Rescuing animals isn’t just about saving them, sometimes it is about saving ourselves. Gypsy’s Fund is Pet Network Humane Society’s way of recognizing and celebrating the bond between pets and their humans. Her story is one that will resonate with anyone who loves animals, and is a story meant to be told and retold.
In November 2007 my life was forever changed by a bedraggled, frightened and abused dog. From what I thought was a singular moment of compassion, sprung a renewed commitment to my job in animal rescue and a renewal of my spirit as a human. Please, read this story and help me to honor Gypsy, the dog that saved my life.
For months I had been feeling poorly, dozens of doctor’s appointments failed to reveal anything specifically wrong, so my fatigue was chalked up to too many hours at work and not enough rest. Overcome by exhaustion, sick and deeply depressed by my health, I left my job a few hours early on what was to be the coldest night of the year.
Halfway through my hour-long commute I caught a flash of movement through my window. Running frantically down the highway was a dog, clearly terrified. Sick or not, I knew I simply couldn’t keep driving without at least trying to get this dog out of the cold and rain. I circled back around the highway and parked. As luck would have it I had a vehicle full of treats and food. Parking about 100 yards from the dog I threw an ark of treats in the hopes that her hunger would overcome her fear. My ploy worked.
As she approached the treats, the promise of food was clearly enough to stop her in her tracks. When I saw her condition my heart literally broke. She was frighteningly thin, virtually hairless and had clearly been severely abused and neglected. Despite the lure of food, if I moved, even a little towards her, she would careen backwards cowering in fear. Over the next 3 hours, throwing treats gradually closer and closer to me, I reached out and was finally able to touch the very tip of the dog’s nose. When that touch didn’t lead to a strike or kick by me, but to more food and a soft voice promising to make everything better, Gypsy as she was soon to be named, decided, for better or worse to put her fate in my hands. When I grasped her in my arms to lift her into my car I was rewarded with a heartfelt but weak kiss.
The first order of business was to file a cruelty report so that if her owners ever surfaced Gypsy would see some measure of justice for what was done to her. Her ears were closed tight with infection, her skin leaked blood and puss, her toenails were torn and bleeding, she was incapable of being touched without crouching in fear.
Clearly in no condition to stay in a traditional shelter, Gypsy became my personal responsibility. As weeks turned to months Gypsy became a wonder to behold. Her red skin slowly disappeared, her fear subsided, her weight returned to a healthy range. She became truly beautiful, her golden eyes and pink nose always ready for a treat. But as Gypsy became more healthy, I became more sick.
In February of 2008 my sickness finally had a name, cancer. Due to the length of time before diagnosis my cancer had metastasized. My treatment was a six chemo cocktail, twenty-two hours a day, three days a week.
During that time it was Gypsy who held my heart, Gypsy who kept hope alive for me when I had none for myself. When I finally broke down and shaved my head, it was Gypsy who responded to the tears and crying, sending tufts of dirty blond hair all over the bathroom, then rolling around in the hair as if to say, “It's just hair mom. It is just as fun off your head as on it.” It was Gypsy who sat patiently beside me on the stairs when I was too weak to make it up. It was Gypsy who greeted me with an open heart and no judgment
The bond was made, never to be broken. I was as much Gypsy’s as she was mine.
A year later when I reached remission Gypsy and I embarked on a brand new life. I came to Nevada to be the Executive Director of Pet Network. Gypsy was, as always, up for the adventure as long as we were together.
We spent almost three years in our new home before the unthinkable happened. My beautiful Gypsy got sick. Her illness, unlike mine, was not treatable. The entire Pet Network staff, a team of wonderful veterinarians, and all of Gypsy’s “brothers and sisters” could do nothing in the end but to relieve her suffering.
Even though I know she is gone, I still see Gypsy every day on her bed, walking across my yard. I feel her in my heart and know that if she could speak to me now she would want her story told. She would want everyone to know what an amazing friend she was. How much happiness and love she brought into the world, and how precious her memory is to everyone who had the honor of knowing her.
Knowing the complete and utter devastation that Gypsy’s death brought to me and the entire staff of Pet Network, the Board of Directors have honored her in the only way she would want — by establishing Gypsy’s Fund. The Board of Directors have personally pledged $30,000 to start Gypsy’s Fund, leaving us $70,000 more to raise to reach our goal of $100,000. The donations received for Gypsy’s Fund will ONLY be used for the direct care of Pet Network’s animals in need including: veterinary bills, rehabilitation and training, medications and testing to give all of the Gypsy’s in our community a second chance at life.
No administrative salaries, fundraising expenses or any other non-animal related expenses will be utilized from Gypsy’s Fund.
This is what Gypsy would have wanted, to save animals, to share her story and to make a difference in the world, as she made a difference in mine. For Gypsy, or to honor the “Gypsy” in your life, please donate generously to Gypsy’s Fund.
Send Pet Network Humane Society your “Gypsy Story” along with your donation, or email it to email@example.com. Your story, along with Gypsy’s story will become part of Pet Network’s legacy to the community celebrating the unbreakable bond between pets and their people.
Every donation $100 or over will include an engraved “leaf” on Pet Network’s Tree of Life, in our shelter lobby, a permanent reminder of a pet or person who touched your life as Gypsy touched mine.
Our goal is to raise $100,000, and with our Board’s pledge and your generous donation we are already so close.
On behalf of Gypsy, myself and the entire staff and Board of Directors of Pet Network, thank you for supporting our life-saving work.