Last spring, our lives paused due to COVID-19. Many people decided to find ways to give back -- big or small -- to improve the world around us. One of those people was Emilie Arrix. And her way to give back? Dog fostering.
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 much as possible.
Where Did It All Start?
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 suffered an attack from a porcupine. Thankfully, they received health in time. Then, Winnie was adopted.
But That's Not the End
In a disheartening turn, Winnie's situation diminished. After only a month, her adopters chained to a fence, neglected, and barely fed her. “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.”
Winnie Begins to Recover
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.”
A Happy Ending, Finally
This love, devotion, and attention saved Winnie’s life. Dog fostering 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. [Winnie] 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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