By Savannah Verdon, RedRover Development and Engagement Coordinator
Jenna has a special place in her heart for homeless dogs. She often goes out of her way to help them with food and plenty of love, hoping that their chance at a good life with a loving family is just around the corner. One of the dogs caught her attention – the sweet, chocolate-colored pitbull had a home, but whenever she saw him, he seemed hungry and sick. Still, his eyes were bright and she could tell he was full of life and love. She was determined to bring him home to her family.
With a little convincing of his then-owner, Sammy the chocolate pittie was soon the newest member of Jenna’s pack. He was in rough shape. She had learned that his owner had been bedridden for two full years, and no one in his family knew how Sammy was being fed or if he had ever been to a veterinarian. He had never had a bed or toys of his own to play with. Jenna promised to change that.
Right away, Sammy was welcomed by Jenna’s two other dogs, Nena and Kilo. Little Nena would gently nudge him awake every morning, something she had never done before, and big brother Kilo wanted to play with Sammy so badly. He would offer his toys up to Sammy, and even though Sammy wasn’t quite sure how to play with them, Kilo kept trying. Sammy was finally able to experience just being a dog, and his gratitude moved through him – Jenna was delighted to see him wagging his tail and doing his little happy dance whenever she came in the door.
But while Sammy’s heart and soul were healing, years of neglect had taken their toll on his body. He was severely emaciated when Jenna first brought him home, and because so many of his teeth were broken, it was difficult for him to eat and put on weight. What’s more, Sammy had severe cases of both hookworms and heartworms. After getting him up-to-date on all of his vaccines, Jenna focused all of her energy on figuring out how she would get Sammy through this last hurdle before he could finally know peace.
Sammy would need a series of three injections to treat the heartworms, plus eight weeks of rest and one last negative heartworm test before he would be fully recovered. Jenna had been able to take care of his other ailments, but her family’s financial situation was about to change drastically, and she was uncertain how they would afford his heartworm treatment.
Jenna’s husband Eric was scheduled to have a second hip replacement surgery just two days after Sammy’s appointment to get his first injections. To aid in his recovery, Eric was going to receive short-term disability benefits that were less than half of his usual income, and he would still need to pay for his medical insurance. After his first hip replacement surgery, he suffered a heart arrhythmia that cost the family several thousands in medical bills. They wanted to be very cautious the second time around, so he was planning to be out of work for at least two months, if not longer. Jenna herself received disability benefits, and they were still trying to keep up with their mortgage and payments on a loan they had taken out after his first surgery to get by. Jenna was in a tough spot, but she was still committed to giving Sammy the life he deserved.
“Sammy is dying to play and seems very happy. He watches our Kilo a lot to see what he does since I’m assuming he has been [living] outside most of his life. The change in him is so great to see. He runs to the door wagging his tail and I’ve even gotten kisses from him. He is so sweet and almost seems to think ‘if I act good, they won’t get rid of me.’ You’d have to see his behavior to know what I mean. He loves being around my dogs and my children’s dogs too. I think the pack helps him see he isn’t going anywhere.”
While Jenna won’t know for another six months whether Sammy is completely heartworm-free, she is optimistic, and she has asked that everyone keep him in their thoughts. Because you make Happy Tails like Sammy’s possible, you will be in this family’s thoughts forever.
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