Monday, January 27, 2014

The Story of Winston


We added a new member to our family this year and I'd like to properly introduce him.
Meet Winston!


Many of you may have seen him pop-up on our Instagram or in our Christmas card but he deserves an official announcement.  Winston is a one-and-a-half year old Beagle who came to us through the Humane Society as a foster.  I'll spare you the details (since we read blogs for the pretties and not the nasties) however it becomes quite evident in the pictures that he is paralyzed in his hind end.  Hearing his story made me hate human beings as a whole and I could not believe, after months of spreading the word, no one would step up and offer him a home.  I was a vet-tech for a number of years, before and during college, so I figured I could handle the thrice-daily diaper changes and moderate human-assistance he needed but I had no idea what I was in for. The bulldogs in tow, we went to meet Winston one rainy Sunday in November to see if we could all get along.  His gentle foster mom arrived with his bags packed in the back of her car and we soon discerned she had no intentions of leaving with him. With bleak options, we took him home with us that night and embarked on a two-month long integration journey that usually ended each day in tears.

At first it was a nightmare.  He was ridden with anxiety (bless his heart) and couldn't get acclimated.  He howled and bayed all night long. Every. Night.  He howled when we put a tea cup down, when the phone rang, when we tossed in the bed at night.  Learning to express his bladder constantly made me worry whether I was doing right by him.  Twice-weekly therapy sessions (over an hour away) made me question my commitment to this, a midst a budding design career, dog-showing with Seamus, a full-time corporate gig, horse care and every thing else that goes along with life. I often cried from a combination of raw-nerves and just thinking about how hard Winston's little life had been thus far.


The Humane Society graciously supplied a dog trainer to try to ease the situation.  They had all of their eggs in our basket after months of campaigning and traveling to adoption events where they would leave with zero options for Winston.  We finally found an optimal sleeping situation for Winston at night and working with the dog trainer has provided many more avenues for training with what would have seemed impossible when we discovered his learning disabilities.  Be it from the injuries he had suffered or possibly the cause of them, we learned we were dealing with a unique case.  Our trainer is part of an organization that has trained tens of thousands of dogs worldwide and he told us Winston was in the top 2 percentile...of dogs that do not respond to conventional training methods.  They believe he may be autistic.  Finding ways to communicate with him can be challenging.


Things started to level out around the turn of the New Year and we realized that somewhere in the mess of everything, he had integrated into our pack and into our lives.  We decided to fully adopt him and just last week, I found an official spot for all of his belongings and unpacked his proverbial bags.  Winston is here to stay.  The President of the Humane Society (it begs mentioning that they are all real gems and truly the saving grace of many, but this particular person was 1000% a guardian angel for Mr. Winston) cried when we told her we wanted to commit to him. We couldn't be more thankful for all of the work that organizations like them do.  And we are happy to provide love, shelter and care to our newest family member.


Seamus and Wilma have adjusted well to life with a new brother.  Our tiny cottage is at capacity with five bodies about.  And despite the challenges that Winston has, he happily 'runs' down the hallway in search of his toys, gangs up on his sister alongside Seamus and flutters his little eyes to sleep on the sofa with my husband every afternoon. He's a happy Beagle.


Please send good vibes our way as we work towards building some muscle in Winston's hind end through water therapy, laser and acupuncture treatments. While we've been told his paralysis is irreversible, we see small improvements in movement and sensation every week and owe it to him to help him try to get some mobility back.  He has a wheelchair that he goes gangbusters in and does a great job of pulling himself around.  But it would be a miracle if he could have control over his own bladder one day and that's what we're shooting for.


We would eventually like to write a children's book about Seamus and his Beagle. They are the best of friends.


Caring for a dog like Winston has turned our worlds upside-down.  I am flying through wet wipes and children's t-shirts like you wouldn't believe.  I haven't slept in in months (all you folks with newborns, I feel ya now...) But it's so worth it. And I thank God every day that my husband loves animals as much as I do.



40 comments:

  1. Winston is beautiful! And so is your family :) This is my first visit to your blog, and you have won my heart. What a wonderful thing you are doing for Winston. I can only imagine that he will bring your family great joy as well. Oh, Wilma and Seamus.....priceless!!

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  2. What a wonderful story! It brought tears to my eyes this morning! I'm sure as Winston becomes more and more confident in his role as part of your pack his training will take off and all your hard work will be but a memory!

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  3. Oh you're breaking my heart! What you're doing to help him and give him a home is truly wonderful! The Humane Society needs to use you and Winston as spokesperson/spokesdog!

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  4. You are an Angel!! What a beautiful story, and you must write a book about this. He looks so happy with his 'brothers from another mother'. I'm sure you can get tons of free kids shirts. Maybe you could take Winston to a local school and tell tell the kids about him and how special he is. Then, you could ask them for their old shirts.

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  5. Okay, this is just too weird. So my sister and her husband have a rescue beagle named Winston who suffers from anxiety as well. They got him when they lived in DC. The similarities are uncanny, not the autistic part though. They've now had him for years and he's just the sweetest dog ever. Still a bit anxiety ridden but that's just part of his little personality now.

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  6. I read your blog over the weekend and saw that you were going to introduce Winston this coming Monday.I am a huge fan of beagles & I couldn't wait to hear all about him and now I'm in tears. Winston is adorable…and you are a special lady. Thank you for keeping & caring for for Winston. Beagles are the best!

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    1. Thank you so much Denise! It's so wonderful to hear all of the encouragement, it's what keeps us going. Doing the right thing is seldom the easiest thing. I'm so happy you stopped by. We'll keep you updated on this happy beagle!

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  7. Sending good vibes your way for sure! Thank you being such kind souls!

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  8. You are my kind of lady!!! God bless you for seeing past his limitations and giving him a chance!! THere should be more people like you in this world!

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  9. All I can say is God love ya. You're an angel!

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  10. Oh goodness, Bethany - how fortunate Winston made his way to your home! You two are beyond incredible!

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  11. Winston is adorable. Love the idea of the book. I'm so glad you and your husband said yes to this lovely soulful dog. Will look forward to Winston updates.

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  12. As a dog lover and as someone who has rescued dogs too, way to go! I wish you the very best!!

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  13. Winston is so lucky to have found you. Hotdoghill Sanctuary cares for 27 special needs dogs -- many paralyzed. Should you need any kind of advice, i am sure they would be a great source. You can find them on Facebook (hotdoghill sanctuary - a place for special needs dogs). Good luck to you. You and your family are incredible.

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    1. also http://www.k-9cart.com/Diapers-Drag-Bags/Protect-A-Pet is a great source for drag bags and boots too

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    2. erika - ill have to go find their FB page, thank you SO much!! and i love the k-9 cart site! i should start a wishlist there. i believe thats where they got his wheels and drag bag (although he prefers a t-shirt these days since he is always in some sort of contraption). thanks again!!!! :)

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  14. Dear Bethany - I'm so glad you finally shared Winston's story. He has such a sweet face, btw. Y'all are awesome!!! Winston is very, very lucky to have such a loving home. Look forward to that book!
    xoxo
    L

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  15. That picture of all three of them in front of the tree - SO sweet. I just want to hug you for taking on Winston. Beagles are the best (I am a little biased though) and are true pack animals so I'm sure Winston is thrilled to be with two other dogs. And what a good mamma you are to work with him. Beagles can be... a 'challenge' in the best of circumstances so I can only imagine all you have been thru. But they are the absolute sweetest, lovable dogs they are. I'm so glad Winston is apart of your family now. I'll be thinking of all of you and sending you all the positive Beagle owner strength I can. :)

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  16. Bethany, you are such a kind soul! Winston has the face of an angel and I hope he continues to improve. I have no doubt that there's a special place in heaven for those who show such kindness and compassion for animals. I hope you will continue to share Winston's progress. God Bless!

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  17. Bethany, hearing about your experience has made me LOVE human beings as a whole...thank you for restoring my faith. Beautiful, touching and inspiring story. I've had rescue dogs but not with anything near the same challenges you've encountered. Can't wait for that book and blessings to you & your family-furry and otherwise.

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  18. Your story brought tears to my eyes. I adopted Gus, a bulldog/beagle mix, about six years ago. He also came from an abusive situation. Even now, every time he has a bad reaction to something "scary" or has trouble socializing or has an anxiety attack, I feel angry that human beings treated him the way they did. And yet, when I read stories like yours, my faith in people is restored. You are truly Winston's angel! xoxo

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  19. Dear Bethany
    Way an adorable little dog, I can see he is a fighter....we had a beagle when I was growing up, they are the best dogs!
    Xoxo
    Karena

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  20. Oh Bethany ... I don't know how you persevered ... what a wonderful family. And isn't it amazing how Seamus and Wilma have included him as well. We have much to learn from our animals!! With the love you are giving him I have no doubt he will get better and better!! xo

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  21. God really really loves people like you. Imagine a world filled w/people like you and your husband. Winston must be overjoyed.

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  22. Bless you for all you do for Winston. He is indeed a lucky Beagle! ;)

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  23. What a touching story! Winston is VERY lucky to have you! xoxo

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  24. Bethany, this story is a true reflection of what type of person you are. I have tears streaming down my face reading this. Winston has found the right home. Even though I am sure it is so difficult for you, you are doing something amazing. There needs to be more people like you in this world. You are an inspiration to us all. Bless you dear.
    -Shelley

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  25. Bethany, YOU and YOUR HUSBAND are VERY special people to take in Winston and love him. What big hearts you have. No wonder I love you so! He's so lucky to have you!!!!!!! (PS I have to send this to my friend down the street, she has a little rescue dog named Winston as well! :) )

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  26. Bethany you are the angel. I know how hard it is to take in a dog with issues. The fact that you are so committed to his life and remembering your own, is remarkable. You are remarkable. Thank you for sharing. xob

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  27. How wonderful that he has a home with you. I remember when Bailey was a puppy and I had no idea it was like raising a baby. No sleep for two months. I pray he gets some more use of the back muscles and bladder control to make things easier. He is a very handsome fella.

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  28. you are special, special people who deserve only good things for what you are doing. Strength to you and lots of luck in your endeavour to get Winston's legs to show some movement - I am sure you will be successful - just persevere and know there are so many out there who haven't been as blessed as beautiful Winston.

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  29. PRECIOUS PRECIOUS PRECIOUS! I will comment further on the newest post...Anita

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  30. What a family and what a woman- you truly are beautiful inside and we already knew about you and your surroundings being beautiful on the outside!! Love Winston who is all the better for finding ya'll. We too just again rescued a basset but nowhere the issues as you- as usual, it only takes a little looking around to find out that our situations are usually minor in respect to others around us!! Love the blog. Kathy B.

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  31. I have always enjoyed your blog, but now I have a new found respect for you. I too am an animal lover and have family that has a Great Dane rescue. I have seen and heard all kinds of stories. You may not realize how big your heart actually is! Thank you for loving and taking care of Winston.

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  32. What an incredible story! What you have done for Winston is so unbelievably generous. My husband and I are part of a huge animal rescue community here in the Dallas area and I can assure you that someone like you coming along and making such a life-long commitment under these circumstances with this dog is nothing short of MIRACULOUS! God bless you and God bless Winston! I will be one of your readers/followers for LIFE!!

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  33. Bless you for your kindness and devotion to this irresistible puppy. Our world needs more selflessness like yours. Despite all his challenges, Winston is a lucky boy.
    Best...Victoria

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  34. Winston looks very happy in home!
    E+J

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  35. Winston Winston is one blesses dog. How wonderful for him that God brought you together. I have you allin my prayers and am looking forward to hearing more about his progress.

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  36. crying as I write this! you are incredible people for having the dedication and patience to help Winston. he has obviously been a gift to your family as well! my thoughts are with you and little Winston. xo

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  37. You are truly good people, God bless you for taking him in, you are an inspiration!
    xo
    Ozana

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