Before Ned came to Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue, he was an outdoor dog—day and night. From what we gather, he was in a small yard and didn’t get much exercise, although he was well cared for. In fact, he was perhaps too well fed, weighing in at over 90 lbs. When he began having seizures, the family thought his time had come. Instead of euthanasia, their vet suggested surrender to rescue. That wonderful advice forever changed Ned’s life – and another. Last summer Lesley visited Homeward Bound and met Ned. This is their story, in her own words. We could not tell it better.

“One year ago, I stepped through the doors of Homeward Bound not really knowing what to expect. I had never owned a dog before, but knew that I wanted a furry companion. I was paired up with an amazing adoption coordinator, Lorrie, who picked out a dog she thought would be perfect for me. I remember standing there waiting for her to bring this dog out and then out of nowhere, a huge, fluffy, and excessively furry Golden Retriever with the best smile came running towards me. His name was Ned. He weighed in at almost 90 lbs. and there was long, tangled hair in every direction. His sweet and goofy personality made me fall in love with him right there at that moment that I met him.

I knew that this was the dog I wanted. Shocked that he was still at Homeward Bound, I asked Lorrie, “Why has no one adopted him yet? He’s adorable!” With a sigh, Lorrie solemnly replied, “Ned is epileptic.” I then understood why this poor, sweet dog did not yet have a ‘forever home.’ His condition deterred so many people; for me, it did just the opposite. I wanted to take him home even more so I could take care of him. I vowed to help him lose weight, to live a healthier life, and to strive for never having a seizure ever again. I looked at Lorrie and said, “That’s ok, we’ll deal with his epilepsy. I want him!” I renamed him Chewie – short for Chewbacca, from Star Wars because of his crazy, long fur! We filled out the paperwork and then I took my new baby boy home. It was one of the happiest days of my life.

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We had a lot of work to do. Chewie needed to lose about 20 lbs. to achieve a healthy male Golden Retriever weight. I also figured that losing weight would help with his epilepsy. When humans are overweight, they face health complications; why wouldn’t this apply to dogs as well? With a healthy, balanced diet and exercise, here we are one whole year later: Chewie is proud to announce that he has hit his goal weight of 70 lbs. and is feeling better than ever. Here’s some even more good news: he has been seizure-free this entire year! Our veterinarian thinks that his epilepsy has diminished due to his weight loss and to the fact that he is now in a loving, stress-free home.

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When people hear our story, they always say how great it is that I’ve rescued him, but I always reply back with, “No, he has rescued ME.” In 2013, I lost my Grandma, my uncle, and a friend all within ten months. It was, by far, one of the toughest years I’ve had to get through. I honestly think that my Grandma sent Chewie to help me; she knew how much I was struggling with her loss. Every single day, he puts a smile on my face and always knows how to make me feel better. He truly is my therapy and I will be forever grateful for those kind eyes and gentle heart. I’m not sure how I would have gotten through the year without him. I’m looking forward to many more years with my boy.

Thank you, Homeward Bound for pairing me up with my angel. Thank you for taking such great care of him while he was there – he was so blessed to have the HBGRR community. Chewie and I love you all!”~ Lesley

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Lesley and Chewie’s story provides an important reminder. When you meet one of our dogs “in progress” or even with permanent medical needs, look beyond to the heart inside. It just might end up changing yours.