It would be quite the understatement to say that it’s taken a village to save Bialy the puppy. From her initial rescue to fostering and rehabilitating her to her adoption last week, there’s been a village of gigantic proportions helping out and cheering on this little girl.
Now, the little puppy that arrived at Chicago Animal Care and Control just before Christmas has quite the blended family of her own. She’s part of a multi-family adoption that encompasses her foster family, another couple that are like parents to her fosters and two dear friends that are very cool uncles.
A Christmas story
In the beginning, Bialy had no use of her back legs and it wasn’t known if she’d recover. She had been stabbed, thrown out of a car and left for dead in the cold. Erin Kowalski, a canine massage therapist and founder of the Lucida Puppy Fund, stepped up to rescue Bialy and foster her for Secondhand Snoots Rescue, a group that focuses on special needs dogs. Bialy came home on Christmas Eve.
On Christmas Day, Kowalski and her husband Will Miller visited their dear friends Terry and John Ruggiero with their newest foster and an incredible bond started to build. Kowalski and Terry Ruggiero had developed a special mother-daughter relationship ever since Erin started as their dog Edelweiss’ canine massage therapist a few years ago.
“On Christmas Eve, she called and told us the story about her new foster and I thought – what a perfect place this little dog to be,” says Terry. “Our neighbor Nick used to leave his dog Buster here during the day and Buster died on December 4. We were still mourning his loss when Erin arrived with a little bitty angel wrapped in a towel, wearing a Christmas outfit – Bialy Noel. It’s almost as if Buster sent her our way.”
Bialy’s story struck a cord for another reason. John Ruggiero has MS and is a quadriplegic. Terry has been his caregiver and Edelweiss is his service dog.
“Living with a person that has special needs and knowing what it is to not walk and be totally dependent to others, I felt such a connection with Bialy,” says Terry. “Erin has been bringing puppies over her for years and we’d get to know them for a few weeks before they would get adopted. Bialy was different from the start.”
Kowalski started leaving Bialy with the Ruggiero’s three times a week when she stopped by for Edelweiss’ massage therapy sessions. They would lovingly care for the little puppy while Kowalski went out to see other clients. Bialy made herself at home, hopping across the floor on her butt and pulling herself across John’s bed for cuddles and kisses.
Their good family friend Chic Marasa stops by each day to visit and also started to fall for the spunky little puppy. Their neighbor Nick, who had been Buster’s dad, also spent a lot of time with Bialy and fell for the puppy as well.
“Even though my canine massage therapy schedule can be pretty flexible, I still have days where I travel to client’s homes and am gone for a long portion of the day,” she adds. “Bialy is a special needs dog and cannot go long without someone there to help her when she needs to relieve herself or even to move around. Knowing Terry is there, giving her the attention, love and care just as if I were there, is amazing.”
From the beginning, Bialy (Kowalski) has kept a blog about her progress, covering her basic fun puppy stories along with the hard work going into her physical therapy. The blog posts have been shared on Kowalski’s, The Lucida Puppy Fund’s and by Secondhand Snoots Facebook pages. Just a few weeks ago, some potential adopters stepped forward to inquire about adopting her.
A whole new family
“When we found out there was interest in this sweet angel being adopted, we all got together as a group and said we want to find a way to make her part of all of our lives,” says Terry. “Erin can work on her therapy and drive Bialy her to appointments and we can care for her when Erin’s working. Chic and our neighbor Nick are pitching in too. And, Bialy has a dog brother in two homes – Edelweiss and Zeus.”
“We all care for Bialy so deeply and already have such a great “family-like” relationship that it just felt right to do a multi-family adoption and make our family a little bigger,” adds Kowalski. “Knowing that individually we would not be able to care for Bialy to the extent she needed allowed us to step back and approach the situation with a broader view and band together to make it happen.”
With veterinary specialists, trainers and various therapy programs in the works, Bialy has already proven to need a lot of financial assistance. With a large extended family, they’ll be able to split those costs and provide added support when needed.
“I think that it is important for rescues to “think outside of the box” when it comes to the perfect placement for the animals in our care,” says Erica Brown of Secondhand Snoots Rescue. “Sometimes the best solutions are the creative ones. We need to get past blanket rules that exclude wonderful families and look at what is best for the individual animal being considered and the interested adopters. Contracts can easily be amended to allow for unique adoption situations, clauses and addendums can be added, follow-up can be done.”
It takes a village
Along with Secondhand Snoots and the Lucida Puppy fund, there has also been help along the way from the entire staff of Integrative Pet Care and Emily Stoddard from Canine Sports Dog Training. Bialy is making great progress and starting to walk during her therapy sessions. And, the little dog dumped and left for dead right before Christmas has several homes, beds and toys – and a carrier called her “Winnebago” – to call her own.
Kowalski’s Lucida Puppy Fund raises funds to help more organizations pull puppies out of animal control before they are exposed to parvo and other illnesses. Throughout the years, she and her husband have fostered 63 puppies and never had a foster failure, until now. That, in itself, is quite the village indeed.
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Part of Bialy’s new extended family is Terry and John Ruggiero and Chic Marasa. John has MS and has enjoyed having Bialy as a frequent visitor.
Erin Kowalski with Bialy – her 64th foster puppy and only foster failure. The Ruggiero’s often look after Bialy when Kowalski works as a canine massage therapist.
Bialy is in love with her new dad Will Miller – Erin Kowalski’s husband. Fostering this special puppy has turned into a labor of love that has turned into a life-time commitment.
Bialy loves spending time with Edelweiss who is a service dog for John Ruggiero and a patient of Erin Kowalski’s. Bialy really loves hanging with the big dogs.
Bialy’s new big brother is Zeus – Erin Kowalski and Will Miller’s dog. He’s assisted in the long line of foster pups that have come through the house until Bialy came to stay.
Bialy is loving life without the cast that was to keep her immobile. Now that she’s started to recover, she’s now doing a variety of doggy therapies.
Bialy is learning how to stand and walk and enjoying her rewards when she’s done. She’s also worked her charm on the team at Integrative Therapy.
Bialy is relaxing after a long therapy session. They are working on a variety of therapies to strengthen her muscles and balance and get her ready to walk.
Bialy just loves her new toy – that looks like a mini-Bialy. She has a set of toys, a bed and all kinds of goodies at each home so she is always nice and comfy.
Bialy is also going to dog training at Chicago Canine Sports and loves to play with the big dogs there as well. Thanks to all the love and support, she’s recovering and starting to walk.
After a long day, Bialy curls up in her special carrier for the ride home. They’ve nick named her carrier – the Winnebago because it has extra room for her.