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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 Cricket!

Here is Cricket’s Rescue story as told by her pet-parent & hero, Kristen…

Summer of 2020, I definitely wasn’t looking for another dog, but I saw Cricket for the first time on the @labrescueokinc page. She had been picked up as a stray, and had some very specific needs, a dog door to escape if she felt afraid, a home with another confident dog, and a female only home because she was very terrified of even the nicest men.

I shared the post and tried to push it to the back of my mind because I didn’t have a dog door and I swore wasn’t getting another dog. A few months passed and her post was shared again. She had been with her foster family for many months at that point. I shared it again thinking, “someone please take this dog so I don’t have to!”

Then finally the rescue posted a video of her arriving at an adoption event and she did a low crawl out of the car looking for a place to hide…but I could tell she was trying so hard!! I thought “this is it, the reason no one else has come to adopt her is because she’s waiting on you!”

I filled out an application, put in a dog door, and I received a lengthy email from her foster mom about all of her fears and quirks and I responded immediately “yes, I want to meet her!” She responded in surprise because after that initial email she didn’t hear back from most people. At the time she didn’t know that Cricket was the only dog I applied for or wanted!

We set up a meeting and she explained, she is not like most dogs, she won’t be happy to see you and the meeting will likely happen as she’s hiding under the covers. I didn’t care I just wanted to try. We went to meet her and I saw her in the yard right away. She was low to the ground, and she didn’t want much to do with me but that didn’t matter. She accepted pets and even sniffed me a few times. Cricket was just the sweetest thing and for being so fearful was never aggressive. She had already come so far thanks to her amazing fosters.

The next meeting was at our house and she met my dog, George, and even my cat, and they got along perfectly. She ran and played with George and I was thrilled it went well.

The next visit was an overnight and we were all nervous. She spent most of the night outside. And the next morning I found all of the toys outside and my yard had some interesting new landscaping features, a ton of holes (which was one of her quirks listed in the email) but I didn’t mind. At that point I already knew now that I could do it, and I wanted her to come dig up my yard forever. She came for another weekend visit, and next I was approved by the rescue and her foster family. After almost a year with her foster family!

So that was it, we made it official and brought her to her forever home! I thought “well, if she always hides in my bedroom and never even likes me I don’t care I just want to give her a good life and a place to feel safe.” I very quickly realized that she had a very hard life before her rescue. She had triggers, like a person walking toward her, someone getting out a broom, loud noises. She wouldn’t come inside when called. For months she would slink by or if we passed in the hallway I would have to stand back so she didn’t literally run through me to get by to get away from me. I couldn’t pet her with two hands if she would retreat in fear I was about to grab her. She loved her outside time so much though, she could be a dog as long as no one was watching. I just gave her the space she needed and made slow and steady movements. We got into a routine. She started eating in front of me. Then slowly she started coming out of the bedroom more, watching, wanting to be a part of the action with the family. I stopped walking around her and walked by her and she didn’t move. She  started following her dog brother’s lead and hung out in the kitchen while I was cooking, asking for treats, staying inside more. Basically learning how to be a dog while people watched.

Next, I couldn’t believe it, she climbed on the couch with me for snuggles and now even noses me in the leg while I’m cooking to remind me that she’s there for taste tests. She’s like a puppy, she will run up for pets and attention and will let you know she wants something.

Now at almost a year, she greets people at the door instead of hiding when the doorbell rings, she runs and plays and acts like a dog! I can pass her in a doorway without being shoved out of the way, and I can pet her with both hands. I’ve been amazed at how far she has come in the last year and I never expected it. She does new dog things every day!

She is my spirit dog through and through. She takes a long time to trust it when she loves she loves BIG.  @cricket_pie_doggo is still quirky and funny, she will dig a hole, she will howl at the moon, she will steal your laundry, and keeps one eye on people at all times but she is the sweetest girl and I’m glad I couldn’t say no to her because it was meant to be!

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Dog collar picked up at one of the markets in Sayulita, MX that traveling dog owners would pick up for their pets at home.

Meet Bonsai!

Here is Bonsai’s Rescue story as told by her pet-parent & hero, Dani, dog trainer at Pooches and Palomas LLC (@poochesandpalomas)…

It was the fourth of July, most Americans were attending barbecues with their families and tipping back their favorite drinks. On the fourth of July this year I was in Mexico. While there, my girlfriend and I would be volunteering at a Dog Rescue in Bucerias, MX. I asked the community of Rochester, MN two weeks before leaving on this trip for any donations of dog gear such as collars, leashes, treat pouches and harnesses and the community was amazing: donating well over 50 of these items in a short amount of time.

I own a small business in Rochester, Minnesota called Pooches and Palomas where I blend Craft Cocktails and Dog Training which opened this year on my 28th Birthday. I want to share a story with you that not only captures a story of a beautiful rescue pup but how amazing complete strangers can be.

We were driving back to my cousin’s beautiful eco homes after a nice lunch in Punta De Mita when I saw this beautiful black dog, very skinny, eating anything he could find in the middle of a busy roundabout. I pulled over the car and my girlfriend said “Are you really doing this?” And I didn’t look back. I walked up to this pup who was in the middle of the street and let him finish what he was eating. He looked at me and he reminded me so much of my boy Mylo at home. Long legs, a little timid but there was this glow. The veterinarian said he was about 6 months old when we took him there. The overpopulation of dogs in Mexico and similar countries is overwhelming and sad and it’s not uncommon to see when traveling. All of the shelters were full and we were to fly out on July 8th. We couldn’t put this pup back on the street and we knew we could give him a great life if he were to come home with us.

We reached out to every shelter in the area and surrounding. Unfortunately, all of the rescues were at full capacity. We were turned away from each shelter which truly was heartbreaking, not because they didn’t want to help but rather, they were at capacity and didn’t have the funding, resources or capability to care for any more dogs than the ones they already had.

Bonsai was found on July 4th, 2021. We got him all of the vaccinations we would need by this amazing veterinarian in Bucerias. He is a very relaxed and calm pup although he did start to show us his little spunky personality the past couple days and his many puppy qualities.

We picked him up an airline approved crate that he would need to fly back to Minnesota in. We spent all day Tuesday searching for the one he would need to go aboard our flight home.

Bonsai didn’t get to come with us aboard our flight on July 8th. He was about an inch too tall at 22lbs. Bonsai could comfortably lay in his carrier and turn around. The Airline denied entry even though he was comfortably sleeping. The airplane we were on is an aerobus which means dogs cannot ride in the cargo area because there is no air conditioning. To be able to go aboard a flight in the cargo area the make of the plane would need to be a Boeing. It’s not that easy. He needs to be on a flight that has a passenger assigned to him in order to go in the cargo area. We weren’t able to purchase another flight and have him be in the cargo area under the plane.

Two friends we had made who volunteer at A Dog’s New Life came and picked him up at the airport. Bonsai kept trying to come follow us into the airport. We were his people now. We said our goodbyes and I told him we would come back for him. That was the most emotional flight back home. We couldn’t stop crying.

Bonsai stayed with friends we made in Mexico named Roger and Blaze and we quickly started trying to figure out plans to get Bonsai to the States. I knew that if we could get him stateside, it would be easier to get him home. Roger and Blaze were working on arrangements to get him to the Arizona border as they know some people who transport pet goods to the states.. The date and time kept changing due to different plans and making all of the pieces come together was difficult. Thankfully we were able to arrange for volunteers to travel down and pick him up.

This story isn’t just about the family being reunited with their dog. It’s about all of the good people that have helped along the way out of the kindness of their heart to pull this off. From where Bonsai was located in Mexico it is 20 hours to the border and then another 26 hours to Minnesota.

Everything happened very quickly. And it was quite the movement. This is #bringingbonsaihome

It was Monday, July 12th, We got word that Bonsai was with a volunteer driver named Pablo was heading north. This was my cue to start my adventure down south to reunite with Bonsai.

Family, Friends and complete strangers donated to @bringingbonsaihome on Venmo to provide myself with gas, coffee and food for the trip to get Bonsai. Bonsai was in 4 different transports all driven solely by volunteers whose goal was to get bonsai to the states to be reunited with myself. I slept very little at gas stations along the way. Bonsai arrived in the states Tuesday afternoon and was picked up from a dog rescue volunteer where she would care for him until I would arrive. It was Tuesday the 13th at 9:07pm when I saw Bonsai again and I was so thankful to see him. He wiggled all of the way up to me. I am so incredibly excited for Bonsai’s life. I know that he will have the best life with me. I am so excited to fill it with positivity, joy and love. There were over 30 people who helped pull this off, most being complete strangers who all came together to help one dog.

The rescue of one Mexican Street dog has highlighted how entire communities can rally together for one cause, Let Bonsai be the reminder of the good in this world.

Meet Mike from Primal Canine!

Mike Jones from Primal Canine was nominated to be a Howie’s Hero via instagram based off his work with rescues and the community. This is his story…

So my story with dogs starts around the age of 13, I grew up in the East Side of San Jose, CA. Where at the time, my household situation wasn’t the best, so I spent a lot of time outside with my friends. The area I lived in wasn’t the greatest and there were TONS of stray dogs and they were either chasing us on our bikes, or just roaming the streets. I immediately felt a sense of relief being around dogs and they quickly became my escape from my reality. A little later in life I got in a little bit of trouble and ended up doing community service at a local shelter where I was exposed to a slew of dogs with all kinds of personalities and behaviors. After sometime I had the opportunity to work with some of their high risk cases and really fell in love with seeing these dogs essentially on death row, progress to being adoptable.

Years later around age of 21, through a friend of a friend I met a mentor of mine who was the president of the San Jose German Shepherd Club where they specialized in Shutzhund. I learned to become a “Helper” (for those who don’t know what that is, it’s the guy with the bite sleeve that the dog attacks). Learning the contrasting styles gave me tons of insight to a whole new world of dog training, which would end up helping me start the mold to what is now our Primal Canine balanced method.

Life took its course as usual, but the dogs stayed consistent in my life. I began to volunteer at the local daycare named Springdale Kennels in San Jose, CA. The daycare had a huge problem with people either dropping dogs off and never picking them up, or tie them to the post outside and leave them there. This is where I come into play, I worked with all their dogs that were dropped off and never picked up, trained them, and then helped get them adopted. The manager Jeff quickly noticed my passion for dogs and dog training and started to push me to start doing it professionally… Then “Mike Jones Dog Psychology” was born haha. A couple years later I made the decision to start dog training full time, at that time I had a personal strength and conditioning company called “The Primal Workout” which was based on building strength with natural movements. It made perfect sense for me to call the company Primal Canine seeing even back then, we were working and tailoring things to the dogs in front of us and helping the owner communicate properly with their dog.

After a few years and the growth of Primal and the reputation we built working with dogs no one would work with, we decided to start our own self funded rescue for euthanasia cases called “The Free Dogs Foundation”. The whole purpose was to save dogs and show people that most behaviors can be rehabbed. The Free Dogs Foundation is no more, but we still continue to be heavily involved with rescues and shelters where we offer our services for free weekly to their tougher cases.

Primal Canine has continued to grow throughout the years and has branched out into many different sectors in the dog world but we always stay true to our roots, save dogs that in reality saved me.

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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, or submit here— they just may be featured next!