A Sarnia woman who cares for an injured dog rescued from a grim fate in Thailand is now struggling to find him a permanent home.
“It’s very bittersweet for me,” says Jamie Marilyn Smith. “Part of me finds it difficult to let him go because I’ve fallen completely in love with him.
“The other part of me knows the right thing to do is to find a place that’s more suitable for him.”
Eighteen months ago, Smith agreed to temporarily care for the pup she named Leo. Leo was left abandoned and partially paralyzed on a Thai beach, apparently after being hit by a motorcycle.
Smith has provided heavy care for the dog and his health has improved dramatically. He gets around easily in a custom wheelchair but requires a special diet and doggy diapers when indoors.
Dr. Sandy Taylor of Lakeshore Veterinarian Clinic has been giving Leo physiotherapy and highly specialized treatments in the hope the dog might walk again.
Dozens of people donated to Leo’s cause and raised nearly $9,000 to pay for the treatments, diapers and kennel stays when Smith goes out of town.
“The physio is going well,” said Smith. “I don’t think he’ll walk again but he crawls on his hind legs rather than dragging them and he’s much stronger.”
Leo now weighs 42 pounds, which is a lot for Smith to handle when taking him up and down stairs at her walk-up apartment.
Months ago, she realized her own health issues combined with Leo’s need for a large yard meant he should be adopted by someone else.
“The ideal place will have a fenced backyard and no other dogs or cats,” Smith said.
Leo is a shepherd mix about three years old. He’s a loving, cuddly pet but he’s also high-energy and can be aggressive.
“He just doesn’t take to everyone,” Smith explained. “But he’s okay with children.”
She hopes for a quieter household since that’s what he’s accustomed to. Leo also needs a family willing to take him on regular walks.
“He definitely inspires me and there’s been a big reward to helping him thrive,” she added. “Ideally, I want him adopted locally so he can continue the physio at Lakeshore and so I can help out if needed.”
Friends and family say Smith has put her life on hold to take care of Leo.
“She gives so much and is always positive about it,” said friend Stephanie Simpson.
Simpson nominated Smith in an online competition sponsored by Post cereal to find “someone who exemplifies goodness in your community.”
The nominee with the most online votes wins $10,000. Voting ends July 31.
“I nominated Jamie because she’s always a very positive person and gives 100%,” said Simpson. “With Leo, she gives him so much love and compassion.
“There’s been a lot of personal sacrifice involved. I’m also hoping the contest will help find a forever home for Leo so Jamie can focus on herself.”
At presstime, Smith had 80 votes at www.searchforgoodness.com.
To contact Smith about possible adoption, email her at [email protected].