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Friday, May 7, 2010

Celebrating Be Kind to Animals Week - Sofia's Story A New Beginning

A New Beginning (Part Four here) (Part Three here) (Part Two here) (Part One here)



The day Sofia was rescued in May 2009, we had no idea what a journey it would be. Visiting vets, receiving her diagnosis, fund raising for her care, helping her through surgery and rehabilitation - it was a roller coaster ride for all involved. After getting through all of that, we were still not completely sure what her chances were to be considered for an adoption program on the mainland. Sofia has touched all of our hearts and we all wanted to give her the chance for a family of her own.

Yesterday, Sofia got her chance. The final leg of her journey began in the early afternoon in San Juan, with tearful goodbyes from the rescuers that loved and cared for her for an entire year. She had many visitors before she left, everyone wanted to wish her well. It was a bittersweet moment for everyone, but our Princess Sofia was flying to Boston to be adopted.

 Sofia spends a few moments with one of her angels

Sofia and Gloria

One last kiss

This bond will never be broken

The tears shed at the airport were very different than those a year ago, when faced with double leg amputation surgery - back then, Gloria had all but given up hope, and Sofia appeared to be feeling Gloria's pain an confusion - here they are as Dr. Mongil gave Gloria the news about Sofia -

At Dr. Mongil's Office

To all the people that donated, encouraged, cheered us on and kept Sofia in their thoughts - we thank you and could not have done it without you. Special people in Sofia's journey include - Dr. Mongil and staff, Gloria, Leilani, Ursula, Cybelle, Tracey, Caly and Maggie - each playing an important role in raising funds and caring for her during her recovery. Special thanks to the staff and volunteers at Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem, MA for giving Sofia her chance to find a forever home  - we will be forever grateful to you for helping our Princess.

And so a new journey begins -

Sofia in flight to Boston

Welcome Sofia!

Logan Airport - Sofia and Jalea

Ready to take on the world

Thanks you all for helping me!

I was honored to meet Sofia at the airport last night and welcome her to Boston. I was greeted with tons of kisses and a wagging tail. Sofia is now resting after her flight at the Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem, MA and being cared for by the wonderful kennel staff. She will be available for adoption next week!

Sofia's story does not end here - this is only the beginning. We will keep you updated on her adoption and hopefully will be able to share photos of her with her new family! I hope you have enjoyed reading Sofia's story as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you. Sofia is one of 100,000 satos who deserve a second chance, and we will continue to save them, one sato at a time.

I leave you with the closing words from her rescuers in Puerto Rico, part of the letter that was sent with Sofia for her new family telling her story -


I’m sure that, if you adopted SofĂ­a, you have a beautiful heart full of love for dogs like her. Treasure her and please tell her that here in Puerto Rico, there’s a group of people who will always love her and think about her.  We will never forget her.

We love you very much and will never forget you, Princess Sofia. We will miss you but rejoice on your new life, full of love and respect.


Gloria, Cybelle, Ursula, Leilani and Tracey



Thursday, May 6, 2010

Celebrating Be Kind to Animals Week - Sofia's Story Part Four

Part Four (Part Three here) (Part Two here) (Part One here)


Sofia recovered well from her leg surgery, she enjoyed her hydrotherapy and her new found freedom in being able to be out of her kennel to socialize with the other dogs at the shelter. She would visit all the kennels to say hello to all her canine friends, and greet our human visitor's with much enthusiasm.

My words could never convey the happiness of Sofia, so I share with you instead her photos, taken between July 2009 and May 2010 -

 Sofia after a swim


Sofia standing tall

Sofia and her little friend

Two kids are better than one!

Surveying the shelter, who will pet me next?

Hi, I am so happy to see you!

Love from one of Sofia's angels

Another part of Sofia's rehabilitation was to receive Reiki from our friend Caly Lehrer from Peace-By-Peace in New Jersey. 

Sofia welcomes Caly

Sofia receiving Reiki

Thank you kisses for Gloria

 It was our goal to help Sofia to be able to walk comfortably again, and her determination, strength and courage helped us all to stay motivated. She was not satisfied to simply walk through life, little Sofia had bigger plans -

 Why walk when you can run!

...and run...

and run some more!

Sofia healed!

The little brown dog, found in a box at the park, has not only made a complete transformation in her year with us, but in the process she taught all of us a big lesson in determination. The next part of her journey will be to find a family of her own. We wait for a partner shelter to accept Sofia into their adoption program. Will there be someone that can look beyond her physical scars and see her exuberant personality? Her legs may be "less than perfect" but her spirit is canine perfection. Our new goal is to find a home for our little princess Sofia.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Celebrating Be Kind to Animals Week - Sofia's Story Part Three






  Part Three (Part Two here) (Part One here)

 Little Sofia is one tough sato! Dr. Mongil repaired her hernia successfully and without complications (and spayed her too!), and she recovered in her comfortable kennel at the shelter - located right in front so she can see everything that is going on. Gloria tended to her every need and tried to keep her quiet so she could heal, but Sofia had other ideas and would try to escape her kennel for playtime! Sofia's personality continued to develop and her love of the volunteers did as well, she would be first to greet anyone new visiting the shelter.

Clearly, the volunteers loved her to, and I would say she got a little too much love in the form of treats! During all that cage rest our little Sofia turned into "plump" Sofia! Once her hernia incision was well healed she went to visit Dr. Mongil again in preparation for her leg surgeries, and he declared her overweight! He wanted her to loose a little weight before proceeding with her surgery, but how would we help her do this when it was so difficult for her to walk?

Well, I had been doing some hydrotherapy here with my dog that has mobility issues, and I know how gentle it is on dogs (it is often used during surgery recovery), so we needed to find Sofia a pool! Since the temperature is just right in Puerto Rico for swimming this was a great solution. The pool would be good for her recovery from leg surgery as well, so a volunteer went out looking for the perfect thing!

Sofia and Gloria - first time swimming!

As you can see, Sofia was not too happy the first time in her pool, but I sent her a life jacket and she became more comfortable with the water. She lost her few pounds through diet (a few less treats) and exercise and was ready for her leg surgery!

Here are Dr. Mongil's notes on Sofia -

The 9th Annual PetRock Fest – Sunday, September 9th 2007 (rain date Sunday, September 16th)
" On July 29, 2010, the left femoral fracture was approached. The fracture was old and had become a hypertrophic non union with severe muscle contraction. The callus was broken down, a new medullary cavity was established and the bone was shortened. The bone fragments were aligned and then stabilized with a bone plate and screws. The fracture is now healed and the leg function is very good.

The right femoral.fracture will not be surgically stabilized, but has healed as a malunion. Sofia, however, seems to be pain free on that leg and is able to walk well with it.

I understand Sofia should live a normal happy life. The function of her hind legs is good and she is pain free."


Sofia spent the first few days recovering at the veterinary hospital, and then it was back to Gloria to continue her recovery. The good news was she would not have to have a second surgery! We don't know how long she suffered untreated, but all that was behind her now, she was one her way to running again!

Sofia arriving back at the shelter post surgery

Sofia with "nurse" Gloria, can you see her tail wagging?

Sofia was on her way to recovery, and Gloria and the volunteers were with her every step of the way. Her ability to forgive and trust humans again is so amazing to me, she has such a love for life!


Tomorrow, meet the "new and improved" Sofia!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Celebrating Be Kind to Animals Week - Sofia's Story Part Two

 Part Two (Part One here)



Sofia went with Gloria and a volunteer angel to see Dr. Mongil at the Centro de Especialistas Veterinarios de Puerto Rico for an orthopedic evaluation. We were all hoping Dr. Mongil would tell us he could fix her legs easily and she would be able to live a normal and pain free life. During her short time at our shelter everyone had grown quite attached to this little girl, and we wanted to give her a chance.

Dr. Mongil examined her and noted respiratory distress upon examination. X-rays were taken of her legs and her chest. Gloria waited with Sofia and was heartbroken, knowing in her heart that if something more was wrong that we may not be able to help Sofia.

The news was devastating to all of us - Sofia had a diaphragmatic hernia which was causing her respiratory issues. Dr. Mongil was fairly certain that all of Sofia's injuries were caused by the hands of a human due to the nature and location of her injuries.No one can imagine how a person could purposefully do something like this to this sweet little girl.

Gloria left with the volunteer, held Sofia and cried. She knew the Save a Sato was not going to be able to find the money quickly to pay for three surgeries to fix the injuries Sofia had suffered. Sofia simply licked the tears away, not knowing that Gloria was going to have to make a difficult decision.

Sofia, happy to have human companionship


Our motto (and the name of this blog) is "One sato at a time." We are all fully aware that we cannot save them all, but each dog that arrives at our shelter deserves and is given a second chance. Finances are always an issue, and the love and support of our donors is what sees us through difficult situations. We had a little money set aside for much needed shelter repairs, and we have an amazing donor that offered to help pay for Sofia's surgery. We were going to give Sofia every opportunity to be happy and healthy!

Sofia snuggles into Gloria

Just seven days after her consultation, Sofia went to Dr. Mongil for her first surgery to repair her hernia. She was on her way to being able to breath easier. And she would run again!

Stay tuned for the next part of Sofia's journey tomorrow!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Celebrating Be Kind to Animals Week - Sofia's Story



 In honor of Be Kind to Animals Week, I will introduce you to Sofia, one of the many dogs that suffer on the streets of Puerto Rico until a kind person crosses their path and offers them the help they so desperately need to survive.

In May of 2009, a little brown dog was found on the street in Puerto Rico. She was badly broken physically for sure, damage from an unknown source. Her eye had a shine to them however, and she gratefully accepted the help of humans. Even though it appeared both of her legs had been broken, she struggled to get to the humans and receive the help she so desperately needed.

Sofia the day she arrived at the shelter

In the photo above, you can see the damaged to her legs. She was seen by our veterinarian, who assumed she was hit by a car because of her injuries, and did not offer a good prognosis. She was diagnosed with bilateral femoral fractures - which means both of her thigh bones (femur) were broken and had healed poorly as she had received no veterinary care. Her injuries were old, and setting the breaks at this point was not an option, she would need extensive surgery to repair the damage. She was pain free, which was the only positive information from this vet visit. Gloria took her back to the shelter to take time to think about Sofia's situation, what was the kindest thing to do for this sweet girl that had never before been given a chance?
 Sofia, smiling despite the suffering she had endured

Gloria discussed Sofia's case with the board and volunteers, and it was decided that even with the costs of consultation and surgery, we should at least get a second opinion for her before making a decision. One of our very generous supporters offered to pay the cost of the consult and she was scheduled to see a specialist.
Sofia's story will continue throughout Be Kind to Animals Week, so visit us again tomorrow to learn more about this courageous dog and the people that helped her.