Pet of the Month February: The Story of Hope

by Nicole Arruda

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don’t give up.”- Anne Lamott


            A second chance is not always easy to come by. Those of us with rescue pets know how rewarding it is to feel loved by an animal who shouldn’t have known how to love at all. Not all of us who rescue are lucky enough to know where they came from, or what they’ve been through, but rescuing means giving an animal the opportunity to start over.

It was a regular busy night at North Town Veterinary Hospital when we met a young boxer who was lucky enough to be given that opportunity. We received a phone call from Shannon, who had been on the market for a sibling to keep her nine year old rescue dog company. Shannon was browsing Kijiji ads and found an ad for a 12 month old, female boxer looking for a new home.
“The ad caught my attention, as the title read ‘Free but has medical needs’.  There was a picture of a young, healthy-looking, fawn boxer…but the description detailed anything but.” Shannon says as soon as she saw the ad, she had a bad feeling about it.
“It stated the current owner had been given the dog 5 months prior from a co-worker…  This man apparently had no time for the dog and she was being left in a crate for 15+ hours a day. He wrote that she was skinny due to being a picky eater and had severe infections in both her ears that needed immediate medical treatment which he couldn’t afford. My heart sank. I knew I wouldn’t sleep at night thinking of a helpless dog left in her crate, hungry and in pain, so I replied several times to the ad and from 3 different email accounts, trying desperately to get a reply.”
When the man didn’t reply, Shannon tried once more, from a different account, and offered money for the dog. Finally he answered, and agreed to meet that night, in an empty parking lot just outside of Newmarket and make the exchange. Not knowing what to expect, Shannon drove out in the dark with her brother and sister to save this dog.

The man Shannon met was middle-aged, well-dressed, drove a nice SUV and had what appeared to be a wife and daughter with him. He looked ‘normal’ and seemed harmless. Shannon didn’t even look at the dog – she just handed the man cash and transferred the crate from his car to hers. In the dark, through the bars of the crate, all she could see was a small, timid face, and a soaking wet, emaciated boxer. Apparently she was washed because “he couldn’t give her to anyone in the state that she was in.” It was -20 degrees outside that night.

Shannon immediately called North Town and made her way over to us with her new dog, which she had not even met yet, and hardly even seen. “That’s where I first saw the magnitude of her neglect. She was severely emaciated and dehydrated. Her ear tips had open wounds on them and were bleeding. She had pressure sores from spending hours on end sitting in her crate, as well as multiple scabs on the rest of her body. She had an inner ear infection in both ears and bleeding on her head. Her nose was extremely scabbed and dry. Her liver had begun to shut down. She had two broken teeth and only weighed 13.9 kg. The kind staff at North Town hooked her up to an IV for 2 days to get her hydrated and ran a bunch of tests.”

After the doctors had assessed ‘No Name’ and decided upon a treatment plan, Shannon agreed without second thought. Once this poor dog was all settled, Shannon finally got to meet her new addition to the family. It was an emotional night that touched even the most experienced staff members at North Town, as ‘No Name’ showed us that she was willing to forgive whatever had been done to her in the past. She was calm and loving throughout treatment and the entire North Town team fell in love with her. The next day Shannon came to visit her new dog and enjoy some bonding time. She had also chosen a name for her – ‘Hope.’

“Slowly but surely, Hope came around; her energy increased, her spirit lifted, and her personality started to shine through. Despite everything she’d been through, Hope was happy and loving, wanting nothing more than to be on your lap and to cuddle.” Hope was finally able to go home to her new family.

“Hope is expected to make a full recovery, but the road ahead is a long one. She is eating well and learning to drink from a dish again. Her ear infections have cleared with treatment and her ear tips are almost healed. Her pressure sores are slowly fading. In 3 months’ time, she will have more blood work done to determine whether or not her liver has recovered. She now has enough energy to play and go for walks. She is enjoying time with our 9 year old rescued Dalmatian and our two young girls. She knows how to sit, stay and come and is almost housetrained. She’s a welcome addition to our family, as well as our workplace where she gets to come each day and meet new people. Most importantly, Hope has a forever home where she will be loved and well cared for, for the rest of her life.”

The man who did this to Hope is nowhere to be found. The ad was taken down right away and the email he used was immediately deleted. His only contact was a blocked cellphone number. “The OSPCA has been notified and his license plate was given but Hope’s case is still ongoing.  Unfortunately, Hope’s circumstances are more common than you might think. The SPCA’s Ontario branch alone receives almost 1600 complaints of animal abuse and neglect each year.” Shannon would like to caution fellow animal lovers out there; “Help spread the word by sharing my Hope’s story. Be aware and take action if you see or suspect animal cruelty.”

Thanks to Shannon, Hope is lucky enough to be given that second chance. She is a perfect example of a dog ready and willing to move on. Rescue pets can be difficult at first, but fellow rescuers out there can relate to the feeling that they seem to know what we’ve done for them and show us more love than we can ever hope to receive.