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Herbie's Story

On May 4, 2005, Herbie, along with 26 other Brussels Griffons was rescued from a feces infested house in west Phoenix by the Arizona Humane Society. The griffs were living in the worst conditions with an elderly woman who had severely neglected them. One little griff, Sarah, had to have emergency surgery to repair a punctured lung and a damaged eye caused by the other griffs. Herbie was only 3 months old and already fighting to survive. The rescue was filmed by Animal Planet, "Phoenix Heroes", and continues to be shown on an episode titled "Trapped Underground" (which is the opening story about a spaniel that fell into a sink hole, the next is about the griffs).

Nineteen of the griffs were put up for adoption by the Humane Society. One griff, Suzy, was pregnant and was taken home by one of the vets at the Humane Society to have her 4 puppies and nurse them for 8 weeks. Suzy and the female puppies were then spayed and on July 7th, the Humane Society contacted Margie Simon to tell her that the mom was very timid and would be put down if rescue wouldn't take her. Margie contacted me and within an hour my friend, Louise, and I and Suzy were on our way home. Two days later I received a call from the Humane Society that 2 of Suzy's puppies had died and could I take the 2 remaining puppies. I immediately said "yes" and they delivered them to my home, where they remained for the next 8 weeks until they were ready to go to their forever homes. They were each adopted into wonderful homes and are doing great!

Boy, do I have a great husband or what!! A week after the puppies came to our home, Tacy, at the Humane Society called once more and said they had a VERY timid black griff and could I possibly take just one more. Hey, at this point we had our 3 griffs, Samson (who started our love for griffs), Jackson, who we adopted thru rescue, and GiGi who was re-homed to us when her owner became to ill to care for her. Kathy Jacobs had fostered both Jackson and GiGi. Now, add to that Suzy and her 2 puppies, OK, how could we not say "yes"? So, Cindy came to our home. I could tell you about our road trip from Arizona to Oklahoma to visit our kids and grandkids with 5 dogs and 2 puppies for 10 days, but I will let your imagination play that one out!!

I had been told that there were 6 griffs, including Herbie, being held at the shelter in "protective custody" pending the judge's ruling on whether the original owner could have them back. The case was postponed so many times, I kept checking in with Tacy to see if I could visit the griffs, "NO" or could I foster them until the case was settled, again "NO"! Finally, the day before Thanksgiving, when the case had been postponed again, Tacy called and asked if I could foster some of the griffs. My friend Jackie Fahoome (who is owned by 2 griffs) and I went to the Humane Society and picked up 4 griffs, the two black females went home with Jackie, Herbie and Freddie, 4, came to stay with us until the case was settled. Herbie was now 9 months old, his first 3 months in that awful house, the next 6 at the Humane Society. We made Christmas very special for these special boys, all were getting along great so life settled into somewhat of a routine. The trial dates came and were postponed time and time again. During this time Freddie got a fungal infection called "Valley Fever", it is a dirt-air born infection which requires months of treatment. We decided then that when the judge decided against the woman that we would keep Freddie so he would continue to receive the proper treatment and periodic titers (blood tests) that he would need. Finally one year after the griffs were rescued the judge declared that the woman "may never own any pet of any kind for the rest of her life"!! So Herbie, Sarah and Amber were released to NBG Rescue.

Several people wanted Herbie who was now 15 months and after checking references my friend, Louise, and I left Saturday, July 22, to take Herbie to his new "forever home"! The family was wonderful, the house, not as secure as I would have liked, but I made some suggestions they were quick to follow up on a temporary fix. Benson, AZ is a 3 hour drive from Phoenix so we decided we would stay overnight, call to make sure everything was going well and then drive back.

Sunday morning at 8:00 AM I got a call "Herbie escaped"! We were only a couple miles from their house and drove right there to help search. There was one sighting of Herbie about 8:30 AM and he was running into the desert! Oh God, he is so small and the desert is so big, with coyotes, rattlesnakes, Javelinas (wild pigs), hawks, cactus everywhere and it was getting hot!!

We called, we walked, we searched everywhere there was no sighting! About 2:30 it started to rain we thought that would get his attention and he would come to us, then it started to pour, the washes were filling up and I was really starting to panic. Finally, the rain stopped, the temperature went from 103 to the mid 90's. We walked to the nearest house, 1/2 mile from his "new home", to start spreading the word to watch for Herbie. We searched until dark.

The next morning we started at first light and searched until afternoon. I had to bring my friend home. Herbie's new family kept searching. Tuesday evening there was a rainstorm with hail, lightening and thunder. During the storm Herbie ran up on the porch of someone we had told to watch for him but he was so scared that he ran away into the storm. Kathleen (his new mom) called to tell me the next morning, I was so excited that he was still alive. She had put up posters and notified more homes of Herbie's plight. I told her then that I had made a HUGE mistake, thinking I could give him up after having him for 8 months and that when he was found I wanted to bring him back to my home and the only family he knew. Thankfully, she understood and agreed.

I got through Wednesday at work, Thursday morning I told my husband, Lee, that I had to go back, he said "you do what you have to, to bring Herbie back home". So I packed a T-Shirt, 1 pair of clean underwear and a pair of tennis shoes (boy was I the optimist)! I went to work, got what I had to done and left about 11 AM and was in Benson (remember 3 hour drive) at 1:20 PM! I called Kathleen and let her know I was almost at her house, she met me there., and I changed into my tennis shoes, guess what? I had grabbed 2 left shoes!! Kathleen and I wear the same size so that problem was quickly resolved and off into the desert we went again to search.

This time we decided to stay in one place, near where Herbie had been seen, instead of confusing him by crisscrossing the desert. A neighbor we hadn't spoken to yet came home and I went and talked to him and he said he had SEEN Herbie two mornings in a row. We called Paul Teza at the Benson Animal Shelter and asked him to set a trap at that location. While he was setting up the trap Chris Dabovich from the Benson News Sun (newspaper) came by and took some pictures for their internet site and asked many questions for a story. It seems he was contacted by Barbara Tanner who works for CBS in San Francisco, is a griff owner and member of one of the Brussels Griffon internet groups.

We heard from a neighbor 3 doors down that they had seen Herbie that morning! I asked if I could park in their driveway that night and they said sure! So there I was in my van with my Pepsi, flashlights, blankets and dog treats. I put a dish of food and water just out side my van door and waited, and waited it started to rain, and rain and the wind blew. I had my window down and the rear door open, just in case! I dozed off a couple times but never for long, No Herbie. It rained 2.2 inches that night.

Friday morning July 28th, Herbie had been gone for 5 days!! I went back to Kathleen's and took a shower and we called Paul at the Shelter, this time Paul told us to back off of all search efforts! DO NOTHING!! Let the trap and the food in it (which he would change twice a day) do its work.

This was really hard!! No sightings Friday, no sightings Saturday, how long could an 11 pound boy who had never been in the area before survive? Around the world the griff people from all the griff internet groups rallied, they prayed, they emailed Chris (who said in 30 years of reporting has never gotten so much email in support of any story) and they supported me with their prayers and kind words.

Sunday as I lay on the couch at Kathleen's home I prayed, let this be the day - - at 4 AM Kathleen got up to wake up her daughter for work and heard a noise, she peeked on the porch in time to see Herbie jump off a chair and run down the stairs and down the driveway. Of course, we called and called but nothing. We called Paul at the shelter and he moved the Humane Trap to the porch with instructions to us to pull the drapes and DO NOT use the back porch. But at least we had our first sighting since Thursday morning, so hope filled us.

Monday morning about 8 AM Herbie walked up the driveway and towards my van, he was soaking wet as it had rained all night, I went out the front door and tried to call to him but he was frightened and ran down the driveway again. Tuesday morning and afternoon passed with no sightings, 6:15 pm. Kathleen's husband, Jim, was watching the ballgame, Kathleen and I were on the front porch. Jim came out and said he heard a noise on the back porch, looked out and there, in the trap, sat HERBIE!!! He didn't know who I was just sat with a dazed look on his face.

We carried the trap in the house and closed all the doors I quickly called my husband and laughing and crying told him we had Herbie. All at once Herbie snapped out of it, looked at me and started crying, wagging his tail (a natural one) and trying to get out of the trap and to me. We let him out and he was in my arms full of kisses and whimpers, music to my ears. He had a couple nasty bites on his side and butt but really did not look bad. He was not dehydrated so we gave him a warm bath and Kathleen and her daughter, a nurse, cleaned out the wounds and dressed them. He had no fleas, no ticks, no cactus spines, a couple sticks here and there but he was in my arms and I knew he was going home with me!!

Wednesday morning we took him to Kathleen's vet and she did surgery to clean out the wounds which were deeper than we thought and sewed him back together. I picked him up Thursday morning and together we drove home to our family, both of us so tired but so happy to be reunited. Herbie looks like a patchwork puppy but he is healing and has picked up the family routine as if nothing happened.

I want to thank Margie Simon and Carole Ross and everyone in the griffy community that supported us with their prayers, for I truly believe that "only a miracle" helped Herbie survive 9 days and 9 nights in the cruel Arizona desert.

Herbie with Carol Morgan shortly after his safe return home

Herbie's wounds with drains inserted

The wounds were deeper than first thought

Herbie back home with his family
A Truly Happy Ending!


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