Last week we had the opportunity to experience the true meaning of partnership with an act of such generosity that we feel compelled to share it.
Edward’s not-so-excellent adventure
Despite the best efforts of many parties involved, a shelter dog who was trained for service and donated by inmates in a restorative justice program in Missouri turned out to be a less-than-perfect fit for one of our veterans. Edward was a once-homeless dog who, while in the care of the The Animal Shelter of Texas County (TASTC) in Houston, Missouri, entered their Healing Paws program – a collaboration with the state’s innovative efforts to train shelter pets throughout their prison system. He was flown to Arizona for what everyone hoped would be a productive and fulfilling life as a service dog for a disabled veteran.
By Friday, May 11 it was clear that the veteran and Edward would part ways. For perfectly legitimate reasons the veteran was unable to foster Edward while we worked with TASTC to rehome the dog responsibly. We had little time to get Edward someplace safe where we could work on a plan.
University Animal Hospital saves the day…and the dog
We called the hospital manager at University Animal Hospital in Tempe, our local veterinary partner. As part of our program, they offer an ongoing 10% discount to veterans and service members in our program who adopt and eligible dog or cat from our area shelter partners. The hospital has been in the Tempe community for 50 years and we asked if they would help us find an individual or organization that would be great for Edward. They did better.
Without hesitation, University Animal Hospital offered to board Edward free of charge – to give him the security and space he needed while we searched for a forever home. As if that were not enough, they promised to network Edward among their considerable contacts within the community, amplifying our efforts to get him one step closer to a new family.
This is the true meaning of a partner. It’s not about the words; it’s about the deeds.
Friends across the miles
Our window of opportunity to help Edward was small and we aimed to have more than one potential plan in place, not knowing at the time which would work and which would fall through. With that in mind we contacted Canines With a Cause (CWAC) in Salt Lake City. Through their innovative train-the-trainer program, they have placed several rescued dogs with veterans in our program. We knew they acquired most of their animals from kill shelters – even in other states – and called to see if they could help.
Their director was very interested in an already trained service dog since many of the veterans who adopt through CWAC need service animals. Immediately, CWAC put out calls to their volunteer transport network to organize a possible ‘road trip’ for Edward from Arizona to Utah.
Edward finds a new ‘best friend’
Not long after contacting CWAC, we received a call from Soldier’s Best Friend in Arizona; they had been referred to us by University Animal Hospital. The not-for-profit organization trains service dogs for disabled veterans and was interested to meet Edward. We spoke at length about our mutual interests to get Edward into a home setting where he could decompress and de-stress, and ultimately be evaluated for their program. TASTC was on board with the plan; now we just had to get Edward to neutral territory.
The veteran’s wife dropped Edward off at University Animal Hospital on the morning of May 12, with all of his records, training instructions and – of course! – his toys, including several they purchased for their older dog, but that Edward “adopted” as his own. The hospital donated his Bordatella shot, noticing that he was slightly overdue.
Edward then became perhaps the shortest-term kennel resident ever.
We contacted Soldier’s Best Friend to let them know that Edward was available for evaluation. Within an hour, Edward was picked up from University Animal Hospital and on his way to a foster home, where he’ll spend the next few weeks adjusting to a home setting. His foster mother is a wheelchair user with her own service dog, trained through Soldier’s Best Friend, who will help Edward achieve his ultimate potential: to serve a disabled veteran.
None of this would have been possible if University Animal Hospital had not offered to give Edward a safe haven, no less for free. Their generosity instantly provided the stability, safety and time for all of us to develop a plan for Edward that was in his best interests. We’re certain that if he could talk he would thank his friends at the hospital, but since he can’t, we will: thank you, University Animal Hospital, for demonstrating the true meaning of partnership.
P.S. Edward is doing well! At his first-ever visit to a dog park, after about 45 minutes of sticking to himself, he discovered he could run. As his foster mother said, “Pure delight on paws…he just ran like he’d never dreamed such a thing existed.”