Sadie’s Story

After last week’s heart-wrenching blog post,, I am happy to share a much happier story this week. This is Sadie’s story. It’s an illustration of how rescue should work. If not for stories like Sadies, I’d probably curl up in a ball. It seems as if 90% of the time, what we see in rescue isn’t joyful. There’s a lot of sadness involved. This “calling” isn’t exactly what I had in mind for my retirement years. At times I see the worst of humanity. Thankfully, there is a flip side to that coin. The rescue community has some of the most awesome humans on the planet. Thankfully, some of them are involved in our rescue, Must Luv Dogs. Sadie’s story is an example of what makes all the hard work and sometimes deep sorrow worthwhile. It proves that when like-minded people take the time to help these beautiful creatures, that we’ve been entrusted with, we can make a difference. It puts into motion our mission statement, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.” Remember, it all begins with one person. One person who makes the sometimes split-second decision NOT to drive past a stray without DOING something. One person, willing to be inconvenienced enough to turn their car around and stop, can begin a chain reaction of love and hope for that helpless creature. Thankfully, Sadie’s story begins with one such person. An ordinary person who did an extraordinary thing. A man who has a servant’s heart and an incredible love for these four-legged creatures we call “DOG”. Here’s the story:

Sadie when first rescued. Starving and lost. J D Hudson rescued her and contacted Must Luv Dogs Rescue for help.

Several months ago, a fellow dog lover and FB friend and follower, J D Hudson, contacted our lost pets site about a stray dog that he found. She was a starving boxer mix and looked to be in pretty poor condition. Her coat was covered in ring worms and bites, as well as several scarred areas, where she was either attacked or abused. J D is a regular donor to our rescue, as well as a champion for dogs everywhere. He currently has aggressive dogs so he can’t foster at this time. Even so, he pulled over and did what was necessary to get this beautiful big girl out of harm’s way. He protected her from a horrible fate that so many strays succumb to…. being hit by a car. J D’s kindness began Sadie’s road to healing. This simple act of love and concern soon gave Sadie her second chance at life. After taking Sadie to his vet and paying for her initial care, J D handed her off to Sadie’s next hero. Vikki Riggle, another MLD friend and rescue contributor, was following the situation online. Vikki took one look at Sadie’s beautiful face and skeletal body and knew she had to step up to take Sadie in. We agreed to take Sadie into our program and cover her expenses and get her on the path to adoption. Vikki and husband Andre brought Sadie home and were determined to fatten her up and teach her about being a part of a family. For the first time, Sadie experienced the love of a human. It was obvious that she had been a breeder at some point and was likely discarded once the owners no longer needed her. Sadie was soon gaining weight and her skin was clearing up. Must Luv Dogs’ vet, Dr. Liz Ezelle, began her heart worm treatment, as well as courses of antibiotics to clear up her skin infections. We also spayed Sadie so that she could enjoy the rest of her life as a happy-go-lucky girl. We all watched as slowly she grew into the beautiful girl she was meant to be. Under Vikki’s love and guidance, Sadie learned how to play. She came to adoption events, but was always a bit leery of other large dogs. This is a rescue behavior of defensive posturing, indicative that she was possibly attacked at some point in her life. One thing that was so beautiful about Sadie is that she never blamed humans for her terrible lot in life. She LOVES humans. She loves getting her back scratched and snuggling. We were all praying for the perfect forever family for Sadie.

Vikki Riggle says goodbye to Sadie. Vikki acted as Sadie’s foster mom, loving her back to health.

At our last adoption event, we were discussing our wish list for Sadie. We always try to match up the perfect family for our pups. Remarkably, God always seems to find a way to send them our way. We wished for a family where Sadie would be the only dog so that he could always feel safe and secure. We also hoped for older children because we knew she loved kids. I sometimes worry for our dogs that have special adoption needs. It narrows the field of possibilities for them finding their forever families. However, as God has proven time and again…He already had a family in mind for Sadie. A few days after our event, I was contacted by Shanna Prejean. Shanna has owned & loved boxers all of her life. She and her beautiful 8 yr old daughter, Paylin, lost their last boxer a few years ago. She knew she would add another boxer to her family, but had been waiting for just the right time. When she found Sadie and saw her photo online, she knew Sadie was the one! With a prayer on my lips, I quickly forwarded Shanna’s Adoption Application to Brenda Z, our Due Diligence Coordinator. I tried to put it out of my mind and give Brenda the time to check out vet records, references etc. I already knew that Shanna had a secure yard- CHECK. I knew she had no other dogs – CHECK. I knew that Shanna had the almost perfect working situation in order to spend lots of quality time with Sadie- CHECK. I almost couldn’t contain myself. I wanted to contact Vikki and let her know, but didn’t want to get her hopes up. In record time, Brenda let me know that Shanna was the perfect applicant! What joy! Vikki was over the moon when I let her know. Shanna and I soon talked over the phone. I could hear the excitement when I told her she had been approved to adopt Sadie. I could also hear the loving person that she was. After a rough few weeks with the rescue of late, tears rolled down my cheeks when I hung up the phone. This time they were tears of joy. Happiness that all started with one person. One person whose extraordinary act had started a chain reaction that was now changing the course of Sadie’s life. J D was Sadie’s white knight.

It’s hard to describe how it feels when handing over one of our beautiful dogs to their new family. We’ve poured so much love and attention into these precious pups and we don’t take it lightly. It was hard watching Vikki’s last moments with Sadie. As a foster many times over, I know how gut wrenching it can be to let them go. It is a PURE SELFLESS act. As I tell my team so often, “fostering ‘aint for sissys.” After driving away toward the meeting with Shanna, I was so excited for her future and looking forward to meeting Shanna and Paylin in person. I was thinking about how many humans had a hand in her coming full circle, getting rescued, getting healthy and finally starting her life over with a brand new family. J D, Vikki, Andre, and my entire team at Must Luv Dogs played a hand in Sadie’s new beginnings. Feeling thankful for all who participated in this wonderful rescue process, I drove Sadie to our meeting place. I looked back to see her lying there, calm as ever. Its as if she knew her life was about to change. I believe that dogs are very intuitive and have senses that we don’t. This thinking may not be very scientific, but I’ve seen it so many times. I must say that this meet and greet did NOT disappoint. When Shanna and Paylin drove up and got out, Sadie’s little nub began to wag, the very picture of what we call “happy tails”! I believe Sadie fell in love with her new family the moment she saw them. She was especially crazy about Paylin. Paylin’s beautiful little smile lit up the place when Sadie happily jumped into their car, settling in for their long ride home. I’ve shared some photos of these wonderful moments. I will forever be grateful for those involved in Sadie’s rescue and new life, as well as the over 120 other dogs we’ve saved this past year. I’m especially thankful to Shanna for adopting, and not shopping, when she was ready to grow her family by one! It seems that we shed a lot of tears in this line of work. Thankfully tears of joy are included.

Cindy Shotwell, Exec. Director of Must Luv Dogs Rescue giving Sadie a final hug goodbye.
Shanna & Paylin, giving Sadie a welcome kiss!
Shanna & Paylin Prejean with Sadie, their newest family member.
This says it all!!!

Finding Myrtle

Concerned neighbors, Amanda & mother Wendy had been feeding Myrtle since she appeared in the area a few months ago. They were trying to gain her trust to help her when they contacted Must Luv Dogs Rescue for help in capturing her.

Yesterday, like many times before, I was following up on a request to help rescue a stray dog. It came from Amanda, a FB follower in Baker. She reported that a very skittish, apparently pregnant, female had been roaming in the area of her mother’s home for the past several weeks. Our fear was that she would have her puppies this weekend during the very cold and wet weather conditions. After checking the layout of the area, I quickly saw that it was going to take more than one of us, if we were to catch her. Her normal hang out spots had too many places she could run. I left food & met with Amanda’s mom, Wendy. Wendy had been feeding her for weeks & was very concerned about her situation. Wendy reported that the dog was staying at night in the backyard of one of the many empty homes in the once vibrant residential neighborhood.

Per usual, my first call was to my rescue buddy, Doug Wayne. Doug was working but told me he’d come help after he got home. Doug & I have been on rescue missions before. In fact, some of the very first pups we adopted out from Must Luv Dogs were a result of one of these. Big Mamie, Hamilton & Lil’Bit (Andie), to name a few. I donned Doug “the dog whisperer” or “Super Doug” years ago. He can catch pretty much any stray he sets his mind to catch. It takes patience sometimes. But he never gives up.

Fast forward a few hours & Doug & I were scoping out the backyard of the empty home. Doug was going further into a grown up area to see if he could find where the dog may lay up at night. I decided to go back to my truck to get my rope leash when I spotted her sitting across the street. By this time Amanda, Wendy’s daughter, showed up to help. Doug soon came through from the back yard with his catch pole and began approaching her. As soon as she realized what was happening, she predictably bolted. I stood closer to the street to make sure she wouldn’t double back & bolt into traffic. Amanda helped pursue this sweet frightened soul as she gave chase. In the end, Doug, caught up with her in a ditch area where she got stuck in a small fenced area. I went back to help Doug retrieve her and we all climbed our way out of the long overgrown ditch area. We had noticed earlier that she was limping badly. Another neighbor confirmed that she’d been hit by a car a “few days” earlier, as we crossed over his yard headed toward the kennel in my truck. This poor sweet girl was panting and really struggling to breathe. With her very distended tummy, we all assumed she may be in labor. That, along with the fact that she had obvious damage to her hind leg, we made the decision to immediately rush her to the vet clinic.

Doug carried her into the clinic when we arrived. Thinking she was pregnant, we laid her on a blanket on the floor in the back exam room. Dr. Blair was on call and was quickly concerned. Observing that the pup was in very obvious respiratory distress, after a brief exam, Dr. Blair confirmed what was beginning to dawn on us. This was NOT a pregnant dog. Dr. Blair went over our options. Sedation for exploratory surgery wasn’t a option given the condition of the patient. Suspecting a possible spleen rupture, a sonogram revealed her belly was extremely full of blood. Blood also surrounded her heart and lungs, accounting for her breathing difficulties. Based on her teeth, we observed that we were dealing with an approximate 2 year old. I NEVER want to give up on a dog this young so I asked Dr. Blair if she would attempt to draw some of the fluid out . Hoping this would relieve some of the respiratory issues and help her to breathe more normally, thereby making it possible to perform surgery. Sadly, however, the fluid had been built up for so long that it had developed proteins and other filaments making it impossible to extract via tube insertion or syringe. My heart fell because I knew we were out of options.

At this point, I stepped back and looked objectively at this truly beautiful four-legged soul lying before me. Despite being on her own for a very long time, you could see that she once had a beautiful coat of warm brown fur. Her nails were now caked with mud and in dire need of clipping. Doug had earlier observed the nails on each of her dew claws curling back, growing into itself. This, along with her diseased gums and poor skin condition, showed us that this sweet soul had been fending for herself for a VERY long time. Based on her age, I estimated that she’d been alone possibly since she was a young adult. In addition, she was recently missing a paw and her back leg and foot looked possibly fractured. Assuming all of this damage was done with her recent run in with a car, she had been living in much pain and distress for the past several days, her belly slowly filling up with blood and fluid, making her appear to be pregnant. What a fighter! For her to still be alive was a miracle.

As much as I’d like to give this story a happy ending; as happens too many times, it simply isn’t the reality of the situation. As I watched this beautiful soul struggle to draw her next breath, I knew they were waiting for me to make a decision. I also knew that the decision had been taken out of my hands. Selfishly, I wanted to do more. But I couldn’t be selfish to this sweet girl. She deserved peace. She deserved to be out of pain. She deserved so much more than her human in this life gave her. It’s times like these when I feel like punching somebody in the face. I want to find the person who enjoyed this girl as a cute little puppy. The person who laughed and cuddled her cute little fluffy puppy body while she was rolling around on the floor trying to chase a ball. The person who didn’t have time for her after she grew out of that cute puppy stage. The person who hit her too hard in anger when she was teething and chewed up their new sneakers. The person who no longer spent time with the adolescent version of the cute puppy she once was. The person who didn’t take the time to properly house train her or pay attention to her cues when she needed to pee. The same person who threw her out into the cold, wet, night when she peed on the living room floor again, simply because she was confused as to what to do. The person who finally put her in their car, drove across town and dropped her off in the middle of the night. Confused and alone, this beautiful soul couldn’t knock on a door and ask for help. She couldn’t tell someone that her owner “accidentally” left her and she wasn’t sure where to sleep or what to eat. Weeks turned into months while she desperately tried to find “home” again. She was yelled at, shot at, and sometimes chased away by other humans and larger dogs. At first she tried to approach families she saw, hoping maybe they would love her. As time marched on, nobody seemed interested in who she was or where she belonged. Eventually, she became street smart and leery of all humans; learning to recognize them as potential threats to her safety. The initial love she felt from humans was quickly fading from her memory. She rummaged for food and became accustomed to living with hunger pangs and thirst for clean, fresh, water. She found a few, favorite protected spots where she could grab a few hours of sleep without feeling threatened. This is when she became the skittish, but loving dog we just rescued.

As my mind snapped back into reality, I instructed Dr. Blair to put this beautiful soul out of her misery. It never gets easier. It never doesn’t’ make me super sad. As usual, the tears started rolling as I watched this beautiful creature slip out of her mortal, painful, broken body and into the everlasting. Once again, Doug and I discussed the “AT LEASTS”. AT LEAST at the end of her life she knew there were humans who loved her. AT LEAST she didn’t die outside in the cold where nobody would notice. AT LEAST we were there to gently calm her and lay hands on her as she slipped away. AT LEAST she slipped away quickly and her remains will be taken care of humanely. Sometimes, in this world of rescue, AT LEASTS are all we have. We have to learn to accept it and be okay with it. Problem is, I NEVER want to be okay with the fact that people are allowed to own a pet and then discard them like a pair of overly stretched-out socks. But after 55 years of living, I know myself well enough not to let my brain go down that rabbit hole. It will only end in sadness, frustration and more anger. Instead, I decide to name this sweet girl. She deserves better than to slip away anonymously. She deserves to have her name on someone’s lips, being spoken aloud one last time. My mind flashed on the name of the street I first saw her and from where she was rescued. Myrtle Street. Okay, Myrtle. Goodbye Myrtle. RIP Myrtle. I’m sorry Myrtle. This life is a mixed bag. Its full of experiences and people ranging from horrible to joyful. I’m sorry you didn’t get to experience much of the latter. Myrtle, I hope you are running free in a beautiful place. Myrtle, I hope I get to see you again someday & that we can embrace in the glow of pure joy and love. Myrtle, YOU are the reason that I spend my retirement years working in rescue. AT LEAST that is something. Cindy

Myrtle 2017 – 2019

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.  Prov. 31:8