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The crucible that is the Rez produces strong, smart and loving dogs. Generation after generation of RezDawgs face starvation, abuse and plain old bad luck. But nature provides and when a Rez dog faces a problem, they overcome adversity by depending on ancestral knowledge passed down by true survivors. Good mamas explain, “when you’re hungry, bees are an option but leave the wasps alone.” Rez dogs know which grasses sooth an upset tummy and how to identify bad water. They come to us with knowledge we couldn’t possibly understand and an ability to heal in a totally natural way. As impressive as this might be, a RezDawg’s ability to heal themselves isn’t their most impressive trait. Their true superpower is their ability to heal us.
And some of us need healing. We had parents that didn’t know how to parent. We viewed the world differently and were ostracized because of it. Some of us suffer unspeakable tragedy because ultimately, the world isn’t a fair place. Barbara Andrews knows this better than most. But she also knows the healing power of a Rezdawg and has graciously allowed us to share her story.
Details don’t matter: Barbara and her husband, Dennis, lost TJ, their youngest son, too early. It nearly broke them. The day that changed their lives left them listless. They didn’t go out much and the word fun became just another adjective. Successful careers that fed their soul began draining the little energy they had left and over time, both retired. But they’re strong people. They, like RezDawgs, aren’t quitters and they still found beauty in the world – in nature, in their children. They tried to get through it… and anyone that’s dealt with anything similar knows how heavy that lifting can be. They kept their eyes and their minds open but there’s no denying it. Life had lost it’s flavor.
A while back, Barbara and Dennis joined their daughter Christina and her friend for brunch to celebrate what would have been TJ’s 21st birthday. I’m sure you can relate: nobody cared where they went and nobody really expected to taste the food. They ended up at Turley’s. They ate and told stories… how TJ loved nature… how he’d loved his dogs. Even the dogs were memories. Neither Barbara nor Dennis could be motivated to replace TJ’s dogs when they passed. They left brunch full and smiling but painfully aware there was still a big hole in the family dynamic.
Do you know where Turley’s is located in Boulder? It’s right next to Whole Pets (owned by great human and huge RezDawg supporter Carol Kuzdek.) As fate would have it, a Whole Pets/RezDawg adoption event kicked off as brunch ended. Dennis, in his role as American dad, would normally play the role of curmudgeon. “Let’s just go home,” he’d say. “What do we need a squeaky toy for?” For reasons even he didn’t understand, he said nothing. I think Dennis’ cooperation was a sign the universe was telling the Andrews’, “Enough is enough.”
Unknown to Barbara or Dennis, two months before brunch a feral 30 lb. black lab mix was rescued pregnant and brought to the Gallup Shelter. From there, she jumped a RezDawg transport and landed at Sara and Chris Woodworth’s place in Longmont. She settled in and soon gave birth to nine very lucky Rez Puppies. They thrived in foster and were quickly ready for adoption. The event at Whole Pets was their first exposure to the public.
Tico didn’t stand out at first. He was content to let his brothers and sisters hog the glory and attention because life was good at the Woodworth’s. He preferred to nap. Perhaps he already knew the plan because RezDawgs are weird that way. Whether he knew or not, his and the Andrews’ lives were about to change for the better.
Tico became their first RezDawg and his effect was huge and immediate. I asked Barbara to explain the profound effect Tico had on their lives. Barbara’s reply came firm and fast. “It’s the serendipity of it,” she said. “The odds of an adoption event happening next to restaurant we didn’t know we’d visit. That we’d been talking about TJ and how into nature he was… Talking about the dogs TJ grew up with… the fact that Dennis didn’t protest walking across the parking lot.”
Barbara became animated as we began talking about Tico. “He was a great dog from the start but he was still a puppy and needed lot of training, love and attention. That he needed these things just as we’d retired and had the time to give is amazing. Dennis and I suddenly had a reason to get out of the house – to the dog park, or for a hike. Tico loves the trails and was a fantastic travel companion from the first road trip. But what’s special, and what made Tico special, is the way it was all meant to be. He’s perfect for us and I’m pretty sure he feels the same way.”
Tico created change in the household. Fallow ground became fertile and the Andrews were ready when Sara-the-RezDawg-foster called last October and said, “I’ve got three unrelated puppies ready for their forever home. Want to meet them?” They did and a cattle dog named Juniper took her place next to Tico, making the foursome complete.
Tico and Juniper get along famously. Barbara, Dennis, Tico and Juniper travel (the Wave in Utah was a recent highlight) and intend to travel more as time goes by. They bought a place in Kanab that will become home base. “It’s an amazing part of the world,” Barbara explained. “We can’t wait to explore every nook and cranny and experience new things with Tico and Juniper by our side. Barbara and Dennis are already valued donors to RezDawg but Barbara still wants to do more. She intends to become a transport driver for RezDawg and make Rez Rescue an even bigger part of their lives.
Nothing can replace TJ. But through the pain of recounting her story, I heard optimism in Barbara’s voice. She and Dennis are great people – the kind you want to be happy and healthy and have the strength to endure the unendurable. Over time, I have no doubt they’d have been fine. I’m glad, however, that Tico’s mom was rescued, that the Gallup Shelter had space, that Sara wanted to foster, that Whole Pets was open to an adoption event, that Turley’s became the restaurant of choice… and that a RezDawg named Tico has the power to heal. They all deserve it.
We offer proof: the healing power of your RezDawg awaits…
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For more information about what you’ve read here or about RezDawg in general, please visit RezDawgRescue.org, The Rez Dog Biographies, or stevensable.com.
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Your donations are critical for helping RezDawg Rescue save lives. Every donation can make a difference…here is what your donations can do:
- $15 pays for a microchip
- $25 pays for a rabies, distemper, or bordetella vaccine
- $30 feeds a dog or cat for a month
- $50 pays for a veterinary exam
- $85 pays for neuter and $105 for spay procedures
- $120 refuels our van for more transports from the Four Corners area of the US
- $250 readies for adoption by providing a wellenss exam, spay or neuter, all vaccinations, deworming, microchip and a month of food
- $500 sponsors an entire interstate transport
- $1,000 sponsors one month of transports
- $5,000 covers veterinary expenses for all animals in foster for one month
- $10,000 covers transport and total adoption costs for six months
- $150,000 provides down payment on RDR’s future rescue and boarding facility
Every dollar makes a difference!
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