Sasha came into the clinic I used to work at in Savoy, Ill., a broken and defeated dog. A stray, she had been found after being hit by two cars on Interstate 74.

She was taken to a clinic nearby that found her pelvis almost completely shattered. They were able to a put a pin in her right leg, but her left leg suffered so much damage that it was beyond repair. She experienced a great deal of nerve damage to that leg, and when she came to us, she was walking with her left foot completely turned over.

As could be expected, she had not been doing well after all of her traumatic experiences. She was depressed and in pain — reluctant to eat or drink or even get up out of her crate. A client of ours knew the people who had been fostering Sasha, and she asked if she might bring her to see us because the veterinarian I worked for specialized in orthopedic issues, and we also had a rehabilitation facility.

They carried her into the clinic in her wire crate, and even after settling into the exam room, Sasha still did not want to get up. It was heartbreaking to see a dog so down on life, but my boss must have seen some spark of hope in her, because he agreed to take her into our clinic free of charge and try to rehab her, update her vaccines, and eventually spay her.

We all were hoping for the best, but almost expecting the worse, and the client that brought her signed a consent form to have Sasha humanely euthanized if no progress was made within a few weeks.

Those weeks turned into about four months of Sasha undergoing underwater treadmill sessions several times weekly. When she first started, she tried to float with her back end so she wouldn’t have to use either rear leg. She continued to walk with her left paw turned over and developed sores, so she had to wear a bootie or wrap to protect it from infection. The first few days we had her, we had to carry her outside to go potty, and we often found that she would make a mess in her cage.

But slowly, over the months we cared for her, we started to notice her gaining strength and learning to trust us. She started to perk her ears straight up when we talked to her, and when she wagged her tail, it made almost a full circle like a windmill. Eventually she got strong enough that she started to walk correctly with her left paw, and the sores healed completely.

Sasha had come to us in January of 2010, and in April, the client who had brought her in decided she was well enough that she could be placed in a home. That was much easier said than done. While Sasha was undergoing rehab with us, we also discovered she was heartworm positive. That, along with her traumatic history, made it hard to find someone to take her in.

There was a lot of joking during that time that I should just take her to my house. Each time we said it, it became a little less of a joke and more of a possibility. I had a beagle, Ladybird, already, and one night after work, a co-worker and I decided to take her and Sasha for a walk to see how they got along. It wasn’t an immediate friendship, but they tolerated each other well enough.

So the next night after work, I decided to take her home (just for the night!) to see how she did there. The moment we walked in the door, Sasha ran straight for the couch and claimed her spot. It was as if I no longer had a choice in the matter — I was going to be giving her the “furever” home she deserved.

A couple of years later, you would hardly know all of the hardships Sasha had to endure. She runs and plays with Ladybird like a mad dog and has yet to meet a stranger on a walk. She has an occasional limp, but for the most part, she walks normally on both her rear legs. After any particularly intense wrestling session, I can usually find her and Ladybird curled up together on the couch or my bed.

I hate everything that Sasha had to experience to get to me, but am thankful every day that she found me because my little fur family wouldn’t be complete without her.

— Leanne from Rock Island, IL