One Spotted Pup’s Story of Rescue and Redemption.
How many times have you seen a homeless or forgotten animal in your Instagram or Facebook feed and thought “wow, that is really sad,” but after a short while you move on? No action taken other than a pang of sympathy for the animal. I can honestly say that used to be me. I would feel compassion for these animals, in some cases I would even send a financial donation to the rescue that was handling their case, but I never really took it a step farther to actually physically help.
The day I took that first step was August 4, 2019 to help a dog now named Archer and I would like to share his story with you.
The Craigslist Ad.
Some of you may already know, but I have an Insta-famous dog named Jackson. He has more than 65k amazing followers from all over the world. One Sunday afternoon while sitting in the Tulsa, OK airport preparing to fly home to Houston, Texas I received a direct message through Jackson’s Instagram page. The message was from a college student at Texas A&M who noticed an ad on Craigslist that was using a photo of Jackson to try to sell a dog in the Houston area.
My immediate reaction was anger. How dare someone use photos of MY dog to try and sell theirs. Not only was it false advertising but it’s just plain WRONG. But the more I thought about it, it broke my heart to think that a dog was being sold this way. My husband and I decided to text the seller and try to find the status of the dog. They responded quickly saying he had been sold.
The entire flight home all I could think about was this dog. What did he really look like? Did the people purchasing him realize he wasn’t the dog in the photos?
What Happened Next.
After returning home we received a text from the seller. The dog had not been sold. Apparently, the people who were interested in him were looking for “an older dog” (you’ll find out later why we know this is a lie). We asked for more information about him. The seller claimed the photos were “up-to-date,” that she had vet records for him, and that she was moving to an apartment that didn’t allow dogs. She claimed the reason she was selling him for so little was because he has a lipoma (fatty tumor) that was “going away.”
Now I don’t know about you, but my Weimaraner recently had a lipoma removed, and I knew full well that a lipoma wasn’t going away on its own. I just had a feeling that there had to be more issues with this pup. Why else would she use another dog’s photos to try and sell him?
At this point I knew we had to act. I just didn’t know what to do exactly. I had never purchased anything from Craigslist before – let alone a dog – and I had serious doubts that this person was being truthful. So, I did the only thing that I could think to do – I contacted Natalie at Hot Mess Pooches Rescue and Sanctuary.
Hot Mess Pooches is a small volunteer run animal rescue in Houston. They are a non-profit specializing in rescuing special needs animals, primarily Dalmatians, however they also have Great Danes, Pit Bulls, Australian Shepherds and more. The rescue is run by an incredible individual named Natalie who is a Certified Canine Training and Behavioral Specialist with more than 15 years of experience. In short, Natalie is an amazing person. I like to think of her as the “Dalmatian Whisperer.”
The Sweetest Boy.
Natalie agreed to meet us and the seller. She was careful to caution us that there might not even be a dog. That these people could just want to rob us or worse. When we got there, there was a pup. A very sweet Dalmatian who seemed hesitant to walk. I immediately sat down on the asphalt of the parking lot and put my hand out to him. He cautiously limped his way over to me. I offered him a treat and he was so gentle in taking it. I could smell his infected ears, see patches of missing and discolored hair on his body (I could see fleas on him), and we could tell by looking at his teeth that there was no way this dog was 8 months old. He was more like 8 years old. When I looked at the bottom of his paws they were raw and obviously sore as if he had been standing on hot concrete for long periods of time. He also had a pretty big lump above his right leg.
The seller had no vet records for him (even though she claimed to have them initially). She still insisted that he was only 8 months, that he was up-to-date on shots and that he was house trained. My husband offered a much lower offer and she took it and left. She didn’t even look back at the poor pup she was about to leave behind. I would like to point out that I don’t encourage purchasing a dog this way. I am very much against it, however, I feared that if we didn’t pay for him that she would have left with him and who knows what his fate might have been. I didn’t trust her intentions at all.
A New Name.
We decided to named him Archer, as the name means successful and tenacious, and we had high hopes that he would have an amazing life going forward. After a discussion with Natalie, we determined it was best if she took Archer with her into rescue. She was pretty sure that he had heartworms in addition to fleas and I felt that she had more ability to determine his needs than we did at this point.
What Happened Next.
A few days later Archer saw a vet where he tested positive for heartworms. In addition, he had missing patches of hair from fleas, as well as ear infections, and paw infections from where they were blistered and raw. The lipoma on his chest was also a concern, but the vet felt that it was most likely harmless but could possibly be aspirated when he went in for his neuter surgery. He was put on antibiotics and steroids to help with the infections and began receiving heartworm treatment.
Archer adapted to life at the Hot Mess Rescue quickly. His personality came out more and more every day. We found out that belly rubs are his favorite and he became best friends with the two cats at the rescue. On the flip side, he was not house broken and being a unneutered male (who had probably never lived inside before) he was peeing all over the place! But Natalie worked her magic and was able to house train him quickly.
A few weeks after his rescue, Archer and Jackson met for the first time. They became fast friends and enjoyed sharing treats and sniffing each other.
Happily Ever After.
For the past few weeks, Archer has been fostering with a wonderful couple! Their dog recently passed away at the age of 13 and they were ready to open their hearts to a pup in need. Archer now has a comfy bed to sleep in, good food to eat, puppy play dates to attend, and a few cat friends to cuddle with. Hot Mess Pooches has received several adoption applications for Archer and we look forward to seeing him live happily ever after!
I want to thank you for reading Archer’s story. Though his narrative and Jackson’s Instagram family we have been able to raise more than $1,000 for his care and for the other animals at Hot Mess Pooches. While we only played a very small role in Archer’s rescue, I am so happy that we have had a part in his remarkable life. I am a better person for knowing him.
I challenge you to take a step outside of your comfort zone and help a rescue in your local area if you haven’t done so yet. I promise it will do your heart a world of good. And if you have extra time today, I encourage you to go and check out Hot Mess Pooches Facebook page and see the good work they are doing in rehabbing some amazing animals.
Do you have a rescue pup? If so, tell us their name and their story in the comments below! We want to know all about them!
Hey y’all! My name is Julie and I am from Houston, Texas. I am married to a wonderful guy named Andrew and we have three amazing dogs: Heath, a blue Weimaraner, as well as Jackson and Bennett, two very spotty Dalmatians. Currently, I work as a higher education Public Relations Coordinator and am a graduate of Bethany College with a BA in communications and WVU with an MS in Integrated Marketing Communications. I am the fun-loving dog mom behind the scenes of the Instagram account @jackson_the_dalmatian. I hope you’ll follow along with our daily adventures!