Sweetie and Tuffy are bonded sisters who faced euthanasia after their elderly owner needed to go to assisted-care living. Thanks to the devotion of a stranger and the power of social networking, the pair found a home where they are welcomed and loved. Here is the story behind Sweetie and Tuffy’s rescue and rehoming.
When Sweetie and Tuffy’s 90-year-old mom had to move to an assisted care home, the two 10-year-old bonded Husky mix littermates were at risk of being euthanized if a new home could not be found for them. When Suzanne Buckles heard their story, she knew immediately that she wanted to help them find a place where they could live out their senior years in peace.
Suzanne first heard about Sweetie and Tuffy from her neighbor, who is a friend of Patti, the niece of the dogs' owner. When she learned that the dogs faced being put down, she was shocked at the news. She said, "I was flabbergasted at this news and immediately asked to be put in touch with her friend. Mind you, I have no experience arranging rescues/ fosters, etc. - so I had "no plan" per se, nor a plethora of people I know that would or could help. I just could not sit by without trying to help."
Suzanne started by getting in touch with Patti to see how she could help and to learn what Patti had done already, so as to not duplicate their efforts. Patti was bound and determined to not let her Aunt’s dogs get put down. She had made a lot of phone calls and sent out emails but with no helpful results. Unfortunately, Patti’s time and availability to help her aunt's dogs was confounded by the fact that she was moving due to foreclosure of her home, and her belongings, including her computer were packed away.
The deadline to find Sweetie and Tuffy a new home loomed because the house they were staying in needed to be fully vacated for its new resident. When Suzanne arranged to go with Patti to take some photos of the dogs, was immediately impressed by the dogs. She said, "I was amazed at how they greeted me, a perfect stranger, at their front door with nary a bark. When Patti let me in, I got lots of licks and tail wags. They were sweethearts from the get go, and captured my heart immediately."
With pictures in hand, Suzanne made flyers, sent out personal emails, shared the information on Facebook and approached local businesses and churches. She even asked a police officer outside of Starbucks if he could place a flyer in the community room at the police station, and he kindly agreed and wished her luck.
Suzanne emailed Husky and German Shepherd rescue groups and shelters, but those that got back to her said none had room or fosters to take in the dogs. She said almost all were pragmatic about the chances of placing two bonded dogs together.
Suzanne said, "I understood the necessity of being realistic in times like this...but I knew, someone, somewhere, would be willing to take these girls in and love them and give them a home." She added, "There are too many dog lovers in the world that would open their heart - we just had to connect with them! But how?"
Patti and Suzanne received a couple of offers for fostering the dogs, but when the dogs went to the foster homes, the resident dogs did not welcome the bonded pair. "Out of desperation, I did resort to posting them on Craigslist - three times," said Suzanne. The third time appeared to be the charm, as her post began to spread online. Each time she was contacted, she asked each person to share her post with their entire email list, Facebook friends, and she emailed them a flyer they could both print out and post forward in an email. "After all, it's so easy to hit the forward button on your email and within 5 seconds, it's out there," explained Suzanne.
Eventually, the story was shared with the passionate dog lovers on DogHeirs. Suzanne said, "I believe it was Martha, that posted the story to DogHeirs. Wow - talk about viral! The response was incredible! Offers from all over the US and outside the country as well."
Still, Suzanne and Patti hoped to find a local home for the dogs, so their original owner could visit them on occasion. Tha's when Suzanne was contacted by the Steinacker family, who had read Martha's article. They looked like a great fit and Sweetie and Tuffy went to their home. "Unfortunately, their new home was not spacious enough for the girls. Also they [the Steinackers] have a 2 yr old basset that "hounded" them silly. He was friendly, excited and NEVER let them get any piece or quiet," said Suzanne. "The adoptive family loved the girls, but we all agreed the girls might be more happy elsewhere."
As the story continued to go viral online, a local north county San Diego newspaper printed Sweetie and Tuffy’s story as well. The paper's owner, Lyle Davis, reached out to Suzanne and told her if she needed help to let him know.
After Suzanne and the Steinacker's agreed that the dogs would be best in a new home, Suzanne contacted Lyle. Fortunately, he had just received a call from a family who had inquired about adopting the dogs for their senior citizen matriarch. Doris was living alone after losing her husband 2 months earlier. She wanted a dog with settled energy, and when the family read about Tuffy and Sweetie they thought they might be a good fit.
Doris with Tuffy
When Suzanne and Patti took the girls to meet Doris, Doris was very excited to welcome them to her home. Right away, it was a perfect fit. Doris has a huge yard and gives the dogs total access to the house, which the dogs love. The family is very impressed with how friendly and obedient the two dogs are. Suzanne said, "When she calls out 'come on girls' they come running. The girls give her company, a sense of peace, and security."
And the dogs have taken to their new owner as well. "[It’s a] wonderful ending - she saves the dogs, the dogs save her. The family says she has a smile on her face now and her happy voice back," described Suzanne.
Suzanne said her quest to find them homes had many ups and downs. "At that point I became very discouraged that time would run out before we could find the situation we had been hoping for. But at the last minute...it all worked out."
"I see now, that the 'bumps' along the way were not impediments, but 'nudges' to keep the girls moving to what was the right place for them. They have a great home now. They've never had such a large yard and they are enjoying it immensely," said Suzanne. "I just called yesterday to check on them, and all are getting along beautifully. It was the perfect match - truly."
It was also a real eye opener to her of how difficult it can be to be a rescuer "both in reality and in manners of the heart.” She is extremely thankful for the unselfish and important work that dog rescuers and foster families do every day. She is also extremely thankful for those people who took the time to share Sweetie and Tuffy's story.
"I believe the story here on DogHeirs saved Sweetie and Tuffy's lives, and gave them a quality life, in which they were truly wanted and welcomed. Thanks again to all of you who posted, rallied and offered up ideas, hopes and homes. Together we succeeded!"
Suzanne (on the far right) with Sweetie and Tuffy and Doris with her son, daughter-in law and two great grandsons
Patti (on the right) with Sweetie and Tuffy and Doris with her son, daughter-in law and two great grandsons
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