Text and photos by Nancy MaranoAmanda Cooper rescues animals. Strays have followed her since she was a child growing up in Santa Fe, and they always receive her help. But among the more than 200 animals she's rescued some stand out. Harley is one of those.
Sitting in Amanda's rustic Corrales home, I couldn't help but notice the cats reclining in the baskets and boxes that filled every corner. The view from the window included a pasture with five horses she'd rescued from abusive situations. In the side yard a rescued Alaskan Malamute slept. Everything in this household is geared to animals and everything stops if one of them needs anything.
Harley wearing his prize ribbon
from the Golden Retriever Rescue Show.
Harley's golden head persistently nudged my elbow until he got my full attention. He appeared to be a healthy, happy dog, but a closer look showed lasting scars of the trauma he'd experienced in his young life.
The dog was found lying beside the road near Espaņola. An Albuquerque woman spotted the dying dog as she drove past. She picked him up and brought him to West Side Animal Services in Albuquerque. Staff there thought he might be a Golden Retriever although it was difficult to tell because of his matted fur and severe injuries. Golden Retriever Rescue was notified, and a representative picked up the injured dog. She took him directly to Dr. Frank Coons, D.V.M., at Manzano Animal Clinic for evaluation.
The dog's injuries were extensive. He'd been shot through both back legs at point blank range. His right leg had a flesh wound, but the bullet went through the bones of his left foot, which prevented him from putting the foot down on the ground. He'd been beaten so badly that his left eye was gone, many of his teeth were broken, and there were cigarette burns on the inside of his ears. He also had heartworm, tapeworm, fleas and ticks. Dr. Coons decided to operate because he believed he could save the shattered foot.
When Amanda heard about the dog, she adopted him without hesitation. "I didn't care what his condition was because I'd always wanted a Golden," she said. "I named him Harley, after the motorcycle, because he had to be so strong to survive all he'd gone through."
Harley spent two more weeks at the veterinary clinic to be neutered and treated for heartworm. He survived the treatment and went home with Amanda. The fixator, placed on his foot after surgery, was removed but the wound still needed to be treated with medication four times a day.
Eight months and $4,500 later Harley recovered. Then the process of teaching him how to be a sociable, well-adjusted dog began.
"He didn't know how to play or interact with the other animals. Harley is now 2-years- old and it's only recently that he's learned to play with toys," Amanda said.
She took him to Kanine Kollege in Albuquerque for obedience training. "He needed to learn to be less aggressive. Obedience training helped teach him to be with other dogs and to be less protective of me. He's amazing. He knew nothing but trauma from the time he was a puppy, but he just loves people," Amanda said.
Harley and Amanda share
a moment of togetherness.
Harley still limps until his leg gets warmed up, but he can put his foot down and walk on it now. He's become a loving, happy, dog who wants to be at your side all the time.
When Amanda is not rescuing an animal, she manages the re-election campaign for her father, U.S. Representative Tom Udall. "I press him to do things for animals," she said.
Dressed in blue jeans and a denim shirt, Amanda has an easy laugh and friendly manner. However, her dark eyes become totally serious when she speaks about animals. "I wish people would stop to pick up animals when they are hurt or in the road. These are feeling, caring beings that deserve our help," she said. "I don't care if I'm dressed up for something special. If an animal is hurt that always comes first. I was on my way to a political meeting, but I stopped to pick up a dog that had been hit. I had blood all over my dress but I got the dog to a veterinarian for help. It's the least we can do for another creature."
Harley is a survivor who has found the perfect home, but he wouldn't have found his way to Amanda without the help and generosity of many other caring individuals. Harley's miracle truly is a lesson in cooperation and unselfish love.
"I've known such love and kindness from animals," Amanda said. "Their love is unconditional, and they are so grateful for whatever you do for them. How could I not help them?"
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