An injured pup in need of a Christmas miracle landed himself a true Valentine this week.
Two months after rescue workers found Journey running scared in some Kentucky fields, the Alaskan Malamute left Yorkville Animal Hospital on Tuesday for a foster home.
Journey's new temporary mom is Vicky Meluso, director of Mount Prospect-based Illinois Alaskan Malamute Rescue Association. "He’s made a remarkable physical recovery," Meluso said. "We’re just thrilled."
In December, the situation was dire. Rescuers found what should have been a plush, fluffy dog severely malnourished. His fur was matted and infected with sores, lice and two types of mange. He was so frightened of leashes that shelter workers had to tranquilize him to catch him.
"He was very, very fearful when he came in," said Tammie Variano, IAMRA foster coordinator. "He’s come a long way."
Two weeks before Christmas, Journey had a vet but no money for treatment. Meluso and Variano reached out, and within 24 hours received between 200 and 300 donations that covered Journey's hospital stay.
Donations rolled in so fast that Meluso put aside her regular work to keep track of them all. She worked well past midnight writing thank you notes.
Journey slowly began to heal, and very slowly, a few hospital workers gained his trust. By the end of January, the pup's fur began to grow back and his ears perked up when he recognized certain hospital workers with whom he formed a connection.
Journey left the hospital on Valentine's Day and is headed to his foster home where his health will continue to be monitored.
His next step? Finding a "forever home." After he's acclimated to home living, the search for an adoptive family begins.
But IAMRA won't lose touch. "We’re going to make his future is nothing but positive," Variano said.
For those who still want to donate, a food and treat page is set up at wholepetmarket.com.