Buddy One Year Later
Photo ©2008 Merrick Morton
Forward by Buddy's Dad, Merrick "Rick" Morton
He is a rescue that was not supposed to live. If you saw him now you would never know he is the same dog that was rescued from the side of the road in Mississippi. Buddy was never supposed to walk on all fours, but now walks and runs on all fours. Recently he started doing his happy dance at the front door when we get home. Buddy never barked when he was at ARNO and was silent for the first two weeks when he came to Los Angeles. Now you can hear that bark from two blocks away! He is always changing, trusting more, and wanting more attention. Buddy and my other dog Finn, who is twice Buddy’s size, are very close friends. The perfect match. They play tug-of-war with their toys every morning. Buddy goes on two mile-long hikes every day. When Buddy came to California, he had two surgeries, the last one lasting five-and-a-half hours. Following the second surgery he had six months of water rehabilitation therapy. Now he is doing better than great. My wife and I are both madly in love with him, and Buddy is in love with everyone including his favorite toy, a stuffed squirrel.
A tale of a rescued dog from the roadside of Interstate-10 in Mississippi, his care at ARNO’s shelter, a dog not expected to walk much less run again, and his final stop in Los Angeles, where he his heart, forever.
"If I hadn't volunteered to do that poodle transport…
If that transport had taken any longer…
If I had stopped for gas…
If I would not have seen him and Captain Hook wandering near the street…
If that nice lady wouldn't have brought some dog food to lure them in…
If I wouldn't have asked that man what their plans were for Buddy…
If Robin hadn't taken him in and cared for him like only she can…
If you wouldn't have been working here in New Orleans…
...so many ifs…
Photo ©2008 Anabel Salinas
How could she know that this bag of bones, this walking skeleton, this wisp of a dog would survive? How could she know that this pathetic creature would capture the hearts of so many? How could she know that this crippled boy would not only live, but that he also would surpass everyone’s expectations? How could she know that this broken-down shell of what passed as someone’s pet, a lifetime before she saw him on the side of the interstate, would head out West to find his fortune and the love he so deserved? She couldn’t, she didn’t, she wouldn’t dare to dream any dreams for this creature, she only knew that afternoon that she had to do something, anything, and she knew that she had to save him.
Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO) will never know just how “Buddy” got on that endless stretch of the interstate just outside of Biloxi, Mississippi. Was he dumped along that highway, he and his traveling companion, another thin and gangly dog, this one missing his entire left front paw, had they both been left to die? Did the two dogs live in the area and were somehow just lost? ARNO, and the rescuer of a thousand “ifs” Anabel Salinas, will never know the answer to those questions but one thing was certain on that afternoon that Anabel saw the pair of canines, the were both in desperate need of help and appeared starving, grotesquely obvious to every car that surely whizzed past before Anabel stopped.
It was February 13, 2007, a little more than a year ago when Anabel saw the pair shortly after finishing an animal transport, and within moments of spotting them, her vehicle was careening down the emergency lane of the interstate…in reverse. Determined and armed only with leftover French fries from a fast food lunch, Anabel lured the thinner dog into her car, and then proceeded to wait hours in the hopes that she could do the same for his friend, a dog who although seriously injured and missing a paw, proved too quick that day for the rescuer. Finally Anabel had to make the heartbreaking decision to take further steps to save the one dog who was now in her care and get him medical attention, life-saving attention now, and that meant leaving the other dog behind. Because he was so friendly she called the dog, now in her backseat, “Buddy.”
Photo ©2008 Merrick Morton
Buddy’s story was unbelievably sad to learn, to hear, to be part of. Anabel, an ARNO feeder and foster home, contacted Animal Rescue New Orleans shortly after picking Buddy up off the highway, called them in what she characterizes as a “panic” and received instructions to get him to the closest veterinarian. The news was not good at all. Buddy was so starved that his own body had turned against itself and his muscle was literally being consumed by his body. Anabel believes this may be the reason why Buddy couldn’t even run away from her that day. His poor eyes had long ago stopped producing tears, he was that dehydrated. As Anabel waited with Buddy at the veterinarian’s office, she watched him weaken before her eyes but somehow he managed to crawl into a corner where it appeared to all that he was waiting to die. Buddy was pathetic, beyond pathetic, one hind leg was atrophied from a prior injury and the other began to give out at the clinic. Would Buddy even live through the afternoon? Would his last breath be drawn on a cold steel examination table? Anabel couldn’t know the answer to those questions but she couldn’t give up on Buddy either. She had found him, or maybe he had found her, for a reason that day and they would both have to see it through. Buddy remained at the vet clinic for the next week where he was stabilized and began the long process back to nourishment, a life, and what would be eventually, love.
Buddy officially joined the ARNO family that very day that Anabel called in a panic and asked what, when, where, how, but he would physically join our family at ARNO the following week after spending days just getting strength back at the clinic that saved his life. Buddy joined ARNO’s shelter on Monday, February 19, 2007 and he never looked back. ARNO and Anabel, Buddy’s savior, were heartbroken to learn that a few days after Buddy’s rescue, the body of Captain Hook, Buddy’s traveling companion was found. He was apparently struck by a fast moving vehicle along the Interstate, the only relief for any of us was that it was quick, very quick and we knew that Captain Hook’s pain was over. Although Anabel and ARNO grieved for this loss, their mission was now to focus on Buddy and see to it that this dog survived… and survive he did.
Over the following days and weeks, Buddy charmed everyone who laid eyes on him. Yes, it was his fragile frame that first caught your eye but it was his soulfull loving eyes and his unsinkable spirit that sucked you in. You just melted and fell completely under this creature’s spell. There was no doubt about it… Buddy was special and although the thoughts were usually immediately cast from the minds of all who first gawked and then stared and wondered just how such a sweet and loving animal could have experienced so much pain in his life, the thoughts nevertheless were there. How could this dog have been so starved? Wouldn’t he have solicited human attention and a handout of food before he got to this point? Again the thoughts would creep in… had he been the victim of neglect or outright cruelty?
Had Buddy known love in his life at one point only to cross paths with some “human” who had starved him of every kind of nourishment a body needs? ARNO will never know, but Buddy was ours now, he was ours to love, ours to care for, ours to weave hopes and dreams for and who could have known the dreams our Buddy would have? Who could have known that fairytales do sometimes come true? Who could have known that very soon Buddy would meet the love of his life, a very special man who would take this deserving dog into his heart, into his life, his home, his family. And into a world, a universe, that was light years away from the side of the interstate in Biloxi, Mississippi. Merrick “Rick” Morton fell for Buddy and like so many others, he fell hard and he fell fast… but Rick would be returning home soon, home to California because he had only been in New Orleans for a brief time on a film shoot. While in New Orleans, Rick crossed paths with Animal Rescue New Orleans, and the life-plans for a dog named Buddy were soon laid.
Rick officially introduced himself to all who volunteer at ARNO through his goodbye message, a bittersweet one he posted on our forum on March 5, 2007. Rick posted about being here as a professional still photographer and how after four months there was one thing that had the greatest impact upon him. It was his time spent volunteering with ARNO, and its feeding program, a program begun in direct response to the aftermath of Katrina and the thousands of animals that remained on the streets of New Orleans. In his final note to ARNO, Rick gave us all the most amazing news… he would be taking Buddy home. Biloxi Buddy was going to be making his final trip home to a new life, a life in Los Angeles, California. Tears of joy and tears of bittersweet happiness and tears of amazement were shared by all at ARNO. We loved Buddy, we loved him the moment we saw him, the moment we learned of Anabel’s rescue of this barely walking skeleton, the moment he gained his first ounce, his first pound, the moment he took his first walk on three legs. We so ached for that fourth leg, his hind leg, and we wondered if maybe he couldn’t have a wonderful life even with a lifeless, listless leg? We all said our private goodbyes to a dog who had captured our hearts, captured the spirit of just what we do here at ARNO and we hoped and prayed for the best. Our dream had come true for Buddy, and Buddy got more than any of us could have ever hoped for, especially Anabel, that rescuer of a thousand “Ifs.”
Photo ©2008 Merrick Morton
Buddy’s life in Los Angeles, California with the Morton family has been more than a dream come true for Buddy and for everyone back at ARNO who wanted so much for this special dog. We could tell you how Buddy triumphed in the Land of Opportunity, we could tell you how Buddy cast his spell over Dr. Ronald Morein and Dr. Paul Cechner of the VCA Lakewood Animal Hospital in Bellflower,California. We could even tell you how they gave Buddy back his leg, gave him back a four-legged life, gave him back the ability to run and play. And at no cost because they too, knew just how special Buddy was, just how special his rescuers Anabel, Rick and ARNO were. We are telling you Buddy’s story, but you can see all this with your own eyes. Please watch the transformation of our precious and beloved dog, Biloxi Buddy at the YouTube links provided. Think about this: Buddy never barked once his during his entire stay at ARNO, almost as if he wanted to blend into the background so as not to ever be cast aside again, and then watch as Buddy playfully barks his entire doggie vocabulary to a passing motorist in California. Buddy found his life, his mobility, his voice and his heart with the Morton family.
Photo ©2008 Merrick Morton
We at ARNO know that Anabel will never ever know the answers to all of the “what ifs…” she was plagued with even six months after she saved Buddy. But she should know that all of us at ARNO, and certainly the Morton family, are all thankful that she was there that fated day with those French-fried potatoes. After you watch these videos that Rick Morton has been gracious enough to share with us, and with all of humanity for that matter, you will surely know that most of all Buddy is most happy that Anabel was there to help him begin on his path of dreams. This disaster called Katrina destroyed a lot, that is a fact. But so much good has also come out of that disaster, including people working together from all over including Biloxi, Los Angeles and New Orleans. People like Anabel, people like Rick, people like ARNO, and people like YOU who make ARNO what they are, all coming together to see that good things happen, too. If you ever start to doubt just how much good you are doing supporting ARNO and helping us with the animals in this region, just take a minute and think about Buddy. At ARNO we know that it is only a matter of time before we must begin weaving the hopes and dreams of yet another Buddy… Please help us save as many as we can. Your generous help in the past is right this very moment barking, swimming, walking, hiking and just loving life, a universe away in Los Angeles, California… we love you Buddy!
Photo ©2008 Anabel Salinas
Help us continue in our mission rescuing those who are homeless, with priority given to those injured, sick, too old or too young to survive on their own. Help us recover the animals who through no fault of their own remain homeless. Plain and simple, we cannot do it without you. Thank you for your support so far, and we ask you to continue investing in a group who will never let the animals of Katrina go hungry or unloved. Consider a monthly donation, we call those donors Sanctuary members, of $20 or more a month. Just when you donate put in your PayPal notes/comments (or on your check) that you are desirous of ‘Sanctuary,’ and we will know you will be here for the animals every month with a donation. All donations of any size are most valuable to ARNO, not only to sustain our work, but to expand and reach even more animals who need our help. You have made it happen so far, and you can continue to make it possible for the animals of the storm to find love and happiness in a permanent home.
All donations are tax deductible to the full extent the law allows. ARNO is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
<< Back to top