Storytime: A Story of Circumstance

Read this and other awesome rescue stories in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Labrador Retrievers.

A Story of Circumstance 

A Story of Circumstance

Like so many other stories, mine is one of coincidence and circumstance. Ten years ago I endured major brain surgery and a brief near-death experience. Fortunately it left me with a somewhat altered outlook, giving me a greater sense of compassion for people and creatures struggling to maintain a normal, healthy life. This experience resulted in moments of total exhaustion and despair, but some indescribable motivation kept me going. There were times along the way I wondered why I couldn’t stay on the peaceful “other side,” but I eventually came to believe the main reason I remain in this world is to not only inspire others with my story but to also find a way to give something back. I just had not discovered what that would be.

Twenty years ago our family moved into a subdivision to be close to schools and other activities for our two daughters, and my wife constantly questioned why we couldn’t have a dog. Between my travel and the typical busy schedule of the family, I felt a dog wouldn’t receive the attention it deserved. For years I have seen overweight, bored, and neglected dogs that appear to be objects of their owner’s amusement with limited concern for the dog’s welfare. I explained to my wife that I had no intention of going down that path.

Following my surgery, our circumstances had changed, and I eventually agreed to open our home to a dog. My wife found Sir George, a blind 18-month-old Lab, on the rescue website, and I seriously thought about the challenges he must be facing without the benefit of sight. I reflected on my own struggles and recognized some common ground. Still, we ventured to the rescue headquarters keeping an open mind to all the adoptable dogs. The puppies were especially cute and difficult to resist, but, not surprisingly, they are quickly adopted. As I recall, when the moment came to make a decision, my wife and I looked at each other and asked the same question, “What do you want to do?” Our mutual conclusion was a concern that if we didn’t take George, who will adopt him? And so our decision was made. I remember the tears in the rescue director’s eyes after hearing our choice. She looked at us for clarification and asked again, “You’ll take George?”

Soon after adopting George, my wife entered him in a basic obedience class where he easily became the star pupil. Next we decided on therapy dog training with The Delta Society. Again, he easily passed and has managed to upgrade his status. He visits patients at local hospitals, elementary schools, and nursing homes. The experience is not only rewarding for George, but it also helps those with disabilities and illnesses to connect with a blind dog that is so happy and oblivious of his handicap. During one visit my wife encountered the nurse who retrieved George from an Indiana animal shelter before he was transported to Cincinnati.

Apparently George was severely neglected and his owners were reported to the Humane Society. Sometimes we wish he could tell us his story, but then again, it’s probably best if he doesn’t remember. We find it far more important that we give him the life he deserves for the present and the future. George and I visit the park often, where he swims and retrieves his ball or stick from the lake. Strangers watch him and are amazed when they discover he is blind. We run errands together to Home Depot or Lowes, and he has become a favorite among the staff. He even tolerates the grandbabies crawling all over him, and we have never experienced even the slightest problem at home. Is it a coincidence that he arrived at the rescue just prior to our visit? I can’t answer that, but what I do know is that he is the perfect fit for us.

Often I close my eyes and try to imagine what it’s like to live in a world of total darkness. It is frightening for me, but considering that George has no choice, he has learned to adapt by responding to touch and sounds. He groans from delight after a good belly scratch, gobbles his food with absolute gusto, and is excited when he knows we are preparing to travel somewhere. To us he’s a big, soft, gentle, loveable teddy bear and a pleasure to hug. I don’t know if I would have been so drawn to George and his disability had I not been through a life changing experience myself. Yet the most gratifying feeling for us is knowing George is in the absolute best possible home for the rest of his life, and although he has brought so much joy to our family, it’s even greater to be able to give back. –Rich Ayers

Heidi’s Challenge

Happy Tails Books encourage people to find unique ways to integrate their pets into their lives and communities. Here’s Valerie Keener’s story about how she and her Boxer, Heidi, have come up with an innovative system of helping children to improve their reading skills:

When my eldest daughter had our grandson at only 28 weeks gestation, we anticipated developmental problems. He was in the NICU for 13 weeks and came home on heart monitors, etc. 

Eight months after my grandson’s birth, I looked to adopt a Boxer puppy because I felt that my grandson would benefit from the stimulation, and perhaps he and the dog would bond. We brought our grandson to meet Heidi, a 13-week-old pup from a bad situation. She was shy, but she went running right up to my grandson and stayed by his side. We took that as a sign and brought her home.

Luckily, it turned out that my grandson had no deficits. None! He is our miracle boy in so many ways. Although he didn’t need Heidi as much as we thought he might, perhaps other people did. Heidi had the perfect disposition for a therapy dog, so I decided to train her. After she finished beginning though advanced classes at PetSmart and achieved her CGC (Canine Good Citizen award), we joined an organization called Thera-Pits in the Cleveland area, and Heidi went on to earn her Therapy Dogs International certification.

With the blessing of Chris Hughes, the founder of Thera-Pits, we started an Akron branch of the organization. With that, we began working on reading skills in local schools with both special needs and mainstream kids. We also worked with the local library in their kids reading to the dogs program. 

Our work with the children had many ideas rolling around in my head. I researched dogs and reading programs and discovered that university studies proved that kids’ skills and confidence grew significantly after reading to a dog just once a week. I thought, “What if they were able to do this every day?”

Of course, Heidi can’t work with the kids every day, so what could we do? I founded Thera-Paws, a new organization, and from that came “Heidi’s Challenge.” Through this, we challenge kids to read to their family cat/dog/hamster/whatever (if they don’t have a pet, a stuffed animal will do). They are to do so for a specific amount of time, during which they are to skip over words they can’t read or pronounce. After the designated time is up, they are to ask someone for help with the difficult words.

We challenge them to do this every day for an entire month, and at the end, we give them an award from Heidi. The first month earns them a bookmark with Heidi’s photo on it. It says, “I completed Heidi’s Challenge.” Each month they complete earns them a different award. 

Last year was our first, and the program was very well received. We have been asked to do it again this year. We are extremely pleased with the program’s success, and especially with the fact that we are not only helping children to read but we are also helping children to learn about pet-related issues. In launching the challenge, I did a 20-minute assembly with the entire school and spoke about proper dog manners, how to handle a strange dog approaching in a park, and the “real” pit bull and canine discrimination and BSL (breed-specific legislation). 

I have MS and I do not do well in the winter months. Historically, I do not go out in the winter; basically, I just hibernate. During this past winter and with the commitments I had made with Heidi, I was forced to go out. As a result, I had the best winter I have had in many years, both physically and mentally!  At this point in time, Heidi and I are the only Thera-Paws “team,” but another team is joining me this year. Their timing is great because the more known we are, the more we are invited to visit schools. I really believe in the program and the impact it has on kids. This year, we are working with at least three classes of autistic children. We look forward to the challenges. 

If you’d like to follow Valerie and Heidi’s successes, please visit their website and their Facebook page.


Storytime: Challenge is a Chariot

Originally published in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Golden Retrievers.

Challenge is a Chariot


Hi Everyone! 

My name is Trigger Boy and I am a 14-year-old Golden Coated Russian Circus Dog (just kidding) also known as a Golden Retriever.

            My Mom says I should be the Poster Dog for why NOT to put your dog in the bed of a pickup truck.  I had my front leg amputated after I leapt out of a pickup truck to chase a deer. (Oh, this happened BEFORE I adopted my parents here in Cody, Wyoming.) 

            Originally from Massachusetts, I was found on a playground and brought to a shelter. When no one claimed me, this young couple adopted me, and I lived with them for four years. We all moved to Wyoming, and on my first day here I saw this deer that had my name on it. I launched from the pickup, and that was a bad move.

            Well, they said I had nerve damage and I would have to give my leg up. After the operation, I started growling at the three young kids I lived with, and it was time for me to find a new home. 

            My name was Tigger, but being in the Wild West now, my new mom changed my name to Trigger, and she says I am a pistol! 

            Since I couldn’t keep up with my Golden brothers, the University of Wyoming Engineering Department took me on as a project to make a four-wheel drive “Waggin” cart. Four senior engineering students designed this award-winning device, and I got my wheels at a graduation symposium.

“Three paws up,” for those brilliant students! 

Two years later I crossed over the Rainbow Bridge.  I don’t need my “Waggin” cart here, where I romp with all the other Goldens, and wait for my forever family and friends to come play. See ya!

(Triggerboy, as translated by mom, Carol Polacek)

Do you have your own story to share? Submit it here!

Storytime: Older Than God, Spryer Than Ninja

Originally published in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Pugs.

Older Than God, Spryer Than Ninja


Roy, a fearless, independent pug, was one of the most amazing dogs of any breed I’ve ever met. I had filled out an adoption application specifying an older (10+) male. The rescue president called and said, “You wanted an older boy? I just got one in that I think would work. You wanna come over and meet him?” So Cj, my better half, and I drove over to the president’s house. She always has a bunch of fosters and newly-arrived “hold” fosters (waiting to be picked up by their foster homes) around, so when a little, gray-faced, senior boy came up to greet us, we asked, “Is this one ours?”  

“Nope,” she said, pointing to the backyard, “See that little lump in the shade? That’s yours. I’ll get him.” 

She went into the yard, came back with an armful, and set him on the floor in front of us. Cj and I looked at him. We looked at each other. We looked at the president. We looked at him. Standing in front of us was possibly the most ancient creature on earth. This dog might have run with the dinosaurs. 95% blind, 100% deaf, gray all over, and roughly 120 years old, he looked a bit like someone had wadded him up and tossed him. (When we later took Roy to the vet for a check, his official, professional, highly-trained opinion of Roy’s age was “somewhere between 17 years old and four years older than God.”)   

“His name is Roy. The adoption coordinator named him for her father because he grumbles like him. What do you think? You said you wanted a senior,” said the president encouragingly.

“I think I want one that will survive the trip home,” I replied, with a hint of doubt. “What’s his story?”

He’d been dumped in a busy parking lot. Animal control had picked him up and called Ohio Pug Rescue, knowing he stood a less than zero chance of adoption at the shelter. The fact that he’d managed to not get run over was a miracle by itself. I really don’t want to understand the kind of mind that could leave any dog, much less one in his condition. I can only hope that karma has something especially unpleasant in store for whoever left him there.

I looked at him again. He grinned at me, head tilted because he couldn’t lift it up all the way. I sighed. Cj sighed. We melted, handed over the adoption fee, signed the paper, gingerly picked up the elderly beast, and headed for the car. 

Once home, I rather expected a doorstop. At his age how active or interested could he be? But instead we got a dog that let nothing deter him. His attitude about everything was “Me do!” He didn’t like to be carried—he’d walk, albeit slowly, thank you very much. Beds were no problem; he’d ninja-roll off them by walking toward the edge, reaching out with his paw to verify where it was, and then stepping off into space. He’d hit the floor fully tucked, roll to his feet, shake, and walk off. I never saw him miss a landing. He’d chase our toes and nibble on them if we were slow with his dinner, and Roy had an impressive grip! Cj would dance around hollering, “Roy, let go!” while I would giggle and remind her that he was deaf and couldn’t hear her fussing.

He slept between us every night, and for the first two weeks, he’d wake me up with nightmares. He’d howl and shake until I’d pick him up, rock him, and soothe him back to sleep, reminding him he had been found and would never be lost again.

Adopting Roy turned out to be a great idea. He had a smile that could melt any heart, and he used it without shame. When I’d get home from work, he’d come toddling over as fast as he could, and he could get up some speed when he wanted! He’d get up close to see what shoes were coming and grin when he recognized mine. He had a loud, sharp bark that could shatter glass, but he only used it when his grumbling didn’t get your attention. We got to love and spoil him for about nine months before he slipped off to the Bridge. He left about two years ago, and I miss him still.  

Kyla Jones

Do you have your own story to share? Submit it here!

Storytime: Beating the Odds

Originally published in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About German Shepherd Dogs. 

Beating the Odds


Several months ago a dirty guy reeking of alcohol dropped off his German Shepherd-mix, Max, at the pound where I work as an animal control officer. Admitting he made Max live outside, he said he no longer wanted the dog because he kept getting hit by cars.

As soon as I laid eyes on Max, I was in love, and the more I found out about his situation, the angrier I became. There was obviously something wrong with Max’s back end because his nails and the tips of his toes were worn off and gushing blood from being dragged during his 1½-mile walk to our facility. The guy went on and on about how his neighbors had to feed Max because he couldn’t afford dog food while I tended to Max’s wounds, exhaustion, and thirst. I was shocked and saddened to find that Max had suffered for four years in the hands of this man. I tolerated his babbling for a few minutes until he raised his hand to Max, and Max cringed right to the floor. I was done, so I asked the guy for the $50.00 surrender fee to get him out of my office. He told me he would have to walk to the bank to get it and complained about the heat. Could he come back another day? No! I took his dog and his wallet and told him to take a hike. I wanted him to suffer, just as he had made Max suffer.

The guy did come back, paid the 50 bucks, and Max was officially free of him. Over the next several weeks, Max made himself at home in my air-conditioned office on a nice, soft, clean blanket atop his Kuranda bed. We gave him as much food and water as he wanted. Whenever I got up from my desk, poor Max got up to follow. It pained me to watch him walk.

I tried to get a rescue to take Max in, but everyone was either full or they wanted to know what was wrong with him. Finally, after almost losing hope, Barbara from Hot Water Rescue agreed to spring him and help me pay for his vet care while I rehabilitated him. After almost a month at the pound, Max was finally going to be a family dog. Our apartment is on my boyfriends’ parents’ 30-acre farm, and they are kind enough to let me bring home animals from time to time. It’s a nice environment for Max, with other dogs, cats, ponies, donkeys, horses, chickens, pigs, etc. to keep him entertained.

It was also time to begin getting Max the vet care he desperately needed. Tests and x-rays confirmed that Max had perfect hips, which was the only good news. He also had heartworm and Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyelopathy (CDRM—a progressive spinal cord disease). There is no cure for CDRM and no treatment. It just gets worse over time, eventually affecting Max’s ability to walk. In a month or months (the vet couldn’t tell), I would have to put Max down.

Or maybe I wouldn’t…

Extensive online research revealed that many dogs with CDRM remain mobile by using a wheeled cart to support their back end. So after collecting donations to help with Max’s vetting, I still had enough money left over to buy his dog cart. Poor Max was such a trooper while my boyfriend, Tim, and I sized it to fit and then strapped him in. At first Max didn’t know what to do, but within minutes he had the hang of it and was off down the driveway. His first stop was to greet Tim’s dad, and then he was off to say hello to our pony and donkey. Again on the move, he made another stop at the wood-splitting area to hang out with all the guys. Everyone was so happy to see him out exploring without dragging himself from spot to spot.

I can now take Max out for long walks, and he no longer has any pain. He simply rolls along in his cart with booties to protect his feet from sores. I actually have to put him on a leash because otherwise he’ll take off down the ¼-mile dirt driveway to see whom he can greet first; he just loves everyone.

When I brought Max home, I wanted to show him what being loved, and cared for, was all about, even if our time together would be limited. Little did I know that Max would show me that even in the face of adversity, a little ingenuity can help one beat the odds, at least for a time.

Cari DeLorenzo

Do you have your own story to share? Submit it here!

Storytime: Early Warning Izzy

Read this and other awesome rescue stories in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Pit Bulls.


Featured Rescue: Fugee’s Rescue


Early Warning Izzy

A week before Halloween I was propped up in bed with my laptop on my knees, and my adopted Pit Bull, Izzy, was stretched out at my feet. It was 10:30 at night, and I was looking forward to sleeping in the next morning. My yard and porch were completely dark, as I had turned off the outside lights before going to bed.

Izzy came into my life two months earlier from a local Pit Bull rescue organization after I saw her adorable face online. Her short, golden hair and baby-bird’s-wing ears appealed to me instantly. Izzy was skinny but very energetic for a middle-aged “woman,” with manners that needed a bit of polishing, but she was wonderfully friendly and non-aggressive toward people of all ages.

I was a divorcee living alone in a log-style house that faced a two-lane road without sidewalks or shoulders. There were no casual passersby in our neighborhood of newer luxury homes and one modest remaining rental, a small cracker box separated from my property by a line of red-tip trees. The current renter was a single man, a landscaper who worked long hours.

I was about to shut down my laptop for the evening when there was a thunderous Rap! Rap! Rap! at my front door. Alarmed, Izzy raced toward the door, barking loudly, and I picked up my cell phone from the bedside table to call 911. The police arrived within minutes and walked around the yard. Finding nothing suspicious, they did ask me if I’d seen any vehicles. One officer told me my dog had probably frightened off anyone who’d been on my porch. I might have had difficulty going to sleep that night if not for my canine early warning system.

While walking Izzy on Halloween night the next week, I noticed my landscaper neighbor through the red-tips, sitting in his yard, burning a small amount of garden debris and talking calmly to a woman on speakerphone. I returned to my house and was putting the chain on the front door when I heard a desperate person in the middle of the street, shouting, “Help me!” Again I called 911, reporting that I thought someone had been hit by a car in front of my house. Several cars stopped and a fire truck and ambulance arrived very quickly. Izzy and I sat on the porch, watching from a distance so as not to interfere with police activities.

I was stunned to hear on the news the next day that my neighbor had died at the hospital, the victim of a hit and run accident. Further stories revealed he had been struck and injured in the driveway of his home during the short time it had taken me to walk through my house after coming inside.

Several days later, a state trooper came to question me about anything I might have seen. The officer told me my neighbor had lived long enough to report seeing an unfamiliar white van in his driveway a week before he was killed. On Halloween that same white van had pulled into his driveway, so my neighbor approached the driver to ask why the two men were there. The driver responded by sharply turning the van and ramming him while racing out of the driveway. Badly hurt, my neighbor had dragged himself into the street and cried for help, which is when I heard him.

The officer told me that they had not been able to locate the white van, but they suspected that at some time in the past, drugs had been sold out of the rental house. The men in the white van may have been seeking drugs and, when they realized they were at the wrong house, ran down my neighbor before he could get a close look at them.

It was a terribly disturbing episode, especially when the dead man’s family arrived to gather his belongings. I couldn’t help wondering if the mysterious rap on my door the week before had been the same men, looking for drugs. If my Izzy had not sounded the alarm and frightened them away, would I have been a victim instead? I may never know the answer, but I know I sleep much better with my warm friend and her no-nonsense bark at the foot of my bed.

Nancy Pauline Simpson

Storytime: The 13 Days that Will Last Our Lifetime

Read this and other wonderful rescue stories in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Dachshunds


Featured Rescue: Dachshund Rescue of North America


The 13 Days that Will Last Our Lifetime

We adopted Baron and his sister Abby from Hearts United for Animals when they were six years old. Baron had been an expensive dog – requiring back surgery for Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) at the age of four – and so the pair was surrendered by their owner due to financial hardship. Baron also had a heart problem and contracted a virus the week before we went to get him. He was so sick that he refused to eat and lost four pounds (he was only a 13-pound dog to begin with).

We brought him home and hoped he would recover, but his heart could not take the strain the illness put on it. Two visits to the highly skilled vets at Texas A&M could not reverse or lessen its devastating effects and on the morning of his 13th day with us at 8:14 am, Baron crawled into my arms to give me the first kiss of our association and the last one of his life. He put his head down on my chest, his heart gave a stutter and a thump, and he was gone. He tried so hard to stay with us but passed of a massive heart attack.

Though it had been only 13 days, Baron had a lasting impact on our lives. We believe that Baron knew it was his time and stayed with us just long enough to give Stomper, our other disabled Dachshund, the courage to walk again, and to ensure his sister Abby was safe in a loving home.

Stomper swam very well using his back legs but refused to move them on land. By putting his nose under Stomper’s rear end, Baron was able to lift Stomper up and push him around. To our surprise, Stomper started walking again, which he might not have done if not for Baron. He’s wobbly, but we’ll take it!

With that first and last kiss, Baron demonstrated that he knew he was home, loved, and in our hearts forever. Baron is buried in our front yard with a rose bush that is forever to be known as Baron’s Rose. A beautiful, red rose bloomed a week after Baron’s passing, and the bush continues to bloom throughout the winter, reminding us of the lasting impact Baron’s few days with us had. –Southwind Kane

Storytime: Eyes Only For You

Read this and other wonderful rescue stories in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories of Adopted Boston Terriers


Featured Rescue: MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue


Eyes Only For You

I didn’t grow up with dogs, and never really wanted one until my kids started getting older and more independent. I realized that my growing unease was the all-too-common “empty nest” feeling parents experience as their kids become adults. I decided a dog might be just the thing to create some new noise in our home. My plan was to begin researching breeds so that in six years when my youngest graduated I would maybe have found the right dog and be ready to adopt (yes, I’m a planner)…

Although I thought a dog would be a long ways off for us, I kept an eye on regularly to see what dogs were available for adoption. After only a few weeks, I narrowed my search down to a few different breeds. I decided to go with a Boston Terrier, not only because of all their wonderful qualities, but also because it was the breed that my now-deceased mother had when she was a little girl. I was looking for a dog with a medium build that loved walks and car rides and people in general. There was only one hitch—I couldn’t stand the big, protruding eyes! They just freaked me out.

After weeks of looking through Boston Terrier profiles online, I came across a story of a 3-year-old named Odie who was surrendered because his family had had a baby. His side view portrait showed a cute, shmooshed face and stocky build, and from what I could see in the pictures, his eyes didn’t seem to protrude. Though my youngest was still in school, I couldn’t help but change my plan and apply for this dog. He looked like he had so much spunk and would be fun to have around!

I went to his foster parent’s home to meet him and there, from the top of the stairs, he stood smiling at me… with eyes that looked like they were about to fall out of his head! They were so “googly” that I couldn’t even tell which way he was looking! My heart sank, but before I knew it, he was in my arms, washing my face with slobbery doggie love.

After such an outpouring I was helpless but to “look the other way” about his eyes and take him home. Today Odie’s eyes are my favorite part of him. I think they are beautiful. They talk to me! I even made a song up about them to the tune of “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond. It goes “Sweet Odie Pie, you’re the cutest little guy, you have the most beautiful eyes, sweet Odie pie.” Something like that…

I really lucked out on such a great dog with amazing character and expressive eyes. These days I wonder whether he thought I was the one with the weird-looking eyes when I first met him. If so, I’m glad he was able to overlook it because I couldn’t “see” a future without him!

Kirsten Lahr

Storytime: Bustered

Read this and other wonderful rescue stories in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Pit Bulls


Featured Rescue: It’s the Pits



Let me introduce you to Buster, a seventy-pound lapdog with the attitude and personality of Scooby Doo. He loves to eat, runs from danger, and will be your best friend for a few hugs and snacks. He was born at It’s the Pits Rescue in San Diego after his mom was pulled out of an abusive situation. He weighed a measly thirteen pounds when we met him and I wasn’t really looking to adopt that day, but Buster really picked us. My girlfriend (now wife), Lisa, and son fell in love with him instantly, so what’s a guy to do?

I have to admit Buster is a very smart dog, as most Bullies are. He has learned to sit, speak, lay down, shake, and even eat on command. I was impressed at how quickly he learned to do things, but there was one person he loved to mess with: Lisa. I swear they have this funny, love-hate relationship thing going where they tease each other like crazy.

It was New Year’s Eve and we had friends over at our house celebrating, so we crated Buster in the bedroom. As midnight approached we decided to go out to get coffee before counting down the New Year. Lisa stopped in the bedroom to check on Buster and say goodbye. She gently teased and laughed at him, since he is rarely crated in the house. He just smiled back, looking content.

Several hours passed, and with coffee cups emptied, we headed back home. As we arrived, Lisa noticed the blinds moving in our bedroom window and, of course, we were curious to see what the commotion was. We opened the front door and made our way into the bedroom to see Buster, innocently sitting inside his crate…with the room a total mess! Lisa had forgotten to lock the crate and Buster had wreaked havoc, now pretending that it had nothing to do with him. We were amazed at the chaos, but what caught our attention most was that he only destroyed Lisa’s shoes. He ate two pairs of tennis shoes, one pair of heels, and one pair of flip-flops. In the end, Buster got the last laugh, and Lisa got new shoes.

What can I say, about these dogs? They are awesome when treated with love and respect. Despite his mischievousness, Buster is a great addition to our family and still messes with Lisa to this day. He always manages to find the one thing that drives her crazy, but in the end they look out for each other. Buster is part of our family: when times are tough he is always there, when you want someone to listen he won’t talk back, and he is the first to lay in the middle of the kitchen floor so you can trip and drop your food for his enjoyment.

Ahren Nunag

Storytime: General Lee Conquers Georgia

Read this and other awesome rescue stories in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Northern-Breed Dogs.

Featured Rescue: MUSH

General Lee Conquers Georgia


How could I say no to saving General Robert E. Lee?

After all, my great, great, great-grandfather was a Confederate soldier with the Georgia Infantry, wounded at the Battle of Vicksburg and taken as a prisoner of war by the U.S. forces on July 4, 1863. On July 15, 1863, he signed terms of capitulation that he would not take up arms against U.S. forces and was paroled. He died a month later in a hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana.

I went to the shelter to pick up the “two- to three-year-old Husky” for MUSH Rescue and was presented with a dog who looked closer to seven, with a black tooth, a gash out of his snout, and more mats than a yoga class. We had been told by the shelter that his owner surrendered him “because of the downturn in the economy,” but he looked more like the dog from Homeward Bound when he returned from his 2,000-mile journey. This dog had not been in a home in a long time.

The shelter handed over General Robert E. Lee’s vet records along with his pedigree information. Who dumps a dog along with his papers? We learned that Lee, as we called him, was indeed a six-year-old, AKC-registered, purebred Siberian Husky. He was covered in ticks the size of Texas. They were so big that they would just fall out of his fur and die. I took him to the vet for a bath, and the reception people took pictures because they swore he was part wolf. Lee did not like being messed with and let you know by screaming. It wasn’t a bark, and it wasn’t a whine. This dog could scream!

Once home, Lee had no interest in his foster brothers and sisters and was even aggressive toward them. He just wanted to run free. We put him in an airline crate on wheels, and Lee moved the crate across the room in a matter of minutes. This dog was wilder than a bull at a rodeo! What had I gotten myself into? Over the years, we’ve fostered more than 60 dogs, but this one was a special challenge. The vet who neutered him had said that Lee would settle down around 90 days post-surgery, when the testosterone was out of his body. Could I hold out that long?

I looked for a home for Lee but worried about his safety because this dog could escape anything. I swear he opened my front door one day and let the other dogs out. They came back for a treat, while Lee played chase with my husband between two streets in the neighborhood until I could get there with chicken. The next time he escaped, he ran down the banks of the Chattahoochee with me in pursuit until I couldn’t run anymore. I drove back to the area where he was last seen and found him standing by the road with a “Where have you been?” look on his face.

By the time we finally hit that 90-day mark, we had fallen hard for this furry ball of love, so we kept him.

Life with Lee has not settled down much. He recently got ahold of the kitchen sponge with the Brillo pad on one side and sponge on the other, and when I tried to take it, he swallowed it whole. I wrestled with him for about a half hour trying to get hydrogen peroxide down his throat, which, of course, ended up in my eye. We took him to the emergency vet, and they gave him something to make him throw it up. We knew it worked when we heard his scream. The vet came out with the whole sponge and the rest of his stomach contents!

This dog keeps us on our toes, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. General Robert E. Lee may have helped conquer Mexico in the Mexican-American War, but General Robert E. Lee the canine has conquered our hearts! –Charla Huston Collings