Cora’s Journey – Rescue Dog to Forever Family
Thanks Tiny Paws Dog Rescue Canada, Linda, Martha and all the generous volunteers.
The Beginning by Linda S.
On January 5th while outside my home in Harrowsmith, I looked up to see a small animal running down the centre of Hwy # 38, and in the same instant, I saw a vehicle slowing behind it and a woman jump out. I thought to myself “Oh there is a dog running on the road, but that must be the owner – good they have found their dog”, only to hear a voice call out “Is this your dog?” I replied ‘No, but you can bring it in here”, and the young woman carried this ‘thing’ up my lane and placed it on my porch. What she set down in no way resembled anything I had ever seen. It was a small dog, but it was so badly matted it did not appear to be real, or even alive.
I called Animal Control, and left a message. When they called back, I said that I wanted to try to help this poor wee thing, whatever it was, and that I would keep them posted while they waited to see if anyone called searching for it. Several minutes later a close friend arrived for a visit, and the real work began, and the first miracle occurred. After several calls to local groomers, we found Martha at Martha’s Menagerie, who told us to bring it over to her right away; she would see what she could do.
When we arrived at Martha’s, her first question was ‘what is it?’ Martha said this was the worst case of neglect she had ever seen. The matting was so bad the dog had to be shaved completely. We found out it was a female – that long tail was in fact a short ‘curl up and touch back’ type tail that could not be what God had intended as it was so matted. Her dew claws were over 2 inches long and wrapped in her fur resembling twigs. Her nails were so long 3 were twisted sideways. Her poor wee face and butt were poo encrusted..but this tiny dog never made a sound as Martha worked on her. When all the work was done, Martha gave me a tiny collar for the dog, lent me a carrier and a blanket and would not take any money for her work! This kind talented soul gave her time and expertise to help us save this wee poor dog.
For the next 2 weeks this tiny dog lived with me in my home, curled up in an old wool sweater as she was shaved naked. She got lots of loving and shared squeaky toys with my dog…but I knew I could not keep her. She needed vet care that I could not afford, and no discounts were offered to us even though we asked…and then the 2nd miracle occurred as I searched for a forever home for her….we discovered Tiny Paws Dog Rescue Canada.
Through networking, friends put me in touch with this wonderful rescue group. Within 1 day of hearing of this dog’s story, they contacted me, and wee dog was picked up and taken to Toronto for vet care and adoption to a carefully selected home.
Now the 3rd miracle is taking shape…a group is making dog beds, dog blankets, and anything that can be sold as fundraising items, and items that can be donated to this rescue group…all because one of the women who was trying to help me help this dog told them my story.
I am honoured to have been able to help this tiny dog, and humbled by the generous people I met on this journey.
The Happy Ever After – by Sherrie and Cliff
As first-time dog-owners-to-be, the search for a new family member was beginning to look bleak. We had started to look at pet websites and listings months earlier. Hundreds of adorable photos and sad stories later, we were still no closer to finding our perfect pup.
Sure, we had certain criteria: a hypoallergenic breed; apartment-friendly; adult in age; calm and friendly; a pug in spirit, sans shedding. But our modest checklist couldn’t account for that all-important intangible: a connection – a magical one, if possible. After browsing so many adoption profiles, no single dog had yet to make us think, “She’s the one!”
And so as all good rescue stories go, we finally stumbled on a link titled “Cora, shih-tzu/pug mix.”
Cora’s story was particularly heartbreaking. Found in the centre of a rural road, her hair was so long, matted and smeared with feces that the woman who rescued her didn’t know which end was forward. She was likely used to breed puppies – that is, until she developed a uterine infection and was simply shooed out the door, her usefulness apparently come to an end. That Cora’s overgrown nails had curled into her paws was only a slight insult compared to the trauma she’d already suffered in her five years of life.
As we read about Cora, she stared back at us through the computer screen. She was shivering, shaved almost to the skin, with a tiny head and big eyes that pleaded to be taken home. The connection was made; we wanted to take her home. After passing the extensive screening process at Tiny Paws Rescue, we took her home. And Cora was pretty perfect: a hypoallergenic breed; apartment-friendly; adult in age; calm and friendly; a pug, literally!
If only that was where things ended. What we quickly found out was a good rescue story must come with a few obstacles. Cora’s problem presented itself when, only a week after we welcomed her home, her right eye became cloudy. Knowing Shih Tzus often have eye problems, we weren’t too worried. We assumed it was nothing a little ointment and a few eye-baths couldn’t fix. When Cora’s eye didn’t return to normal, after weeks of 4 a.m. drops, panic began to set in. Why wasn’t it getting better? What were we doing wrong? Were we actually ready to be puppy parents? Was she going to lose her eye?
So one morning, instead of traipsing through the park with the other dogs, we made an emergency visit to a veterinary eye specialist. The diagnosis was not good: Cora needed surgery immediately, or she might lose her eye. Less than a month into dog ownership, the prospect of Cora needing an expensive operation was overwhelming. Wasn’t it supposed to be all treats and tail wags by now, rather than vet visits?
The decision we eventually made was, in hindsight, the simple and obvious one. But the thought process behind it was agonizing. We loved Cora, but we barely knew her yet. We wanted to help her, but we didn’t know if we were ready for this. We wanted to make the right choice for her, but we needed it to be the right choice for us, too.
We called Tiny Paws for advice. It wasn’t like they were going to tell us not to help Cora. But it was reassuring to know that, even long after the adoption process, the rescue offered a supportive network of volunteers that we could depend on if we ever needed anything.
Now, Cora is doing great. After surgery (which Tiny Paws offered some financial support for) she still needs daily drops, but she was able to retain 80 per cent of the vision in her right eye. She loves playing outside as much as cuddling on the couch.
Cora turned out not to be the perfect pup on paper, but she’s now become our best friend forever. In the end, these few months of hardship will make up a very small chapter in Cora’s long and healthy life with us.