After a life spent in a puppy mill, it’s understandable that Old Lady would be more than just a little skittish. The senior Saint Bernard had recently been rescued from a bad situation in Wisconsin and taken to Ruff Start Rescue in Minnesota to begin a new life. She was picked up by a foster and off to her new life when things took a sharp turn.

Old Lady didn’t get a chance to set foot inside her warm new home. Instead, the sound of crunching snow under her foster’s feet sent her into a panic, and Old Lady bolted from the car the moment the door was open. Even at 10-years-old, Old Lady was stronger and faster than one might expect a puppy-mill dog to be. She dragged her foster down the icy driveway before she lost the leash, and Old Lady vanished into the woods.

Ruff Start Rescue immediately leapt into action to recover Old Lady. Minnesota winters are notoriously frigid, with temperatures that drop well below zero. Temps were already dangerously low, and continuing to drop when Old Lady disappeared, so there was no time to waste. Working together with The Retrievers, a group that helps find lost dogs, Ruff Start Rescue organized search parties and put out the word on social media that Old Lady was missing and very easily startled.

Days turned to weeks, but despite the time passing and the uncooperative weather, Ruff Start Rescue held out hope that they’d see Old Lady again. There had been sightings that kept the hope alive, but no one had been able to recover her. Finally, 17 days later, their perseverance prevailed!

Old Lady was spotted once again by a man and his grandsons, but this time, she was unable to run. She was found in a wooded area with the leash she had dragged her foster with had become caught on a branch. The man called the sheriff’s office, and the deputy who took the call knew it was Old Lady. They called Ruff Start Rescue, who responded immediately, overjoyed that the dog had been found alive!

“It was an intense rescue mission and we had to approach the situation very cautiously because she was scared and wanted to flee. Julie Lessard and I (Azure Davis) were able to get close enough, get double slip leads on, and then Julie had to cut the leash out of the trees to get her unstuck. She was SO cold and shivering. We think she has been tied up here since Friday.”

Together they were able to put Old Lady into their car and warm her up, and made an appointment to see the vet immediately. That she was able to survive the winter outdoors, especially having been just recently shaved, is nothing short of a miracle. After her ordeal she was a bit weaker, thirsty, hungry, and frostbitten, but she is expected to recover – in her new forever home!

Old Lady is not yet ready to be formally adopted, but is now in a foster-to-adopt program. After news of her rescue spread there were people all over the U.S. who expressed interest in adopting her, but her new foster was chosen locally. The woman has experience with shy dogs, and she and Old Lady are said to already be building trust.

“And just like that, Old Lady is off to her forever home! (She will do “foster to adopt” until healthy) 💓 This is the first kiss she has given. It was love at first sight for both of them. 😚

And yes… we have 2 leashes, 1 slip lead, harness and martingale collar on her along with 2 handlers. We’re not taking any chances.

— She has successfully left the building!”

H/T: thedodo.com
Featured Photo: Ruff Start Rescue/Facebook