A Special Request

As a Ruff Start Rescue intake volunteer, Jenni receives a lot of emails. Her position is a hefty one: she oversees the rescue requests from Ruff Start’s rez transport partner, LightShine Canine, as well as international transports for DMT (dog meat trade) pups. As a result, she knows there are a lot of animals in need all over the world that might show up in her inbox at any given moment. Many of them have crazy stories from their past lives; some have no known history at all.

While each animal that needed rescue was special and deserving of a second chance at a happy life, Jenni felt a certain spark when she received a message about a five or six week old boxer mix pup that urgently needed to get off the rez.

Ruff Start to the Rescue

The message Jenni received was a simple request about a not-so-simple situation.

We have a five week old puppy that’s been shot, she read. Either with a high caliber gun or a pellet gun. Can Ruff Start take her on this week’s scheduled transport?

There’s something in a rescuer that just knows when you, specifically, need to save an animal. Something in their eyes or story that attaches itself to your soul and tugs – hard. Jenni knew this; she’d felt it before and she was feeling it again now. Without hesitation, she reached out to Mckenna Lorenz, Ruff Start’s Large Dog Foster Manager, and Erica Jusczak, Ruff Start’s Senior Medical Manager, to get the okay to take on a little pup with potentially large problems.

“Honestly, I don’t really know what her medical status is,” Jenni said, knowing the rescue was full of tough cases and might not be able to take on another big question mark.

Mckenna’s reply was straightforward and passionate.

“Just get her here.”

A Gunshot Survivor

When Jenni and her daughter picked up the lucky pup at that evening’s transport, she was full of wiggles from her snout to her tail. What a happy little thing, Jenni thought, wondering how dogs could be so full of good when humans were sometimes so full of bad. Her daughter scooped the pup up after her constantly wagging tail had made it apparent she wanted a good snuggle first and foremost from her new temporary family.

“What do you want to name her?” Jenni asked as her daughter admired the small pup, dragging her fingers delicately through their new foster’s tanned fur. She was staring directly at the bullet marks on each side of the puppy’s abdomen.

The young girl laughed incredulously, beaming from ear to ear after hearing Jenni’s question. “Why, Kittee, of course! Because she definitely has nine lives.” Her proclamation was instantaneous and without any hesitation until she got to the punchline.

“Well, eight, now.”

Nine Lives Needed

After bringing Kittee to the vet for assessment, Jenni waited on bated breath to hear the news of her recovery. Was Kittee going to need surgery? Were her organs impacted at all? Was she going to be okay?

The report that came back from the doctor was mystifying. After careful examination, it was abundantly clear that Kittee had been one of the lucky ones. The bullet had traveled straight into one side of her body and out the other in a completely clean manner. It hadn’t lodged itself into her ribcage or any of her internal organs, although it came dangerously close given how small her little weeks-old puppy body was and the distance at which the gun was probably fired.

It was a miracle to all except to Jenni’s daughter, who already knew Kittee had nine lives to spare.

The Perfect Pup Goes to the Perfect Home

From the get-go, Kittee was an ideal puppy. She never made a mess in her kennel or crate. From big dogs to tiny kiddos, she loved everyone she met. Her favorite things were to play in the yard with a big soccer ball and dash around the house with her foster sister, former Ruff Start alum and DMT survivor Emeree. After she grew more sure of herself, she started adventuring out to several softball games, stealing the show every time and winning the hearts of all the humans who encountered her – including her new family.

Jenni didn’t know how anyone could have shot at a dog at all – let alone one as perfect and sweet as Miss Kittee. Even now, weeks after the adoption was finalized and Kittee went to her new home, she still didn’t really understand it. But she could accept it – at least a portion of it – the way only a rescuer can. That acceptance hit her when she watched the reaction video Kittee’s new family had filmed of her new human siblings finding out the perfect puppy they’d met only a few weeks prior was now their own to snuggle and play with.

“Mommy!” yells one of the twins, an excited five year old running down a hallway, the loud pitter-pattering of footsteps echoing until she reaches the camera’s frame. Her brother follows closely behind, his eyes wide as saucers once he stops. Each holds a plastic air guitar in hand. “What did you get us for a toy?” They both stare at the camera in disbelief as their mom replies brightly and knowingly.

“You got us Kittee?” The girl’s young voice is so sweet it almost sounds syrupy. She flings her air guitar to the side, galloping out of frame toward the young pup. The camera focuses now on her brother, who triumphantly raises the guitar into the air, proclaiming loudly while jumping up and down: “We got a dog!! We got a dog!!”

“Hey hey hey-” their father says sternly, face out of frame, holding his hands up near his chest in an effort to control their excitement. The video cuts off abruptly as the jumping and hooting continues.

Jenni could accept Kittee’s journey only because whatever happened to the sweet pup in her first life had led her to Ruff Start, and, subsequently, her new family. She gives thanks each day for the fact that Kittee luckily had nine lives, and that she didn’t need to use them all to find her perfect home.

Ruff Start Rescue is passionate about saving animals just like Kittee, who have endured so much in their lives it’s entirely possible they do possess magical powers. The rescue’s ability to save lives is fueled by volunteers and fosters just like Jenni and her family, who give so much to animals that need them.

With each donation – whether it be time, talent, or money – Ruff Start is able to provide care, shelter, and a chance to rez dogs, surrendered critters, and found felines every single day. We offer many thanks to our supporters for helping us do whatever it takes in their honor.