Sunburst Foundation of Wilmington
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Submitted May 2011

Hopeless, sick, afraid, and hours away from death, an American Bulldog sat in a shelter in North Carolina in October 2009. Hunkered in his cage, preparing for a worker to lead him to his final walk, little did he know a family was out there who had been searching for over a year for an American Bulldog.

The call was put out to save this dog, and his cage card no longer read certain death. His named changed from Hopeless to Major, and the Sunburst Foundation made sure he safely got to the vets office. A day later his new Dad walked into the vet where he was being treated and the lifelong bond was created.

No longer in danger of being put to sleep, this boy’s plight was far from over. Weighing just over 35lbs, missing three fourths of his hair, with sores covering his feet, this poor guy had a long way to go until he was feeling better. It is for this reason, his heart and his fight to live, that he was named Kimbo, after an Ultimate Fighter who grew up in the streets and had to literally fight to earn money for his family.

Kimbo, the pound puppy, instantly stole the hearts of his entire family, and most especially immediately bonded with his Dad, who was separated from the res t of the family while he awaited his job transfer. Kimbo endured eight months of bi-weekly mange treatments, and an almost fatal allergic reaction to anesthesia when he was neutered, but each time pulled through wagging his tail and always showing thanks for rescuing him.

Amazingly, today Kimbo weighs 85lbs, goes to doggy daycare weekly, and is mange free.  He lives in Virginia and is best buds with Phoenix, his Pit Mix sister (rescued seven years prior to his rescue, also from the Sunburst Foundation).  He graduated with honors from his Canine Manners Class in 2010, and is working constantly on trusting all people. He is now what he always should have been: happy, healthy, and truly loved.

Phoenix is the only failure in my life that I am truly proud of. In the winter of 2002, she entered my life as a dog in need of stability, guidance, and direction, but soon became a ‘foster failure,’ as I realized the bond we had was one I didn’t want to let go of.

Formerly known as Samantha, Phoenix is a Pit Bull Mix who had been in two different homes prior to coming to me. Irresponsibility and lack of commitment led to her being returned to rescue, and in search of how to be a family dog.   As a college student with a dog already, I was looking for a way to give back, and that is where Phoenix came in. She became my running partner, helping me prepare for physical fitness tests for upcoming law enforcement training and she was my protector, saving me from a water moccasin and from a group of men we encountered on one of our runs, who were obviously up to no good.  As I spoke to people about this wonderful dog I was fostering and how great she would be for them, I soon realized I needed her just as much as she needed me.
Phoenix has been with me for over nine years now, and not one day has gone by where I don’t come home to a wagging tail and circles of happiness. She has been influential in the lives of many foster dogs, helping them to ‘learn the ropes’ and to become great family pets.

In 2009, Phoenix became a registered therapy dog with the Delta Society. In 2010, she became a R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dog) dog. She enjoys visiting patients in hospice programs and helping children who are having difficulty reading. On each visit, she listens intently, knows how to make people smile, and she never interrupts.

Phoenix is the perfect example of the adage “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” She was thrown out twice before I had the pleasure of meeting her and she has truly been a treasure to our family.