A family in San Bernardino, California, saved a 12-year-old dog from being euthanized and helped him fight cancer — but as they put it, their furry friend wound up saving them as well.
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“I lost a daughter last year in February,” Trish Bauer told “Good Morning America.” “She was born without a heartbeat and we all quickly fell into a really dark space.”
Bauer said she, her husband and her daughter all went through a difficult time during their grieving process.
“I was having a really hard time sleeping in the first few months and I would find myself at night, just up, scrolling on Instagram,” Bauer explained.
It was during one of these nights when Bauer said she came across an Instagram reel of a dog that she couldn’t ignore.
“The words on [the reel] said, ‘I die tomorrow alone on this cold cement floor’ … and it quickly changed to a picture of a dog and it was his face, it was Cooper,” Bauer recalled.
“He had these eyes that were so defeated. He was so sure that life had given up on him and he had given up on it right back. And I identified so much with those eyes because I felt like I knew my eyes looked the same,” she continued.
Although Bauer said she’s “always been scared of dogs,” something compelled her to reach out and inquire about Cooper, a German shepherd.
“There were hundreds of comments on this reel of, ‘I will come pick him up. I will foster him. I will adopt him. I’m going in the morning.’ I mean hundreds, and something inside me said, ‘Just comment,'” Bauer recounted. “I commented, and for some reason, it put me at peace and I went to sleep.”
The next morning, Bauer said she woke up to an Instagram message.
“The DM said, ‘Nobody else came through and he’s being euthanized in 30 minutes. If you can’t go get him, that’s it,'” Bauer said.
Bauer quickly jumped into action and woke her daughter, 10-year-old Lilly Bumpus, and the mother-daughter duo drove to a local shelter in Southern California.
When they arrived, Bauer said a “huge German shepherd [came] running down the hallway right into [Lilly’s] arms and starts licking her up, and it was like everything that I was so scared of, like, it was just gone … he knew, like, ‘I’m not dying today.'”
Lilly said meeting Cooper has been nothing short of positive.
“When I lost my first sister, it was really hard for me,” the 10-year-old told “GMA.” “But seeing Cooper, it just made that all fade away. He just makes me so much more happy, and he still does.”
Bauer said they call the senior dog their “glimpse from heaven” and their “miracle.”
Cooper went home with Bauer and Lilly, along with five more puppies that were also supposed to be euthanized. The puppies were later adopted by other families.
Shortly after Bauer and Lilly met Cooper and brought him home, they took him for a veterinary evaluation and soon learned Cooper had a tumor on his neck and needed surgery.
“The problem was [that] Cooper wasn’t healthy enough,” Bauer said. “He couldn’t even qualify for surgery. So the vet gave us a six-week timeframe that he thought, if we couldn’t get him healthy and in surgery within those six weeks, there would be nothing he could do for him.”
Bauer and her family didn’t let this new challenge deter them.
“We made it our family’s mission to get this dog healthy,” Bauer said. “Lilly … is a cancer survivor, so we know this fight all too well.”
“We took the dog to the beach. We took the dog hiking in Joshua Tree. We took the dog up to find a memorial spot for our daughter in the San Bernardino mountains,” she continued. “We told ourselves, no matter what, we’re going to give this dog the best life. If it’s one day or 20 years, we’re going to give this dog the best life and the best fighting chance, and we were able to get him qualified for surgery in less than three weeks.”
After Cooper underwent surgery, the family said they waited anxiously, and when they received the good news that he did make it through surgery, they knew Cooper was going to stay with their family no matter what.
“He ran down the hallway, like straight into my husband’s arms and my husband just started crying,” Bauer recalled.
“We knew from there, there was no way that dog was ever going to go anywhere but be in our family. He was truly meant for us and I know that we saved him — but the honest truth is he truly did save us.”
Cooper was officially adopted by Bauer and her family in March.
“It was our daughter’s first birthday in heaven the week that we adopted him, and we found out we were pregnant the very next week,” Bauer said.
“This dog has completely changed our lives, completely. We owe him so much. We really do,” she added.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to note that Bauer picked up Cooper from a local animal shelter in Southern California, not FurryTail Endings.
I am Robert Le, the author of the article on the website "Rescuing Pet Dogs" and a person who is passionate about the animal world, especially dogs that have gone through difficulties and were rescued. With extensive knowledge about caring for and nurturing puppies, I not only share useful experiences and knowledge but also bring adorable stories about my journey to help four-legged friends. I constantly learn and research about issues related to pet dogs, and through my blog posts, I hope to spread the message of love and care for these priceless friends. Join me as we explore the adorable world of rescued dogs and learn how you can contribute to their happiness.