Before she was even a year old, Poppie the German shepherd and Chow Chow mix had already been shuffled in and out of animal shelters in California.
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The puppy was born with Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH), a neurological condition that affects her mobility. Although Poppie’s coordination, balance, and motor skills are impaired, the condition doesn’t cause her any pain. Sadly, every adoption fell through because no one wanted a disabled pet.
Poppie was also slapped with an “aggressive” label due to her reactivity issues. When the dog was sent back to a shelter after yet another an adoption failure, this time she was scheduled to be euthanized. Thankfully, fate intervened in the form of one very caring woman in Kingsburg, California.
Diane Ewert works with an animal rescue herself. A friend of hers saw Poppie on the shelter’s “death row” and sent her a message. Diane knew right away that she had to save this beautiful animal from certain death. She immediately went to the shelter and took responsibility for Poppie, arriving just one hour before she was scheduled to be put down.
When Diane walked into the shelter, Poppie greeted her like an old friend – almost as if she knew Diane had just saved her life.
“I had never met Poppie, and the first time I saw her was when she wobbled out the door to me in the shelter,” Diane explained. “I soon discovered how reactive she was. She sounded extremely aggressive.”
Once Diane got Poppie home, however, she began to see the dog’s true colors. Diane realized Poppie was simply misunderstood. With no real aggression issues to contend with, she could concentrate on finding an adopter who didn’t mind caring for a differently-abled dog.
“Everybody labeled her as aggressive but, she just wanted to be loved and just wanted to be near the thing that she was being so reactive to,” Diane said. “This was a huge relief to me.”
In time, Diane found a family in Alberta, Canada who had a lot of experience with special needs dogs like Poppie. Christina Powell and her fiance Garret live with Kona, a mixed breed dog who has had a limb amputated. As soon as Diane read their email and reviewed their adoption application, she knew she’d found “the one.”
“I set up her own Gmail and eventually got an email from Christina and Garret,” she recalled. “I was in tears reading their email. It was almost too good to be true, but at the same time, I knew they were Poppie’s forever home. I cannot believe how lucky I was to be a part of this journey for her. This is a foster story that I will never forget.”
Poppie went to live with her family, who renamed her Timber. She bonded with her doggy sibling almost immediately and quickly settled into her new pampered lifestyle. She was even fitted with her own wheelchair, giving her the freedom to finally run as fast as she always wanted to.
“Timber is an absolute ray of sunshine,” said her new owner. “She approaches every task with an ‘I can’ mentality, and if something does not go the way she planned, she brushes it off and finds another way. Her life and care are very similar to that of a neurotypical pup. She requires no medications or ongoing vet treatment. Our goal is to provide education and advocacy so that more dogs like Timber find forever families,” she added.
Christina hopes that Timber’s story will encourage other adopters to consider a special needs animal. Timber is living proof that every dog deserves a fresh start, and every moment counts.
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