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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