Tru Hero Finalist – My Southern Souvenirs

My story starts in a small rural section of the South, very rural. I had just left my Aunt’s House on a nice, chilly October day. She had fallen and broken her hip and I went down to see if I could help out. While down there for a few days my Mom, went into the Hospital. So, instead of having a two week vacation, I started for home instead. I drove a mile to the end of my Aunts road heading North. I saw a car swerve and saw a little dog survive the near miss. I pulled over as I saw her going into the woods. I knelt down and said “come here baby”.  She crawled to me on her belly. I took one look and knew she was not being fed. My first and only objective was for her to be safe. After she was seated in the back seat of my car I drove on, wondering what I was going to do with her. Apparently she had no home; no collar, no identification and for that matter no food in her belly. She looked to be very sick and thin. I decided the best thing I could do was to drive her back to NJ and get her to my Vet. After, she was in the back seat of my car for almost two hours, she finally sat up and I couldn’t believe what I saw in my rearview mirror. I couldn’t go back it would have delayed me by 4 hours. My Mom was still in the Hospital, I had to go forward not back! I stopped at the next rest area. The attendant and I spoke briefly. I gave him my number and a brief scenario of what took place. He informed me that she looked to have delivered not too long ago. I asked if he would call the Humane Society, and gave him the specifics of the area, road etc. That night that little girl and I stayed in a motel. I named her Rita, and decided then and there, she would also have my last name. Rita was so starved, everything I gave her, she devoured. I knew she had not eaten in a long long time. All night when I took her out she cried for her pups. I couldn’t sleep. I worried about my Mom and how she was feeling. I worried about Rita and her little pups; What did they look like? How many? How old? I could almost smell the puppy breath? But how could they survive? I prayed and the next day we arrived at 8 PM at a NJ Veterinary Hospital. Rita was diagnosed with heartworm and malnutrition. Also, poor Rita was diagnosed as being, a mere Puppy herself. A Puppy having puppies.

“Puppies” but where? I knew they were out there somewhere but, where? The backwoods officials at first refused to even search. Apparently the area she delivered her puppies in was not a very safe area, and the animal control officers did not want to go out there without “their armor” (bullet proof vests) It wasn’t until I finally called several state officials and the Administrator of the County before they actually went out. The puppies were found at last, after two days of being without their Mama. The lady who wasn’t feeding Rita didn’t take too kindly to puppies either.  As they lay helpless under her porch she never acknowledged they were even there. She even admitted to the Officer she hadn’t seen the mother knowingly since that Wednesday. I still to this day can not understand if the Mother actually did belong to this lady, then why wasn’t she feeding her? Why didn’t she feed the pups. apparently the Animal Control Officers had the same questions or they wouldn’t have taken the pups. If I was the owner of the mother and knew she was missing and her pups were under that porch I would have at least fed the pups. I would have brought them in out of the cold. It was in the 40′s at night. They were just little helpless puppies. Then again if she hadn’t been feeding the Mother why bother with the pups.

Once the pups were safe in the shelter the officer informed me they would probably be euthanized. After all the worrying, frustration, heart wrenching guilt of taking  “Rita” from her pups, now to find them at last.  I couldn’t believe my ears. I asked, “if I found homes for the 8 pups would I be able to bring them up to NJ”. He said yes and then a few days later, the story read this way; the only way I could bail the pups out of his jail was to pay $860. This was the Adoption, Spay and Neuter Law. No law against starvation though! I was also shocked to find the pups would be neutered and spayed when they were only 3 lbs. Through special friends and virtual strangers I raised the bail money plus a transport up. A week passed, and that Monday an email; a heart stopping moment, one of the pups had died. Two days later another email, one more pup. I called once again and asked could I please bring the pups up here. I told him about the Hospital, knowing if they were here, they would survive. His answer, “we are doing everything we can here”. He was adamant and I was helpless. He also had every intention of still putting them through surgery the following week. Two days later two more pups. I immediately got on the phone with the same officials as before. Two hours later the phone call came from the Director; I can come and get the pups, 4 out of the original 8. He also, told me he had 5 other puppies from a different litter. Would I want to take them too. I knew if they remained, the same fate would befall them. So, two hours later I arranged for PDQ a transport company to meet me half way. The pups were dying and I knew every hour counted so the quickest way was for me to be driving down S while he was driving up N. I dropped Rita off at the Hospital that morning for her first Heartworm Treatment in a series of injections. I left for the South at 2 pm meeting the driver at a motel half way. When I arrived I took one look at the nine pups and knew they were all sick and in deep trouble. I drove straight to the Hospital and arrived with my precious cargo at 4:30 am Saturday 11/6/10. Rita without knowing it was finally reunited with her pups and she was the first to come home. Two days followed with puppies Libby, Ritter, and Ronan. Luke along with Charlotte, then Marshall and Leroy. Finally after 10 days in the Hospital the sickest of the remaining pups from the 2nd litter, Lil Abner and Harriet. None of these puppies had a prayer until they were in NJ. Now, our Prayers have been answered.

It’s a wonderful life! Now I know how Jimmy Stewart felt. Friends and also strangers, no longer strangers have brought me a peace and calm that I will never feel again in this lifetime.  Nothing I could ever do at this time in my life could surpass the feeling of these past 30 plus days. All 9 puppies are starting new lives with families who will not only feed them, but cherish and love them as each and every one of these pups so deserve. As a pet sitter, I always heard of stories of  how different dogs were rescued from a shelter. But, I never dreamed I would be a part of an actual rescue myself. But, here it is two months later and Rita has just finished her last Heartworm treatment and has her newly acquired “Humane Treatment” in her only home at “418”.  My pocketbook is empty but my heart will be full of love forever for Rita and the  memories of each and every one of my “Southern Souvenirs”.

About Stacy @Trupanion

Social Media Manager
Stacy Kowalchuk is a dog mom to her rescued Whippet-mix, Ellie. During the week, you can find Stacy surfing (the internet, that is) and managing Trupanion's presence in the social media world. In her free time, Stacy likes to bake, especially cupcakes! To balance her culinary affinity, she also likes to stay active, especially with activities that include her dog such as hiking and going to dog parks.

13 Responses to Tru Hero Finalist – My Southern Souvenirs

  1. Marie says:

    In this busy and worry world most people can’t or won’t take the time to help or even get involved. Everyone will have their own reasons or excuses. Marilyn is not one of those people! She truly cares! She is truly a hero and is someone I am honored to have as a friend. What she did for Rita and all the pups shows the true meaning of Christmas! When everyone was telling her that there was nothing else she could do to save these fur kids….she would not hear of it! She would not even consider giving up…. She and a whole network of animal friends worked night and day to save this family. Yes, I say family because by this time even the 2nd litter had already wiggled into her heart (without even seeing them) and were considered all one family! She couldn’t waste time….The remaining pups needed help fast! She could not stop worrying! She could not let these puppies die too! With Marilyn fighting her own health issues and worrying about her own mom’s health…..SHE KEPT ON FIGHTING! I am thrilled to say Rita is doing wonderful and so are all the pups. Marilyn’s heart and all the hearts that were touched by this happy ending will be filled with joy forever! Merry Christmas Marilyn and Rita and all the pups. You are truly a hero! And thank you to Garden State Animal Hospital and their staff for working so hard to save these adorable pups and Rita!

    • Stephanie says:

      I just want to let everyone to know that I am honored to have Marilyn in my life. She is not only a dear friend to me and my family (including Charlie) she is an angel. With all of her worries and troubles, she is always there to help and lend a helping hand. Rita and all the little ones were blessed to have her come into their lives. I know that they all love her (as we all do) and are very thankful to her for saving their lives and finding them good homes. May God bless Marilyn and all the pups with health and happiness. We love you!!

  2. Valentina says:

    I have known Marilyn for over 10 years. From day once she impressed me as a caring and loving person with a heart full of compassion. This story very clearly demonstrates my point.
    She took care of our old dogs who are at the Rainbow Bridge now, and she has been helping us with our three new ones. When they go to her we say that they are “going to a puppy resort”. It is not just a nice environment, but a heart of gold waiting for them there.
    Thank you, Marilyn, for always being there for us and our canine babies.

  3. Marie says:

    Marilyn is the best! My family is very fortunate to have her in our lives as well. Bailey and Quincy love spending time with her and her “crew.” They come home happier but exhausted boys. Everything we were told about Marilyn is true and have experienced first hand. Bailey and Maxie jumped out the car and kissed her square on the lips the first time they met, and the love affair began. Thanks for always being there for us!

    • Michelle says:

      This is truly a wonderful story! It brought tears to my eyes… just wanted to say that I am reading it to my kids and it sends such a wonderful message during Christmas–we need to help others that are less fortunate. I am also compassionate towards stray animals and never pass them by. I have four furry friends and love them all to bits! Thank you Marilyn for opening up your heart while your mother was in the hospital. You are truly a hero!

  4. Heidi Capozzi-Sheehy says:

    I met Marilyn through her son John. John and I work together and I was telling him that my husband and I wanted to go on vacation, but had no one to watch our dog Riley. We had rescued Riley from a horrible fate. She was being used as a bait dog in a dog fighting ring and was very aggressive toward other dogs. None of the local doggie daycares would take her because of her condition. John told me to call his mom, because she is a pet sitter and has her own pack.

    I talked it over with my husband and we decided to call Marilyn. When we told Marilyn about Riley’s condition, without batting an eye she told us to bring Riley over and we’ll see what happens. It has been truely amazing! Riley is now able to socialize with other dogs. I can’t begin to tell you how happy we are that we were able to give Riley this much needed therapy. We would not have been able to give Riley that without Marilyn’s help.

    When we bring Riley over to Marilyn’s house she wags her whole body and can’t wait to get out of the car to see Marilyn and play with her friends.

    When Marilyn called to tell us about Rita and her puppies our hearts sank. How could anyone do that to these poor little babies? Marilyn is selfless and worked night and day to rescue not only Rita’s puppies, but puppies from a whole other litter. She even let us adopt Ronan who is now a huge part of our family. Riley and Ronan play together and love each other. Our family is complete because of Marilyn. We could never repay her for all that she has done for us. Marilyn is a TRUE HERO and we LOVE her to pieces!!!

    Thank you Marilyn for all that you have done for us. Love you xoxoxo

  5. Stephanie says:

    Marilyn is a truly good soul. She’s generous in every way imaginable. She has special instincts when it comes to animals. My dog cries when we drive AWAY from her home. We are grateful that she undertook this difficult rescue and for all that she does for others.

  6. Ruth says:

    Marilyn is such a beautiful & caring person. I don’t know many people that would rescue an animal out of state let alone make phone calls & go out of their way to rescue pups without knowing where to start. Yet she didn’t stop at one pup but rescued many more. Marilyn always has a home for our dogs when we come to visit & devotes her life to caring for our beloved pets. She is a Tru hero & deserves this award.

    • Kathy says:

      I am a friend of Marilyn’s son. I would never expect anything less from Marilyn. They are not pets to her, they are her family. She loves her kids!!! She is always there for them. I had babysat a few of them one time so she could just take some time for herself. But she does take enough of that time. She is always with her kids. They have their own rooms, tv’s and are in the best place they could ever be. If only we had more people in the world like Marilyn we wouldn’t have so many “family pets” in the shelter. I don’t understand people. You get a pet to be part of your family and then dump them off in a shelter. Would you do that to your own child? I deal with a shelter down south and it is sad to see them caged up and unwanted. Marilyn I am proud to know you. And you are a true hero in my book. God bless you!!!

  7. Gina says:

    Marilyn’s Story Brought Tears to my Eyes! what a truly Wonderful Person! I don’t know her Personally, But, I do Know her Son John, And When I first heard about this Story back in the fall when it Occurred, I was Heart Broken! I had seen Photo’s of the Puppy’s and Fell I love with them! They were so skinny, But looked so Happy at Marilyn’s Home! I had Just Rescued A Puppy A few Months Earlier From Our Local shelter, Or I would Not Of hesitated to Have Taken One Of these precious miracles! Thank You Marilyn For being Such an angel To these forgotten Little ones, people that Don’t Take care of their Pet’s and Treat them as part of their Family don’t deserve to have them in their lives! god bless you, and all the best to you in the New Year!

  8. Kathy says:

    I have known Marilyn for about 17 yrs. or so and she has always been such a caring, kind and dedicated friend. Our sons met in high school and have been friends also. As long as we have known Marilyn, she has always been such a pet lover. When she visits us in SC and we go to the beach, she always has her camera and takes pictures of all the dogs on the beach…also talking, loving and playing with them. Even takes pics while driving! She has a heart of gold and would never hurt anyone or any animal. Only Marilyn would do something like this…never gives up and fights for her animals! This was such a heart-warming story with such a great ending. Marilyn is a Tru Hero!

  9. John says:

    I had heard a little about Marilyn’s trip to South Carolina back in October. When We
    received Her Christmas Card with the details of what She went through to save these
    dogs and puppies I truly had tears in My eyes. It did not come as a complete surprise to me that She would do what She did. Her complete devotion to the safety of Her
    animals and also other peoples pets is known by everyone who knows Her. But to go this far out of Her way to save these animals proves that she is a True Hero. I am a dog lover myself and I am proud to have been a friend of Marilyn’s for almost 20 Years.
    I believe that anyone who reads Her story will vote for Her as a True Hero.

  10. Susan & Tim says:

    Marilyn is an angel. It is so wonderful being able to go on vacation and not worry about leaving our Morgan behind. We laugh as we pull into Marilyn’s driveway and Morgan starts wagging and yelping. Open the door and she’s off, runnning and jumping having a blast. “We’ll miss you too, Morgan!” Morgan had a rough beginning and doesn’t warm up to too many people. It says a lot that Morgan loves Marilyn so much…and so do we. Those little puppies will never know how luicky they were that an angel was driving by at just the right moment. Bless you, Marilyn for dilligently standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves and treating every little furry dog you meet with the same love and commitment that you do your own.

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