Recently, Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue received a special request. It had nothing to do with Goldens – but everything to do with rescue and love. Two women, both in service to our country, need our help. We could not say ‘no.’ And so now – we ask for yours. Not for funds, but to share their story and help two amazing dogs on their journey home. Here is their story:
Combined, Erika and Gwen have served nearly 23 years as Foreign Service Officers conducting audits of U.S. international aid to ensure the best use of taxpayer dollars. Their work takes them to distant – and often dangerous places, including Russia, Haiti, Afghanistan, and as Gwen relays: “two stressful years in Iraq where I made site visits in army helicopters, tanks or other armored vehicles.” They have been serving together in Pakistan since 2013. Erika and Gwen are deployed for months or years at a time in frequently hostile environments. Their presence, though vital, is not always welcome. It can be stressful and isolating. They rely on each other for friendship, and, for the most part, avoid forming ties as they never know where their jobs will take them next. That is until they met Lilly and Lucy.
“I know I rescued Lilly, but she also rescued me,” says Erika. ”I was going through a very difficult time here, both personally and professionally. As an auditor, you are not always welcomed by fellow colleagues due to the nature of the work. Personally, being separated from close friends and family in the States, and the stress of the changing security situation takes a toll. Lilly was someone for me to care for and be welcomed by when I got home at night. She gave me something to focus on. And her gentle, sweet nature never ceases to amaze me considering her life circumstances.”
When Erika met Lilly, she was emaciated and limping. “Even though it was clear she was living a very rough life, she approached us with her head down and tail wagging, looking for affection and (hopefully) food,” Erika relays. “She allowed us to pet her, wagging her tail the entire time. And when she looked up at me with these intense, sad brown eyes, I just had to do something.”
Erika took Lilly in and got her immediate medical care. That’s when she learned that she was missing a back paw. Erika fed, cared for, and nurtured Lilly back to health. A missing paw was not stopping this beautiful girl at all!
For Gwen and Lucy, it was also love at first sight. “Lucy was 8-months-old and still living near her mother who had a new litter of puppies,” Gwen tells us. ”Lucy was the only pup from her previous litter that stayed with the mother and played with the new puppies. She was skin and bones and approached people crawling on her belly, a habit that she has mostly lost but still resorts to when meeting new people and dogs.”
The dogs are now best friends and completely bonded. “Lilly runs like the wind to greet me despite the slight disability,” says Erika. “And she loves Lucy, her best dog friend.”
About Lucy, Gwen says: “I was amazed at how adaptable and intelligent she was. Lucy turned out to be the most non-aggressive dog I have ever met. Every person and every dog is her friend and a potential playmate!”
The two spend most of their time together at Gwen’s house as she has a yard – eating, playing and sleeping together. They love being outside when the weather is warm, exploring the yard for insects and lizards and chasing crows. “In Pakistan, I work long hours, and occasionally, due to security issues, I might not be allowed to leave my house for days at a time,” says Gwen. “Having Lucy to come home to and care for has helped my morale incredibly while living in a stressful environment.”
Erika and Gwen recently learned that they will be re-assigned. After stops in other locales, they will land in small apartments in Germany. As heartbreaking as it is, they know that their long work hours and lack of yard access would be a poor life for Lilly and Lucy. There is no good alternative for them in Pakistan, and they will not return these sweet pups to the streets. Their hope is to bring them safely back to the States where they can find a loving home – hopefully, together.
Homeward Bound has agreed to help. Erika and Gwen will cover the cost of their transport, and they will be accompanied by a friend to SFO in June. Lilly is now 4; Lucy 3. They are both spayed, fully vaccinated, and will be assessed from a medical and behavior perspective, as all our dogs are. Our hope, as with all bonded dogs, is to place them together. But the most important thing is to ensure that they have a loving home – providing peace of mind to two women who have risked a lot in service to our country – including their hearts.
Please share their story. If you know someone who might be interested in adopting them, complete an application on our website. You’ll find all the information linked here. Lilly and Lucy are counting on us. Thank you.