Imagine a life filled with uncertainty. Imagine having been struck by a vehicle and left on the side of the road. Imagine the reality of being infected with a parasite that would eventually take your life if left untreated. Now, imagine all of that changing with numerous acts of kindness from those you had never met…
A Hard Knock Life
The events above are hard for most of us to envision, but for one dog, they were her reality. Elsa, a one and a half year old husky mix, was struck by a vehicle and left on the side of the road. When Elsa was found, it was decided that the only way to save her was to amputate the severely broken and mangled leg.
Aztec Animal Shelter in New Mexico took a chance on saving a young dog’s life, only to discover that her battle was just beginning. A routine blood test revealed that Elsa was also Heartworm Positive. This parasite infects an animal’s heart and often proves fatal if left untreated. Treatment for Heartworm can cost several hundred dollars, money that Aztec Animal Shelter was not necessarily able to cover in the light of how many dogs needed their help. Time was running out for this young dog, but the fates were on her side and Elsa’s luck was about to change forever.
Coming to Colorado
Elsa came to Intermountain Humane Society and Animal Shelter in late summer of 2019. Before her arrival, shelter staff had a sit-down meeting to discuss Elsa’s medical requirements, cost of the requirements, recovery, and future. Was one dog worth the money and time that it would take to get her healthy? How could a small shelter, with a limited amount of resources, justify spending so much money on a dog with an unknown temperament? Was this dog worth it? As staff weighed the pros and cons of bringing Elsa to Colorado, one member of the shelter team suggested the idea of an outreach dog.
Intermountain’s mission and vision is changing with the needs of the community, an outreach dog would allow the shelter to reach many more local patrons. With this idea in mind, it was enthusiastically agreed upon that Elsa would make a wonderful outreach dog and shelter ambassador if her temperament proved acceptable for the role. So it was with much anticipation that Elsa was “tagged” and the transport date was set.
A Dog of Many Talents
Upon arrival, Elsa demonstrated that she did indeed have the right temperament for the job(s) at hand. Within days, she had learned basic commands, and even some flashy tricks. And, although she was still being treated for her Heartworms, she quickly settled into her role as an outreach dog and even took on more roles as the Meet and Greet Animal, Shelter Welcome Dog, Shelter Animal Socializer, “Cat Tester,” and Cuddle Buddy.
Now, Elsa’s days vary and more often than not include trips to the preschool, senior centers, welcoming visitors to the shelter, training, and even lounging in the new administrative offices. In between her busy schedule, she helps teach new volunteers proper dog handling techniques, and enjoys taking veteran volunteers on walks through the fields.
An Unconventional Family
Elsa does not have a nuclear family like many of the dogs that get adopted from a shelter. She has so much more! Her family includes staff members, a foster couple, senior citizens, children of all ages, and her trainer, just to name a few. She spends her days working and when she has free time, she plays with dogs in back yard, sleeps on a cushy dog bed, and may even eat some snacks when no one is looking.
We took a chance on Elsa and one thing is for certain, she is one lucky dog. Elsa has become a valuable member of our staff and an important team member helping us acheive our mission!