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At Happy Howie’s, we are pleased to honor these dog lovers, pet parents, and rescuers who have gone above and beyond to care for a dog in need. We applaud them for making dogs happy! Meet Howie’s Heroes:

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Meet Eliza!

Here is Eliza’s (@eliza_the_rescue_dog) Foster Fail story as told by her pet-parent & hero, Annie…

On a rainy night in October 2020, a wet, emaciated and terrified dog was brought into a rural animal shelter in Northwest Florida. The staff noticed immediately that she couldn’t walk, so they got an x-ray and confirmed their fears: she had two broken hips, likely from being hit by a car.

The dog they eventually named Eliza also had a bruised lung, many kinds of worms and all sorts of other health problems. She cringed at human touch, and had to be sedated just to have her heartworm test done because she would growl at anyone who came near her. This caused the shelter to label her as “very aggressive,” because she was in so much pain and had been through so much abuse that she would act aggressively to people even trying to help her.

It was clear Eliza had suffered abuses much more horrific in her lifetime than having been hit by a car.

In early December, I saw a post about Eliza on the shelter’s Facebook page asking for donations so they could continue to care for medically needy dogs like Eliza. That was the first time I had seen or heard about Eliza, but taking one look at her scared big eyes in the video, I knew I had to free her.

I went to the shelter that weekend with every intention of picking Eliza up just to foster her. I’ve fostered plenty of dogs before, and thought that I could at least give her a loving home to heal in while she waited for her forever home.

When I went to pick Eliza up, I was heartbroken for her. She had to be carried out of the shelter and put into my car because she couldn’t walk. The first several days in my home, she was laying down 99.9% of the time, getting up only to use the puppy training pad in the middle of my kitchen. I could tell she was in excruciating pain, though she was slowly beginning to warm up to me—the first time she licked my hand, three days after bringing her home, felt like an Olympic victory.

About a week after I brought her home to foster, I took Eliza to a private vet, who suggested she undergo major hip surgery if she were to ever have a shot at being a “normal” dog – one who could chase squirrels, jump up on the couch, play with other dogs and more. Thanks to the kindness of strangers on the internet who were touched by Eliza’s story, I was able to raise the $2,100 for the needed surgery, and she went under the knife on Dec. 22, 2020.

The surgery was a huge success. On Christmas day, Eliza was already up and walking around more than she ever had since I brought her home. She was eating more, warming up to people and starting to become a happy dog.

Christmas Day was also the day I decided to make Eliza a part of my forever family.

The rest is history. I’ve celebrated every little one of Eliza’s milestones, from the first time she was strong enough to climb stairs to the first time I got her to walk on a leash. My other rescue dog, Macy, immediately took on the duty of being Eliza’s big sister (even though she’s a dachshund mix and about half Eliza’s size), and to this day Eliza follows Macy around like a shadow. Macy taught Eliza how to “dog,” and welcomed her into our home like a missing puzzle piece.

I’ve already made such amazing memories with this sweet pup – we’ve been to the beach, the mountains, to hometown breweries and on trips with my family. And still, nothing is quite as nice as curling up by the fireplace in the living room together under a soft blanket as I give her pets and love. She still has challenges and is still healing both physically and emotionally, but every day she is a little bit better than she was the day before.

So today, on an unseasonably cool April day in Florida, Eliza is cuddled up in bed on my left side and Macy is on my right. She had a busy day running around in the yard chasing squirrels, picking out toys from her toy basket and eating peanut-butter covered treats. She’s the first to fall asleep—she snores loudly and takes up a surprising amount of space on my king size bed, but I don’t dare make her move. Because that wet, scared, “very aggressive” dog is now warm, safe and the absolute goofiest, sweetest, funniest pup I know, and I’m so blessed to be her human for the rest of her life.

Meet Speedy!

Here is Speedy’s (@go_speedy_boy_go) rescue story as told by his rescuer who witnessed everything…

Two girlfriends and I went hiking in the Mexican countryside an hour from our home. On our way back from the hike, we saw a dog starting to cross the road. We stopped to let him cross. Suddenly a car came speeding from behind us, overtook us, and intentionally hit the dog. The car sped on and didn’t stop. We witnessed the dog fly 14 feet into the air and fall over the side of the bridge. We stopped our car and I went running to the scene. I look over the side of the bridge and I find the dog alive and swimming below. It was a miracle!

We ran to assist the dog, and jumped into the river to get him out. When we approached him, he tried to bite us, because he was in shock and in pain. I realized it was down to me to rescue him as I have the most animal handling experience. I pulled him by the scruff of the neck, letting go every time he swung his head around to bite me. Eventually I managed to pull him up onto the side of the river bank to prevent him from drowning. I ran back to the car to grab a small blanket I had with me. My idea was to put it over his head to calm him down. My friend who had been waiting in the car for us to return now came back to the river bank with me. She watched as I tried to get close to him and pick him up. He kept biting and snapping at me. This friend, who is a doctor, said “Phaedra. If he bites you, we know nothing about this dog and you’re going to have to have treatment for rabies”. \ Disheartened, I knew with that warning I had to pull back. It was getting dark. It’s very dangerous to drive in Mexico at night, and without all the appropriate tools for rescue, we had no choice but to leave him there on the river bank. My heart broke.

I couldn’t get him out of my head all night. I felt sick knowing that he was in shock, in pain, scared and alone. It was very cold and I thought for sure he wouldn’t make the night. In the morning when I woke, I was determined to go back and find him. This time, my husband and I drove back over an hour to find him.

I found him shaking and alone, in the same place I’d left him. This time, we came with gloves, food and all the necessary blankets for carrying him. He was a completely different dog this time, submissive and desperate to be saved. I opened a can of food in front of him. He slowly ate the whole thing. I knew he wanted to live.

We carried him back to the car, wrapped up. He was still wet and shaking. We drove back to the vets in our town. At first they couldn’t find any broken bones. They decided to open him up and found a damaged spleen. They removed it and he seemed much happier.

But I knew something was seriously wrong. I made an appointment with an orthopedic specialist vet and he confirmed that this dog would never walk again. His spine was broken and the medula was damaged. I was given 2 options: put him in a wheelchair and take on everything that entails, or put him to sleep. I knew that many animals out there thrive, even when they are paralyzed. I left determined to use my page (@balam_says) and power of influence, to create the best possible outcome for this poor puppy, only 9 months of age. Speedy was rescued by Mexico’s biggest pet cat page on Instagram. Speedy at that time didn’t know how much better his life was going to get.

Through the power of social media he was able to find a home in California with Hollywood movie animal trainer Debbie Pearl (Paws for Effect) who has another handicap dog Fast Eddie (@eddie_is_fast)! Living his best life now he is on his way to becoming a therapy dog with The Dream Fetchers Foundation (@dream_fetchers) so he can work and inspire children with disabilities like his brother Eddie. His motto; never give up, no limits! Like his brother Speedy will also visit childrens hospitals, visit senior centers and work with our veterans.

This boy is nothing short of a miracle and he will go on to give back and make a difference and hopefully change lives in the process.

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Meet Second Chance Mushers

Second Chance Mushers is a dog rescue that was formed in 2013. We take in Huskies, Malamutes and mixes of different breeds with a Husky or a Malamute. The dogs that come to this rescue all have a different reason for their surrender. Some come from homes that the owners find that these types of dogs require an enormous amount of exercise and the time that needs to be spent with them. Some come with reasons they can never be rehomed, and are in need of healing from where they have been and what they have come from. Each dog is different, different personalities, different energy levels, and all needing to be loved, given a job, and a purpose for their life. They love putting on a harness during the winter months and the joy of running with their pack as a dog sled team, giving rides to adults and children. They all enjoy the attention after the rides with time spent with our guests and rewarding them with treats for jobs well done! Summer months they are exercised by swimming or a summer cart for exercise with the pack. They come to us needing help, love, and a purpose, and they give back so much more, becoming part of our family.

Each dog’s journey is different and amazing to watch. From those that come so shut down that there is no ability to trust, and then you watch it unfold into this incredible dog that was inside all the time.  The dogs joy as they realize that this is a safe place, one with love and kindness is remarkable. And then those that crave that exercise where there had been none also realize happiness. Their play is even exciting to watch as all of these dogs overcome where they have been to a new place in life and the dogs they were meant to be. The goal of this rescue is to save dogs from all walks of life. We humans also benefit from what we learn from each and every dog. Along the way when we help them, our lives are also enriched in ways we could never imagine.

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Meet Chili Pepper

Chili Pepper has Cerebellar Hypoplasia, a Cerebellar Neurologic Condition. VRSM (Veterinary Rehabilitation & Sports Medicine) used Happy Howie’s woof stix to help her during her rehab and maintenance sessions.

Chili Pepper has since found her forever home—officially adopted by her foster family. They are supported by their rescue, Volunteer State Doberman Rescue. She gets her treats every morning, and we are told she is the sweetest “foster fail” ever!

Do you have a Howie’s Hero in your life? Nominate them by sending us their story and a photo/video on Facebook or Instagram — they just may be featured next!