You Can’t Keep a Good Dog Down

12 October 2014


By Joanna Dunn Samson, FOTAS Director

The little, red dachshund had been hit by a car. By the time Animal Control picked him up from the ditch beside the road, he was virtually comatose. His mouth and muzzle were misshapen and swollen, and his front right leg looked broken.

As it turns out, his leg was badly sprained, and his lower teeth were impaled in the soft tissue of the mouth from the impact. Over the next week, the Shelter staff administered sedatives, antibiotics and love. Day-by-day, he got better. Catherine Chadwick, the daughter of Shelter manager Martha Chadwick, named him Don Juan because he is such a loving little guy.

Enrique Vazquez is a Viet Nam veteran who lives in an apartment and walks with a cane. In recent months, Enrique has suffered a devastating family loss and the loss of his adored Boston Terrier.

Enrique told Jerry Lyda at Veteran’s K9 Solutions he was ready for another dog. On Monday morning, Jerry’s son, Jay, a trainer who works weekly with FOTAS volunteers, took Enrique to the Shelter to interview some prospects.

When Enrique met Don Juan, who had been moved to the adoption floor just minutes before Enrique and Jay arrived, it was love at first sight.

“Don Juan made a beeline for Enrique,” says Jay, “wagging his tail furiously. He jumped into his arms, rolled over and closed his eyes in ecstasy. Enrique couldn’t stop laughing.”

Volunteers and staff at the shelter rejoiced when Enrique took Don Juan home.

Then there’s Trinity, a young black lab mix with white markings, who was a victim of shocking abuse.

Picked up as a stray by Animal Control with a collar embedded in her neck, her back leg was severed below the knee with a bone protruding from mangled flesh.

Yet despite all the physical abuse meted out by humans and the obvious pain of her injuries, Trinity was not aggressive or threatening.

“She would lie quietly in her crate,” says Sandy Larsen, the Shelter’s senior vet tech. “Whenever someone stopped to check on her, she would wag her tail hopefully. I knew she was a special dog.”

So special, in fact, that she captured the heart of Dr. Lisa Levy, a veterinarian at Silver Bluff Animal Hospital who works with the shelter animals.  Dr. Levy appealed to her partners to allow her to properly amputate Trinity’s leg at the hospital gratis.

They agreed, and Dr. Levy operated immediately. By the end of the week, Trinity was back at the shelter. When she was able to walk on her own, FOTAS called on one of their most experienced volunteers, Sylvia Igoe, to foster Trinity until they found her a home.

“I was reluctant at first,” says Sylvia, “she seemed so hopelessly damaged. But I was touched by her willingness, so I agreed.”

Within 48 hours, Trinity went from cowering and shaking in her crate to totally bonding with Sylvia’s children, Isabelle and Sean, and her pack of four dogs, ranging from her big German Shepherd, Sam, to little Chi-Chi, a beloved Shelter alumni.

“Trinity is oblivious to her own disability. She runs and plays with my dogs with complete abandon. I came home the other day,” says Sylvia, “to find her happily sunning herself on a chaise lounge in the yard in the middle of my four dogs.”

“She is a rock star.”

These are stories of tragedy, resilience, forgiveness and love.

Despite their injuries and heartbreak, Enrique and Don Juan found each other. Two veterans of tragedy slowed down by age and disability – a perfect match.

Trinity teaches us about toughness of spirit and the healing powers of love. In two weeks, Trinity will leave Sylvia and go home with Dr. Levy, who just could not let her go.

The angels have been working overtime.


SILVER PAWS & SENIORS — half price adoption special for adopters over 60 who adopt dog/cat 6+ yrs — $35/dogs — $17 cats


MAMA CASS   female, American bulldog, 6 months old, 30 lbs — $70.00

TASHA   female, Calico, 1 yr old,  6 1/2 lbs   — $35.00