Amber Hicks said that it was “love at first sight” when she saw Sam, an Australian Shepherd-mix puppy born with a cleft palate, Wednesday morning at the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia.
In that instant, Hicks said she knew that she wanted to take Sam home as a surprise birthday gift for her seven-year-old daughter.
“Yesterday evening when our daughter got home, we got to give her the surprise of a lifetime,” said Hicks. “Her reaction was everything you could have possibly hoped for and more when she opened the door and saw an adorable puppy with a big, huge bow on its neck!”
Hicks said that Sam’s cleft palate didn’t discourage her from adopting him, in fact, it made her heart go out to him even more.
“Hearing his story and hearing that all of his brothers and sisters had been adopted…he was the one little special puppy left out of this family,” said Hicks. “It just broke my heart that he was the one left behind just because he looked a little different.”
But Sam was not the only one from his litter born with a cleft palate. A Facebook post by HSNEGA earlier in the year asked for donations of puppy formula for Sam and one of his male siblings.
Fortunately the community delivered, and in addition to receiving the formula they needed, Sam and his sibling were taken in my a foster family for eight weeks where they were bottle fed and given extra attention.
Now, both Sam and his sibling, who was adopted only a day before Sam, are healthy and adjusting to their new homes.
“Anytime one of our rescues find a home it is exciting but even more so when one of our special needs animals gets their home,” said Kathleen Garrand, foster coordinator for HSNEGA. “Animals don’t know when they have special needs. They just want to be loved.”
Hicks said that despite his increased risk of a respiratory infection because of the cleft palate, Sam has had no issues eating solid puppy food or drinking water. She said that she is thankful for the veterinarian staff at HSNEGA who took time to explain care for Sam, so that Hicks would know that the family could handle him.
“I just wanted to make sure that not only was he a good fit for us, because I was ready to take him home immediately, but that we would be a good fit for him,” said Hicks.
Hicks said that her daughter had no idea she was getting a puppy for her birthday. She said her daughter had already checked for a potential birthday present through the family’s Amazon Echo and expected to be receiving a pair of rain boots as a present.
“She was absolutely surprised, I’m sure the neighbors heard her squeal!” said Hicks.
While Sam and all of the members of his family have found homes, more available dogs at HSNEGA are waiting to meet their potential adopters. A list of adoptable animals is on the HSNEGA website.