo with his family.
Bo was born in Florida, and then he and his family moved to a horse farm in Augusta, GA, when he was just a few years old. Life was good on the horse farm for several years. In 2012, however, when Bo was 12 years old, his family went through some life changes and had to make the difficult decision to rehome him. They gave Bo to an acquaintance, rehomed their horses, sold the farm and moved back to Florida. From time to time, Bo’s new dad would send updates on how he was doing.
Last year, Bo’s new dad had some heart problems and passed away unexpectedly. Bo’s family heard about it after the fact and lost track of what happened to Bo. They didn’t know who took him or where he was. They knew by this point Bo would be about 14 years old and they figured he may have passed away too.
Fast forward to just a few weeks ago, Bo was picked up as a stray in a rural area outside of Augusta and brought to a local animal shelter. When he was scanned for a microchip, the original owner’s name and contact info showed up, but the contact info was out of date. A shelter volunteer named Bonnie fell in love with Bo, called us, asked us to take Bo and then started calling around to local veterinarians to try to piece together his story.
The records Bonnie found at two different animal hospitals told the story of a dog who had been loved and cared for and never wanted for a thing. He was on heartworm prevention, he got regular baths and nail trims, he never missed an annual vaccination, and he received regular check-ups. But all of that stopped in July 2012.
As we tried to piece together what could have happened, we thought maybe Bo’s original owner had died (we didn’t know about the second owner at this point). The vet records stopped, the phone number wasn’t working, we knew something had to have happened in his owner’s life at that point. But it was obvious that now, two years later, Bo was still being cared for. Despite being picked up as a stray, he was still in pretty good shape for his age and hadn’t missed any meals.
Bonnie and her husband picked Bo up from the shelter and met us in Statesboro, GA, to transfer him to Retired Retrievers. Bo settled in quickly at our house. He was housebroken, got along with everyone, loved to go for walks, and was just a perfect old dog. We continued to discuss what might have happened with him and his family. We got back online and started searching with the information that we had.
A few days later we tracked down information about Bo’s original owner and discovered that she moved to Florida in July 2012, which then shed some light on why the vet records stopped at that point, but we had no way to contact her. So we kept digging until we found one of her sons. We sent him a note and he responded within a few hours. We were just hoping they could help us piece together his story, so we were surprised when they said they wanted him back!
Yes, Bo is back with his original family. They are in a different place in life now and have the ability to give him the retirement that he deserves. And, even better, one of the sons had been planning to drive from Georgia to Florida – today! So us getting in touch with them yesterday could not have been better timing. They had a long drive ahead of them so we made the transition as easy as possible by meeting the young man at a McDonald’s right off the freeway, and Bo headed south to Florida this morning. While we will miss him terribly (he is such a great dog!) we look forward to updates about Bo’s family reunion and his happy retirement years.
We’ll always wonder who had Bo more recently. He was at the shelter long enough that someone could have found him, and our super-volunteer, Bonnie, tried really hard to find anyone who might be looking for him. We may never solve that piece of the puzzle, but at least we know Bo will spend his retirement years with family. Congratulations on your happy ending, Bo!
If you would like to donate so we can help more dogs like Bo, please click on the Donate button. We are a 501c3 public charity and all donations are tax-deductible.
Last week at this time, a yellow lab was living in a remote area in South Florida. He was scared, hungry, and alone. Today, that same yellow lab is living in a home in Savannah, Georgia. He has a goofy grin on his face and a stuffed chicken squeaky toy between his paws. Life is good.
Last week at this time, the yellow lab had no idea that his life was about to change. He had no idea that Isabel, the kind woman who had been bringing him food and water, was talking about him with Retired Retrievers and making a plan to help him. He also had no idea that Isabel would arrive that evening with her friend, Mirta, from Chain of Love Abandoned Dogs, to pick him up and take him to their friend Ellie’s house for the night.
Last week at this time, the yellow lab didn’t know that Suzanne from Retired Retrievers was talking about him with Susan and Cristy from Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida. He had no idea that Susan from Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida would make an appointment for him at an animal hospital in Fort Lauderdale and donate to help with his medical bills. He also had no idea that Jane and Barb from Chain of Love Abandoned Dogs would be the ones getting him to the animal hospital the next day.
Last week at this time, the yellow lab had no idea that while he was at the animal hospital, a woman named Wendy, who Suzanne met through their mutual friend, Samantha, would be busy organizing a 460-mile volunteer transport to get him from Fort Lauderdale to Savannah on Easter Sunday. He had no idea that he would soon be named “Newman” and that he would fall in love with his volunteer drivers: Wendy, Ellen, Audrie, Stefani, Trevor, Jessica, Jenn, and Maresy. He also had no idea that Stefani and Trevor would give him the stuffed chicken squeaky toy that he now carries everywhere.
Last week at this time, the yellow lab had no idea that his skin infections would soon be healing, his belly would be full and the maggot-infested wound in his elbow would be a distant memory. He had no idea that he would have a roof over his head and a soft bed to sleep on. He also had no idea just how much he would be loved.
It has been incredible to see the outpouring of support for sweet Newman. Thank you to those of you who have been directly involved in his rescue, and thank you to those of you who have been cheering him on from afar. Last week at this time, we had no idea just how many wonderful people this yellow lab would bring into our lives. Thank you for caring and thank you for being part of Team Newman.
If you would like to help cover the costs of Newman’s medical care, please click here to donate.