This is the story of love, hope, and redemption, and what happens when you follow your heart and allow fate to lend a hand.
The future was not looking good for Data. At a handful of months old, she landed in a kill shelter in Mexico. Her time there was tough on her health. When Data was then rescued by All Terrier Rescue in Portland, Oregon, her look would have shocked you. It shocked Eva Giselle and Nick Wood — her soon-to-be new family.
“She was dirty, covered in mange, compulsively itching herself, and her eyes were bloodshot,” according to Eva.
In fact, their friends were worried when they first met Data. They did not understand how Nick and Eva could have adopted Data, because she appeared to be “mostly dead.”
Eva and Nick live a cool neighborhood in Seattle, Washington, and are young computer professionals. They take full advantage of their life in the Pacific Northwest with hikes, camping, and backpacking among the Cascades and Olympic Mountains. They were looking for a dog who could keep up with their active, outdoor lifestyle and decided on the Australian Cattle Dog breed, which is known for energy and stamina.
During their search for the right dog for their family, Eva “set up scripts to alert [her] whenever a Blue Heeler matching [their] requirements was posted in any shelter within 200 miles.” As a software developer, Eva was not limited by her own manual searches of surrounding pet adoption websites. Her scripts were searching for the perfect Blue Heeler 24/7 and alerting Eva whenever a match was found. Eva and Nick got an alert for a Blue Heeler in Portland. “She seemed [to be] exactly what we were looking for,” said Eva.
Eva and Nick took a day trip to Portland the next day. They were warned about Data’s appearance before they were introduced to her. She was recovering from her time in the Mexican shelter and was not at her best. They were brought to Data’s cage, and Eva opened the gate. Data “stumbled out, quivering, and immediately climbed onto Nick’s lap, burying her snout affectionately into Nick’s armpit as her tail thumped away.” They knew at that moment that they were taking this dog home and making her part of their family.
Data’s health wasn’t perfect. “She was missing most of her fur due to mange … she was emaciated and she had scars all over her face from a dog attack,” Eva recalls. In addition, she had ehrlichia, a tick born disease that can sometimes be confused with leukemia because of the similarity in symptoms.
“Data [has been] through a lot in her recovery, including complications from abscesses on mange spots. However, I’m now happy to report she is in good health today, including a fluffy full coat of fur.”
Data came to Eva and Nick’s family with no training. They began with positive reinforcement clicker training from day one, and she has responded very well. She has been taking classes and practices daily. Data now reliably responds to many commands, including “Sit, Down, Come, Touch, Spin, Jump, Shake, Knucks, Speak, Back, Crate, Drop It, Up, Wait, and Stay,” reports Eva.
In addition to tricks and obedience, Data spends lots of time at the dog park and has been training for backpacking season, going on hikes of progressively longer lengths. She was getting ready for her very first backpacking adventure at the writing of this article and has taken to being a trail pup like a natural. Eva feels they took a gamble when they adopted her – and won.
Not only was Data’s health a risk, adopting a dog at all was also risky for them, given what they had recently gone through.
Data was not Nick and Eva’s first dog. Last summer, they adopted Spacedog, a rescue who was “skittish but sweet and extremely smart,” with a calm demeanor. She loved to cuddle as much as she loved to hike — she even went on a 30-mile backpacking trip with the couple. For three blissful months, the three of them were inseparable and did everything together. Nick and Eva even took her on most trips with them, but she could not join them for their much awaited and anticipated weeklong trip to Cabo St. Lucas. And the unthinkable happened.
Spacedog was left with a reputable sitter, but escaped from the sitter’s home at her first opportunity to go in search of “her people.” She was a “Velcro” dog, the type of dog who is so bonded to her humans that she has a very difficult time being away from them. In what Eva describes as “a horrible freak accident,” Spacedog was lost to traffic on the interstate. A state trooper’s voicemail was waiting for them when they arrived in Cabo. Their trip was ruined, and they have never been able to think of Cabo in the same way.
This memory stays with Nick and Eva to this day. When Eva was signing the adoption paperwork for Data, it was as though Spacedog was watching over them in that moment. As her hand went to paper on the dotted line, the adoption coordinator told her that Data was from a garbage dump in Cabo St. Lucas.