September saw Colorado in the midst of historic flooding. The images are hard to digest with deaths and massive destruction in the wake of five straight days of torrential rain. Many places — Loveland included — saw record amounts in 24-hour measurements and in total. Some experts are calling this a 500- or 1000-year event. Just west of town, the Big Thompson River carved a new path down the Big Thompson Canyon and destroyed or scoured Highway 34 to bedrock. Low lying areas many, many miles east of the mouth of the canyon were flooded as well. Even eastern Nebraska braced for flooding as the river continued its journey.
Andy … our puppy mill survivor … is now a flood survivor as well. He was being fostered in a home up the Big Thompson Canyon when the rains started. Luckily, the home is on high ground south of the river and sustained no damage. The bridge across the river to the small community, however, didn’t fare so well. By late Wednesday night, it was impassable and then simply sunk into the river. Which effectively left our foster home stranded with no electricity or cell phone coverage. With the loss of the bridge across the river as well as the road through the canyon, the only way out was to hike out and meet up with National Guard for transport to Loveland. Imagine going through your house trying to figure out what to pack, knowing you’ll most likely be gone for a minimum of nine months (takes a while to build a road and replace bridges). And it all had to fit in a backpack or suitcase. Oh, and don’t forget you’re hiking out with three dogs. Three small dogs. Three small dogs who, at different times during the trek, needed to be put in a backpack to continue and which included a river crossing. And one of those dogs a puppy mill survivor who was just now bonding with his foster family and learning to trust them.
I’m advised that Andy did fantastic on the hike out … which is remarkable given what he was like when he arrived in rescue. The long-term product of a puppy mill, he had never been socialized and manifested major trust issues to the point of not allowing someone to touch him. To quote a friend, “What an incredible leap of faith … from puppy mill to loving foster home to flood on the Big Thompson to a hike out in rugged mountain conditions.” Once again, the resilience of the canine never ceases to amaze me.
Now staying with relatives in the metro Denver area, the future is a bit uncertain for John, Neil and the dogs, Ollie, Trey and Andy. Imagine having a home and vehicle and not being able to get access to any of it until next spring. And that’s only if the road up the canyon has been rebuilt within that time frame. Imagine trying to make a mortgage payment and a rent payment. Imagine living with only what you’ve been able to pack out. One day you’re watching the rain come down from the comfort of your home and the next day … one is basically homeless.
All except for Andy. Andy has found a new home. During a conversation with John who was updating me about what was going on, he slipped a fast one in. “We want to adopt Andy.” Not quite believing what I’d just heard, I said, “Come again??” “We want to adopt Andy … but we know our situation may not be the most stable and therefore not an approved home for adoption.” A bit of a surprise to me as I had just recently asked them if Andy needed to come back to Loveland to be fostered given everything they were dealing with!
“Where” is immaterial to Andy as it is not the walls that surround us that make a “home.” His home is where he has come to his full potential, found love and formed a bond. Home is where he is loved … and loves in return. To John and Neil … my undying thanks for taking Andy into your home as a foster. And then going one step further by taking him into your hearts. While I may have lost a foster home, Andy has found the greatest gift of all … a family to call his own.