Noel: A Christmas Miracle in the Making?

Noel1When we first saw these photos of Noel, our hearts dropped. She arrived to the Tipton County Animal Shelter covered in mange, emaciated, with a broken leg, and a broken spirit. Sadly, not one foster spot was available to take her in. Every night we went sleep, haunted by images of Noel suffering at the pound. In an amazing collaborative effort, the directors of PAWS New England and New Beginnings got together. New Beginnings had an open foster home and PAWS New England volunteered to cover all of Noel’s vetting expenses. A partnership was formed to get Noel the care she desperately needed.

Noel was first evaluated by our partners at Shelby Center Hospital for Animals. The staff fell in love with this beautiful dog who had endured so much and still mustered incredible courage. Her expressive eyes seemed to thank them with each glance. Dr. Parker said Noel’s mange was one of the worst cases he had seen in almost thirty years of practice. All of us knew that it would be a long road to recovery, but felt confident Noel would thrive with her loving foster mom, Tammy French.

Courtesy of Lesley Takao

Courtesy of Lesley Takao

We were unprepared for the concerned phone call from Tammy a few days later when she said, “Noel is really sick. She can barely stand and she won’t eat.” Noel was rushed back to Shelby Center were the vets observed her new symptoms with equally worried looks. Noel’s fever was dangerously high, her muscles twitched involuntarily, all her lymph nodes were enlarged, and her nose would not stop bleeding. The vets took biopsies and prepared us for the worst. Two days after Christmas, they called to say that the initial cytology was back and it looked very suspicious for lymphoma. Our hearts sank as the doctors began to ask, “Would you like us to get her scheduled for a chemotherapy evaluation? Would you like to have her humanely euthanized? Would you like to perform further testing?” It seemed unfair that Noel, who had already been through so much, was facing a terminal diagnosis.

Courtesy of Lesley Takao

Courtesy of Lesley Takao

We opted to perform further testing to confirm the lymphoma diagnosis. In the days ahead, Noel’s condition worsened. Her fever climbed and her neurologic symptoms worsened. Doctors were concerned that Noel may be suffering from a virus called Distemper, which is an often fatal neurologic. Everyone was worried that Noel would not live long enough to see the results of her biopsies. Again we were asked if we wanted to consider humanely euthanasia for the sickly pup.

Something about Noel made us hold off. When most others would likely have said, “she is suffering, put her to sleep,” PAWS and New Beginnings made the commitment to give her every opportunity to survive.

When the phone rang a few days later with the Shelby Center phone number, I almost couldn’t answer it. I was sure they were calling me to say that Noel had passed. Instead, the staff was flabbergasted- Noel was getting better! No one could understand how. Then Noel supporter Lisa Tomlinson remembered- isn’t this exactly what happened to Gretel over the summer? The wheels started to spin- is this Ivermectin toxicity again?

Well, we are happy to report that it appears that it was just that! Noel’s biopsy results came back today and they are negative for lymphoma! As you can see by the video created by our friends at Shelby Center, she gets a little stronger every day and appears to be on the path to recovery. We are so grateful for her incredible story of survival and to the wonderful staff at Shelby Center for taking such outstanding care of this beautiful girl. We are also exceptionally grateful to her foster mom Tammy French for sticking by her side and New Beginnings for their amazing partnership! Noel still has a long way to go and is by no means out of the woods. But, this story is a potential miracle in the making…

Please consider making a donation towards Noel’s care. PAWS is only able to “go the extra mile” for dogs because of your support! And, if you are interested in adopting Noel, please email Kelly at We will continue to keep you up to date on her progress! Thanks for reading!


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