Buffalo Finalist #1 )
And One Day I found Apollo! Well, on a warm August day in 2016, I found the dog that has saved my life time and time again. Apollo was one of a litter of seven. His foster parents planned on just rescuing his mom. Well, oops, she was a bit pregnant. When we met the pups, I was drawn to all of them, but Apollo caught my heart. He was a bit of a brat and just kept on uniting my shoes. No matter how many times I tied them back up, within seconds, they were unlaced again.
Apollo discovered quickly that I have two very rare immune disorders, and I have other diseases as a result of these disorders. He also realized that some days, I needed extra motivation to just even get a cup of broth or glass of water. At the same time, I discovered something about him also. He was getting me things, laying on me when I was dizzy, and going above and beyond in the ‘licker’ department. At which point we started on our 1.5 year journey to him being a service dog.
Oh, and he LOVES every job he has been taught. He knows how to help me during my weekly treatments, when I get sick because of reactions in my immune system, and just how to motivate me. His rewards are bark boxes, belly rubs, getting on any piece of ‘fur’niture he wants, and having my heart forever. Yes, Apollo was a rescue dog, wasn’t a fail, wasn’t trouble, he was just perfect for me. I believe too many people underestimate the capabilities a dog can have, just because it was a rescue. Apollo keeps me safe every day, and I make sure he is loved so much. Without him I probably would have died long ago, alone on the bathroom floor. Apollo makes me strive for greatness! Besos Mi Bambino Apollo!
Buffalo Finalist #2 )
In March 2015 I experienced the sudden loss of my Father and was struggling to deal with that loss. In September 2015 I found my heart online in the form of a Pomeranian, Maya (Red). Maya was rescued from a Puppy Mill at six years of age. She was the most shut down, scared to death, little dog I had ever seen, and I felt a major heart pull to this girl. I started my research and educated myself on how to help a puppy mill survivor to give her, and myself, the best chance for helping her. Little did I realize that we would help each other on this journey to recovery and healing.
Maya helped me through the grief of losing my Dad, and I helped her learn how to love, accept a gentle hand, trust, and be the great dog she was meant to be. It was a very slow healing process with Maya. I let her adjust and learn at her own pace, which took her almost two years to do. In this learning and transition time for Maya, I had also suddenly lost my best friend, Michele. Maya jumped right in to help me through more grief. She would comfort me, snuggle me, and give me kisses, which all helped me deal with another sudden loss. My little scared puppy mill rescue had learned compassion, trust, love, and how to be a loyal companion and was showing me in ways I never thought possible.
After Maya had fully adjusted, I wanted to help her even more, so I decided it was time to get her a companion. That is when I found Maggie (Black & White). Maggie is also a puppy mill survivor, and her picture pulled at my heart strings the moment I saw her picture on our local SPCA web site. Maggie was rescued from a puppy mill at two years old, adopted, and then, at five years and nine months, surrendered back to the rescue. I knew in my heart Maya was ready for a new little doggy sister and I was ready to love and help another sweet little Pomeranian. Maggie came with some issues: fear, anxiety, behavioral issues, overweight, Hip Dysplasia and knee issues, which was also resolved with time, a gentle hand, love, and some training.
Maya and Maggie are best of friends and have been a saving grace to me through the sudden deaths, my disabilities, depression, and anxiety. They are my unofficial emotional support dogs who had the worst start in life. They are now happy, healthy, well adjusted Pomeranian girls who have learned how to accept and give love, compassion, trust, and to be each other’s support, along with giving and accepting unconditional love, support & comfort to/from me. I have learned in life that heroes don’t just have two legs, they also have four!
Buffalo Finalist #3 )
Nellie is a 10 year old Pomeranian. She spent her first eight years as a puppy mill breeder confined to a cage with sub-par food and only drinking from a rodent bottle. In the mill, her puppies were taken away frequently and too early. When she was rescued from one of the Ohio puppy mills by Furever Friends, she had only 2 teeth left in her mouth, a hernia that needed repair, and was very thin.
Being a volunteer for Furever Friends for over a year, I had been taken with many of these sad dogs that were rescued by our group. Blossom, as she was named by our group originally, was in need of a foster home until her medical problems could be resolved. One of our members fostered her, but then Blossom needed another person to step up for her care. I knew I needed to bring her home. She received the surgeries she needed – one of her two teeth was removed, her hernia was repaired, and she was spayed. After 3 weeks, my family and I knew that she needed to stay with us.
She is now house trained, loving our other two dogs and cat, walks on a leash, and running in our backyard with legs and feet that have only known the floors of a wire cage. After careful consideration and care, we decided to name her Nellie. But there’s more. Last August, my husband suffered a catastrophic illness which I am still having to manage 10 months later. Our family has been devastated, and there have been lots of tears. When I look at Nellie and how she had survived her first eight years in a puppy mill, I know that I can survive life’s sadness and difficulties too. She’s a survivor, and has been my support in my darkest times. She has learned that humans are good, and can supply love, warmth, and caring. She comes to me for love and kisses, and I can’t imagine life without her.