My husband and I had wanted a dog for a while and were waiting until we had a nice backyard and plenty of indoor space for a pup to be comfortable. We narrowed down breeds as to which one would be best for our lifestyle.

A Weimaraner topped our list.

After we bought a house to accommodate a dog – I mean, a house for us – the search began for our new family member.

At the time, we were living in South Carolina, and started to search for safe and loving Weimaraner breeders in the area. We stumbled across the Greater Charleston Weimaraner Club in Charleston, and began a year-long email relationship with Elena, the woman in charge. She would let us know about upcoming litters, as we originally wanted to buy a puppy.

One day I emailed her to let her know I’d be in the area, and would love to stop by to meet her Weims. She quickly responded that she had a recently acquired a rescue Weim that had come into her care and still needed a home. This was very surprising, as Weim rescues generally don’t have any problems finding homes. I instantly had that gut reaction that this was “meant to be!”

When I met Dunes, I knew right away that I could never leave him again.

Elena told me he’d been found three weeks prior, wandering around the beaches of the Wild Dunes Resort in Charleston. He was severely emaciated, heartworm positive and not neutered.

Based on the fact that his tail was docked and his dew claws removed, we knew he had to have been with people prior to being found. His severe dehydration and lack of nutrition meant he had been alone for awhile, which still makes me sad to think about even now, four years later.

Despite his fragile exterior, Dunes was immediately dubbed “Mr. Happy” at Elena’s, as his tail would wag non-stop – and it still does! On the drive home, Dunes crawled into my lap from the back seat and stayed there the whole way.

As a special surprise, I called my husband and told him I wouldn’t be bringing home a dog that day. You could hear the disappointment in his voice. When I got home, I asked him to help me “unload groceries” from the car, and that’s when he met his new best friend, Dunes. It was so much fun to watch them bond, and to see how close Dunes has become to us, our family, our friends and even strangers ever since.

After getting neutered, successfully completing a heavy dose of heartworm treatment and gaining almost 15 pounds, Dunes had no problem adjusting to our home in S.C., or to our new home in Chicago.

Going to the beach is still his favorite thing to do, although this time he has a huge lake to play in versus the Atlantic Ocean. Chasing birds along the shoreline makes him the happiest pup ever. Dunes’ time on the beach has made him a free spirit, and for that, we’re forever grateful. Dunes is by far the sweetest, gentlest and absolutely the most loving dog I have ever met, and will probably ever meet.

We try not to think about why Dunes was lost and why no one ever came to rescue him as their own – but we’re confident he is our little angel, and that God had a hand in bringing him into our lives. To think he was only 55 pounds and that frail back then is mind-boggling, as he’s now a happy, healthy 72-pound, 6-year-old boy.

Rescuing a pet is a humbling and rewarding experience. We hope to change another dog’s life again someday.

— Danielle from Chicago, IL