MOUNT DESERT ISLAND, Maine (WABI) — A few months ago, a dog breeder in Tennessee was about to euthanize an eleven-week-old cocker spaniel puppy who suffered from a rare congenital heart defect called a persistent right aortic arch. The pup ended up in a shelter in Ohio instead, but his prognosis for survival was still grim.
Now this pup has a forever home in Maine, and it took an island to make it.
Mount Desert Island’s Christopher Walsh and Jeffrey Mohr had been raising money to help sheltered dogs for years when they heard about Tootsie, at the time a three-month-old cocker spaniel with PRAA.
“What it is,” Walsh explained, “is a ligament that grows over the esophagus, so they’re not able to swallow solid food.”
The price of surgery? $6,500.
“So I started a little Facebook fundraiser,” Walsh said. “It was a five dollar fundraiser, so I just asked for five dollars, and we raised the $6,500 in thirty-six hours.”
Of the 120 donors, 110 came from MDI. Although it wasn’t in the original plan, Walsh and Mohr decided to adopt Tootsie and bring her to the island.
“The captain came out and she got her little Delta wings,” laughed Walsh. “I actually told her she preferred first class rooms from another airline. He just turned and walked away, and I felt stupid. But he came back and told her she was now a Delta dog and pinned her to her little bandana.
Now that she’s home, Walsh said the island that helped save Tootsie has embraced her as one of their own.
“They know his name. They may not know me sometimes, but they already know Tootsie. I snuck it into the grocery store, and it’s nearly impossible to get out. We hear people shouting, “Hi, Tootsie! as we drive by, and I look in the rear view mirror, and I’m like, ‘I have no idea who that is.’ “It happens on a daily basis. If we went downtown right now, you’d find people who wanted to talk to Tootsie.
Because she’s a dog, Tootsie will never really know how many people have come together to help save her. But Walsh knows. He says they are both eternally grateful.
“I don’t know how to express my gratitude. It’s an incredible feeling. It’s a great community to live in. We are very lucky.
Walsh is hosting another fundraiser for a dog also housed in Ohio.
To make a donation, go to the Columbus Cocker Rescue Facebook page.
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