There are many animals who pass through the doors of Prairie’s Edge Humane Society and while they are all special in their own way, every once in a while, there comes along an “extra” special one. “Rhonda” is a Finnish Spitz mix dog who came to the PEHS shelter as a stray back in September. She was found injured, scared and wandering by an area farmer. Rhonda had an injury to her hip and her knee on her rear right leg. It was obviously an old injury that had never been treated as she had lost a lot of muscle mass in her hip and leg. It was very quickly discovered what a sweet personality this dog had and a face that looked as if she was smiling at us. She seemed to be saying to us "help me". It was obvious her name at that point would be "Rhonda", derived from the Beach Boy’s song "Help Me Rhonda".
As the lyrics of the song go "well Rhonda you caught my eye, and I can give you lots of reasons why"…Rhonda caught not only our eyes, but our hearts as well and the reasons are many. Rhonda was in much pain. She had a dislocated hip and a torn ligament in her knee. She would need extensive surgery and rehabilitation. Her medical costs would be expensive. But as soon as we met her, we were all amazed by her happy and hopeful attitude even though she was in so much pain. This attitude has remained throughout her long stay at the shelter. So the decision was made to surgically repair her injuries and give Rhonda the chance she deserved.This dog was very obviously full of love to share and we needed to give her the opportunity to share it. The call went out to our donors via emails and our website that we needed to raise funds to help this sweet girl. And our donors responded as they so often do for us.
So Rhonda’s journey with us had begun. She was immediately put on medication to control her pain, while decisions were made for her treatment. Upon an examination by our shelter veterinarian, some more x-rays and consultations with other area veterinarians, it was determined that the best option for Rhonda would be two surgeries; one to repair her hip and a separate surgery to repair the knee. Rhonda came through both surgeries like a trooper, always a tail wagging for us and that “smiling” face looking at us as if to say “thank you”. Rhonda received therapy each day from our staff and as her stay with us grew longer we began to realize how Rhonda was also helping us. As the lyrics of the song go on to say “well Rhonda you look so fine, and I knew it wouldn’t take much time, for you to help me Rhonda”….Rhonda began to help us with other animals at the shelter.
Each animal is given a behavior test when they come to the PEHS shelter. One of the aspects of this test helps us to determine their behavior towards other animals in order to help with their adoptability. Sometimes it is very difficult for us to determine this as we don’t always have the opportunity to safely introduce animals to each other in order to see the reaction as we don’t always have another dog that is able to calmly meet the dog which is being tested. Rhonda is such a gentle soul who seems to want to make friends with every creature she comes in contact with and she is able to do so calmly and without causing added excitement or stress to the other animal.
She has been helping with these behavior tests during her rehabilitation by greeting other dogs through a fence, for the safety of both animals, and she seems to understand that she needs to be calm and even ignore what the other dog’s reaction is by simply turning away from them if they become excited or anxious during the meeting. She actually seems to understand what she is doing for us and the other animal.
Rhonda’s help does not only extend to the other dogs at the shelter. Rhonda is also making friends with the cats. Rhonda has helped us to learn the behavior of some of the cats around dogs as well, which will help us to inform possible adopters whether or not the cat will be comfortable living with a dog in the home, making these cats more adoptable as well.
While recuperating at the shelter Rhonda has been spending time hanging out in the business office. Her favorite place is to lie under the table in the office and just watch the activities and perhaps steal a snack or two off our desks when we are not looking (and actually sometimes while we are looking). Chicken in a Biscuit crackers seem to be her favorite guilty pleasure to steal. Rhonda likes nothing better than to just hang out with people and every now and then she will come up to you and paw gently at your leg as if to say, “you have worked enough, time for a break”, when she wants your undivided attention which of course she gets every time! When she sees people she knows she softly dances back and forth on her front paws until that person stops and pays the appropriate amount of attention to her, earning her the nickname “the tap dancer” from the kennel staff at the shelter.
Rhonda is walking a little more on her leg each day and she is now off of the pain medication. She does take a joint supplement each day for her knee and as normal with Rhonda; she is wonderful about taking her pill for us. We are very happy to report that after nearly a four month stay with us, Rhonda is now available for adoption! Rhonda is going to have some special requirements of her new home and our staff will cover those prior to her adoption.
Rhonda has had a long journey with us. We are very hopeful that we will be able to find that special person or family who will adopt Rhonda and give her the loving home she deserves. We want nothing more than to be able to continue to help other animals in need such as Rhonda. In order to do so we need your help. Please consider giving a donation to Prairie’s Edge Humane Society in honor of Rhonda so that we can help the next “Rhonda” who comes to the shelter. You can donate on line via our website www.prairiesedgehs.org or by mailing a check to 1201 Cannon Circle, Faribault, MN 55021.
As you can tell, Rhonda has stolen everyone’s heart at the shelter and she is very special to all of us. While it will be hard for us to say goodbye to her, we want nothing more than for her to have her own forever home where she will be loved. And so the lyrics of the Beach Boy’s song continues…”You gotta help me Rhonda, help me get her out of my heart… help me Rhonda, help, help me Rhonda”.
Rhonda, I know you will always be in the hearts of the staff and the other animals at the Prairie’s Edge Humane Society. You are a very special girl. We may have “helped” Rhonda, but she definitely helped us as well.