"Any fool can be happy, It takes someone with a real heart to make beauty out of the stuff that makes us weep."- Clive Barker.
Home has never meant more than in this time of uncertainty amidst a deadly pandemic sweeping the world -- a place of safety and protection. Having a home, a place to belong, provides a foothold amid chaos, a stable base to imagine a new and better future despite the challenges that surround us.
We know the miraculous power of having a home for life and have seen again and again what having a place to belong means for animals who come to Home for Life® longing for the safety, security, and acceptance that our sanctuary provides. There's no place like Home for Life® for dogs and cats like 2-legged Sheltie, Poppy, where we make sure the trauma and rejection of their prior years will neither define them nor be the end of their story.
NOTE: The summer appeal $10,000 match deadline is August 15, 2020.
There's No Place Like Home
Flowers and new spring grass carpet the low prairie hills around Home for Life sanctuary. Poppy, a Shetland sheepdog, stands in her outdoor enclosure, eyes bright with excitement. She is clean, nicely groomed, and ready for action! She perks her ears and looks back toward her living quarters for Frank and Frosty, her canine housemates. A Home for Life® caregiver brings them out, opens the gate, and the three dogs race out across the fresh green hills.
Left: Poppy visiting Como Park School with our Peace Creatures® program
Poppy's days are filled with fun, loving care, companionship, and some serious work as well! Poppy is a therapy in dog Home for Life's® Peace Creatures® program, which last year reached over 7,000 vulnerable kids and adults in our community and provided nearly $1 million in valuable services to those in nursing homes, mental health wards, battered women's shelters, pediatric oncology wards, and prisons. Poppy is a great ambassador for the sanctuary, extending the vision of Home for Life® and the healing she has benefited from to ease the loneliness and distress of the most fragile people, living in obscurity on the fringes of our society, and her important work helps draw these people back into the embrace of the community.
Left: Poppy the puppy after her rescue
It is hard to believe that, just 4 years ago, Poppy herself was homeless, in pain, and struggling for her very life. She had been living in the streets of a village in a third world country and was one day struck by a car and left for dead. She dragged herself to a hiding spot and remained out of sight for over a week until a man found her and brought her to the VAFA Animal Shelter for help. The picture taken of Poppy at the time of her rescue shows a fragile, shy puppy, about 3-4 months old and lucky to be alive.
Left: Poppy suffered greatly, nearly bleeding to death after her first amputation surgery
The accident damaged her pelvis and caused her knees to turn at a 180 degree angle. Two of her vertebrae were apart and seemed dislocated. The vets in her home country did an MRI. The scan revealed severe injury to her spine. They performed surgery to fix her vertebrae, and later amputated both back legs which were beyond repair.
Above: Poppy recovering after her surgeries, now a two-legged dog
Poppy faced a bleak future as a 2-legged dog in a third world country, where even strong and mobile dogs often suffer from maltreatment and neglect. Home for Life® supports the work of international organizations like VAFA Shelter that are helping to change perceptions about dogs and animal welfare in their societies. Our sanctuary has taken several dogs from other countries, dogs whose needs were more involved than rescues were set up to handle long term. Poppy certainly fits that category! She was welcomed to Home for Life® and made the long journey here in the fall of 2016.
Left: Poppy resting on shore after a swim in the Apple River which runs on Home for Life's® property
Poppy's injury left her very vulnerable, with only two legs, but the main issue with dogs who lose the use of their back legs is not mobility but incontinence. That's why these dogs are often overlooked for adoption, and why they need specialized care to keep them healthy. With her long fur, amputations and incontinence, constant vigilance would be needed to keep her clean and healthy and prevent infections. She also needed to build up the strength in her front legs since, even in a cart, they would need to bear all her weight, and that can become tiring.
The initial impression, to see a dog with only two legs is sometimes shocking and frankly disturbing. But with the attentive care she receives from Home for Life's® staff, Poppy has thrived and never gives her missing legs a second thought, focusing instead on all she can do. Poppy's determination to make the most of her life touches the heart of anyone she meets. Poppy's work to become one of our therapy dogs in our Peace Creatures® program began with visits to Como Park Senior high school in the spring of 2018 to help students there during the stressful period of final exams and has continued to include visits to many area nursing homes.
Above: Poppy is an ardent swimmer and a master of the dog paddle!!
At Home for Life®, Poppy's traumatic start and missing legs have not stopped her from living a full life, with friends, the opportunity to run, to swim and even to give back through Home for Life's® outreach programs. Fate must have had a plan for Poppy when she so miraculously survived her injury, alone for nearly 2 weeks without care, the amputation of both legs and surgery on her back, and then the long journey to Home for Life®. It turned out that Poppy had much to live for and much to give though her start seemed so bleak and filled with despair before she was even a year old. Her sweet nature and her determination to live life to the fullest inspires those she encounters who are often facing their own challenges.
Home Is Where The Heart Is
It would be easy to weep over Poppy and to pity her when her life was forever changed by the loss of her two back legs when only a puppy. And it would have been tempting, once we had taken her in at Home for Life® to always portray her as a pathetic two-legged dog, forever marked by the tragedy of her first year. In the age of social media, often it is the tragic and shocking animals' stories that draw the most attention and support. But we wanted Home for Life® to represent something different in animal welfare and for animals like Poppy.
Left: Poppy brings a smile to a patient at the Woodbury Senior Living facility on a Peace Creatures visit
There's a place in the world for everyone, a place that can be called home. It is a place where even when life seems at a dead end, a dog like Poppy can find stability and safety for a new beginning. That's what Home for Life® provided Poppy, and that's what we can do for other animals with your help.
I Wish I could give them all a home - Now you Can!
As uncertainty, fear, and chaos continue to rattle our world, the loving security of home means more than ever -- especially for vulnerable animals like Poppy.
We know what it has meant to Poppy to have the steady care and healing Home for Life® provides - the opportunity to have a life that no one could imagine was possible when she was alone, a two-legged disabled dog in a third world country. Your support has made the difference for her - as it can for so many animals like her who need someone to care about them too.
Left: A brush with fame! Poppy meets Ashley Judd at the Home for Life 2019 Fall Gala!
An internationally recognized care for life sanctuary, Home for Life®, offers a service to animals in need like no comparative organization. Many shelters and rescue organizations aspire to find a home for every animal and dream of the day when there will be no homeless animals. At Home for Life®, that's what we want too -- and that's what we provide -- for cats and dogs like Poppy who are overlooked for placement. Home for Life® has created a new idea, the care for life sanctuary -- a life-saving and life-affirming alternative for dogs and cats who have not been able to find a home or keep the home they had and for animals who have lifelong special care needs that most adopters cannot provide. We call our idea the "Third Door" in animal welfare, which gives at-risk dogs and cats, animals who might have been passed over for adoption, a third chance and an alternative to an undeserved death.
Did you know? In 2019 Home for Life was named one of the 10 most amazing animal sanctuaries in the country by USA TODAY?
The dream of a home should be an opportunity that is available for all dogs and cats, and now with Home for Life®, and the innovative model we have created at our prototype sanctuary in Star Prairie, WI, it can be! Your gift will change the life of dogs and cats like Poppy!
Thank you for your support!
Lisa LaVerdiere, Executive Director
P.S.: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us profoundly. In the midst of worldwide shock and fear, it is comforting to see that people are still stepping up to protect others' lives including cats and dogs. Even in a pandemic, vulnerable animals like those at Home for Life® need our help, maybe now more than ever. Please don't forget them - thank you for your kindness and support!
NOTE: The summer appeal $10,000 match has a deadline of August 15, 2020. To donate or sponsor an animal such as Poppy, please click on one of the buttons below.