Junior High School student, Parker Ross, aspired to fulfill his Fairfax County Public Schools Student Service Learning requirement by volunteering for a local animal rescue organization. At 12 years old, even with parental supervision, his age disqualified him from the ability to handle adoptable animals; the age requirement to handle animals at adoption events for most animal rescues is 18 years old. There are some junior rescue programs, however, Parker wanted maximum responsibility.
Through pluck and luck Parker and his mother, Lisa, found Caring Hearts, a non-profit, small dog breed rescue. Among the Lhasa Apsos, Chihuahuas, Yorkies, and Pomeranians, one very special Shih Tzu with special needs caught their attention: Lobo. Mom and Son first considered raising money for Lobo who required surgery, amputation, continuing veterinary care, and medication.
Their caring hearts inspired, magic transpired. What began as a love for animals and a requirement for school, transformed Parker and his Mom into first-time Foster Parents. Diagnosed with Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis and having received the necessary leg amputation, Caring Hearts Rescue Coordinator, Sabina Poinelli, ensures that the Ross’ have full support to meet all of Lobo’s special needs including providing food, bedding and blankets, vitamins, therapy guidance, and veterinary assistance from Crosspointe Animal Hospital.
“The rehabilitation aspect of a foster program is much more beneficial to the dogs,” Sabina says. “Having the dogs in a family type environment allows the dog to function more relaxed, which allows the foster parent to determine the true personality type of the foster dog. This allows us to provide applicants with detailed information on the foster dog like behavioral concerns, medical concerns, potty training habits, and personality.”
“Loving and laid back,” Lisa says of Lobo, “He’s a trooper.” Aside from his medical needs, including the administration of medicine, Lisa says, “He’s not a difficult dog. Not high-maintenance.” Lobo loves to play with his toys and gets along well with their own cheerful Shih Tzu, Oreo. Having blocked the stairs to prevent mishaps, lightweight Lobo is carried upstairs or down, wherever the love is. Like any family companion, Lobo greets the family upon return. “He scoots to the door the minute you walk in.”
Parker is responsible for feeding, implementing water therapy, and overall nurturing. For walking, Lisa purchased an Outward Hound Front Carrier, so Parker can easily carry Lobo and leash-walk Oreo alongside. Compassionate and thoughtful, Parker raised several hundred dollars to purchase a Walkin’ Wheels Dog Wheelchair. Parker is thrilled to have Lobo cuddle in bed at night. Gentle and comforting, Parker handles Lobo with care; under his guidance, Parker’s friends also give Lobo extra tender attention when they visit.
Lisa firmly believes Lobo would make an excellent therapy dog, particularly for children who require short and long-term hospitalization and rehabilitation at Inova Fairfax Children’s Hospital; for this, all Lobo and his caregiver would require is Delta Society Animal Assisted Therapy certification. Along with his calm nature and portable size, Lobo’s condition is identifiable and motivational. Likewise, Lobo would benefit from continued, loving, human socialization.
Rescuing senior and special needs dogs, Sabina says, is the most rewarding experience. “The most difficult aspect is not being able to help all the orphaned dogs needing help.” Sabina states, “The current financial crisis in the economy has demonstrated devastating effects with the current pet overpopulation issue happening right now.” In spite of difficulties, Sabina is optimistic and concludes, “Growing our foster program would allow us to take in more dogs needing help.”
Are you a Caring Heart? Click here to adopt Lobo!