Han was born with a congenital heart defect. This beautiful boy was surrendered to Last Hope because his owner could not afford his care.  

image (1)We have had HAN for awhile now. In our home on our couch on our laps
with family and friends in our bed and most importantly in our hearts.

We’ve gotten to know his personality, likes and dislikes and sweet
quirks. We’ve watched his confidence grow and are in complete awe at
his joy of living every moment. As we look ahead we can’t help being
overcome with emotion.

HAN is a handsome Rhodesian Ridgeback. He came into Last Hope Animal
Rescue as an owner surrender from Missouri. He was born with a
congenital disease called Aortic Stenosis. With this disease, the left
ventricle has to work harder to pump blood out of the heart, due to
the obstruction just under the aortic valve. This disease has caused
thickening of his heart muscle, which creates extra work on his heart,
and has lead to an enlargement of the left ventricle.

At just 3 years of age, HAN is on the lower end of severe heart
failure. His prognosis is guarded, and life expectancy short. After
taking him to the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Teaching
Hospital, we were devastated to learn that HAN was not a candidate for
an experimental procedure similar to balloon valvuloplasty, due to his
stenotic portion being too narrow.

At this time we have started him on Atenolol, a medication which slows
the heart rate and reduces the severity of obstruction. He is bright,
alert, and most importantly, happy.

He enjoys people, snuggling in a soft bed, and snoozing in the sun.image
Spending time in the pasture doing chores with the horses, and
“tattling” on his foster sister Mahali is a daily “job” for him. He
currently lives on 110 acres of land, where he hunts bunnies, leaps at
birds, and chases deer.

Han will live out his remaining years of life, on our ranch. Thanks to
Last Hope Animal Rescue and generous donations, his medication and
veterinary visits, are paid for. He will continue to run and play, be
showered with love, and never know that he is different.

image (2)HAN has taught us to prance in the rain, stretch in the sun, and live
every day in the moment because you never know when that moment may
end. He is an exceptional HANMAN.

Even though he’s not a candidate for surgery Last Hope has provided Han with a chance for a loving home to live out his life. To help dogs like Han donate today. Help Last Hope Retire the Vet Debt!

Crystal Black


It always breaks my heart when breeder surrenders come in with medical issues. The lack of care that we see with these dogs is horrible. And that’s just the dogs we see. Kellie is one of those dogs. Her foster sent me her story.20140923_130902

It has been a long road for my little foster dog, Kellie.  Most people fall in love with animals instantly when they see their cute little eyes, or the color of their coats, or their gestures or smiles (yes, dogs smile…have you seen it?)  But for the sake of our foster hearts, we gaze at them for only a moment, and go deeper.  For those who have had dogs (or cats) that have had some kind of medical problem, we all know quickly, as if by second nature.

Kellie is that kind of dog, you know, the kind with the beautiful eyes and the black shiny coat.  She came with a number of other dogs we had gotten from a owner surrender situation.  Another Shih-Tzu came with Kellie, who seemed to be bonded with her in a special way.  They came into my care from the same “breeder surrender” and at first I wondered if it could have been her pup, since Kellie is 7 years old, and the other was a lucky twelve months.

Kellie’s file documented that she was a brindle-colored, male Shih-Tzu.  This was not the case!  She is definitely black and white, and definitely female.  She looked pregnant…her belly was round and soft, her nipples seeping scarce amounts of milk.  She began to have bloody diarrhea so I took her to the vet who believed she had an intestinal problem.  He prescribed her various medications, but much to my dismay, things weren’t changing for Kellie.  I changed her diet to home-made food, and became a nurse.  Time sheets were important, posting when she ate, drank, and had accidents.  When the antibiotic prescribed was taken in full, I scheduled her for a spay procedure.

I became increasingly alert about her symptoms daily; while I had one prior foster, he did not have these symptoms.  On the morning of her spay, I looked at her, all curled up beside me in bed, smelling like Doritos.  Yes, Doritos!  I can’t tell you why or what, but my gut feeling was a definite negative about going to the doctor to get spayed.  She was still ill and weak.

I called the vet who was able to see her that day.  On top of her bloody diarrhea, she had developed a strange panting…the long, drawn-out kind which sounded like she couldn’t catch her breath.  She would frequently walk a few steps, but then would abruptly sit down..with her face drawn down two inches from the floor.   She began to choke which sounded something like a duck, and she’d run as if she was scared of the sound.  I got in the car and drove the seemingly eternal time to get to the doctor’s office!

The vet was perplexed.  He could not find any evidence to suggest problems with her tracheal tube, something another volunteer and I discussed the night prior.  He took blood samples and an x-ray which ruled out tracheal collapse.  When he came into the room a second time, I realized that my gut reaction to problems about animals could be trusted.  She had a chest x-ray which revealed her heart to look like a backwards capital D, and her diagnosis of congestive heart failure was made.  I felt like crying, and I would have, if I had not sat there holding this bundle of soft black and white fur.  He told me that it is a progressive disease, that she would never get better, or cured, but that there was medication she could take that would slow down the process.  She also had a stitch in her stomach which was apparently a stitch that didn’t disappear from her spay!

20140912_181628The following days and weeks went by, every day giving her what she needed in medication, food and love.  I thanked God that she would live another day when I got up in the morning, because I knew and still know that her days are numbered.  She slowly and surely got better.  She would go out for “walks” that required the few steps she would be able to grant.  She slept a lot and drank a lot.  I think it took the medication two to three weeks to clear the on-again-off-again honking sound of her cough.  She began to eat better.  She even rolled on her back.

Now, she has subluxing patellae on both hind legs, and I hear them pop every so often.  This will be something she will need to get fixed.  The last problem is that of menses.  She was not properly spayed, if indeed that was what happened from wherever we got her…the vet thinks that it was either a C-section or a term called ovarian remnant.

So, this is Kellie’s story.  It’s so amazing that every day when we get up, she wags her tail and comes to the kitchen to sit, patiently waiting for her medication dipped in peanut butter, hidden in yogurt, or smashed into turkey.  She is an amazing survivor and she is loved.

Because of our amazing foster homes we are able to save dogs like Kellie. (If you would like to foster click here.) Donate here today to continue helping dogs like Kellie.


Allie came to us after her health issues caused the breeder who had her to relinquish her. She’s been with us for nearly a year now. Her foster mom has been helping to cover her expenses but even with that help Last Hope has still spent nearly $2,500 on Allie’s care. But as Allie’s foster mom told me “she has repaid {us} in love many times over!”

Allie came to Last Hope foster care in January of 2014. She was a breeder girl who, because she Allie1developed diabetes, the breeder released her. She spent the first almost 6 years of her life in a cage having puppies. She was in such rough shape, underweight and her diabetes was not regulated at all. Her blood panel was all out of whack. The vet had suggested doing the Cushings test and having an ultrasound done to make sure she didn’t have any tumors. We did an ultrasound and did not find any tumors but her adrenal glands and liver were enlarged so they also suspected the Cushings Disease. She also found a heart murmur she thinks it may be a leaky aortic valve. Not a problem now but will want to watch as she gets older.

Cushings Disease means that her body produces to much of the hormone Cortisol. In abnormally high amounts, cortisol thins the pet’s skin and increases hair shed leading to baldness. It can even cause deposits of calcium to form in the skin.

We aren’t sure if the Diabetes caused the Cushings or vice versa. She had no hair on her ears or tail and the hair she did have was very fine/thin. We were also having a hard time controlling the diabetes and that is a sign of the Cushings Disease.

First thing we did was get the diabetes regulated and try to get some weight on her. She is on a Denamarin Chew daily. The insulin is Novalin NPH 2.5 units twice a day. She just had her Spay, dental surgery and a growth removed at Anamosa last month and she has had 5 or 6 ACTH Stim test to measures if her Cushings meds are working. She will need another one of those tests next month.

Allie Before & After Oct 2014She loves to be held and follows me around all over. She will lay next to my chair when I’m working in the office and will also follow my pups. She’s such a happy little girl and will always potty outside, she has figured that out. I keep the diaper on her because she does tend to have accidents if I don’t get her out in time or if she drinks a lot of water due to the diabetes and Cushings.

Reading all this she sounds like a total wreck but looking at her she is such a happy little girl. She will paw at you to pet her and nudges you with her nose to make sure you are still there. She will run around the house and tilt her little head listening if she looses track of where I went & she LOVES FOOD!

Crystal Black

As you can see from the before and after picture, Allie has made an amazing transformation. With out the love her foster mom provided and the support from Last Hope this little girl may never have gotten this chance. To help support Last Hope donate here today. Help dogs like Allie get their second chance!


I first heard Mason’s story about a month ago when he first came to us. But for one volunteer, it started nearly a year ago. 

Lori had been watching this dog run the fields out side Vinton for nearly a year. She tried every trick she could think of to gain his trust. But nothing seemed to work. Mason

Then one day we received a call from the Vinton shelter. They had a dog that had been hit by a car and needed surgery and wanted to know if we could help. Of course we agreed and Lori went out to transport the dog to our vets office. Much to her surprise, it was the same dog she had been chasing for months.

Mason had broken both bones in his front leg. After a few x-rays he had plates put into his leg. The total cost was over $1,700. He was moved into a foster home to heal up and get ready for his new home.

Just this week Mason went to his new forever home! He loves his new mom and dad already!

Mason FamilyWhile Mason may have spent a year on the run it looks like he will settle right in in his new home! Thanks to Last Hope he will be able to run and play with his family just like any other dog. To help Last Hope continue to help dogs like Mason donate here today!

Crystal Black


Many of you who have been following along for a while may remember our trip to the puppy mill auction last year. We still have a few of those precious pups with us today. Dylan is one of those dogs. He’s had a few chances at adoption but health issues always seem to get in the way. His “foster” shared his story with me.

Dylan came to LHAR over a year and a half ago.  He was 7 years old and lived his entire life in a crate at a puppy mill. He started his vet visits with a neuter surgery and then a dental.  Due to the lack of care he had all of his teeth pulled.  They could not be saved.  When neighbor kids ask why his tongue hangs out, I explain that he doesn’t have any teeth to hold it in.  He also is missing part of his lower jaw. His next issue was pancratitus which many times is fatal.  He fought 2 rounds and won that battle.  Things were going well for him until another dog bit him on the mouth.  With his jaw already in poor condition, it was broken.  He was on pain killers for a week or so to help it mend on its own.  The broken piece was too small for surgical repair. Though his body has healed, he is having panic attacks from loud noises such as thunder or fireworks.  If I can’t be with him, I take special precautions if I know it’s coming. He is normally a happy little guy.  He has never really barked but has a quiet noise that I say sounds like a cute little alien.  I recorded it on my cell phone and whenever I need a pick me up, I listen to Dylan chattering away.  For all I know, he could be chewing me out.

Someday Dylan may find his forever home (maybe he already has?). But until then, Last Hope will take whatever measures necessary to ensure he is happy and loved and as healthy as can be. To help Last Hope continue to care for dogs like Dylan donate here today.

Crystal Black

RTVD-Mr. Mac

I remember when Mr. Mac first came in. We knew he needed some special attention and someone to Macwork with him. He wasn’t doing well at the shelter and didn’t like being with the other dogs. It’s amazing what the right foster home and a little TLC can do.

Mr Mac had a rough start coming into Last Hope. He had been staying at the shelter for sometime & was very misunderstood. He had a lot of energy & needed a lot of attention & work. One day a foster family was coming to look at another shelter pup when the unthinkable happened. When the foster family pulled up they walked around & waited patiently until they could visit with the pup they were coming to take home. All of a sudden a loud ruckus with snarls, growling, & loud whimpering arose. The pup the foster family came to visit had Mr. Mac’s face through the fence. The foster family immediately rushed into the kennel & broke up the ruckus. It was extremely traumatic for Mr. Mac. One of the foster parents checked the other dog that had gotten Mr. Mac while the other foster parent ripped his shirt off applied his shirt to Mr. Mac’s jaw to slow down the bleeding. The other dog seemed fine & was just covered in Mr Mac’s blood. Mr Mac however was not okay. The foster family ended up rushing Mr. Mac to a nearby Pet Hospital where He ended up receiving over 40 stitches to his face & jaw. To top off the misery he had already encountered, Mr. Mac tested Heart worm positive. After hours of intensive surgery & lots of attention the foster family decided to take Mr. Mac as their foster. This was a big step Mac 2for them seeing as they have 2 other dogs at their home & they had been informed he had a lot of problems to overcome. They got him home bathed him, set him up in his own recovery room, & waited patiently until morning to see how he would react to his new surroundings. After one great day of recovery, he had to be taken to another Pet Hospital, where he would stay for 3 days to receive his heart worm treatment. It was a very long time for the foster family seeing as they had already bonded with him deeply. Upon picking him up, they noticed his stitches & face had a stench coming from them. He had not received his meds, or had his stitches cleaned up during his stay. He had a horrible infection & had to have part of his face removed. After a few months & a rough recovery, He has found out that he loves his foster family & foster brothers very much. He has been through a horribly rough year but with lots of attention from his foster family & his medical providers, he has never been better.

Dog fights at the kennels are our worst nightmare. We do everything we can to avoid them. But when the unthinkable happens we pick up and immediately do what we can to fix it. Mac was taken in and received the treatment he needed. Then they turned around and treated his heartworm. Mac overcame his rough start and now his “foster family” have become foster failures. Mac has found his forever home. He overcame his rough start and now gets along great with his new brothers and is happy and healthy in his new home. To support Last Hope and help us continue to give dogs like Mac, who don’t thrive in a shelter environment, a second chance donate here today. 

Crystal Black


Sweet Pawka was surrendered to us as a puppy by a breeder because he was born blind and mostly deaf. He Pawka 2had been kept in a basement, never been outside, and never learned to play or know love.  When he came to his foster home he learned how to play and dig and be a normal puppy.

His foster took him to Iowa Sate for tests to see if there was anything we could do for him. He had a sedated ophthalmic exam. They found he had very limited vision in his left eye. Hearing tests also indicated that he was deaf. It was possible that there was limited hearing in one ear but he was expected to lose that within a year.

Now called Rory, this sweetie has found his forever home. While $500 in tests revealed that we couldn’t do anything to save his site or hearing Rory is happy and now quite a Steeler’s fan.


Sometimes there’s noting we can do for the ones we try so hard to help. Luckily for this boy there was a family out there ready to accept him the way he is (perfect in our eyes). Our hope for every one we rescue is that they will find that family. To help Last Hope continue finding the perfect homes donate here today.

Crystal Black