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Shelter workers thought Baxter had sarcoptic mange, which made his chances for adoption poor. Photographer Fiona Green saw beyond his patchy coat.
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Helping rescue pets doesn’t always come in the form of walking shelter dogs or donating money. Some caring people donate their professional services. When she isn’t taking photos of families and pets, Texas photographer Fiona Green takes pics of shelter animals. Her beautiful photos are posted on Facebook, where the animals can be liked, shared, and hopefully adopted. All of the pets are sweet and adorable, but some extra memorable pets stand out. Such is the case of Baxter.
For Fiona, the morning in September 2014 had started off like any other. She and her rescue partner, Chris, took photos of the new arrivals at the Keller Regional Adoption Center in Keller, Texas, part of the Humane Society of North Texas. The duo was about to leave when they spied a small, sad-looking little dog in one of the kennels. He was tightly curled up into a tiny ball, as if he was trying his best to simply disappear, staring vacantly into space.
Fiona and Chris gently rapped on the window, and the dog clambered to his feet when he heard the noise. They were stunned. The poor dog was skeletal, his body missing most of its hair. He was in such rough shape they couldn’t even tell what breed he was.
Shelter staff explained that the dog had been found as a stray a few days prior. They suspected that his hair loss was caused by sarcoptic mange, which is contagious, so they could not keep him there after the mandatory 72-hour hold because it would put other shelter dogs at risk. Unless he was adopted (which was not likely to happen considering how bad he looked) or a rescue group took him, the dog had no chance.
“As we stood there watching him, he placed his paws against the window and cocked his head to one side,” Fiona said. “His big brown eyes were bright and hopeful, and we knew we couldn’t leave him there.”
Fiona is the founder of her own rescue group called Animal Advocates of North Texas, so she was in the position to pull Baxter — as they decided to name him — and foster him until he could be adopted.
“Despite the fact that he was obviously suffering due to his incessant itching, Baxter remained positive and upbeat, grateful for any attention he was shown and appreciative of our efforts to help him,” Fiona recalled. Due to the need to quarantine Baxter, she arranged for him to be evaluated and boarded by a local vet.
Tests showed that Baxter’s hair loss was not actually caused by sarcoptic mange as originally assumed but by allergies. He wasn’t contagious after all! With treatment, he improved dramatically in just a few short weeks, putting weight onto his slight frame and growing back fur. “We discovered that he was in fact a handsome Beagle, and not a senior as we had initially thought, but a youngster, possibly under 3 years old,” Fiona said.
After posting about his progress on the AANT Facebook page, a couple stepped forward to foster him. Marge and Gene Stockton’s beloved Golden Retriever had just crossed over the rainbow bridge, and they missed having a dog in their lives.
“Baxter was thrilled to have someone to love, and he bonded instantly with his new family,” Fiona said. “He welcomed visitors to the house with love and attention, whether it was family members or the air conditioning repair man, and he would cry when they left, as though he was losing his best friend.”
As happens more often than you might realize, Baxter’s foster family soon realized that he had already found his forever home — with them! “Baxter has a funny, feisty personality,” Marge said. “He very much knows what he wants and how life should be, and he tells us.” As you can see from the joyous smile on Baxter’s face, he is enjoying every moment of his new life with his new mom and dad.
Jackie is a freelance writer specializing in the pet industry. She lives in Southern California with her husband, son, and adorable Miniature Poodle, Jäger, who is obsessed with fetch and killing all the toys. She is the former editor of Rescue Proud, Dog World, and Puppies 101. Follow her on Twitter or visit her website.
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