Posted: Sep 25, 2011 1:59 PM by Dr. Anya Winslow
"Isis is my lifeline to freedom...my lifeline to independence," says a soft-eyed Heidi Berge.
Isis has a special gift - sensing when Berge may become in trouble. She's a 19-month-old Rottweiler service dog that has the ability to sense when Berge, who suffers from epilepsy, may have a seizure.
Berge describes her condition as "very private, very humbling and very humiliating at times and so, [Isis gives me] the ability to remove myself from the public's eye to find myself a safe place, and that's just fantastic. It's wonderful," she says smiling.
For Berge, Isis is her everything, but a few weeks ago, the threat of possibly losing Isis loomed.
Around five weeks ago, while Isis was playing in the yard, she tripped and fell into a rabbit hole injuring her knee. The veterinarian said she could repair Isis's torn ligament, but the surgery would cost around $800.
Unfortunately, this was money Berge didn't have, especially since a few weeks before Isis's knee injury, Berge paid for another costly bladder surgery for Isis.
"I had done everything," says Berge. "I had put ads on Craig's List, called the news centers . . . begging and pleading, doing everything that I possible could to try and find help," but the outlook looked dim.
Finally, she came across a flier from the veterinarian's office describing "Harley's Hope Foundation." The nonprofit offers those in need various forms of assistance to help care for their beloved animal companions. In Berge's case, the aid came in the form of funding to pay for Isis's surgery.
As Berge's eyes begin to swell, she says, "Thanks, isn't enough," of Harley's Hope Foundation's generosity.
"A lot of people just don't have funds to do everything they can for their pet, and we wanted to provide some services that weren't already in existence in the community," says Cynthia Bullock, founder of Harley's Hope Foundation, who lost her dog, Harley, the previous year to cancer.
"We wanted to do something to honor her," says Bullock. It was from Harley's loss that Harley's Hope Foundation was born in December of 2010.
"We were fortunate enough to have the means to take care [Harley] and to try different treatment planes," says Bullock, "but we realized a lot of people just don't have the [same kinds of] funds."
The foundation offers a wide variety of services from helping those in need pay for veterinary costs, but they also help getting pets behavior classes; a free online pet care resource manual that covers a wide array of helpful aids needed to care for your pet; as well as educational resources and services for pet owners to attend.
To date, Harley's Hope Foundation has helped 35 families be able to keep their animals, and as Bullock says, "[My] ultimate goal is to be able to say, ‘Yes,' to anyone who needs the assistance."
And when it comes to how much money Bullock would like to raise in order to say "Yes" to anyone who needs the help - "The sky's the limit. Truly, because the more money we can raise, the more people and animals we can help," she says glowingly.
As for Heidi and Isis - the foundation not only helped Isis regain her mobility, but also to help Heidi keep her independence.
To learn more about Harley's Hope Foundation or if you would like to donate, click here.