To watch Hope, a young yellow Lab mix, run through the yard of her Bethlehem Township home, you’d never know what physical pain she has endured. She darts with amazing speed, chasing her adopted sister, Riley, another Lab mix. They romp, often knocking each other over. But their tails continue to wag. There’s little doubt they enjoy each other’s company, and the smiles on their faces tell how much they love their life.
But for Hope, life was not always wonderful. Her new family will be honored next week for the compassion they showed in adopting her. The 1-year-old dog is a rescue, and the first few months of her life did little to reflect her cheerful disposition. In December, Hope had been sealed inside a plastic trash bag, thrown out of a car and left to die on the side of a North Carolina roadway. An observant driver noticed the bag moving on the roadside and notified police, who were shocked to find a puppy tied shut inside. They took her to a nearby shelter. An exam by a veterinarian revealed the puppy had a broken leg, dislocated hip and jaw, and burn marks on her face and body. Some of the injuries may have occurred when she was thrown from a car. But X-rays showed this puppy had previous injuries, including a broken jaw. The vet estimated she was 4- to 6-months old and had been beaten all of her life. Shelters have a difficult enough time finding homes for healthy dogs. Thousands of homeless dogs — healthy, happy and with no issues — die in the United States every day. Those with injuries or health concerns, like Hope, are pretty much doomed. Luckily for Hope, Lulu’s Rescue stepped in just in the nick of time. Papers already were drawn and a number had been issued for her to be euthanized, which meant she had 48 hours left to live. “‘Euthanized’ means mercy killing,” says Michele Armstrong of Point Pleasant, Bucks County, founder of Lulu’s Rescue. “That’s not what we are doing. We are killing healthy adoptable animals.” The rescue has no building, but instead has a network of volunteers who take ill-fated shelter dogs, mostly from the South, and place them in foster care until permanent homes can be found. Even though she was badly injured, which made her chance for adoption slim, Lulu’s Rescue took a chance on Hope, a name they gave her when they fell in love with her amazing spirit. They couldn’t think of a better name. Despite the abuse she had been subjected to, “she was so spirited and hopeful. She had no fear of people — a complete joy and a zest for life,” Armstrong says. “Everyone who met her — the vet, technicians who worked with her and her foster family — talked about her spirit. She has a can-do, glass-is-half-full attitude.” Lulu’s placed Hope in a foster home in North Carolina until she received medical treatment and was strong enough to transport north, and it raised money through Facebook to help pay for the medical bills. By March, after a couple months of loving foster care, she was ready for adoption. Hope’s photo and story were posted on Facebook and petfinder.com. Within hours, John and Eileen Crew of Bethlehem Township saw the posting on petfinder.com, read Hope’s story and called Lulu’s to adopt her. “Her story was so sad. We were so moved. We instantly knew we could give her a safe home and a good life,” Eileen says. The Crews had adopted their other dog, Riley, in October through Lulu’s Rescue, so they already were approved to be a suitable home. (Lulu’s does in-home interviews of prospects before placing a dog in a home.) The Crews moved to Bethlehem Township from New Jersey eight years ago. Their sons, Steven, 17, and an animal lover, and Ryan, 9, had been bugging them for a dog, Eileen says. She visited local shelters several times, but the family could never find “just the right dog for them. The boys would come home from the shelters so disappointed,” she says. Lulu’s Rescue, through a family interview, matched the Crews with Riley. The black Lab mix ended up being perfect for their family. So, after a few months of successful transition, “we thought she could use a playmate,” John says.