Woman Adopts Abandoned Dog, Then Receives Unsuspecting News Just Days Later

Woman Adopts Abandoned Dog, Then Receives Unsuspecting News Just Days Later

When Chicago Animal Control first saw Roosevelt, he looked like any other stray. His fur was dirty, his paws were caked with mud, and he had the skittish temperament of a dog who’d been on his own for a while. But when they looked into his scared eyes, they realized the truth: this dog wasn’t a stray — he had been abandoned by his previous owner. They had no clue just how much this dog had survived… and how he still had one more hurdle to overcome.

Meet Roosevelt

When Kelly Michael and Sarah Lauch first laid eyes on Roosevelt, their hearts broke. The pit bull was in the care of Chicago Animal Control alongside other abandoned dogs, but there was something about his big, scared eyes that touched the dog lovers’ hearts. And then, they heard his story.

Sarah Lauch / YouTube

A Sad Explanation

It turned out that Roosevelt’s unkempt appearance had an explanation. He had been abandoned at an animal control center by his previous owner, who’d attached a single note to Roosevelt’s cage: “He has problems urinating.” But Roosevelt’s problems went far beyond his bathroom habits.

Lindsay Brice/Getty Images

Misunderstood

It was one thing for a regular dog to be abandoned, but a pit bull? Since this breed is widely misunderstood as being “violent,” Kelly and Sarah knew that the odds of ever being adopted were stacked against Roosevelt. They immediately connected with the despondent-looking pup.

eyecrave / Getty Images

Meant To Be

“I watched him relax quietly in his cage while all the other dogs barked and jumped to get my attention. He looked so sad and tearful,” Sarah wrote on Facebook. The dog lovers knew their connection with Roosevelt was no accident. They were meant to be Roosevelt’s new owners!

Sarah Lauch / YouTube

Brand New Life

Thanks to the organization “One Tail at a Time,” the women were officially able to adopt Roosevelt! After a quick once-over from the vet, they took Roosevelt home. When they first let him out of his cage, Roosevelt did something they’d never seen him do before.

Sarah Lauch / YouTube

Unexpected Trouble

He perked right up! They gave him a big hug, elated by the idea of giving him a happy life in their home. Roosevelt — whose name the ladies shortened to “Roo” — had never looked happier… which was when the newfound family ran into some unexpected trouble.

Sarah Lauch / YouTube

Devastating News

The women noticed that Roo’s urinary problems weren’t going away, so the vet conducted a more thorough exam than had been done before. To Kelly and Sarah’s devastation, the vet returned with horrible news: Roo had late-stage bone cancer.

Sarah Lauch / YouTube

The Bleak Prognosis

The prognosis was bleak. Roo probably had, at most, three months or so to live. Kelly and Sarah had to decide whether they should return Roo to the shelter, where he would live out his days on someone else’s dime, or if they would take him in and pay for his expensive medical bills themselves.

Jan Woitas/picture alliance via Getty Images

Their Plan

For the dog lovers, it was an easy decision to make. They scooped Roo up and brought him home without any hesitation. Roo may not have had a lot of time left, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t live out his remaining days in total happiness! With that, Kelly and Sarah came up with a plan.

Sarah Lauch / YouTube

Roo’s Bucket List

Roo, who didn’t seem to be aware of his ailment, looked happier than he’d ever been. The ladies knew one thing: they’d pamper the pooch as much as possible over the next few months. To keep track of their plans for Roo, they came up with an unusual bucket list for the dog.

Sarah Lauch / YouTube

List Of Firsts

Item by item, they were able to cross things off the list: Roo swam in a lake for the first time, gobbled down some ice cream, received relaxing therapeutic massages, and was even a frequent visitor at Taco Bell. Even with all this done, the list wasn’t even halfway completed. 

Sarah Lauch / YouTube

An Important Message

And Kelly and Sarah didn’t plan on the list ever being finished. You see, they planned on adding to the list as much as possible until Roo entered his final days. After every unforgettable moment with Roo, Kelly and Sarah shared an important message on social media.

Sarah Lauch / YouTube

#LiveLikeRoo

With the hashtag #LiveLikeRoo, the ladies hoped to inspire others to live every day as if it were their last. And the message really took off. Complete strangers reached out to Kelly and Sarah directly with their own contributions to add to Roo’s bucket list!

Sarah Lauch / YouTube

Treats For Roo!

Kind supporters of #LiveLikeRoo sent the foster parents dog toys, treats, food, and even gift cards. Even with his scary diagnosis, Roo seemed just as happy and healthy as he did before, and his dedication to living freely inspired others to do the same, according to Sarah.

Sarah Lauch / YouTube

A Lasting Impact

“People have sent me direct messages and fans have invited us to their lake house,” Sarah said on Roo’s now-viral Facebook page dedicated to his final months. Some dog owners even re-examined their relationships with their furry friends. “Now all the owners are doing things with their own dogs.”

Sarah Lauch / YouTube

Their Grim Reality

Even with all this positivity, Kelly and Sarah never forgot the reality of the situation: Roo’s days were numbered. “Even if we have known him for such a short time, the mere thought of having to put him down at some point makes us cry,” Sarah admitted.

Sarah Lauch / YouTube

Breaking The News

Until that day arrived, however, Roo had a packed schedule. Kelly and Sarah planned on having him visit schools, surprise a couple on their honeymoon, go to a hockey game, and celebrate Christmas. But in early September, Sarah took to Facebook with some sad news.

Sarah Lauch / YouTube

Saying Goodbye

“We had lots of plans with Roo,” she wrote, describing all of their happy times together. “But it was time. He was in pain.” After a few happy months together, it was clear that Roo’s cancer had progressed to a point where Roo wasn’t living a full life. Kelly and Sarah made the tough decision to say goodbye.

Sarah Lauch / YouTube

Honoring Roo’s Life

“It was one of the toughest days ever and it hurts a lot,” Sarah wrote on Facebook. “We love that you felt like he was yours. That is what we wanted.” Though their time with Roo was short, Kelly and Sarah found a great way to honor his life. 

Cate Gillon/Getty Images

Leaving Something Special Behind

They started the Live Like Roo Foundation, which centers on helping families and dogs affected by cancer. “So, let’s mourn, but let’s keep going and make him proud.” Roo may have passed too soon, but his legacy left something truly special behind.

Sarah Lauch / YouTube

Bittersweet Ending

“Roo meant so much to all of us and we are so happy that his message has spread throughout the world,” Sarah wrote to her and Kelly’s thousands of Facebook friends. But Roo isn’t the only pitbull to break the stereotype these dogs are so often given. Recently, a Florida family’s pitbull named Buddy became famous for bravely guarding a lost toddler during a dangerous situation, and it’s making some people rethink everything they knew about these dogs.

Sarah Lauch / YouTube

The Great Outdoors

When a Live Oak, Florida, toddler was playing in the woods with his siblings, his mother thought nothing of it. Seeing the little tykes frolicking and enjoying the great outdoors warmed her heart…until she looked out the window and noticed someone was missing.

Suwannee Democrat / YouTube

Desperately Crying Out

Her heart sank to the bottom of her stomach. What was she supposed to do? Of course the mama — who later declined to provide her name — cried out for her son and searched the entire house. At her wit’s end, she dialed 911.

ThePlusSideOfThings / YouTube

Contacting the Police

She contacted the Suwannee County Sheriff’s office, explaining her predicament through tears and broken words. She described the frightening situation as best she could, and soon discovered that her son wasn’t the only one who blindly wandered off.

Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office / Facebook

Lost Dog

Along with her sweet blonde boy, the family dog, Buddy, also vanished. The pit bull and the innocent toddler could’ve been anywhere, possibly quite far from each other. Worst of all, dogs and kids are notoriously curious creatures…

Tim Graham / Contributor

On the Case

Thinking about the trouble both her son and dog could easily get into made this Florida mom’s head spin. Well, patrol deputies and investigators with the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office, along with K9 units from Suwannee Correctional Institution, were on the case.

Suwannee Country Sheriff’s Office / Facebook

Searching High and Low

Looking high and low, they made it their mission to search every crevice of the woods…if they were even still there. It was hard not to imagine every macabre possibility, but the mama stayed strong.

@saravanpeursem / Instagram

No Clues

With no evidence of his whereabouts, footprints, or dropped belongings, though, the police were left scratching their heads. Even the K9 units struggled, unable to locate the youngster based on his scent. But it wasn’t long before the police station received another call.

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A Protective Pooch

A perturbed neighbor called the police station, stating he spotted an unsupervised child with a dog by his side. According to the police station, the neighbor explained how “the dog wouldn’t let him get near the child.”

Beastly / YouTube

Heartwarming and Astounding

It had to be Buddy and the missing boy! The brown-and-white pup acted as a bodyguard, refusing to let any stranger approach the little one. It was both heartwarming and astounding, and definitely made Buddy a credit to his controversial breed…

@quick.rocket.thepitbull / Instagram

Negative Stigma

Due to their heinous reputation as fighting dogs (which is entirely due to human influence), pit bulls are often seen as a danger to small children. Buddy, on the other hand, seemingly would’ve done anything to protect his little friend.

DARKDYNASTYK9S / YouTube

Bodyguard or Bad Guy?

In reality, if you train pit bulls and raise them in a stable environment, they’re wonderful pets. But police weren’t so sure the dog wouldn’t turn on the child upon feeling stressed or threatened.

Beastly / YouTube

On the Lookout

It’s actually a myth that pit bulls are more likely to “turn” on their owners than other dog breeds, so the cops didn’t fret for long. When police arrived on the scene, they saw Buddy alert and on the lookout, evidently waiting for help to arrive.

Beastly / YouTube

A Helpful Guide

WCTV Eyewitness News obtained police bodycam footage from the search, which showed the muscular dog confidently leading the way to the boy’s exact location! He knew what he needed to do to protect and save his family.

Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office / Facebook

Safe and Sound

Buddy acted as a four-legged GPS, steering the patrol deputies to the missing child. Thankfully, both Buddy and the toddler are now home, completely safe and sound. We imagine the mother won’t be taking her eyes off of her boy until he turns 18.

Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office / Facebook

A Happy Ending

“It was such a good ending to something that could have been tragic,” Sheriff Sam St. John told WCTV Eyewitness News. Well, he wasn’t wrong: It’s not every day that a little boy and his dog return from the woods unscathed.

Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office / Facebook

Other Possibilities

Given their history with cases like this, the Sheriff’s office couldn’t help but consider the worst. The little boy could’ve tripped and broken a bone, wandered into the street and gotten hit by a car, or even gotten kidnapped! Thankfully, the located the toddler before any of those gruesome possibilities came to fruition.

Suwanee Democrat / YouTube

A Refreshing Story

Considering all the horrid news stories we take in daily, the sheriff felt this story was beyond refreshing. “We’re all the time putting out tragic news. I’m telling you, it feels so good, so good to tell a good story,” the sheriff continued.

Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office / Facebook

Man’s Best Friend

“Fortunately, we were able to reunite the child with his mother, thanks in part to ‘man’s best friend’ and an alert neighbor,” the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a Facebook post. The Sheriff’s Office considered Buddy a hero.

Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office / Facebook

Four-Legged Hero

The Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office adorably completed the post with the hashtags “give that dog a bone,” “man’s best friend” and “Lassie ain’t got nothing on Buddy.” We can only hope Buddy was given lots of treats and belly rubs after a hard day’s work.

@suwanneesheriff / Instagram

Nurturing Pitties

Despite the negative stereotypes surrounding pit bulls being “monsters,” there are loads of stories proving their warm, nurturing instincts, especially with children. But every pup is different, and when choosing to adopt a pit bull, just know that the dog may have a brutal past.

Beastly / YouTube

Lingering Fear

Bringing a rescue dog — especially one that’s been abused — into your home can be a scary prospect. You can’t help but worry that the dog might instinctively resort to aggressive behavior, and Linda Hickey knew this feeling all too well.

Xena The Warrior Puppy / Youtube

Saving a Pooch

Linda and her husband, Grant, lived with their two sons and dogs in Johns Creek, Georgia, when they considered bringing a rescue puppy into the family. The puppy had an intriguing story, but Linda worried if a packed house was the ideal place for a once-abused pooch.

Xena The Warrior Puppy / YouTube

Family Troubles

Complicating matters further, the couple’s youngest, Jonny, had been diagnosed with autism before his first birthday. “He wasn’t reaching his milestones,” Linda said. They would have to worry not only about how the puppy would react, but how their son would react, too.

A Delicate Situation

“I couldn’t even order cold cuts at the deli counter,” Grant added. “I’d roll up to the deli counter and say, ‘give me a half pound of this, a half pound of that,’ and Jonny would just start screaming.” Obviously, it was a delicate situation.

Parental Doubts

The parents knew all too well the anxiety that came with introducing anything new — let alone an abused animal — to the family. How could she make an adoption work? Would it just become one more thing that would aggravate Jonny?

Xena the Warrior

Still, Linda had fallen in love with the little pit bull, aptly named Xena the Warrior Puppy. She’d been watching the nightly news when images of the abused pup appeared on the screen. At that time, authorities were on the lookout for those who had hurt the poor dog.

Scrolling Online

The broadcast mentioned a Facebook page for Xena, and Linda headed there right away. “I would pray for her at night, and first thing in the morning… I would sign in [to Facebook] to see if she had made it through the night.” There was no denying it: Linda was in puppy love!

CNN / YouTube

A Special Case

Linda wasn’t the only one concerned about the puppy’s future. Chrissy Kaczynski—founder of Friends of Animals—was one of the pooch’s caretakers. “In all the years that I have been doing rescue,” she said, “I have never seen a puppy in that same condition.”

Getting Better

Xena kept fighting, and with medicine, rest, and love, her health greatly improved. “She just got better and better every day and just became more of a regular puppy,” Chrissy said. Soon, she’d be ready to leave intensive care and find a forever home—and Linda jumped at the chance.

The Big Meeting

“After talking to Linda, we decided that they would be the best home if it would work out with them,” Chrissy confirmed. But how would this once-abused puppy and the family’s autistic son get along? There was only one way to find out…

Kiss of Approval

It was decided that Linda would host Xena for a trial visit. Thankfully, Xena couldn’t contain her excitement! When Grant came home for lunch, Xena was there to plant a smooch right on his face. But the real test—Jonny—was still at school.

Past Failures

The family already had several dogs, and Jonny paid zero attention to them. As his dad put it, “It was as if they [Jonny and the dogs] were in parallel worlds,” that never intersected. Would the boy behave similarly with Xena? And would another dog be too many?

Ear to Ear

It was time for the moment of truth. With Xena in tow, Linda drove to Jonny’s school to pick him up. “He couldn’t believe it,” she said, stunned. “It was a complete surprise: she’s lickin’ him all over his face, and he’s smiling ear to ear.” It appeared that the two bonded instantly!

Natural Therapy

Their friendship only became stronger from there. Later that evening, Linda caught Jonny reading to Xena in the family room. “We’ve spent thousands of dollars on therapy,” she said. “That was the best therapy standing on four legs in the family room.”

Remarkable Adaptation

Linda had been so worried, but Xena was, as Chrissy put it, “a great example of how so many [pit bulls] can endure such great abuse and become absolutely remarkable family dogs.” Incredibly, Xena’s affection for Jonny did more than just give him a friend…

Xena the Warrior Puppy / YouTube

A Growing Bond

Thanks to his newfound friendship, the once unbelievably shy Jonny started to open up! Now when Grant and Linda brought him to the grocery store, he wanted to go inside. That was a far cry from the kid who would throw fits at the deli counter!

Taking Responsibility

Everything in Jonny’s life was controlled for him, but with Xena, he was regularly chopping up food and feeding the dogs all on his own. As his anxiety decreased, his opportunities to engage in the world around him increased. And it was all thanks to Xena!

Better Days

In fact, Jonny’s behavior improved beyond just his willingness to go into the supermarket. Before Xena, he’d only had “bad” and “okay” days at school; with his new pet, he started having great days—and he was even named superstar of the week!

Spreading the Word

The duo shared their camaraderie with the world in a YouTube video that raised awareness about a canine’s effects on autism. In the video, Jonny said “we make a good team to spread the word,” but that might’ve been an understatement!

Xena the Warrior Puppy / YouTube

Xena’s effects on Jonny didn’t go unnoticed; for all she did, the ASPCA recognized her as their “Dog of the Year” in 2013! Not only did adopting Xena save the dog, but it saved Jonny, too! Just watch the ASPCA’s tribute to Xena to see how much she impacted her new family…

Xena The Warrior Puppy / YouTube