More Hero Pets

Whether they help us through an emotionally difficult time or physically rescue us, pets can be not only our best friends, but lifesavers, too.

From Reader's Digest editors

A Hero and an Angel

Rick and Vicki Tarter of Wake Village, Texas, had recently lost their beloved boxer to cancer when they applied to our organization, BoxAR Rescue, asking to adopt a boxer dog. BoxAR Rescue is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization in central Arkansas dedicated to saving the lives of neglected/abused/thrown-away boxers and adopting them into loving homes. These homes are very carefully screened to be sure that the dogs will not be put right back into similar, sad situations again. The Tarters were no exception. They completed our application, and went through a home visit which was done by one of our volunteers who visited them and evaluated the family and the home.

The Tarters passed all of our stringent requirements to adopt a dog. They came to Arkansas in early April and took home Odie, a boxer that apparently closely resembled their deceased pet. We fell in love with Rick and Vicki from the start; they were a warm and loving couple who obviously would give Odie the home he was needing.

Odie had been pulled from the Little Rock Animal Shelter several months earlier. We didn’t get much history on him; I’m not sure if he was stray or if he was owner-surrendered. But Odie was past his “due out” date when he was “sprung” from the shelter. He would have been euthanized if he had not been rescued.

He was then evaluated by a vet and was proclaimed to be in good health. He was neutered and then brought to our boarding kennel, where we fattened him up, evaluated his temperament and began searching for the perfect home for this boy. His color was a deep, red fawn. He had a black mask and beautiful, large brown eyes. Odie was a very handsome boxer and even better than that, he was a very NICE boxer. He got along well with every person and every dog he met, although he really preferred not to keep company with cats! We were thrilled when the Tarters came along and were very happy when they chose Odie and took him home.

As our contract states, Vicki took Odie to her veterinarian to have him evalulated soon after they got him home. To our surprise, Odie was positive for heartworms. It doesn’t happen very often, but if the test is done early in the disease, it can produce false negative results. Odie was given the painful and risky injection to kill the heartworms and then he was kept very still and quiet at home with the Tarters as is required after receiving this shot.

After a month, he was taken back to his vet to be checked and was free of the heartworms. Life was just beginning again for Odie, and Rick and Vicki had fallen head over heels in love with this sweet boy. We were thrilled that he was living “the good life.” But as often happens, it didn’t last long.

On July 5, 2005, Rick and Vicki were away from home. Their teenage son was sleeping and somehow a fire broke out in the house. Odie quickly woke the boy up and alerted him to the fire. When the son tried to get Odie to come out of the house, Odie would not follow. Instead, he went to Rick and Vicki’s room, presumably to be sure they were not in the house. The fire was too hot and the son was unable to get Odie out.

Odie died in that fire that day. The house was a total loss, but when Vicki called me the following day, it was Odie she was crying for. She told me how she had grown to love him; how sweet and loving he was. Vicki was obviously still in shock over her losses. She was in a motel room and as we spoke, the authorities were at the ruins of her home, trying to figure out what caused the horrible fire.

It is so ironic to me that Odie was saved from death by a needle and he saved the life of one of the humans who loved him. I don’t know what Odie’s life was like before he found himself in the shelter, but I know he was very loved and well cared for in the short time he lived with the Tarters. I truly believe Odie became a hero the same day he became an angel.

— Sandra Clement, director, BoxAR Rescue, Ward, Arkansas

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

Sending Message
how we use your e-mail