cowboy 2All of the dogs at Gateway Pet Guardians need some form of help upon rescue. But some require extra care—real medical help. And they need a kind and patient foster family to nurture and love them along on their journey.

Shanda Cuccio and her family open their home to these special cases. Their home is a ‘hospital ward’ for sick and injured animals. They specialize in medical cases, providing a secluded, quiet space where rescued animals can recover from whatever ails them.

On October 10, 2015, Shanda received a call from GPG’s Rescue Coordinator about a dog that had been hit by a car in Cahokia with severe injuries. A police officer discovered a deceased dog laying on the road and got out of the car to move it, but realized the dog was still alive. Without hesitation, she said yes to fostering him. And the dog was shortly after named Cowboy.

We knew nothing about Cowboy when we found him, but we learned quickly that he needed help. Shanda recounts, “He was a mess medically. His leg was shattered, and he had a bullet wound through the top of his shoulder blade, exiting under his rib cage, which had caused a chest contusion. The leg was severely damaged.”

cowboy1Cowboy ended up needing surgery on his leg, and had 3 plates and 14 screws put in. He had a long road to recovery, but he had a very special friend cheering him on. Shanda spent every day with him, and controlling his pain became a full time job, alternating pain meds every hour. He laid peacefully on a bed at her feet during her entire work day, going for short walks. She taught him multiple tricks to keep his mind busy and he learned quickly.

But, after several long weeks with Shanda, Cowboy’s leg made a recovery. And when the dogs heal, they move on so Shanda can care for more sick animals. Cowboy will forever hold a place in Shanda’s heart, but he is still looking for his forever home where he can live happily ever after.

Shanda is always eagerly awaiting her next foster. She is committed to helping the injured and sick recover and find their second chance. “I love so many things about fostering but maybe the most important is that I have learned to be a better version of myself through these dogs. They teach you patience, gratitude, love, humility and wonder. I am grateful for my life and I believe everyone needs to give back something to the bigger world, in order to pay it forward.”

Thank you, Shanda and family, for opening your home to Cowboy. Your sacrifice proves that one life does truly matter, and we are honored to have you as a member of the Gateway Pet Guardians Foster Family. We look forward to seeing where Cowboy’s journey takes him!

To learn more about Cowboy, click here. To learn about how you can make a difference to dogs like Cowboy by fostering, click here.