A Love Story for Valentine’s Day

Helen Woodward Animal Center terminal pup finds foster family to love for her final days

Dinky and FamilyThe movie Love Story starring Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw has been labeled one of the most romantic films of all time.  The lead characters face true love in the midst of terminal illness and the story gives its viewers a glimpse of what genuine unselfish love looks like.  At Helen Woodward Animal Center, that story is currently playing out between the family of a human cancer survivor and a terminally ill 6-year old Terrier blend named Dinky – who may be experiencing real love for the very first time. 

Discovered in early December 2012 off the 905 Freeway by an animal welfare worker in San Ysidro, Dinky was in bad shape. Starving, dehydrated, shivering and terribly matted, no one could be sure how long she had wandered the streets.  She seemed terrified of humans and shrank from human touch, but her sweet temperament shone through with her docile gestures and hopeful eyes.   Over the next weeks of her recovery, the loving 6 year old Terrier-blend began to blossom and Dinky seemed destined for a new beginning with a forever family of her very own.   

Unfortunately, while preparing to clear Dinky for adoption, the Center veterinary team found something concerning.  The biopsy of an unusual mass revealed an enlarged lymph node with metastatic mast cell grade 3 cancer.   It was discovered that Dinky was in the final stages of a metastatic cancer and had only a matter of months remaining.  Her chances of a happy ending seemed over before they had even begun.   But Helen Woodward Animal Center, an organization dedicated to quality life for all orphaned animals, was determined not give up on her.

DinkyThis is where Dinky’s “Love Story” begins.  Sue Ruiz, a Helen Woodward Animal Center foster heard the terminal pup’s story and took it to heart.  Sue’s husband had been diagnosed with cancer only three years before.  Now in remission, her family understood the importance of not giving up on someone when they needed you the most.  “I called a family meeting,” said Sue, “and as a group we decided we would like to take Dinky and give her some good times for as long as she’s still with us.”  The decision has changed the lives of everyone involved, not the least of all little Dinky who has finally learned about cuddling, toys, a warm bed and how to be the perfect furry family member to the Ruiz family.

For everyone at Helen Woodward Animal Center, it appears that “happy endings” aren’t only for the movies after all.

If you have any questions regarding the foster care program, would like more information or would like to be a foster parent, please visit animalcenter.org


Why is foster care important?
Foster families provide love and stability to pets not yet available for adoption for a variety of reasons.  Foster homes also provide more room at the Center, allowing us to help other shelters by taking in their animals.  The more animals we can help, the better!

How long will I be fostering a pet?
Generally, the foster time period ranges from 2-4 weeks.  The time period can vary, however, depending on the needs of each pet.

What kinds of animals need fostering?

  • Puppies and kittens
  • Pregnant moms
  • Moms with babies
  • Adult dogs and cats in need of socialization
  • Dogs or cats being treated for medical reasons

What will be provided for me?
Helen Woodward Animal Center will provide you with all the supplies necessary, including food, bowls, toys, crate, etc. as well as train you to care for your new foster animals.

Additionally, the adoptions department has a full time veterinarian and medical staff.  Any medical needs, check ups or health issues will be taken care of through Helen Woodward Animal Center.

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