The public has picked our winner from the top six stories and they appear below! We want to thank all that participated in this year's contest.
We congratulate all of our nominees for making a difference in the lives of their owners and those who care for them.
"You think those dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you they will be there long before us!" - Robert Louis Stevenson
Dexter came into our lives in April of 2019. He is a 9 year old Bull Mastiff that had been severely attacked by another dog and had severe wound as a result. His owners had neither the skill nor the resources to deal with such a severe wound and decided to euthanize him, but the vet refused. Giant Paw Prints Rescue was called to intervene. The previous owner had made failed attempts to staple Dexter’s wound shut; many of the staples were still attached to his skin. We could clearly tell that the wound was both deep and infected. Despite all of these injuries, Dexter was the kindest dog with soft, soulful eyes. During the two-hour drive to Westville he won the heart of our Giant Paw Prints volunteer by resting his head on her arm throughout the journey. Those eyes were windows to a kind soul that belied the horrible ordeal he had been through and only wanted to say, “Thank you” for a second chance. The volunteer went directly to Dr. Rachael Jones, a local veterinarian at Southlane Animal Hospital, who concluded that conventional medicine would not be enough to heal Dexter’s wound. She opted for a holistic approach of ozone cupping therapy, cold laser therapy, and manuka honey bandages. Major improvement was seen within three days but Dexter still had a long way to go. In the following weeks, he made gradual improvements, but his road to recovery was much longer than expected. The wounds could not be bandaged due to their location on his shoulder blades. T-shirts were used to cover the oozing wounds and prevent Dexter from scratching during the healing process. Four times a day every day Dexter took his wound cleaning, treatments and wardrobe changes in stride. There was no whining or fussing. He was patient and receptive and seemed to enjoy the love and attention he received. During his recuperation, Dexter got kennel cough, multiple staph infections, and MRSA. He was quarantined with limited activity during this time. There was a three-page list of instructions for his wound cleaning care, ozone cream, oral medications, and anti-bacterial spray. Volunteers spent hours doing laundry, scrubbing down walls and sanitizing surfaces. Despite long odds, Dexter’s recovery became the mission for all Giant Paw Print volunteers. And through it all Dexter remained upbeat and cooperative. Each day, Dexter taught us perseverance and optimism. His face and his demeanor told us all that he knew that better days lie ahead and he was anxious to make each day better than the last.After nearly 150 days of multiple daily treatments, Dexter’s wound was disinfected and completely healed. Although he must continue to wear his shirts for protection, Dexter can now enjoy being a dog! Recovery was a long process, but any volunteer would agree it was worth every second of effort and care. Dexter currently resides in a foster home: a high-rise building in Chicago, IL during the week and the shores of Lake Michigan on the weekends. He enjoys long walks on the beach, pup cups, and riding around in golf carts in Beverly Shores. His story inspires all those that come in contact with him. He teaches them all to look ahead with promise and optimism. Did Dexter save a life? No, he didn’t. But he helped to heal the souls of the many volunteers that helped him. Like all of us, the volunteers have their own struggles; divorced, cancer survivors, unemployment, and more. Dexter is our hero because he bathed us in his indomitable spirit. We were re-energized and rallied around him working as a team. We all learned to leave our past pains behind and savor each day that we are given and work to make it better than the one before! He filled us with a renewed sense of purpose while never losing his kind, gentle spirit for life. We can all feel a sense of pride and accomplishment for having tackled such a horrible medical situation with a successful outcome. Dexter can now live the rest of his life knowing the love and kindness he deserves. DEXTER IS A HERO!
Hula is a very special dog. She has been my hero by taking me away from a person who was on the verge of having a violent psychiatric episode. But that is just the very tip of the iceberg on her hero status... Let me explain.Hula is a certified therapy dog who works with our mentally ill population at Neurobehavioral Hospital, An inpatient medical behavioral hospital for those experiencing acute pyschiatric problems. She has calmed the anxiety of many people through deep pressure therapy, which she performs unprompted & on cue.... She just knows who needs that extra pressure and attention. She has helped: people suffering from PTSD, high anxiety, Severe depression, Alzheimers, Dementia, schizophrenia, paranoia, agression, hallucinations, bipolar disorder, suicidal thoughts, and autism. Hula has a keen intuition and has been able to work with a person with behavior problems related to their dementia by helping them calm down and focus. There are times where she can help trigger memories in her patients that help that person connect with staff and doctors. She has performed deep pressure therapy on individuals who suffer from bipolar disorder who were stuck in a manic state and helped them settle down. Hula has served as a "hug giver" To those who are extremely depressed and possibly suicidal.... Her none judgmental hugs and gentle kisses help bring a smile to peoples face and let them feel not so alone and isolated. Her confidence is above and beyond anything I have ever seen in a dog. She won't judge people and is open to visiting everybody. She knows when people need her to stay with them longer and she understands when it is time for her to leave. She also knows what staff members have had a very rough day caring for this very sick population of mentally ill individuals. She will walk up to those staff members wagging her hips with a smile on her face to offer her "Hula Hugs" to help relieve some stress. In my mind, Hula is a hero. Not because of one specific thing that she has done, but because of what she does every day with our population of severely mentally ill people in Northwest Indiana. It takes a special dog to he a therapy dog.....it takes a Hula to be an inpatient psychiatric therapy dog!
Knox wondered up to us while we were sitting at a campfire, it was as though he just appeared out of the darkness. He was limping on his front shoulder and had an injured toe. It appeared he had been tossed from a moving vehicle. We removed eight very full ticks from him that night, as we sat by the campfire. He was loaded with fleas and worms as well. After a few visits to the vet he was well on his way to becoming a happy and healthy pup. The veterinarian guessed his age to be 8 or 9 months old.One night, while we were sleeping, Knox started acting very strangely. He went from my husband’s side of the bed, to my side, then back to my husband’s. He would get right in our face, breathing hard and whining. He was relentless. I got out of bed, thinking maybe he wanted outside. As I entered the kitchen, I could hear a clicking noise. Knox was anxious and clearly upset. The electric igniter on our stove was malfunctioning! It was continually sparking and easily could have started a fire as we slept. Clearly Knox was a very smart and special dog.We were inseparable! We went on walks and spent a great deal of time playing together. I began teaching him tricks. He quickly learned them all! Roll over, give me paw… your left one, your right one. Sit pretty, speak, fetch, “Bang” and give me high-five… now take a bow. I wanted to share his talents with the world. I tested him for Canine Good Citizen, and he passed the first time. We then prepared for Therapy Dog International. He passed with flying colors. Both my husband and I are now certified as handlers. We take Knox to local hospitals and nursing homes. During Christmas, my husband and Knox transform into Mr. Clause and his canine helper! Recently Knox was invited to participate in a pilot program offering “comfort” to the employees of the Lake County Indiana 911 call center. He was a ROCK STAR! He performed his tricks and brought smiles to their faces. It was such an honor to participate.It hasn’t always been easy though. Knox tore his CCL and had to have TPLO surgery. It took over six months for recovery, but we are back to visiting and he is just as excited to “go to work” as ever! He gives us so much joy, and we are privileged to share our Knox with others.
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