From Harsh Winter to Warm Bed – Heartwarming Story Contest

This pet rescue story is an entry in the Most Heartwarming Story Contest, by Helen Woodward Animal Center. The Most Heartwarming Story Contest is open to any and all participating Blue Buffalo Home 4 the Holidays pet organizations. The winner will win $1,000 for their facility or rescue! Your organization can become a Blue Buffalo Home 4 the Holidays partner today. This story will now have an opportunity to be featured in the finalist pool in February 2016. 

Senior Dog’s Will to Live Inspires Us All

Thelma Tri-County Animal Rescue Center

Meet Thelma.

By Tri-County Animal Rescue Center, located in Shippenville, Pennsylvania

Visit their website  |    “Like” them on Facebook

Sweet Thelma came to us after a very long year of being stray. Was she abandoned when her family moved out of town? Had she been thrown out because she was no longer wanted? Or did the last 7 years of Thelma’s life consist of being tied to an outside box? Winter had been so harsh…was she left to suffer the ravages of a minus-20-degree wind chill with only a smattering of straw for insulation?

Those questions would never be answered. But those questions were hardly important anymore. Thelma’s new residence was Tri-County Animal Rescue Center, and she would never again go without food, water, love and warmth.

Thelma’s history, as told by the man who finally captured her, was spotty at best. Showing up at random houses in the very small town of Parker, Pennsylvania, Thelma depended on the generosity of strangers and existed on handouts, her very life depending on these kindnesses. This sad stray survived without daily meals, fresh water or a place to call home. Where she escaped for warmth in the bitter winter months or where she sought cover in torrential downpours is anyone’s guess. But the fact that precious Thelma survived those conditions for almost a year speaks of her tenacious spirit and will to live.

Initially, Thelma behaved as most strays or surrenders do. She would not eat without the company of a volunteer, she was afraid to walk past the kennels of other dogs, and she found no pleasure in toys. What made Thelma so unique was how quickly she adapted, and by the next day, we had the pleasure of hearing her first joyful bay as she chased a toy! Because of her cheerful spirit and her ease of adaptation, she was quickly adopted by an older couple who only adopt senior dogs. Just hours after beginning her new life, we received a picture of Thelma (newly named “Abigail”) snuggled in her plush bed, covered to her chin with an invitingly soft blanket that said, “Abigail’s first night in her loving home!!! She will never be alone again, scared, infested with ticks or fleas, hungry, thirsty, unloved, abused, ever…”

Thelma in Bed

…the fact that precious Thelma survived those conditions for almost a year speaks of her tenacious spirit and will to live.

So many adoption stories talk about the great heights rescue dogs can achieve whether they become therapy dogs, part of a K-9 Unit or agility dogs — such amazing and promising stories! Thelma’s ending is not so grandiose. She simply became man’s best friend. 

During the 2015 Blue Buffalo Home 4 the Holidays campaign (Oct. 1, 2015 – Jan. 4, 2016), participating animal organizations are encouraged to enter heartwarming adoption success stories. Submissions can be made weekly by email or tagging stories with #LightTheirWayHome, and at the end of each week Helen Woodward Animal Center will select a winning story to be featured on this very blog! After the campaign ends on Jan. 4, 2016, the weekly winning stories will be compiled into a pool and voted on by partnered organizations, animal welfare fans and the public. The story with the most votes will win a $1,000 donation for their animal organization and will be announced on Helen Woodward Animal Center’s blog in February 2016. For more rules and guidelines, please click here.


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