Genny - K-9 Lifesavers



In December 2015, one of K-9 Lifesavers’ shelter partners in Georgia, Sweet Onion Animal Protection Society, rescued a small, scared, damaged girl dog who they named Genevieve. She was severely underweight, but not because she was a stray – she was victimized by someone she should have been able to trust. She was starved of food and strangled with a luggage strap around her throat. She was heartworm positive and so emotionally traumatized that she couldn’t accept comfort from anyone, and she wouldn’t eat even though her body demanded food. One of K-9 Lifesavers’ experienced foster families stepped up and offered to take her in to help her heal while our rescue worked to find her a forever home, and so Genevieve made the trip north to Columbia, MD, and to a life unlike anything she’d ever experienced.

Genevieve quickly became Genny, and her foster mom began to devote all her spare time to earning her trust. She figured out that Genny loved turkey – but basically only turkey. Genny was the only dog her foster mom has ever met that would turn down cheese, pizza, burgers, hot dogs, wet food, dog treats, and steak, but would dance on happy feet for slices of turkey lunchmeat. Very gradually, Genny allowed her foster mom closer to her, eventually accepting strokes on her back and the occasional brief embrace, but she continued to maintain a careful distance from everyone for weeks and never fully relaxed into sleep if anyone was awake around her. She was indifferent to her furry siblings as well and didn’t respond to play invitations, preferring to hang back nervously, waiting to go back inside to her safe space. The veterinarians who examined her, both in Georgia and at the local practice in Maryland, believed Genny had likely given birth to at least one litter of puppies, and possibly several. It was very possible that she’d given birth shortly before her abuser tried to strangle her, which meant that in addition to her physical suffering she was also mourning the loss of her puppies. We’ll never know for certain, but it was clear from her behavior around other dogs that she didn’t have any interest in being part of a pack. The only dog she bonded with was a puppy that joined the pack as a foster some months after Genny arrived. Dixie (now Melody) has a sad story of her own, but she was so young that she was already starting to bounce back from her experiences. The only thing she was missing was an older female dog from whom she could seek comfort, and she turned to Genny – and Genny allowed Dixie close. Soon they were inseparable. But that’s not the best part. The best part is that Genny’s foster mom was able to break through to her with those slow, careful, and patient steps she’s known for, and soon the entire K-9 Lifesavers community was able to watch with joy as Genny opened up to the love her foster mom showered on her. She started to put on weight, and her eyes began to shine with life. We saw her leaning into her foster mom in pictures instead of tensing up in fear. We caught glimpses of her emerging personality when she gave her foster mom the side-eye for making her wear flowers on her head. We experienced all these breakthroughs with Genny and her foster mom vicariously through the pictures on Facebook, and celebrated with them as Genny took small steps toward finding her forever family. Although none of us really doubted that she’d already found them with her fosters.

In May, just as Genny was almost healthy enough to start heartworm treatment, Genny suddenly began to lose weight. She started to lose interest even in the turkey she loved, and she started sleeping more often. Her foster mom took her back to the vet only to discover that Genny’s heartworm disease was far, far more advanced than anyone anticipated. By the time they figured it out, it was too late. Genny’s body couldn’t fight any longer. Her foster mom made the ultimate selfless sacrifice and held her while she went to sleep for the last time on May 23, 2016.

Genny lost the battle against the many traumas her small body suffered, but she absolutely won the war against fear. She learned how to trust one person – her foster mom – and with that that one huge step she conquered demons we will never know or understand. She also won the hearts of thousands of people, which is amazing all on its own. For the hundreds of her fans that followed her story every step of the way, she is a hero – an example of how love can triumph over fear. For those of us who work in rescue, her story is proof that there are far more angels fighting for the innocent than there are monsters who would destroy them. Genny’s life started out with a cruel individual, but she passed through the hands of dozens of angels and into the hands of her loving foster mom, who gave Genny her whole heart. Through her, all the rest of us got to know Genny, and we are inspired to do more for dogs just like her. Genny wins.

Donations received in Genny’s name will allow us to pay for the medical costs to treat heartworm positive dogs we rescue. We will also continue to spread awareness of heartworm treatment and prevention. It’s such an easy disease to prevent, and no dog needs to suffer from it. Thank you all for being such a huge and vital rescue community. We are so glad to call you fellow Lifesavers!!

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