A Promise Unbroken
One boy’s mission to save a down-and-out pup named Sophie
By Jayson Kimberly
Age 12, Montgomery, Texas
On September 18th around 2:30 p.m. I received a message from the director of a no-kill animal shelter in Huntsville, Texas.
“I have been following you on your Facebook group page, Leave it for the Pooch,” she wrote. “I see all the good things you have been doing for the animals. I was wondering if you could help with a severely neglected and mangy puppy a Good Samaritan found. We don’t have the funds or the room to help her.”
“Wow,” I thought, “this place that helps animals on a daily basis is reaching out to me, a 12-year-old boy, to help them. They believe in me enough to ask me and my service project to help this puppy.”
It was going to be a big job, but I wasn’t going to let them, or the puppy, down. She needed a hero, someone she could count on, something she had not had in her first few months.
I messaged back immediately. “ Yes, I’ll help.”
I asked the director what the puppy’s name was. She told me she had no name. This made me very sad because without a name you’re a nobody and if you’re a nobody you can’t get help because you don’t exist. To at least the Good Samaritan, the animal shelter director, and to me this puppy existed, and I was going to make sure people around me knew it.
I called my friends and sent them the only picture I had of the puppy. You could see her bones, her paws were bright red and swollen, and she had little to no hair. Watching her eat dog food off the ground made me want to cry. She had no name, collar, or even a bowl to eat out of. She did nothing to deserve this. I could only imagine how lonely, afraid, and helpless she felt. I decided to change the course of her life.
My friends and I gave her the name Sophie and my mission to save Sophie began.
First, I reached out to my followers on Facebook, sharing the only picture I had of her, even though it was awful. Then I posted a notice on rescue sites everywhere, begging for help.
Days passed, and then a Facebook follower from Washington D.C. saw my “Save Sophie” post. The follower was familiar with a group—Shenandoah Shepherd Rescue—I have donated to in the past. She saw my post and reached out to help. This was a true blessing because she started networking and, before I knew it, she helped me secure a rescue—Texas Sporting Breeds, in Dallas. I couldn’t believe it took someone states away to help me here in Texas, but I was beyond grateful, and I knew Sophie would be too.
The rescue reached out to me asking If I could pick her up to take her to a temporary foster closer to me because the Good Samaritan could not keep her inside her home. I would not be able to transport her from my home in Montgomery to Dallas until the following weekend, and it was only Sunday.
I had no problem going to pick her up; I was ready to meet her. Mom and I drove to the Good Samaritan’s home in Huntsville to pick her up. When we arrived, she was in a small crate near the front door. She looked worse than the pictures, and she smelled like a bunch of skunks attacked her. Her eyes were heartbreaking. They looked so sad.
I knelt to put the new pink collar with two tags I bought her. One said “Leave it for the Pooch, happy ever after” in a heart, and the other said “Sophie” in a pink bone. I placed the collar around her neck and clicked on the new leash.
“Come on Sophie don’t be scared, you’re going to be better soon,” I told her. I took a few pictures with her in the shirt I had made for the big day that said “Operation Saving Sophie.” I leaned down and told her I would keep my promise and she would be going to a good place for a few days until I could see her again. I picked her up and put her in a kennel more her size with a new blanket and a bone that she adored.
We met up with her temporary foster in a parking lot. It was a mom and daughter who were happy to know I was helping her. Thanks to donations from the AKC I had had a lot of gifts for her.
Now Sophie would have everything she needed—a comfortable new bed, new toys, new bowls of her own, and new blankets. She went from a nobody to a special somebody. The temporary foster took what she needed and told me we would meet back at the same place in the parking lot when I was ready to transport.
Days passed, and the foster sent pictures of Sophie. One was a picture of her in a bath. I laughed, remembering how she smelled; this was probably her first bath ever. She also sent me a picture of her snuggling on her new bed with her toy. I was overjoyed to see her at peace.
The weekend came, and it was time to meet again. Mom and I drove to the parking lot to pick her up to transport her to her new foster in Dallas with Texas Sporting Breeds rescue. Sophie looked better in only a few days of being with a temporary foster, or maybe she just smelled better. I was happy to see her once again and ready to meet up with my dad to take her on the journey to her next foster home. Sophie settled in her kennel with her new bone while I made a video telling my Facebook followers we would be transporting her to Dallas. I sat in the seat next to her and off we went.
Sophie was a good rider. She never cried, and spent the ride chewing on her bone and sleeping. We arrived at a gated community in the middle of nowhere with nice homes. I knew she would be well taken care of here.
The new foster mom came to meet us. I got Sophie out with all of her new things. I knew this was where we would part forever.
I took a few more pictures with her and told her, “Your happy ever after begins now,” and handed over the leash to her new foster mom. She told me Sophie would be fine and well cared for. I said “Ok.” and we all got back in the car to leave.
I was sad to have to say goodbye, but I felt good knowing she was going to get the medical treatment she needed.
Texas Sporting Breeds kept me updated on her progress. When they sent me a picture of her a few months later, I couldn’t believe her transformation. She was a swan, not actually, but beautiful. You could finally see she was a purebred puppy. She was stunning and no longer looked sad. My heart was overjoyed, and on Christmas 2018, I received two more pictures, one of her in the snow and the other with her new family and her fur siblings.
Texas Sporting Breeds told me her foster family was adopting her for Christmas. I noticed she was still wearing the tags I gave to her, the promise unbroken hanging around her neck. Sophie finally had all she needed to complete her happy ever after—her health, a forever family, and the love she deserves. My mission was complete and a great success.