Rudy’s Story

Rudy’s story started out tough, but thanks to the Aab family, he lived the last years of his life in a loving home and he loved his family in return. Here is their story …

Last Hope Animal Rescue –

I am writing to you to let you know about our experience with Last Hope Animal Rescue.  Back in September of 2008, my fiancée at the time and I started to look for a companion for us and for our senior Mastiff, Zeus.  A friend of ours was a foster for Last Hope at the time and directed us to a Mastiff mix named Rudy that had been with the organization for 10 months.  We called the foster and the next day loaded up our Mastiff and drove down south of Iowa City to meet with Rudy and his foster family.  The day after our visit we had our home evaluation and Rudy moved in that morning.  The following pictures were taken the day that he came to live with us.

Rudy  Rudy 2

He instantly became my dog and followed me everywhere.  We joked about him being my shadow as he really didn’t allow me more than a 10 foot separation before he had to follow me where I went.

Rudy’s History

Rudy was listed as senior dog with an estimated age of 5-8 years old.  Rudy had been in situation where there were 20 dogs outside and in a home that was basically abandoned.  We were told that the “owners” would open a can of food but leave the food in the can and just throw the can outside.  Rudy’s teeth had paid the price of that kind of treatment.  We had him scheduled for a teeth cleaning and when they got in there, they found that he was missing seven teeth, needed 10 more removed, and had one broken canine tooth that the decision was to leave at the time.

He also was very scarred as you can see from the white specks on his head in the images above.  He had horrible scarring on his head, ears, and even around his eyes.  Lastly, the belief was that he was also hit by a car at some point as he had a bad scar on his hind quarters and both of his CCLs were ruptured (never repaired).  Because of this, his hind legs were straight and he would walk “downhill” at all times.

Recent Times

Rudy 3Over the course of the last six years, we have had to put down our beloved Zeus but welcomed another rescue Mastiff, Moe, into our family.  We have two little boys that love their puppies very much.  Rudy was always very gentle with them and extremely patient.

Last night when I got home to put the dogs outside, Rudy was struggling to get up and in the process fell three times and was not able to walk anymore.  I sat outside with him covered under blankets, petting him and telling him it was ok for 45 minutes until my husband was able to get home to carry him inside.  We loaded him up and made the trip down to the emergency vet and said good-bye to our gentle giant. As he laid on the gurney you could tell that he knew what was coming and that it was time. He didn’t fight it, he didn’t try to get up, he just went in peace as my husband and I petted him and told him we loved him and it was going to be alright. Rudy 4

Our family is completely heartbroken and I wish there was a way to take that pain away, but I would never trade the time we had with our sweet boy.  He was honestly the best dog I have been around and if I could have cloned him, I would have done it in an instant.

Thank you for all that your organization does to save these animals from horrible situations and place them in loving homes.  I cannot imagine the last six years of my life without Rudy.

 – The Aab Family


Julia Black


Happy Tails: Bentley


Recently Jamie and her husband adopted Comet, who is now named Bentley, and this is their success story…

BentleyPrevious to adopting Bentley they had a dog for ten years. Two years ago they had to have her put to sleep. It took a while but they were finally ready to put their hearts out there and adopt another dog, but they knew it had to be a good match.

They heard about Last Hope from a friend and decided to look into adopting. Looking for a puppy, they found Bentley. He was socialized in a much bigger pack at his foster home and at his new home it is just Jamie and her husband. In order to keep him well socialized they have been taking him to a variety of places including a graduation party, a  picnic at a retirement community, and is  currently taking puppy classes. He also enjoys going to doggy daycare at Cedar Run and car rides.

Bentley is doing very well in his new forever home. He eats all his food and has gained four pounds in less than a month. He sleeps on his bed in their bedroom at night, has never had an accident in the night, and sleeps from about 10:00 PM to 5:30 AM. Jamie jokes that he is doing much better than her kids did at five months of age. He already has many friends in his new Bentley 2neighborhood and they cannot wait to take him more places.

Jamie has nothing but good things to say about Last Hope and the adoption process. She was impressed that we check references because she realizes that the animals need to be safe and in good homes. The adoption process felt quick to her and she states that “Last Hope and Cedar Run have excellent staff and volunteers.”

Jamie says that they are more than happy with Bentley; they are over the moon and he has abundant kisses for them every day. What a success story! It sounds like Bentley has found a wonderful forever home with people committed to training and socializing him.

Puppies Playing

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Happy Tail: Bella

This is a great success story about Bella who was adopted earlier this year by Darlene Young and her family. Bella was a puppy mill dog that came from a shelter in Illinois. The first paragraph is from an email sent shortly after Bells was adopted. The second paragraph is a more recent update…

BellaWe have a big wire kennel that we put her in last night at bedtime. As soon as we got up we took her out, at which time she went to the bathroom and we gave her a treat. She has been out twice more and went to the bathroom each time. She is getting comfortable here and has been exploring the house. We are loving this. She spent last evening sitting with me on the couch. Now she just jumps up there whenever she wants. Cannot get her to try the dog bed yet but have it out when she is ready to use it. Yesterday, when she went outside, she found out she can run! It is so much fun to watch her. She is also going up and down two steps when we go outside.

When we decided it was time to get a dog I went on the Internet to find a rescue dog. I came upon the Last Hope Animal Rescue website. I was searching through the stories and pictures and the first one I was interested in was Bella but I continued to look through the dogs; but I kept coming back to Bella. I made arrangements to meet with the person who was fostering Bella. As soon as I saw her I knew she was the one. When she first came to us she was so scared but quickly adapted. Within the first week she was housebroken. She was so fun to watch the first time she went outside and she loved the snow. We do have a fenced in yard so we can hardly wait until spring so we can watch her run all over the yard playing. We have had Bella for a month now and she has brought so much love and joy to us. To see how frightened she was at first and how happy she is now makes our hearts swell. I am so thankful for Last Hope Animal Rescue. I wish everyone would rescue a pet when they are ready to add to their family; it warms the heart!

Thank you for sharing your story, Darlene, and for giving Bella a loving home.

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Happy Tails: Tuffy

Ryan and Cayla adopted Tuffy in January and he is doing well. Here’s his story…

2013-12-27 18.48.42Tuffy has been doing great and we love having him around! He has really bonded with both Cayla and me and has shown that he is very comfortable in his surroundings. He is beginning to go into his kennel when asked and his car riding has improved immensely. He is also a regular on weekends at the local dog park and has done a great job socializing with both the students who he interacts with and the other dogs that our colleagues have adopted as well. We currently have four dogs living on campus, including Tuffy. I am also happy to say that all of them were adopted through Last Hope!

I also want to thank you all very much for the complimentary obedience training at Cedar Run. It was a great start for us to get Tuffy, Cayla, and me on the right track. We will be taking Tuffy to more training in Iowa City as the drive to Hiawatha made for an incredibly long day for all of us. Even though we won’t be frequenting Cedar Run as much as we used to, I cannot say enough about their staff and the trainers. They were wonderful to us and I know they loved Tuffy and took great care of him.

2013-12-05 21.01.53Tuffy has truly become a member of our family. Cayla was commenting the other day about how he has changed our lives for the better and how we cannot imagine our lives without him. He is an absolute godsend. Thank you again for your assistance and support. We have and will continue to support Last Hope in any way we can. You all do some amazing work.


Ryan and Cayla

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Happy Tail: Star

Linda and her family adopted Star from Last Hope and shared a great happy tail with us. One thing that struck me when reading this was that they didn’t give up on Dash. Yes, he apparently had his problems, but he was obviously a member of the family and they weren’t going to give up on him.


We have a purebred Lab that we got from a breeder. He had been a real challenge for the first year of his life; one disaster and mishap after another. Some advice we got was to get another dog. The thought of that made my husband crazy. There was no way he was adding to the chaos and stress we had with our Dash. Then one day in May I got a call from him asking if I was busy the next day which was a Saturday. We went back and forth on if this was a surprise and who was this for and why did we all have to go? He finally tells me that he had been on the Last Hope Petfinder page and saw a little girl named Star. She is a Lab mix and her circumstances were touching, as they all are, but this one got to him. He told me that he had already gone and looked at her and filled out all the appropriate paperwork. All we needed to do was introduce her to the rest of the family to see if it’s a match. I started to cry and hurried to the site to check her out.

The next morning we all loaded up and drove out to meet our new girl. I knew instantly she was going home with us. She had been with a disabled couple for the first two years and they were no longer able to care for her. The shelter staff told us that they cried when they dropped her off and wanted to make sure she went to a good family. I could tell they had taken really good care of her. She was smart, minded commands, she was spayed and current on shots, and they’d even had her micro chipped.

That was more than six months ago and I can’t really remember what it was like before she was here. She is a great dog and helped so much with our boy Dash. He has calmed down so much that he is now as much a joy to be around as she is. In a few days we will celebrate Star’s third birthday. My husband, who claims not to be a pet person, even refers to her as his little girl when he’s giving her belly scratches. I can’t thank Last Hope and the Vinton shelter enough for helping to bring Star to us.

– Scott, Linda, Sydnei, Fayde, Dash, and Star Foens

Dash and Star

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Happy Tail: Harley

Chris and Melissa share their happy tail about Harley …


In the spring of 2013, we noticed Last Hope was in desperate need of foster homes. We already had a five-year-old Basset/Beagle mix named Murphy that we had rescued two years earlier, but we decided we would give fostering a chance. Even though we knew it would be hard not to get attached, we wanted to help a dog find a loving and forever home. When we saw a picture of this adorable little Beagle named Harley, we just had to help him. We filled out the application and then picked him up on a Saturday morning so we could have him overnight. This was supposed to be a trial run but he’s been here ever since.

A week into having him up for adoption, we got an email saying there was a family inquiring about Harley and that was the moment we knew we wouldn’t be able to give him up. He had already made himself at home and we had fallen in love with him. All of our friends and family gave us a hard time because they knew the minute we picked him up we would be keeping him. I think deep down we knew it, too, but we didn’t want to admit it to ourselves.

So here we are, over six months later and I cannot imagine not having him as a member of our family. Harley and Murphy act like they have been together their whole lives so we know we made the right decision. Although now we are what they call “failed fosters,” we accomplished exactly what we set out to do and that was to find Harley the loving and FURever home that he deserves.


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Happy Tails: Henry (Chico)


Kris Kiesey updates us on two Last Hope dogs …

The story of our Henry (formerly known as Chico), adopted October 27, 2012 with a bonus happy story about Buddy:

Summer 2012 – my kids and I visit the Cedar Rapids Animal Shelter often; they like to visit the kitties and I love on the dogs, petting them, hoping for them. I am also cautiously looking to add a second dog to our family, but am wary because we adopted a small dog from the Cedar Valley Humane Society in October 2011 and had a bad experience (he bit many males in the four weeks we had him) and I had to take him back, heartbroken. I am also not sure about adopting an adult dog because we already own a dominant male Rat Terrier.

Every time I visit the Cedar Rapids Animal Shelter in the summer of 2012, I see a black dog named Chico. He is a Boxer/Lab mix. His arrival date is May 1, 2012. He is always happy to see me, calmly letting me pet him and resting his chin in my hand. I keep hoping for him that he will be adopted and not be there the next time I visit.

Late July 2012 – Chico is still there. I can’t figure out why he hasn’t been adopted. I finally get him out of the kennel to get a closer look at him. Once he is out he is wild, so excited, and needs to work on his manners. His energy level is probably overwhelming people, but he is still so sweet. I decide to mention him to my husband and he agrees to visit. We bring our dog, Max, to check him out, too. Our neighbor, who is a K-9 police officer for Cedar Rapids, also comes because he knows Max and I trust his judgment. He thinks Chico is a very nice dog, but worries about how strong he is if Max tries to dominate him and sets him off. We don’t adopt him and I am sad. I stop visiting the animal shelter.

September 2012 – our family begins thinking about a puppy a little more, and my husband would like a Doberman. I am a little nervous about the training of such a large breed, so I call Cedar Run Boarding to ask about their puppy classes. Sonia answers the phone. We have a good conversation about Doberman puppies, then she says that if the puppy class times don’t work out, I could just bring the puppy to play with some of the dogs they have there. She has a dog that is great with other dogs, but terrible with people. I tell her that sounds like the dog I adopted from the Cedar Valley Humane Society the previous year. We determine that she rescued that same dog I returned, just in the nick of time. He is named Buddy now and still doesn’t like men. I spend the evening crying for joy that he is saved.

Two days later – two of my children and I visit Sonia and Buddy. I am happy for him that he is safe and happy, and grateful for Sonia, who saved his life. While I am at Cedar Run I visit her other dogs. Guess who I see? Chico – he spent too much time at the Cedar Rapids Animal Shelter, so Last Hope stepped in and rescued him. I am happy for him, too, as Sonia tells me he had been adopted and will be picked up the next day. We continue to move toward adopting a Doberman puppy.

October 2012 – my husband, Tim, and I visit Cedar Run on a Sunday for a Last Hope volunteer event. We tour the facility and Chico is still there. His adoption fell through because his energy level is so high. I mention the weekend foster program to Tim, knowing that Chico has been in the shelter/rescue system for almost six months and could benefit from some time in a home. Tim spends a little time with Chico and agrees to the weekend foster.

On our way out of Cedar Run we chat with Sonia. Tim tells her that we will take Chico for a weekend foster, and that if it works, we will adopt him permanently. I am thankful that Tim was willing to forgo the Doberman puppy and rescue a dog in need. One week later, that’s what we did.

Chico is now named Henry; we have had him for more than one year. He still needs to work on his manners, but is the most loving, loyal dog in the world. I think he is so grateful to be in our home. His laid back personality complements our dog’s perfectly. I think we were meant to be Henry’s family, and I am so grateful that Last Hope stepped in and rescued him until we could realize he was supposed to be a part of our family.

Thanks for sharing your story, Kris. We’re so happy that Henry found a loving home and that he is getting along so well. It really seems like it was meant to be.

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Happy Tails: Quincy

We received a wonderful email from Kurt sharing his Happy Tails adoption story.  I love that Last Hope was a part of this story!

We had lived in the country for around 19 years.  For about 15 of those years we had a Golden Retriever named Max.  He roamed the farm and watched over his realm.  He was an amazing dog.  Long and short there was a group that came through our area and stole a few dogs from the local farms and unfortunately Max was one of them.  We pursued all avenues to find him and track down the people who took him to no avail.  We lived on my wife’s family farm and my father-in-Law asked that we not get another outdoor dog nor did he want us to have an indoor dog.  We of course had some barn cats which were great but, just not the same as a dog – especially a Golden.  We respected my Father-in-laws wishes but, of course were not happy.

Fast forward to January of this year and we closed on our first home and moved in.  After settling in for a month we decided it was time to get a dog.  We adopted a lab/mix from the Iowa City Animal Shelter.  Within 24 hours we all had terrible symptoms and appeared to be allergic to him.  We took him back the next day and cleaned the house very well.  After having some work done to the house, we decided to try a Terrier as someone told us they may work for us.  We found a great Terrier mix and adopted him from Safe Haven in Marengo.  Unfortunately after 3 days my son and my wife were having terrible allergic reactions to him.  Of course we took him back right away.
We decided to look into other options for us and began talking with our doctors, vets, researched on the internet, etc.  We found out that the best dog for us would be a Poodle, Maltese, Bichon, Basenji, or similar dogs because they don’t have the same allergens as other breeds.  I heard about Last Hope from a mutual friend and reached out via email on the website.  Within a day or so i was contacted about Quincy a Poodle/Maltese mix that was in a foster home here in Iowa City. We got together, went through all the steps and adopted Quincy a few weeks ago.
quincyQuincy fit rights in with us.  It’s as if he was here all along.  He loves going for walks which gives me the extra exercise I need.  He has a love hate relationship with his kennel.  Sometimes he walks right in and other times he makes us put him in.  Never whines.  Loves to play and wrestle.  I think he has adopted me as his brother.  It’s weird he follows me everywhere but, never like to sit in my lap.  Now our son, on the other hand, they love sitting together and watching tv or playing video games.  Of course Quincy never wins! (ha ha ha)  We are still finding the right potty schedule outdoors but he’s only had a couple of accidents.  He is training us as much as we are training him.  It’s funny how other dogs we have had only want to please us.  With Quincy he does things that please him!  He is very independent, bull headed, ad is a little crazy at times, but he has a great personality.  Like I said he fits right in with us.  At times seems to miss having another dog around to chase but, so far my son and I have filled the role well enough.  I think eventually we may have to adopt a second dog as a partner for him.
As I type this, my son and Quincy are chasing each other; and now playing tug of war!
He is pretty much the perfect dog for us.  He has filled our home for sure.
Thank you to last Hope, you, and Sandy for saving Quincy.  The work you all do is awesome and so worthy.  I appreciate your dedication and service to our communities. I only hope others can have the same experience as we have.  The process of finding Quincy, visiting Quincy, allowing us to have him overnight, and then the final adoption – all I can say is that was seemless, fun, professional, and you are all very thorough.  Yes it took a bit longer for the entire process but, that’s ok.  You were doing the rights things for us and Quincy.  For all that I thank you all.
Truly Quincy, fills our house with love and affection.  He is the family member we missed and needed.
It looks to me like Quincy feels like a King in his new home.  What a sweetie and such a great story.  Thanks Kurt for sharing with us!  We love receiving updates, so if you have a Happy Tail you would like to share, please email us at
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Again thank you to Last Hope.

Happy Tails – Picasso

This letter from Abbie Ferguson, Travis Weipert, Mojo, Kemo, & Picasso expresses the wonderful benefits of adopting your pets from a few different perspectives.

PicassoPicasso is our third furry family member, but first dog, all of whom were adoptions from the corridor area.  Our first was Mojo, who was having a lot of trouble finding the right family due to a severe food allergy and her overweight status requiring some additional help with personal hygiene.  The second was Kemosabe, who was surrendered in Iowa City.  Then, about 10 months ago, Picasso joined the family courtesy of Last Hope!  He is a rambunctious, three year old Chihuahua mix and a wild man.

Adding a pet to our family was an easy decision for us.  The more important quest was finding pets that were not only right for us but right for them, too.

Adopting our pets has made me feel like a superhero!  It’s an amazing feeling to know that you have so vastly improved the quality of life for these guys.  In some cases, you might even be able to say you saved their lives!  How often do you get to say you’ve done that?  First-hand?  We have three adoring fans rushing to the door when we get home jumping to greet their people.  Also, our couch looks so much better with a big tuxedo kitty adorning the arm grunting at all who pass by.  Our front windows look amazing with a peppy little Chihuahua waiting for us to pull in the driveway.  My bathroom sink looks too cool with our muddy looking long-haired cat attempting to turn on the faucet by herself.  On top of that, no one who visits this house will sit for long with a chilly lap!

From the pets’ perspective, their lives are pretty sweet now.  Food delivered like clockwork and treats dished out on command.  Play time in the yard (including the kitties) and long walks at Kent Park are plentiful.  When someone, ahem – Picasso – has the occasional accident in the house, his people even rush to clean it up so he’s not too embarrassed for long.  The superheroes even show up with new toys on a nearly weekly basis.  The only time they’ve seen a true cage since moving in is the occasional, routine trip to the vet!

From the perspective of both the people and the pets, adopting has been ideal because it enabled us to find the right fit for our lifestyles.  Adopting an adult dog left little guesswork for knowing if his personality and energy would mesh well with us.  With the help of Last Hope and the foster home, our dog arrived fully crate trained, up to date on shots, and well socialized.  Last Hope even made sure to introduce Picasso to a friend’s cat to make sure he would get along with his new housemates (this is why Kamille is so awesome)!  What puppy mill can ensure all of this?  It’s a no brainer.

We have now moved on to volunteering by fostering a dog.  Financially we have been able to contribute a little bit to Last Hope’s mission and now fostering is one more way we can give back to this organization that has provided our household, furry and human inhabitants alike, with so much.  We want to help provide the opportunity for other families to feel like superheroes and other pets to be as spoiled as ours are – in safety, health, fun, and love!

Thank you Last Hope!

– Abbie Ferguson, Travis Weipert, Mojo, Kemo, & Picasso

If you have a Happy Tails adoption story you would like to share, email us at