Oliver Goes the Distance to Find his Biggest Fan

August 8, 2018


Carly F. was visiting the Dubuque Regional Humane Society (DRHS) in Iowa in search of a new canine family member when she noticed a puppy being carried into the shelter, fresh off of a transport vehicle.

Her eyes met those of a two-month-old Australian Cattle Dog-mix named Finley, who had been driven up from an Arkansas shelter after being treated for an injured paw.

“I saw him and just fell in love,” Carly recalls. “There was just something about him, and he had a cute personality.”

Finley’s sojourn began in Washington County, near Fayetteville, where he and a littermate were hit by a car. Finley’s littermate was sadly killed, and Finley, badly injured, had crawled to the side of the road where animal control officers found him.

Officers took Finley to Lunsford Veterinary Care Center in nearby Springdale, where X-rays revealed two fractured bones in the suffering dog’s forelimb, and broken bones in his paw, as well. Finley returned to the shelter in a splint, while staff provided pain management, antibiotics and lots of TLC. 


Left: Finley after he was first found injured. Right: In Iowa, happy and healed!

Finley then returned to the veterinary clinic where Dr. Niki Lunsford determined his bones were healed. Soon, he was able to bear weight on his limbs and was selected for transport through the WaterShed Animal Fund Rescue Ride (WAFRR), which relocates dogs and cats from overcrowded shelters to areas where adoptable animals are in higher demand. WAFRR is one of three ASPCA relocation routes that moved more than 28,400 cats and dogs in 2017 alone, to give them their best chance at adoption

“Finley was a trooper,” recalls Angela Ledgerwood, Director of the Lester C. Howick Animal Shelter in Fayetteville. “Broken bones didn’t stop him.”

On May 8, Finley made the 630-mile trip to DRHS in Dubuque, Iowa, where he again became a staff darling. 

“He was super cute and adorable,” says Amanda Shaffer, Shelter Manager at DRHS, which, as of June 11, has transferred in a total of 364 dogs in 2018.

“Animal transport is a symbiotic partnership,” says Amanda. “While we’re helping other animal welfare organizations, we’re also meeting demands for companion animals in our tristate region and beyond. I’m thrilled so many organizations are collaborating to achieve our goals of saving lives and building families.” 

While Finley wasn’t available the day Carly first laid eyes on him, she officially adopted him two days later.

Oliver and Carly

“I scooped him up as soon as I could,” says Carly, who is working toward a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology at Loras College and hopes to be a physical therapist someday. 

Carly grew up with dogs and currently lives in an apartment with three roommates who also care for Finley—now known as Oliver. 

“It makes my heart happy because he’s like a family dog now,” explains Carly, who took him to her hometown of Kingston, Illinois, where the pooch met her entire family. “When I got back, I felt like my friends missed Oliver more than they missed me!”

Carly plans to enroll Oliver in obedience training and eventually certify him for visits to children’s hospitals. 

“In my field, I want to work with kids, and many kids are more comfortable with dogs around,” she says. 

Above all, Carly looks forward to watching Oliver grow.

Oliver sleeping

“There are already so many changes in him physically, and I look forward to the process of us growing together. I love him.”