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Angel's Story - Giving Tuesday 2017

Monday, November 27th




We’d like you to meet Angel. Angel came to BARCS in May of 2017 because her former owners were not able to afford the care she needed—at the time, she was a cute puppy just shy of 8 months old. Three months prior to her surrender, the family noticed that Angel—who was still just a baby—was wobbling. But it wasn’t your normal unsure-of-my-body, clumsy puppy legs, it was something different.

When Angel first arrived at BARCS, she was examined by our veterinarians, who ordered X-rays of her pelvis, hind legs and spine.

And that’s where this story really begins.

You see, Angel is still in our care today 7 months later—in fact, she’s in the care of Melanie, her foster mom and dedicated BARCS employee, who has been nothing short of selfless in Angel’s long and complicated medical journey.

Today, on Giving Tuesday, we’re going to share with you a series of journal entries and accounts from Melanie and Angel’s very special year together.

We hope that as you follow along with Angel’s compelling story today, you’ll consider a gift to BARCS this Giving Tuesday. BARCS is not only Maryland’s largest animal shelter, but we are also open-admission, meaning we always take in every animal in need. While a majority of these animals require basic care—food, water and shelter from the cold—animals like Angel have specialized, extraordinary and expensive medical needs.

Angel is getting a chance, because your donations make it all possible.

Because of our friends at the Nancy Sherertz Family Foundation, all donations to BARCS are being matched today, in honor of Angel. Please consider a gift, so that we not only can cover the costs for Angel’s medical bills, but so that we can help all animals this Holiday season.


Every life we save begins with you. Thank you.




July 4, 2017

From Melanie: Last night I brought home Angel for what we call an “overnight” here at BARCS. Angel has been at the shelter for a little more than a month now, shuffling back and forth to several of our partnering Franky Fund clinics, trying to figure out just what is going on with her. The Franky Fund is a fund that helps BARCS pay for animals with extraordinary medical conditions. This network of local veterinarians works with our shelter when the medical needs of an animal extend beyond our facilities and equipment.

So far, Angel’s X-rays have revealed that there is a narrowing of her spinal discs, which is likely affecting her nervous system and spinal cord. She has a follow-up on these results next week, and at that time we’ll know more.

I thought she could use a break from the shelter and feel the warmth of a home, so I brought her home with me.

She came with high recommendations from our staff trainer as well as our lead veterinarian—they both just love this goofy girl, and I can see why. She’s adjusting well, but given more space to run around, it has become even more apparent just how bad her condition is. She has trouble walking, which we knew, but she also falls over arbitrarily and runs into walls.

My husband and I are watching her closely to be sure she stays safe. It was initially just going to be just an overnight, but I’m going to keep Angel here in my home while we see through her medical needs. I’m not entirely sure what we’re getting ourselves into, but I’m prepared to handle whatever is to come.



August 3, 2017

From Melanie: Since I first brought Angel home a month ago, there have been more visits to several different Franky Fund partner clinics. Multiple clinics have been working side-by-side with BARCS to determine Angel’s prognosis. They believe that narrowing discs in Angel’s spine are in fact affecting her spinal cord. Without surgery, it would be just a matter of time before she would be completely unable to walk…and really, unable to continue living.

I was told that one wrong fall or turn and she’d could be paralyzed.

She’s so young, it’s hard to look into her big, brown eyes and know that without intervention her time is short. Even as happy as she is most days, most moments—playing with my dogs and enjoying her cozy and snuggly life in foster care—she is in pain and she does still fall over.

Her spinal surgery is scheduled for early September. The surgery should reveal exactly what’s going on inside Angel, and relieve her of pain. Between now and then, Angel will continue to be treated for pain management and we have several visits scheduled with the neurologist to get ready.

Until then, Angel will continue to be a clingy and eager puppy with my resident dogs (they secretly love it), and I’m going to remain positive.



September 11, 2017

From BARCS: Angel had her surgery today and is currently in recovery. During surgery, it was revealed that Angel’s spine was not just pinching her spinal cord, but severing it. While the surgery was more complicated than both BARCS and the Franky Fund doctors expected, we went forward with the procedure, to give Angel the best chance at life.

So, what is expected to happen after the surgery? Angel will not be able to initially walk, and will need a catheter to eliminate (go potty). Whether or not Angel will ever be able to walk unassisted again is still to be determined. Because of the severity, the prognosis on mobility is very guarded.

However, Angel will be free from pain and the risk of paralysis, and the severing/damage to spinal cord will cease.

The surgery, with extremely deep discounts, cost BARCS $3,500, which does not include the pre-surgery appointments and costs of follow-up care.

You may be asking yourself, “Why put so much effort and funding into saving the life of one dog when there are so many that need help?”

It’s a fair question, especially when our shelter answers to the call of taking in more than 12,000 animals each year. But at BARCS, we believe that every individual life is worth a fighting chance. With your help, we are seeing and saving more complicated medical cases than ever before. There was a time when an adorable dog like Angel wouldn’t have been able to get the care she needed—because we simply didn’t have the funding. We’ve grown so much since that time, and we have supporters like you to thank for all the lives saved.

For some animals, the journey from shelter to ‘home’ is short, for some it’s long, for some it’s complicated, and for some it’s expensive. No matter how many ups and downs or medical bills, each unique journey is equal in love.



September 14, 2017

From Melanie: I knew that post surgery care was going to be challenging, and I knew exactly what I was in for…but wow has it been a week. While we are hopeful that Angel’s mobility will return, at this time she is unable to use her back legs and also needs a catheter to eliminate.

A catheter situation has not been easy. We’ve had to make several trips back to the hospital to have it placed and replaced. Luckily, they are very patient and helpful. Angel is also wearing doggy diapers for her solid waste—at this time she has no control over the back end of her body. On top of all this, she has her large surgery incision which we need to keep careful watch on. Cleaning and caring for her is a full-time job.

But one of the things she hasn’t lost is her big tongue-out smile. I’m so grateful for her smiles—makes it all worth it.

While this spunky and strong girl is in good spirits, her prognosis is still guarded. I'm not really a prayer person, but I do believe strongly in the power of positive thought—I’ve been asking everyone to be so kind as to keep her in theirs.



September 15, 2017

From BARCS: We are so thankful to our Franky Fund partner clinics for everything they do for our shelter animals. Today, the clinic where Angel had her spinal surgery, donated a wheelchair to her! This will help Angel in the situations where she does need to be mobile, while we wait and hope she is able to regain feeling and mobility in her legs. But for today, she’s just modeling…

We’ll let you decide if she thinks she’s showing off the chair, or her big smile.



September 18, 2017

From Melanie: Recovery is better with a friend. It’s been a full week since the surgery, and while Angel’s large incision down her back still looks startling, she’s really starting to get back to her Angel-self. As I’ve mentioned before, she’s a serious clinger to my resident dogs—she is after all just a baby. She especially likes to get all up in Ozzie’s business, and he totally welcomes it. He’s been extra gentle and extra generous with the cuddles (pictured here).

The daily care and cleanup is still difficult. Angel still hasn’t regained feeling in her back end, so my husband and I have been carrying her around the house. She likes to be a part of everything, and transporting this 45lbs baby from room-to-room is giving us quite the workout. Sometimes she uses the wheelchair, but she needs to be taken out of it to rest and sleep—which she needs a lot of right now.



September 21, 2017

From Melanie: Ten days post-surgery, and the feeling is already returning to Angel’s back legs! We were rubbing her lower belly today and she started twitching her back leg, in that way dogs do when you find the good spot. My hope for her to walk again someday now seems like more than a possibility, but a reality. I have hundreds of photos and videos of her on my phone, and this one is hands down my favorite so far.

We’ve continued our regular visits to the hospital…less catheter emergencies in recent days and more positive post-surgery care. Angel gets regular shots of B-12 and cold laser therapy to help with her speed along her healing. The hospital has been so kind to continue offering BARCS big discounts for the follow-up care. The doctor and his team really have a soft spot for Angel, and they been a great help to me personally through this process. Lots of good thoughts and love in our house and beyond for this girl.



September 26, 2017

From Melanie: It has been a long two weeks, but someone is definitely starting to feel better and want to move around. Look at her go! I’ve mentioned before that Angel wants to be a part of everything we are doing and everything our dogs are doing. She’s taken to scooting around to make sure to always be a part of the action. She’s also been using her wheelchair more regularly to go on walks.

I’m convinced she has no worries in the world.

Whether Angel’s aware of her special condition or not, she has no interest in letting it affect all the dog things she wants to do. That’s one of my favorite things about dogs, it’s not about what happened to them in the past, or what’s in the future, it’s about being in the present…and never missing out on the treats.



October 6, 2017

From Melanie: Today we spent a lot of time in the house working on assisting Angel in standing. While still limited, the feeling and mobility in her back legs is improving, and she’s showing us that she wants to use all four legs to walk. With my help, she was only able to stand for a split second, but even this small success puts Angel ahead of her healing timeline. She’s also been moving her back legs when she does her signature “scoot.”

Angel’s legs know they want to walk someday.

Her catheter has come out, but she still needs assistance eliminating, so the hospital taught my husband and I how to manually express her bladder at home.

This photo is from Yom Kippur. Angel’s wheelchair allowed her to be a normal dog when we had family over to celebrate the Jewish holiday. She was really working those big brown eyes, begging for snacks from my family members. Let’s just pretend she didn’t pick that habit up from my dogs. ;)



October 7, 2017

From Melanie: Remember what I said yesterday about those legs wanting to walk? Well Angel is determined, and is progressing by leaps and bounds. This morning, in our backyard, she was lifting her back end to walk. If you remember the video from just two weeks ago, she wasn’t even lifting her hind end, just dragging it along in her diaper. We love getting her out into the yard like this, and out for walks. She really enjoys it too.

Here is a video of Angel rolling along in her wheelchair while out on a family walk with our dogs. I get such a kick out of this video, I’ve been watching it over and over again.

I’m thankful that we’ve had such a long summer here in Maryland, it’s made this recovery time so much easier for Angel and our whole family.



November 12, 2017

From Melanie: First we swim, then we walk! Today, Angel and I went on a little adventure. I thought she could benefit from taking a little swim in a therapy pool, and figured she would enjoy it too. Well, that was an understatement—she loved it! With the costs of her surgery and care being already so expensive, my husband and I are happy to cover the costs for these sessions. While it’s of course about the progression of her healing, I just love these happy moments. She doesn’t know she’s there for the medical benefits, she thinks she’s just having an extra special “Angel day.”

It’s been a day and two months since Angel’s surgery, and I have to say, while I didn’t know what to expect, she has amazed me each and every one of those days.

At Angel’s most recent follow-up visit, the hospital gave us great news. The doctor believes that Angel will make a full recovery in time. That’s the best thing we can hope for, and if you remember, a full recovery wasn’t certain at the beginning of this journey. The doctor has also taken to calling her his “miracle dog.”

I think that’s the perfect nickname for an “Angel.”



November 26, 2017

From Melanie: Today my husband captured this amazing video of Angel running—yes, running—across our yard to me. Her legs are still wobbly and get often get tangled, but they are working and feeling…and running! This past Thursday was Thanksgiving, and as we all do, I’ve been reflecting on all the things I am thankful for.

I’m thankful to my husband for being an incredible support system and real trooper through this journey with Angel. I’m thankful to the Franky Fund partner clinics who have been so helpful and kind through all the ups and downs. I’m thankful that BARCS gave Angel life by electing to do the surgery, even at such a high cost.

And, of course, I’m thankful for everything this goofy, slobbery "angel-of-a-dog" has taught me about love and patience.

Of all the years I’ve been a part of the BARCS family as a volunteer, foster and now staff member, this year has really been the most special. Having Angel recover in our home has been nothing short of a gift.

We’ve come such a long way, and it’s all because of the support of our community. A city that once had a save rate of just 2%, is now able to say “yes” to dogs like Angel because of BARCS. Donations, volunteering and choosing adoption all play an important role in building a more humane Baltimore. I am so proud to be a part of the BARCS family and the greater Baltimore community.

I know that Angel is thankful, too. I can see it in that big smile and every happy moment she shares in our home.

While this is my last journal entry for Giving Tuesday, it’s not the end of Angel’s journey. There are still so many more victories in her future, and we are excited for all that is to come.

I’d like to thank each and every one of you who is making a donation to BARCS this holiday season. It’s because of you that Angel gets to celebrate her first Hanukah, her first New Year and her first birthday.

Thank you for the bottom of my heart…and Angel’s. Happy Holidays.


Love, Melanie and Angel


P.S. If you haven't already, please consider making a donation today to help Angel and all of the homeless animals with special medical needs.






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