Bobby charms Florida

Vets hope Bobby will leave Florida clinic walking on all fours

After winning the hearts of Nicaragua Dispatch readers, Bobby the paralyzed dog is now charming folks in Florida, where he arrived yesterday for spine surgery that veterinarians hope will allow him to walk again.

Following the first “Bobby” story published in The Nicaragua Dispatch in January, the smiling dog in the wheelchair became an Internet hit. His story was reposted on the Facebook page of World Vet Organization, a well-used reference for vets and animal organizations, where it was read by Dr. Patti Snyder, a veterinarian from North Florida Neurology Vet Clinic, and Jill Murray, a vet tech in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Bobby’s face wasn’t online for a day before both Dr. Snyder and Jill both contacted me. Dr. Synder offered free diagnostic evaluations and possible surgery, and Jill offered to give Bobby a loving and adoptive home.

That put the wheels in motion to figure out the logistics of getting an injured dog from Central America to Northern Florida, and how to pay for it.

Airline research became overwhelming, trying to find the easiest flight with the shortest flying time. Delta got the nod, even in spite of an overnight in Atlanta. 

We held out on fund raising, simply because we had been “to the well” so often it was hard to turn to donors again to help with our many needs.

Flying a dog to the U.S. seemed audacious enough, but due to Bobby’s severe injuries, he would have a traveling companion since he cannot walk on his own. Clinic volunteer Diane Meyboom was the obvious choice. She loves Bobby and the feeling is mutual. 

But that meant hundreds of extra dollars for another airplane ticket.

Bobby would need a large airline-approved kennel, then a flight to his new home in Oklahoma after his clinical treatments were completed.

Friends suggested that we consider a ChipIn Donation link, an online fundraising program that allows one to write his or her sob story, set a financial goal, and then politely ask for donations. Donors would pay through Pay Pal or credit cards.

But after calculating that we’d need a total of $2,500 for the trip, I didn’t hold out much hope. “Not in a million years,” I thought.

But day by day, the donation total grew. From individual donations of $5 to $150, it added up until a week and a half later we had met our goal. 

It was the result of Bobbyphiles passing on the word to their families and friends. Names of people I’ve never met before showed up on my ChipIn contribution list. Children asked their moms and dads for $5 donations in their name.

So it worked.

Yesterday, Bobby and Diane landed in Jacksonville, Florida. Bobby was taken immediately to the clinic where Dr. Andrew Hopkins and Dr. Snyder took over.

Diane, who was given a complementary week’s stay at the Red Roof Inn in Orange Park, stayed by Bobby’s side, as he turned on the smiles for local media.

To see Bobby’s TV news debut, click here.

To see Bobby’s photo gallery, click here.

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