Today is a difficult day for Sue Naiden. A year ago her dog Trio, the namesake of her Trio Animal Foundation (TAF), died after suffering from a variety of health problems in her final months. So today, in her memory, Naiden will do what she does best – combine efforts with a local rescue organization to save dogs from euthanasia.
“When Trio died, I felt like I lost part of my own identity because I wouldn’t have founded Trio Animal Foundation if not for her,” says Naiden. “I was heartbroken by her loss, saving another animal was all I could do. I went to the Animal Welfare League’s (AWL) intake facility and found a female pit bull that was about to be euthanized and rescued her.”
Giving animal’s a second chance
Naiden wasn’t alone in her rescue efforts. Last year, Project Rescue Chicago rescued seven other dogs in Trio’s memory. Because TAF isn’t an actual rescue organization, it pitches in by paying for medical treatment for dogs and cats left behind in open admission shelters. With that financial burden out of the way, rescue organizations are able to take more animals into their care and begin work on on finding them homes.
“We don’t pull any animals without a rescue commitment and we’ve developed a great relationship with Project Rescue Chicago,” says Naiden. “They have been working their butts off lining up foster homes for this rescue. We’re hoping to save a total of 20 dogs facing euthanasia – 10 that I’ve already pulled and 10 more today.”
Naiden and her rescuers are at AWL this afternoon to start pulling a variety of dogs – pit bulls, poodles, you name it – that came in as strays or were abandoned by their families. They will then head to the South Suburban Human Society, a shelter currently bursting at the seams. TAF will then go to work with their veterinarians to get the dogs ready for adoption.
Nursing back to health
The stress of the shelter often takes its toll on the animals. It’s not uncommon for most of the rescues to have kennel cough, pneumonia and other issues that need some treatment before they head to foster care. Others may have more severe issues including Heartworm and other health concerns. TAF will be paying 100 percent of the veterinary bills for every dog rescued.
“My goal is to find that one special female dog that is about to be euthanized and give her a second chance,” says Naiden. “Trio’s name before I adopted her was Abigail. So, last year’s rescue was named Abigail in her honor. She now is in a really great home.”
Trio’s story is amazing in itself. A young girl found the abandoned four-week-old puppy that had a leg chewed off after being used as a bait dog. She brought the puppy into a Chicago rescue where a guardian angel – Florence Fitzgerald donated the funds to save her.
Trio lost a leg but not her charm, which she worked on Naiden when they met the first time. Although she wasn’t looking to add a second dog, Naiden fell in love at first sight and adopted Abigail, renaming her Trio. Naiden’s female boxer Reagan took Trio under her wing and cleaned and nurtured her.
“Over the years, Trio has done the same to so many dogs I’ve fostered. She had such patience and was a huge presence in our lives,” says Naiden. “I moved into a garden apartment and set everything up so it would be easier for Trio. So, she has this amazing presence in my home still.”
Paying it forward
Naiden wasn’t the only one devastated by the loss of Trio. Another dog she had rescued, Gambit, had been so close to Trio, he never really recovered when she died. His health gradually failed over the past year and he died recently. Through the heartache, Naiden has continued to pay it forward to help out more animals in need. A lesson she learned from Trio’s original benefactor.
“I been active in the Chicago animal rescue community for awhile and became good friends with Florence. She not only motivated me to start Trio Animal Foundation, she gave me start up funds through her Florence Fitzgerald Foundation to meet with the lawyers to start the organization,” says Naiden. “She encouraged me every step of the way.”
Although TAF works with many rescues, they have a very close working relationship with Project Rescue Chicago. Bridgid Nolan, the founder of the organization, also owns the dog boarding and day care facility Unleashed. She’s opened up a portion of her business for a special isolation, boarding and socialization rooms for dogs that have been rescued by TAF.
Many of these dogs are waiting to clear isolation or for a rescue to step up and the rooms helps TAF pull more dogs out of shelters while they have time. Ironically, the rooms were dedicated last year, days before Trio died. Yesterday, Naiden stopped by to pick up one of the rescues, Blue, for a vet appointment.
A special tribute
“There’s a copy of a new book by Ken Foster called I’m a Good Dog, sitting on the counter,” said Naiden. “The book has been highly anticipated in the rescue community because it showcases the beauty of pit bulls and really captured how amazing they are. I flipped to the back of the book and there was a beautiful face smiling at me – my Trio.”
During the midst of week where the sadness has been overwhelming at times for Naiden, there was Trio smiling back at her. She didn’t know that her dog was to be included in the book and at that moment felt like Trio was with her.
Another truly amazing girl came into Naiden’s life this past holiday season. Antler was an injured mother dog found caring for her pups in an abandoned building right before Christmas. Naiden ended up falling for Antler and Antler has now picked up where Trio left off as the nurturing mother dog to the foster dogs. Today, as Naiden turns the page on a new chapter for TAF, Trio will be watching over and more dogs will finally be getting the happy ending they deserve.
Learn more about Trio Animal Foundation online and follow their rescues on Facebook. Donations may be made in Trio’s memory online as well. I’ll do a follow up with a slideshow of the rescues in a couple of days.