Paramedics Show Up To A Call — And Find A Dog No One Knew Existed
"I said, 'There's no way they're going to put this dog down.'"
"Don't go near her. She's mean and doesn't like people." That's what firefighters told Courtney Ivan when she spotted the Australian cattle dog on the back patio of a house.
Ivan, a paramedic with Elite EMS, had arrived at a home in Pennsylvania after getting a call about a man's tragic death. The firefighters had reached the scene first, and Ivan drove an ambulance there shortly after.
The cattle dog had belonged to the deceased man, and Ivan wasn't sure how long the dog had been without care. But the dog didn't seem traumatized, and she certainly didn't seem "mean." In fact, she trotted right up to Ivan and her coworker.
"She was very friendly," Ivan told The Dodo. "She let us pet her, touch her and hug her. She followed us around the whole time we were there."
The family of the deceased man hadn't known he had a dog, and they didn't seem to know what to do with her. "I think just out of pure shock, they said, 'Well, we're just going to euthanize her today, then,'" Ivan said.
Ivan, who also volunteers for the Humane Society of Mercer County, wasn't going to let that happen: "I said, 'There's no way they're going to put this dog down.'"
When Ivan asked the family if she could take the dog (later named Hope) back to the EMS station, she was relieved they said, "yes."
Elite EMS's station is open 24 hours, 7 days a week, and there are roughly 30 crew members, Ivan explained. A dog named Humphrey, whom they'd rescued from a local shelter, already resides at the station to keep the crew company.
Because of Humphrey, crew members hadn't planned on getting another station dog, so the original plan was to simply foster Hope. But the moment the crew met the dog, Ivan knew she was there to stay.
"The first night, the crew was lying on the floor with her, trying to build trust," Ivan said. "I came back after my 24-hour shift at another station, and there were matching dog beds for her and Humphrey, and toys and treats. They were amazing with her."
Hope and Humphrey also got along, which was a huge relief to everyone. "They took to each other immediately," Ivan said.
Not long after Hope came to live at the station, however, Ivan and the crew noticed that Hope's front shoulder was dislocated. When they took her to a vet, they learned that Hope had multiple fractures in her elbow. This prevented Hope from straightening her leg properly, and she'd torn a ligament in her shoulder. While they don't know exactly what happened, a vet believed Hope had been abused at some point in her life.
Medical staff initially treated Hope's injuries with pain medication, but her leg got worse and worse. Eventually, they needed to amputate.
"The way [the vets] explained it, her shoulder was 'free-floating' in there," Ivan said. "It ended up being a ball and chain. But taking her leg was a huge decision for us to make."
The surgery went well, and Hope quickly recovered. You'd never even know Hope once had a fourth leg, according to Ivan. "She still lies on the table in the garage all the time, or on chairs in the garage, where the ambulances are," Ivan said. "When they say that dogs are born with three legs and a spare - absolutely."
Humphrey was also delighted to see Hope after her surgery. "When she had surgery, she was gone for two days," Ivan said. "In some respects, I think he liked the extra attention. But he kept going and checking her bed. When she came back to the station, he was just ecstatic to see her."
Now Hope and Humphrey love playing together, and even ganging up on the crew. "We have a bedroom for our crew for overnight," Ivan said. "The dogs totally kick the crew out of the bedroom - it's like the dog room. They rule the station."
Hope might have taken over the crew's bedroom, but she adores people. If people are around, Hope is with them. "She lies right on top of you sometimes," Ivan said. "She is next to somebody all the time."
Ivan had given Hope her name when she first arrived, but now she realizes how relevant her name is. Not only has Hope persevered through hardships of her own, she's also become an inspiration to Ivan and the others at the ambulance crew.
"Hope is amazing," Ivan said. "I could go on about her all day long, everyday. She's awesome."