Instead of what should have been a plush, fluffy dog, rescuers found Journey the Alaskan Malamute severely malnourished, his fur matted and infected with sores, lice and two types of mange. Through it all, Journey's spirit melted their hearts.
Journey, the injured Alaskan Malamute found last week roaming a Kentucky field, got his Christmas miracle.
Less than 24 hours after the Illinois Alaskan Malamute Rescue Association told us about Journey's story, organizers received between 200 and 300 donations for his care and medications at Yorkville Animal Hospital.
Though a total hasn't yet been tallied, the donations are expected to cover a significant portion of Journey's four- to six-week hospital stay.
"It made my cry, it made Vicky [Meluso] cry because it's not easy to be in rescue," said Tammie Variano, foster coordinator for IAMRA, in response to the outpouring. "He's not just an animal, his spirit is so kind. It's absolutely phenomenal. We can't thank them enough."
Donations rolled in so fast that Meluso, IAMRA director, put aside her regular work to concentrate on them. She worked well past midnight writing thank you notes.
"Journey is a very special boy," Meluso said, "and he has a long journey ahead of him."
The scared pup was found by Daviess County Animal Control with his fur matted and infected with sores, lice and two types of mange. His chances at survival seemed bad. But something about his kind eyes and loving temperament melted rescue workers' hearts.
He's not out of the woods yet. After his stay Yorkville Animal Hospital, he needs many months of recovery, Meluso said. If there are no complications, Journey will stay at a foster home to be monitored before foster parents can be considered.
Variano, who owns a special needs dog of her own, said his spirit will take him through.
"We couldn't have gotten a better temperamented animal," she said. "If you see him through your heart, he's the most beautiful dog in the world."