SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. -- We've been telling you about many, many, selfless rescuers during last week's "snowjam gridlock" -- people saving people.
And then there is also this "tail" from the storm, wagging, as it turns out, in gratitude.
This is the story about a stray dog, a dog that was badly-injured, and in pain; he was in desperate need of surgery.
This is the story about some terrific people who braved it all, that terrible afternoon and night, to get their new, best friend to the vet.
I met him Monday in his bed at the animal hospital, recovering from his surgeries and about to be released -- a "Goldendoodle," maybe about a year old.
Lori Huster had found him, left for dead, off of Stone Mountain Freeway, on the side of the highway. It was Sunday, January 26.
"I was just driving down the road, I was going to visit my mom, and out of the corner of my eye I saw him on the side of the road just sitting there, he looked alive.... It was very clear that he was not able to walk and he was seriously injured... He was just this cute, little blonde dog, and he was very close to the highway, and he had a little sweater on," but no tag, no collar and, it turned out, no chip. "He was definitely, badly hurt, he tried to get up on his front paws, and he could, but his back legs were out from underneath him, and I could tell that the legs were broken."
He had five broken bones, including a broken back -- possibly the victim of a hit and run.
Lori bundled him up and brought him to The Village Vets in Decatur, and she named him Mutt Muffin.
"They wanted to call him 'Stray,' and I said, 'No, let's call him Mutt Muffin' [after her sister's dog], and it just stuck."
She contacted "Angels Among Us Pet Rescue." And, within a day, the group's Facebook appeal raised enough money, from thousands of donors, to cover the $10,000 that Mutt Muffin's surgeries would cost.
So Lori and her friend Linda drove him to the veterinarians who would perform the surgeries, at Georgia Veterinary Specialists in Sandy Springs. They left for Sandy Springs, from Decatur, on Tuesday afternoon. THAT Tuesday afternoon -- the day of the snowjam, January 28.
"And we picked him up at about 1:00 p.m. The snow just had started to fall. Neither of us thought that it was going to be a major ordeal. And the next thing we know we were sitting on I-285 in gridlock traffic, in the left lane.... We were in the car that day for eight to nine hours, the pain meds had worn off, and so he was in pretty bad shape by the time we got to GVS."
They were able to exit I-285 in Dunwoody; then they ran out of gas -- Lori had departed thinking she had plenty of gas for what she was sure would be a relatively brief trip to Sandy Springs and back. A Good Samaritan lent them a gas can and they walked to the nearest gas station for enough gas to get going again; then they came upon, coincidentally, a DeKalb County Police K-9 officer, who told them that Abernathy Rd., where GVS is located, and surrounding streets were glazed over and probably impassable.
"We were able to get within a half a mile" of GVS, Lori said, "called the clinic, and the most amazing man, [a Client Services Representative] named Jory Stewart, walked a half a mile in the snow, up the steep hill, and he met us, and he got Mutt Muffin and carried him back, and we walked back with him to the clinic."
Monday afternoon, it was as if Mutt Muffin, walking for the first time after his surgeries, knew the extra-human efforts of so many to rescue him and save him last week.
"It was cold and slippery, but it was all worth it, especially seeing that he's made it out okay, it was worth it and I'd do it again," Jory Stewart said Monday. "He did go through a lot. I think it's just great seeing him now, walking and now seeing that he's doing so much better."
"I just want to say to everybody that has contributed," Lori said, fighting back tears, "I can't thank you enough. Everybody has just -- the outpouring has been phenomenal."
Lori will provide foster care for him during his rehab, and may be able to adopt him.
"Angels Among Us Pet Rescue" volunteer Jennifer Naujokas said the group will begin raising money for the rehab. She said Mutt Muffin is facing eight to twelve weeks of rehab, but is expected to make a full recovery.
And sadly, she said, the group is constantly having to rescue animals, and is still trying to find Mutt Muffin's owner.
"We've spent this week, we've put up flyers, we've put him on missing pet websites, he was on Facebook.... We have done everything that we can to try to find the owner.... Spay and neuter your pets, microchip your pets, put a collar on your pet, love your pet, take care of your pet, know where they are at all times. Unfortunately, if this was someone's pet, he had to go through this tragedy and it's awful. Hopefully this one will have a happy ending."
On Facebook: Angels Among Us Pet Rescue
On the Web: angelsrescue.org