Occasionally I get to work behind the scenes with special needs animal rescue groups. It’s one my favorite things to do. It’s also how I found myself helping a dog named Angel find a forever home.
Over the years I’ve participated in situations like spreading the word about a paralyzed bomb sniffing dog named Igi who needed a new home and a disabled puppy named Lizee who had to be transported for medical care. That’s how I met Angel as well. Heath’s Haven Dog Rescue in Idaho was trying to get supplies for her trip to their facility. They asked if the readers of my blog could find a crate and blankets for her.
Heath’s Haven was working hard to put together a caravan that would take Angel from Tijuana, Mexico to Post Falls, Idaho. Angel had a broken back. She’d been dragging herself through the streets so long that the sores on her legs were worn to the bone.
How a transport caravan is organized
A woman visiting the area found Angel and saved her life. Now the only thing standing between the dog and a new life was getting her to a veterinary neurologist in the U.S.
Heath’s Haven worked on getting Angel’s transportation paperwork approved while I did my small part in sharing her story. The response from pet owners was overwhelming. People not only donated a crate and blankets for Angel they also got her a dog wheelchair, an orthopedic bed, toys, treats and they contributed toward the cost of her medical care. It was a pretty amazing experience.
When it was time to leave Mexico, Heath’s Haven had arranged for a caravan of rescue groups to help take Angel across the country. The first group drove the dog from Tijuana to San Diego. There she was examined by a veterinarian who patched up her legs and removed ticks from her body. Then another set of volunteers placed the dog in their car and drove her to the following town where a third rescue group picked her up.
The process went on like that for nearly a week until Angel finally arrived in Idaho.
From there she went for a complete medical work up. At first, there was concern that Angel might lose her back legs, but luckily that didn’t happen. Instead Heath’s Haven was instructed to take Angel home and start her new life.
It didn’t take long for Angel to transform from a skinny, malnourished dog to a happy, well-fed and well cared for pup.
Sometime after her transformation, I lost track of her progress.
The following year I received an email from a woman named Luana Averill. She filled in the gaps.
Just about the time Angel arrived at Heath’s Haven, Luana lost two of her dogs, Maximus and Buddy Lee. Maximus had been adopted when he was 6-weeks-old and had a long life with the Averill’s. Buddy, on the other hand, had only been a member of the family for one year before he passed away from heart failure. Luana said his death was devastating for her.
“I didn’t get enough time with Buddy and it was hard to let him go. He was a tall, skinny and clumsy 5-year-old with a gimpy hind foot,” said Luana. “He was too young and I didn’t get to spoil and love him enough. It was a shock when he came down sick. I had a hard time dealing with my boys dying and I cried every day.
Luana said she knew about Angel and started checking every few weeks to see if she had been adopted. Finally she decided to foster her.
“It was important for me to be needed. Angel needed me and I needed her,” said Luana.
Foster to adoption
Angel came to live with Luana and her husband in late December. The whole family, including their 9-year-old Border collie mix named Bay’lee fell in love with her from the first day she arrived.
Bay’lee, who used to roughhouse with Maximus and Buddy, suddenly changed his ways. He seemed to instinctively know that he had to play gently with Angel. The two dogs became inseparable.
Six months later, the Averill’s proudly became “foster failures.” They went from being Angel’s foster family to being her permanent, forever family.
“She is spoiled rotten and just loves life,” said Luana. “She has a weird fascination with cats, loves pine cones and hates having her picture taken.”
Luana let me know the veterinary work up Angel received in Idaho showed that her spine injury couldn’t be fixed and that she’d be paralyzed for the rest of her life. The news didn’t damper anyone’s spirit in the Averill family. Angel has adapted to her wheelchair and loves to runs around in it at a nearby park she and Bay’lee visit every afternoon.
They see the situation like this, “Now that Angel has a family to love and protect her, being paralyzed is the only thing missing in her life.”
Heath’s Haven Dog Rescue
Heath’s Haven is one of my favorite rescue groups. They call themselves a “small-but-mighty” sanctuary for dogs with neurological problems, spine injuries and paralysis. The dogs are cared for in a home environment from the minute their arrive until the day they’re adopted into forever homes. Each dog receives a full veterinary work up and treatments for their individual condition.
The rescue began after husband and wife team Jolene and Shawn Heath, adopted a Husky mix puppy named Phoenix. At 6-weeks-old she was abandoned in a pet store parking lot that had temperatures soaring to 105 degrees. The puppy was unconscious, severely dehydrated and unable to use her hind legs. Jolene and Shawn brought her home and the experience changed their lives forever.
Phoenix had a long and happy life, but Jolene and Shawn worried about other dogs who might not be as lucky. They were concerned about disabled dogs being euthanized simply because they had a physical handicap. It prompted them to start the rescue group.
Today, the organization has saved the lives of hundreds of disabled dogs.