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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – Shawn Henderson couldn’t get over Ethan the dog when her family played with him in front of the Kentucky Humane Society in Louisville late Monday afternoon about how big he’d gotten.
The Rescue, which now weighs about 80 pounds and appears to be about 5 feet tall on its hind legs, appeared to be “four times bigger, especially in the legs and head” than the last time she saw him in the same Parking lot, she kept saying.
The last time they saw him – January 29th – they thought the dog might be dead.
Henderson said her family was just making a donation on the Kentucky Humane Society’s main campus – they found some old supplies that were no longer needed while moving – when they noticed a figure in the parking lot.
They stopped to take a closer look. “When I jumped out, he moved a little and that’s when I realized he was still with us,” she said.
Henderson, their 11-year-old son Tatum Hughes, and father David Hughes were quick to alert those in humane society, who were quick to wipe the dog, which would soon be called “Ethan,” for life-saving veterinary care Start a story that has won the hearts of many people in Louisville over the past few weeks.
Ethan, who was 38 pounds when he was discovered, spent those weeks in critical care at an emergency veterinary hospital before moving to the nursing home of longtime KHS employee Jeff Callaway. The Henderson-Hughes, meanwhile, closely followed updates on his condition by humane society and the media.
They were happy that he was doing well, reaching his target weight, and getting along with Callaway’s other pets. Still, the image of the malnourished dog who couldn’t even stand was difficult for the family to process.
“It was scary,” said Henderson. “We were all kind of shaky. We cried a bit and we were really upset. It was traumatic. “
The ordeal was particularly difficult for her son. This gave his grandmother the idea to reach out to humane society and see if a reunion could be organized to celebrate both Ethan’s recovery and Tatum’s upcoming 12th birthday.
It was an emotional reunion, the family said as they spent about an hour playing with Ethan and getting to know his caregivers.
“It’s just amazing to see him for who he was,” said David Hughes.
“He’s like a different dog,” added Henderson.
Tatum said he was excited to see what kind of “VIP treatment” Ethan was getting from his team.
It was a proper early birthday celebration for Tatum, too, complete with a gift from Ethan and his carers that included treats and toys for his pets and a “Team Ethan” t-shirt.
Tatum said it was a great way to party, but he was nervous that his dog Digger would be jealous if he smelled Ethan on his clothes when they got home.
He especially liked what he called Ethan’s “bird call,” a kind of high-pitched squeak the dog made while the two of them played.
“Maybe he learned how to do it on his own,” suggested Tatum.
For Callaway, who said Ethans was “the worst case” he has seen in animal rescue in years, it was also an opportunity to say “thank you” to a family he calls heroes.
“When they brought him in, Ethan didn’t have a name. They didn’t know his story was going to be so popular, but they saved his life … They are incredible to me, ”he said.
Callaway, known in humane society as the “expert on large dogs,” has become known as the “foster father” of a now famous dog. The experience was “overwhelming” at times, but it is ultimately worth it, he said.
“He’s just a great lover,” he said, “he loves to hug you and cuddle you and lick you. He gets along with everyone. “
He hopes the attention Ethan is given will help raise awareness of the many animals that humane society veterinarians are saving that are not getting as much attention.
“Unfortunately, his story is not the only one. There are other dogs being weaned, but hopefully Ethan’s popularity and history can bring more attention to the other animals here at the shelter and other shelters in need of help. “
As with many of these pets, there are still many mysteries surrounding Ethan’s story.
Humane society is waiting for the results of a DNA test to determine what breed or races it is, and after taking a closer look at his teeth, they now think he is less than a year old than 2 to 3 years old Years as they originally said.
Louisville Metro Animal Services, which handles allegations of animal cruelty and neglect in Jefferson County, is investigating Ethan’s case. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the agency at 502-473-PETS.
Humane society has surveillance cameras, but Ethan was left in a “blind spot in the parking lot,” the group said.
But Monday’s visit brought some closure to the family that kept the now-loved dog from becoming yet another victim of fatal animal abuse. And the family will continue to follow Ethan’s journey as he prepares for adoption, which could happen as early as next week.
As for Tatum, he hopes Ethan’s eternal family “will always feed him and let him outside when he looks at them with those big eyes”. And of course you appreciate his “bird call”.