Love and Patience Nourish Adopted Dog Back to Health

Honey’s resilience teaches deputy dog warden to never feel defeated.

Amanda + Honey

Thanks to Amanda’s dedication, Honey found health, happiness, and a second chance at a happy life.

"Honey continues to show me what unconditional love is. In my profession, we see so much heartache. At times we feel defeated. Honey demonstrated how to be a warrior and how to keep going, no matter how bad the statistics are."

As a deputy dog warden for Cuyahoga County, I work with over 2,000 dogs every year. I have always loved my job but in early 2019, after a serious situation at work rattled me to my core, I started to question my abilities for the first time. What followed felt like constant failure and loss. Everyone at the shelter and in my life was very supportive, but I didn’t want to hear it. I was falling apart on the inside.

Honey had arrived at the shelter in late 2018. She was failing to thrive and had been returned after several adoptions. Nothing was wrong behaviorally — Honey was as sweet as her name suggests — but she would throw up every type of food she was given and was losing a lot of weight. It took extensive testing before she was diagnosed with congenital megaesophagus. Although we were working to manage her condition, she kept losing weight. With such a small staff and around 100 dogs in the building at any given time, Honey simply couldn’t be given the attention she needed at every meal, and she needed at least four meals a day. I thought I could help make Honey’s condition better, so I took her home as a foster. I just felt like it was something I needed to do.

As the months went by, Honey improved. I would get up early every morning to feed her in a special highchair which held her in a position that enabled her to eat without throwing up. Fortunately, a second highchair was donated to the shelter so I could bring her to work with me to feed her during my lunchtime, too. When she was no longer constantly hungry and could keep meals down, her personality grew as much as her weight. She went from a lethargic 60 pounds to a vibrant 80-pound dog who loves every second of life. Many medical professionals told me that she would only live a year if I was lucky. Those comments that should have discouraged me somehow empowered me to do more. As I saw Honey succeed, I also started to see changes in myself. Honey was embracing every moment, which made me see the bright side of her recovery instead of dwelling on the negative. She reminded me that time, patience, and love can do so much for even the most broken.

From the beginning, I knew Honey was a special dog. Once she was stable, I adopted her and she became a welcome addition to my “pack” at home. Honey continues to show me what unconditional love is. In my profession, we see so much heartache. At times we feel defeated. Honey demonstrated how to be a warrior and how to keep going, no matter how bad the statistics are. She is proof that we experience so many small victories, and sometimes we just need to look a little deeper to see them happening every day.

Each year, the Petco Foundation Holiday Wishes campaign invites adopters to share stories of how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by Amanda won Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter  in Valley View, Ohio a 2020 Holiday Wishes award.