Meet Hazel, the Very Silly, Special Needs, Berner Puppy
Hello everyone! We are very happy to introduce you all to our new family member and Lexie fund recipient, Hazel, the Berner!
A little bit of sad history with our family (but we promise this is not a sad story): Over ten years ago, we fostered a very sick puppy named Lexie (The dog, the legend) who would later become Harmony’s mascot and founder of the Lexie Fund. As many of you know, after ten fantastic years, we lost Lexie to cancer in September. While that blow was devastating, it got worse. Sadie our Newfoundland, Lexie’s big/little sister and constant companion, took her sister’s passing hard. The morning after we said goodbye to Lexie, Sadie went blind. Yes, it was horrible. Sadie was adopted with only one eye and that one eye’s tear duct became blocked and, well, we had a very sad dog and then a very sad, blind dog. I won’t go into too much more because, remember, this is a happy story!
When Lexie got very sick, we decided to take our time to find the next perfect rescue dog. We wanted a female dog, maybe a Berner or Berner mix, but those are hard to find on Petfinder. We wanted a dog with a temperament that could continue our family’s work with therapy dogs, and we tend to gravitate to dogs with medical issues as those have a harder time finding homes.
However, when Sadie lost her sight and was so sad, we had to move fast. Adding to our very long list of “wants” for the next dog, this new dog needed to be a puppy or younger dog as it would be more tolerant of a clumsy Newf and had a chance of growing up to be Sadie’s seeing-eye dog.
Throwing most of our list out the window, I applied for over 100 dogs on Petfinder in all different breeds and sizes. I basically went down to, “Would this dog help Sadie?” No luck. I did get a few calls and emails, but when I mentioned just losing a dog and having a heartbroken, blind, 130-pound Newfoundland, I never heard back. (Yes, my opening line might have needed work. That, and I tended to cry on the calls with fosters and rescues.)
A female whose temperament was described as “sweet” and “charismatic.”
And her profile said HEALTH ISSUES!!!
Also, cute as all get out.
I applied. I got a text thanking me. A good sign? Then I waited for four weeks. But I kept texting once a week just so the rescue could be reminded that I was serious. (Also, texting worked better as I didn’t have to explain the sad backstory so was able to keep it positive!)
Then I got a text. And a picture. Would I really be willing to adopt a dog with a hip that looked like this? And who would need a huge surgery with rehab to live a normal life?
I already had sent her Petfinder profile to Harmony who was willing to be a co-owner with us again. I sent Harmony the X-rays and they responded that the puppy was in really bad shape. She would never walk normally with that hip, she was probably in pain, and it would only get worse as she grew. Without major surgery and lots and lots of physical therapy, her life span would be short. Dogs like this never have good outcomes, and she would have trouble finding a home without major medical help.
I asked if Harmony would help save a life? They said, a very strong, “YES!”
Hazel’s Happy Story
Hazel was born in June of 2021, and her breeder had surrendered her to the rescue because of her non-existent hip. To them, a dog like this was worthless. Hazel basically walked on three legs with the other leg just dangling there. Every day, the rescue (My Fur Babies Young and Old) would call another family who applied for this Berner puppy, and every day, upon hearing about the puppy’s health issues, the applicant would turn Hazel down.
This happened for months. Until us. Because she IS PERFECT.
My husband and daughter flew to Ohio where the rescue was located, and then drove several hours near Appalachia to pick her up from the rescue and drive her home.
Ever seen a video of a dog in a shelter or rescue that has been there a long time and is realizing that they are going to their forever home? That they truly were saved? Here is our video. (The woman in the video is who runs the rescue; the redhead is my daughter who is meeting Hazel for the first time. I promise you, Hazel only hops when she is over the moon excited.)
After a long ride home, Hazel met Natalie our other daughter for the first time.
I wish I had a good video of Sadie and Hazel meeting. Sadie was just too excited and tried to crash through the door (Remember, she is blind). Hazel was kind of scared as Sadie IS huge. Still, on Hazel’s first night home, we got this:
Second day this:
Then all of this:
Sadie is not alone anymore. She is doing fantastic.
Hazel has a long road ahead of her. She showed up anemic with worms and parasites. For a month, she couldn’t eat anything except rice and boiled beef without getting sick. She was so little, only 29 pounds at 7-9 months old, which was far too little for what should be a big Berner girl. We worked hard, and now she is 52 pounds! You go, growing Berner puppy! With just 25 more pounds, you will be a very small Berner!
Before her surgery, I think her hip hurt and it helped to sit up on something. Often, that was a dog bed or pillows. Here is her goofy sit; note her leg is funky.
More often, the perfect sitting cushion was Sadie.
It works for both of them. See, this is a happy story!
We think Lexie’s last act of kindness was using her magnetic personality to align the universe and help Hazel connect with us. She is a gift not only to us who miss Lexie so much, but also to her sister who now has a wonderful seeing-eye puppy. In addition, time will tell but Hazel seems to have the personality of a therapy dog!
Thanks to the Lexie fund, our scratch and dent puppy has a new hip! Hazel is finally growing so it was time to get the leg up and working correctly. Now, our work on rehab begins and then on to her long and healthy life!