April 8, 2013  

Miracles can happen if you’re willing to do the work

By Brandi Reynolds

When I opened up the email my heart sank. My husband and I had adopted a dog through Weimaraner rescue and had fallen in love not only with our rescue dog, but with rescue dogs everywhere. We wholeheartedly dived into volunteering with the rescue, and it was an email they sent out to the group that put a hitch in my heart.

Big eyes bored into me from the crouched stance in the photo. The rail thin filthy body. The patchy coat. This dog was a mess, another heartbreaking story. She was in a kill shelter and they were going to put her down that Friday if she couldn’t be pulled. The rescue board debated and debated but ultimately decided they couldn’t take her on. The budget was already stretched thin enough to see through, there were already more dogs under the care of the rescue than they had foster homes for.

The email was a plea, a last ditch effort to see if someone, anyone, could take her. She would be a lot of work, but maybe…

Seeing that photo, I heard a voice that said ‘Brandi, this is your dog.’


I didn’t want this dog. We were first time dog owners, had only adopted our Boogs about eight months before. He was fairly young, perfectly healthy. We had no business taking on this little girl and her myriad of problems.

But when my husband saw her photo, he must have heard the same voice too because he turned to me and said “Go get her. She’s our dog.”

I picked her up on her death date and immediately took her to our vet. Bless her heart, just about everything that could be wrong with her was. She weighed a measly 28 pounds (on a body that we guessed should have been about 60 pounds). She had both types of mange, was heartworm positive, anemic, had multiple intestinal parasites, an advanced ear infection, fleas, skin infections. The list went on.

I brought her home with a bag full of medicines and shampoos and wondered what we would do with this mess of a dog.

It wasn’t easy. She wasn’t housebroken or crate trained; in fact, she was so terrified on the crate at first that she once knocked it over while she was inside because she was fighting to get out. When she wasn’t sleeping, we seemed to be constantly cleaning up messes as she didn’t seem to be getting the hang of going to the bathroom outside. Her hip bones protruded so sharply, she couldn’t sit down properly. Her muscles were so weak that when she walked or stood, she stayed in a permanent crouched position. She tolerated the cleaning and the pills but bared her teeth and rolled on her back in submission if we got too close. Everything scared her, sudden movements, loud noises, other people.

Still, we stumbled through her healing process. Six vet visits in three months. Slowly the messes lessened. Her ribs and hipbones became less visible. Her trust in us and in her surroundings moved in micro-increments, but it moved just the same.

After two months, she was healthy enough to get vaccinated. After five months, she could get fixed. After eight months we could go through the arduous heartworm treatment. And one day, a year after she’d been with us, she climbed up on the couch and sat next to us. My husband and I looked at each other, trying to hold back the tears in our eyes so we wouldn’t startle her, marveling in the miracle before us.

It’s been six years since we picked her up and she now has a few extra brothers. We love all our dogs beyond sense but our little girl holds a special place in our hearts. Her name means ‘beautiful’ in Gaelic and she is. Our fighter spirit, our reminder that miracles happen if you are willing to the do the work.

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