Nelson Another day in the life of Animal Advocates...


It had been 40 below all Winter, when for two days this big dog was seen frantically running down a highway in Ontario Canada. Finally he was found... terrified and huddled... in a frozen ditch. His rescuer looked for his owner, and when no one claimed him, she found Animal Advocates on the internet and asked us if we could take him. We said Yes... of course. And so begins the rescue story of the dog we named "Nelson" after Nelson Mandela, for his nobility and forgiveness in terrible adversity.

NEW! Scroll down or click here to see Nelson's videos!

Nelson's rescue begins with an email to AAS...

"Hi, My name is Kristine, and I found a stray black lab cross with a very very sad story. I hope that Animal Advocates can help him because I can't afford to.

This dog is a true survivor. It was -40 degrees at night, not to mention that he seems to be fully blind...

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"I learned from the pound that originally he was seen running around on the highway, very cold and scared. Then he was seen lying in a frozen ditch at the side of the highway.  Finally he was seen by me running across the town's main truck route almost being hit. 

The reason I am contacting you is because I am almost out of options in regards to finding him a home.

The pound told me that no one had called looking for him and they would destroy him; and it's widely known that the humane societies and SPCAs in Ontario are far from humane or no-kill."

"Will you help him?"

We said Yes, we will help him — just as we tell rescuers every day of the year.

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Nelson is flown to Vancouver

When Nelson arrived at Vancouver's airport we met a calm and gentle and trusting dog.

Even the cargo handlers were in awe of him, one even wanting to adopt him on the spot.

And so begins the story...

Of the dog we named "Nelson" after Nelson Mandela, for his nobility and forgiveness in terrible adversity.

That night Nelson slept on a big soft... and warm! bed.

To the eye vet

The next day we took him to the veterinarian eye specialist who told us he had suffered agonizingly painful glaucoma.

Nelson would never see again. Thankfully the pain was gone now, leaving his eyes ruined, but his dear, happy nature intact.

Up the mountain with Binny

Nelson goes up the mountain every day with his pack, sometimes harnessed in tandem with another big lab to give him confidence, sometimes just charging ahead, like any other dog.

See a short clip of that →

Lighthouse Park

Parks are perfect places to learn how to meet and greet, though Nelson seems to be a naturally sociable guy.

Nelson makes his way around many parks and mountains and creeks with a confidence undeterred by the occasional nose-bonk. He seems to sense the edges of the trails with his own compensating radar.

He surges confidently ahead and then... Suddenly he will realize that he doesn't know where you are. But as soon as he locates you he is off again!

All this fun is hot work, but luckily a cool, clean creek is never far away.

Playing with new friends

Dear Nelson wants SO badly to run... but he knows that if it hurts to walk into something... it will hurt a lot more to run into something.

And he SO badly wants to play... but other dogs mistrust his awkwardness and miscues.

And so he CAN'T run and he CAN'T play.

Not unless someone who loves him and who he trusts absolutely, will play “special” play with him.

And someone who he trusts not to lead him into anything, will run with him. That is what his friends Michaela and Eric do for Nelson.

Story continues below...

Click photos to enlarge

Click photos to enlarge

Nelson goes to school

Nelson loves people and children most of all, so when Mrs Brumec's grade 4 – 5 class at Braemar school in North Vancouver raised money to help to pay Nelson's bills, and Nelson was invited to be their guest, we knew that everyone would enjoy themselves.

A perfect example

Mrs Brumec wanted her students to see first-hand that there are more than pure-bred dogs needing love and homes.

Nelson was a perfect example of a dog needing rescue and special care. The students learned about rescuing dogs instead of buying dogs and the personal satisfaction of raising money to help a dog that needs help.

The students asked many good questions

They wanted to know all about rescue and how to look after a blind dog. They wanted to know about the fostering and adopting process, which we hope means they'll be more likely to adopt a rescued dog in the future than they would have been had they not met Nelson. It's important that children learn about the problems of overpopulation, abandonment, and neglect and about the care and love that so many animals need. It's important too that kids know they can have a personal and positive impact on the life of a needy dog.

Picture time

The kids took lots of pictures so they could share Nelson's story with their friends and families.

The highlight of the visit...

...was when the students got to touch Nelson. Some of these children had never touched a dog before, but Nelson was so gentle and welcoming that none were afraid to pat him. In fact, some had a hard time stopping patting him!

The students had raised $600!

The students had worked hard over several days to raise money for Nelson and Animal Advocates, by holding cake raffles and toonie drives. They raised an astonishing $600!

Thank you!

Lovable Nelson was the perfect poster-boy for teaching children to think about animal cruelty and what they can do about it as individuals and as a community.

Nelson's field trip to school opened many young eyes to new ideas about blindness, and about dogs, and about compassion.

We are so thankful to Mrs Brumec and her class for doing this for Nelson.

Nelson will be looked after by Judy Stone of AAS...

...until he is ready for his very own home.  Judy has many years of experience with large, special-needs dogs and has a dog-safe house and yard.  She will walk him carefully around the house, around the yard, around the block, and to Delaney's where he will be fussed over by all the kind dog-lovers who sit outside with their dogs.

Nelson's loss of sight would not have been sudden, that is how he has learned to cope. Though he does bump into things a bit, with a little help and patience, he will soon learn to navigate in a permanent home. In AAS's care he will go to fun places just like all dogs need to. He will need to get lots of exercise to keep him from getting fat. Nelson is young enough to still enjoy life, blind or not.

Everyone likes Nelson!  It's not possible to meet him without instantly sensing his good, kind nature.  Nelson will be just fine without sight, now that his pain and fear are over for good.

Watch Nelson's heartwarming videos below:

Can you help pay for Nelson's rescue, veterinary, and rehabilitation bills? If so, please donate here.

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