Pawblo the Chihuahua was a mighty rescuer packaged in a very tiny body. The loving, loyal dog was the constant companion of Bekki Dodd, who rescues animals with Rescued Hearts Northwest.
But Bekki wasn't the only one doing the rescuing - somehow, the intuitive little dog knew how to rescue, too: he fostered puppies and kittens, comforted dogs who had just been saved from deplorable conditions, and even helped potty train dogs. Considering where he came from, it's amazing to think that this pint-sized powerhouse knew how to help animals learn to feel loved and secure.
Pawblo came from a backyard breeder who had approximately 60 Chihuahuas that were seized by the Whatcom Humane Society. The sad, neglected dog had never known love, security, or even the feel of the grass on his paws.
“I was working at the time for an organization and someone was trying to get me to foster one of the Chihuahuas. There were these cages just full of dogs – and Pawblo was in the very back laying in a little bed. He couldn’t walk and he couldn’t come,” explained Bekki.
"I told my daughters: 'Each of you can pick one, and we’ll foster three of them. We picked him because he couldn’t walk – we thought that no one else would pick him. He was so overweight that he couldn’t walk. He was covered in ringworm."
Pawblo immediately realized that his fortune had changed - and Bekki realized it, too. "I fell in love with him," she recalled. "He was the most amazing creature. His perseverance and his strong will to get better – there were times that we didn’t think he was going to make it."
When Pawblo first came to Bekki's home, he was in rough shape: He couldn't walk and she had to use a towel under his belly to help him move. "I cried the first time he ran," Bekki recalled through tears. "For me, it was like, 'Oh my God, less than a year ago, he was in a cage for three years – he was never able to touch the grass.'"
But Bekki was only fostering Pawblo, so when the time came, he went to his adoptive family. "I adopted him out to a retired couple...and then my heart was broken. So I called back Vicki, who I worked with, and I told her: 'I screwed up. I’ve been looking for a dog for eight years. This was my dog… I couldn’t do it,'" Bekki recalled, crying.
Amazingly, Pawblo's new family felt that something was amiss, as well. "They called me and said that Pawblo had been sitting at the door since we adopted him. The said, 'He's been waiting for you for a week. We think he already has a home and you should come and get him,'" Bekki recalled.
"So we had a family meeting, and I said, 'Pawblo wants to be a part of our family. When he saw us, he was so happy that I thought he was going to have a heart attack.'"
Pawblo had lived in a cage for the first three years of his life, so initially, he wasn't very social, but Bekki's granddaughter, Nona, had a particularly close relationship with Pawblo. "She’s been fostering dogs with me since she was born," Bekki stated. "Pawblo would've done anything for Nona. And when he was nearing his end of life, she did everything for him."
But Pawblo was very particular about who he liked. "When it came to people, he either liked you, or he didn’t. If you had chicken, though, you were his best friend forever," Bekki recalled with a smile.
Pawblo soon found his place as a fellow rescuer with Bekki, astonishing his loving caregiver with each new animal.
"He loved the rescued dogs. He was so, so great with the other dogs that I fostered. He was just so caring and so comforting to them – he knew what they’d gone through."
The little dog was happiest when he was helping others. "He absolutely raised a litter of kittens," Bekki recalled. "He herded them around – he would exhaust himself keeping track of these little kittens. They slept in the crate with him - it was ridiculous. He was their 'foster mom.'"
Pawblo took on every animal rescue job, big or small. "He helped potty train the foster dogs, too - I don't know how he knew how to do that, but he did," Bekki recalled. "It was like he knew when they needed to go out. He’d go down his little stairs from the couch to the bed."
One of the dogs, a rescue named Molly, had received minimal human attention before coming to Bekki's home. "Molly wasn’t potty trained at all. Pawblo would go back and forth from her to the door until she went outside. I seriously have had to potty train very few dogs. Even in the very beginning, we’ve always had a dog door. All of the puppies would follow Pawblo. When I got Pawblo, he wasn’t potty trained, but he got it pretty quick - and then he taught everyone else, too."
Over the years, Pawblo saved many lives, instilling rescued animals with hope, confidence, and security. And when Pawblo became ill and was nearing his end of life, his family rallied around him.
On his last day, the beloved dog got to do what every dog dreams of doing: He went to the beach, got to eat a watermelon, had a picnic, and had photos on the beach with his friends.
"We did a photo shoot at his last day," Bekki recalled. "He got to order an ice cream cone – on his last day, we let him eat whatever he wanted. Ice cream cone, chicken, watermelon – he was very happy."
When his time came, Pawblo's vet from Glenhaven came out. They laid out a blanket and Bekki's friend, Rhonda, came as well. "We said goodbye to him at his favorite lake. My vet was there - the same vet who had told me that I'd be adopting Pawblo, even though I thought I wouldn't. This was Pawblo's favorite spot, and after he passed and my vet left, Rhonda and I just laid there and looked up at the sky above us."
Bekki added: "If I ever have to do this, this is what I’d want."
Pawblo has left some big paws to fill, but rescued Hearts Northwest continues to save lives after his death. The organization helps both local dogs and dogs who are in high-kill shelters in California.
Rescued Hearts Northwest regularly collaborates with Wings of Rescue, which pulls animals from high-kill shelters and brings them to Oregon and Washington. The organization helped two Chihuahuas named Marsha and Molly - and Pawblo helped them, too, consoling the dogs and helping them learn what it meant to be a beloved family member.
"It’s important for our organization to stay small and build relationships. We want to keep educating pet parents – when we educate them, they educate others," explained Bekki.
"For the most part, we take small breed dogs from California – they’re a dime a dozen in that state and they’re being euthanized by the hundreds. In Washington, there’s waiting lists for small breed dogs. I called and asked around for a small breed dog in my local shelters and asked what the time frame was for adoption. If dogs were here and needed our help, we wanted to help."
"Every day, Pawblo was thankful for his life. He knew that I saved his life," Bekki said. And even after his death, Pawblo will continue to help other animals: He will be featured in a calendar for the Humane Society of Skagit Valley. Seattle Pets Examiner will be providing an update on that soon. If you would like to learn more about Humane Society of Skagit Valley or make a donation in Pawblo's honor, click here.
"He’s still making a difference," Bekki stated, crying. "I feel like we’re still a team. He isn’t even here anymore...and he’s still making a difference."
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