Today is Audrey Spilker Hagar’s birthday, the co-founder of Hope For Paws with Eldad Hagar. So we’re celebrating one of their most popular rescues – Fiona.
When Hope For Paws rescued a blind poodle from a trash pile in 2011, little did they know that Fiona’s story would melt millions of hearts all over the world. Surgery gave back her sight in one eye, the video went viral, and everyone wanted to meet her – including Anderson Cooper and The Today Show.
Chris and Michelle Gentry adopted Fiona in 2012. At the time, they had four dogs. Although two have since passed, Fiona still has Bella to boss, and remains one of the happiest dogs in town! “She’s quite the daddy’s little girl,” says Chris. “She follows me around the house, or if I’m on a call in the office with the door closed, she’ll sit outside it and wait.”
The rescue video of Fiona that started it all:
Fiona’s joie de vivre is inspiring, not just because she’s 13 years-old, but because she’s now lost the vision in her good eye due to glaucoma. She’s carried up and down the stairs to their condo, yet otherwise lives a normal life. Says Michelle, “In the house, she finds her way around fine. And on walks, we follow a consistent route. She’s guided by the leash. Even though she’s blind, she trusts us completely. She can judge by the number of stops where we are in the neighborhood.” For Michelle, the main priority is that Fiona is not in any pain. “The eye doctor did injections that freezes the fluid so the eye doesn’t seep. It doesn’t have the pressure build up so doesn’t cause pain.”
Fiona’s ability to adapt and enjoy is testament to the strong spirit, after surviving alone for so long. When they first met, Michelle was expecting a sad little dog. It turned out to be the complete opposite. “She just loves everyone. Obviously a lot of people passed her up on the street because of her condition, but what a good life she’s had since. It proves that you can take a dog like that and turn it around.”
Chris agrees. After appearing on the Anderson Cooper Show, they arranged a meet and greet in the park. “We were about done, and a really shy lady came walking up. She had come from New Jersey – never been on a subway or train before – but did it because she wanted to meet Eldad and Fiona. For us, that’s what Fiona’s story is about. Touching people’s lives and giving them hope.”
Eldad Hagar and wife Audrey Spilker Hagar with Fiona on Anderson Cooper.
You can learn more about Eldad and Audrey’s work, see more rescue videos and make a donation at Hope For Paws.