Written by Erin Celuch, Gateway Pet Guardians Foster Mom

Benae SleepingAbout 3 months ago, Allison Busby and I received a plea from Animal Control Officer Stephanie Iisacs, who works for a Mt. Vernon IL Animal Control. She was tasked with finding a rescue within 6 hours or euthanizing a 5 week old puppy found in a box that morning that was infested with hundreds of maggots and intestinal parasites. The puppy weighed 3 pounds. I had worked with Stephanie before pulling a pit mix that was badly injured from being hit by a car, so I knew when I received her message how urgent the matter was. None of us could live with not trying to give this puppy a shot at life, thus our journey began.

I immediately sent pictures of the puppy’s wounds to Hillside to assess the urgency of the situation, and they said it was crucial to see her as soon as possible. Clearly everyone was at work so we were struggling to figure out how to get the puppy, now named Benae, to the vet. But Stephanie wasn’t willing to give up, so she had one of her staff drive Benae all the way to Fairview Heights, IL that same afternoon, and Allison drove her to Hillside. It was a Friday.

When I picked her up she had holes in her back and half her back was just a raw oozing wound. She was a giant head, with giant eyes, and a tiny sickly body. But in truth, these are the types of fosters I like. The proverbial underdog. The ones that, unfortunately through no fault of their own, most animal control facilities simply cannot manage and are therefore forced to euthanize in order to provide more time for healthy dogs still waiting for a home.

Over the past 3 months, Benae (nicknamed Peanut due to her small stature) has had many doctor’s appointments. On top of the icky wound taking up a great portion of her back, Benae was also battling intestinal worms. It took 3 separate deworming treatments to evacuate them all. But we got rid of them! Her wounds began to heal, and finally her fur began to grow back… and then ringworm hit her. And a new set of treatments brought us to the shelter weekly for sulphuric/lime dips. Ringworm believe it or not is not an actual worm, but a fungus. And due to her weakened immune system, The Peanut was a prime target. But 4 dips in, it became a distant memory. Only to be met with a urinary tract infection. Insane isn’t it? But if you looked into the same eyes I have for the past several weeks you’d understand why it’s worth it.

Taking on these types of fosters isn’t always the easiest, but they are always the most rewarding for me. Helping these dogs fight to get healthy again – watching the spark in their eyes come back – is an amazing feeling. The instant you see them turn the corner and turn back into the dog they were meant to be is a reward beyond compare.

Benae and I are nearing the part in her journey where we will part ways. Although she has some permanent scars, most of her fur has grown back. She loves to play fetch and tug of war with her foster family, she is doing great with her obedience training (already knows sit, down, and watch me), and is crate trained (although she only stays in there when I run errands). She has a big personality, and is very sweet and loving. She is a great snuggler (as my iPad is propped on her now while I type and she farts and snores). She is an amazing pup who deserved a chance at life.

Benae and ErinFostering these types of dogs can be difficult at times. And they aren’t for everyone. There are many additional vet appointments to make. Rules to abide by. There are ups and downs as far as progress, but I promise you they will change you. And it will all be worth it to see your foster happy and healthy living in an amazing home that you helped put them in. You will fall in love. But for me the reminder that there are others out there waiting for their saviors, their heroes, to arrive keeps me moving on. We see beyond the wounds, the frail broken bodies with patchy fur or debilitating wounds and sickness, and instead see the end result.

I’m thankful to Gateway Pet Guardians for stepping up to back Stephanie and Benae in their time of need. To the staff at Hillside for getting her healthy. To Jane and Kimmy for the stinky dips. To donors who provided the financial support to enable GPG to offer Benae the chance to live, and me the opportunity to offer her that chance. She will accompany me and my crew to my parents for Thanksgiving, but soon after that will move on to the loving life she was meant for. She was healthy enough to go online and already is pending adoption.

Consider fostering. Volunteering. Or donating. In the end it takes an army and everyone plays a part in the happy ending.