Sunny and Possum–Something to Celebrate

Sometimes we try to save animals who are running out of time and we don’t make it and feel like failures. This week, I have something to celebrate. I shared an amazing experience where things seemed to magically click into place to help save two dogs’ lives. A group of wonderful people from Arizona, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and points in between helped a homeless mama cattle dog escape a hellhole in Harlan, Kentucky and travel to a safe foster home in Wisconsin. Earlier this week, Lynne of Safe Hands Rescue ( in Minneapolis contacted me about the mama cattle dog. Another group had rescued the puppies and left their red mama behind. Lynne had thought the other rescue group was going to save the mama too, and was upset to find out that she was still there. Lynne’s rescue group, Safe Hands, would have rescued the mama the week before if they’d known she would be left. But now Safe Hands was full-up with other dogs they had saved and Lynne couldn’t forget the mama cattle dog.

"Sunday" in Kentucky with one of her puppies

I first met Lynne in December of 2008 at an anniversary party/fundraiser for Safe Hands. This dedicated group first came together over Katrina animal rescue and continues to regularly bring homeless dogs from Harlan, Kentucky (where most have very little chance of surviving) to rescue and new homes in Minnesota. They have saved hundreds (maybe thousands) of dogs in the past few years. Lynne knows me through 8 State Hurricane Kate and my work with cattle dog rescue. Lynne told me that she knew of a transport coming up to Minnesota from Kentucky on Saturday and asked if I could find a safe place for the mama dog. I forwarded Lynne’s message to contacts between Kentucky and Minnesota and spoke with my guardian angel about this mama dog. Then amazing things began to happen.

Eileen (in WI), who manages the AuCaDo Rescue Fund, offered funds and began posting. Lise (in WI) offered to foster the mama dog (named “Sunday”) and Shannon of New Hope ACD Rescue in Arizona offered to sponsor her. Diana in WI offered to take care of Sunday temporarily until Lise could take her. Julie offered to take care of Sunday overnight in the Madison area if needed. Emily offered to drive Sunday from Madison to Diana’s house. Lynne made sure Sunday had vetting prior to travel and got on the transport from Kentucky to Wisconsin. All of this came together in just a few days! I’m relieved and happy to say that Sunday (now “Sunny”) arrived safe and sound in Wisconsin yesterday!

Sunday, now "Sunny" safe in Wisconsin

As I mentioned, Lynne and I met in Minneapolis. Eileen and I met online over Kate, when Eileen read Kate’s story in 2005 and offered help and encouragement. Eileen knew Diana and asked if she could help. Emily and I met in Wisconsin in 2006 when she helped transport my rescued dog Chase to me. Emily did post-Katrina animal rescue and helped found Orphan Animal Rescue & Sanctuary in northeastern Wisconsin ( I knew Shannon and Lise through their work with New Hope Cattle Dog Rescue & Rehoming in Arizona ( Lise had recently moved back to her childhood home of Wisconsin. Julie and I had recently reconnected after 30 years at our high school reunion in Madison, WI. Julie is active in Rottweiler rescue.

Although Lise and I haven’t met yet, I’m fortunate to have one of her limited edition handmade pop-up books, Mattie Came to Stay. This beautiful book tells the touching stories of different foster cattle dogs, who came from a puppy mill, the streets, and a family who had a baby and didn’t want the dog any more. When Lise fostered Mattie, she couldn’t let Mattie go to the adoption event, thus “Mattie came to stay”. I cry every time I read this book, about its touching stories with happy endings, and with gratitude for those who work so hard to make those happy endings come true. This beautiful book was made to benefit New Hope ACD Rescue. My copy was a gift from Bazza in Florida after he adopted Billabong (who we rescued from Roicy in Lafayette, LA in Sept of 2006) and after he read 8 State Hurricane Kate (Billabong’s story is told in chapter 17).

Last week I was reminded to pull my Mattie Came to Stay book off the shelf and read it again. Amazingly, I first heard of Lise Hawkos through this book and her work with New Hope ACD Rescue when she lived in Arizona. But I recognized the Hawkos name from a family that lived in the apartment next door to us in Middleton, WI when I was in kindergarten (way back in the 60’s!). Turns out, Lise is from this same family, with roots in Wisconsin herself. Her father is from the same family as the father of my childhood friend and neighbor, Teri Hawkos. Now Lise is back living in Wisconsin (not far from my relatives) and I’m sure we will meet in person some day. What a small world. What wonderful people we meet through this network. It’s amazing how we all become connected.

During this same week, DeAnne Racz of ACDRA ( helped my friend Sarah in Virginia ( find a new home for Possum, a 15 year old cattle dog whose owner recently passed away. Sarah and I met in Louisiana doing Katrina animal rescue, and Sarah also rescued my ACD-X Chase. I give two thumbs up to two happy endings in one week. And I thank the guardian angel who brought us all together.

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