Kaaawa K-9 Rescue in Kaaawa, HI is a temporary home for the abused, neglected, and forgotten dogs of Oahu. For the past two years, Michelle Cooley and Mariner Hawkins have made homes for dogs found foraging for food along hiking trails and puppies left cowering under bushes and in dumpsters. They’ve rejoiced when homes were found and grieved when lives were lost. The story of how a KK9R dog named Blackberry found a forever home starts with a careless accident.
Blackberry was found as a stray, and the man who found him put him in the back of his truck for transport. He tied his leash to a hook in the truck bed and drove off. Sometime during the ride, Blackberry went over the edge. Still attached to the leash, he dangled by his neck while his feet struggled to make purchase with the black river of asphalt rushing beneath him. After frantically trying to keep up, he crouched in an attempt to stop himself. But instead of stopping, the road ripped and tore at his paws. Eventually, the exhausted dog could no longer hold himself upright. He fell toward the side as he painfully skidded down the road.
It was nearly a mile before the truck finally came to a stop. By that time, all of Blackberry’s nails and paw pads had been ripped off. He also had a scrape on his hip, deep enough to show muscle. The man in the truck never intended to hurt the dog he saved from life as a stray, but he also didn’t have the means to treat the horrific injuries. He voluntarily surrendered the injured dog to KK9R.
Cooley and Hawkins scrounged for funds and received donations to go toward the pup’s recovery. A trusted volunteer, Shannon Hammel, took an immediate interest in Blackberry’s case and put her time and energy into healing her new foster dog. She spent weeks dipping his damaged paws in iodine, cleaning his hip wound, and changing his bandages. She told iHeartdogs, “He was such a good patient. He seemed to know we were there to help.”
Slowly, Blackberry started to recover. His paws looked better after three weeks, but the gash on his side is still healing nearly four months later. Amidst the pain and discomfort, Blackberry came to life under Hammel’s care. He expressed the genuine personality of a happy-go-lucky pup, and Hawkins describes him as playful and affectionate saying, “There’s just something about him. He’s endearing.”
Four months after his accident, Blackberry is technically living as a foster with Hammel. But in a classic case of foster fail, Blackberry has found his forever home. Hammel fell in love with the stocky two-year-old dog and plans to make the adoption official.
Blackberry will be added to a list of nearly 50 other dogs that have found homes thanks to KK9R, but they’re only getting started. They’re a small operation now, but future plans include more land, more volunteers, and of course, more rescued dogs. Blackberry’s experience is a testament to the importance of either cross-tying or crating dogs in pickup trucks, but he’s also proof that with the right help, a bad beginning can lead to a happy ending.
If you’d like to help KK9R reach their goals and help other dogs like Blackberry, visit their website.