Last spring, when it first felt as though our lives had been paused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many people were motivated to give back; to find ways -- big or small -- to improve the world around us. One of those people was Emilie Arrix.
A lifelong lover of dogs, Emilie decided to step up and help some furry friends in need by taking in foster animals from organizations near her home in Utah. Over the past year, she’s had as many as three dogs in her condo at a time, doing her best to “spoil” each of them as though they were her own.
A few months ago, she was looking after a pair of dogs when she received a message from Nuzzles & Co., a non-profit, no-kill organization whose aim is to “provide a loving and nurturing place where dogs can get healthy, learn positive behaviors, and then to find loving homes.”
When Emilie heard this particular dog’s story, she didn’t hesitate. “Within 47 seconds, I responded,” she said.
Winnie Girl, the pup in need of a home, had been through a truly nightmarish few months before landing with Nuzzles & Co. and, ultimately, Emilie. Shortly after giving birth, Winnie and her four puppies were quilled by a porcupine. Thankfully, they were nursed back to health and Winnie was adopted.
In a disheartening turn, it was soon discovered that the adopting people were ill-equipped -- or simply too inconsiderate -- to care for Winnie. After only a month, she had been chained to a fence, neglected, and barely fed. “Her waist was no more than three or four inches and she weighed less than 20 pounds,” Emilie said. “She should be the size of a small lab.”
To make matters worse, Winnie -- chained, with no means of self-defense -- had also suffered a second porcupine attack. “Her face was torn to shreds,” Emilie said, recalling the fear in Winnie’s eyes when they first met. “The quills were so stuck. I counted 350 -- we had to take them out one-by-one with tweezers.”
During her first days with Emilie, Winnie could not walk due to a combination of wounds, infection, and malnourishment. “I carried her everywhere,” Emilie said. “The goal was to love her and feed her. I have your treats with me at all times: In the car, the kitchen, the bathroom, my bedroom.”
After a week of progress getting Winnie on her feet and well-fed, things began to slow down again. Confused and searching for answers, Emilie brought Winnie to the vet and learned that Winnie had 15 quills still stuck in the back of her throat. Another week later, Winnie had to go through two days of medical procedures: Surgery on her hip and receiving staples in her legs, followed by a two-week recovery.
“I was crying for 36 hours, not knowing what to do,” Emilie said. “When she came home, we all slept on the floor with her.”
This love, devotion, and attention saved Winnie’s life. And, while saying goodbye was difficult, landed her with a new, loving family.
“There have been a lot of happy tears,” Emilie said. “I got to watch Winnie while her family went on vacation and she looks amazing. She currently goes to water therapy to learn how to run and use her back leg again. She still has quills falling out, which is hard to believe, but nothing compared to what her face was like a few months ago. She is just happy to be loved and spoiled and she is a very resilient girl."
For more information on Nuzzles & Co., go to https://nuzzlesandco.org/.
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