Ruth and Rick Johnson have lots of experience with dogs. They owned German Shorthaired Pointers for several years, but after their last German Shorthair passed away, they decided to look at other breeds of dogs. Weimaraners were a breed they were interested in, but Ruth had another type of dog in mind too. “I wanted a pit bull for years,” said Ruth, “But there just weren’t that many available here years ago.”
In October 2011, Ruth met Holly. The white dog with brindle patches on her back was a recent local surrender to Paws and Claws, an animal shelter in Rochester, MN. “She was so nice, and she was so pretty,” said Ruth. “I told Rick, ‘you have to meet this dog!’”
Holly had only been in the care of Paws and Claws for a few days. She was 2 ½ years old, but her personality wasn’t that of a young, rambunctious dog. “She was calm and mellow,” said Ruth.
Ruth bonded with her immediately. When Ruth and Rick arrived to adopt Holly, another family was interested in adopting her. But, Holly had found her forever home with the Johnsons. Let’s get to know them a little better!
Stephanie: “What was the first thing you did once you adopted her?”
The Johnsons – “We stopped at Petsmart on the way home with her and signed her up for obedience classes,” said Ruth.
Stephanie – “What makes her unique?”
The Johnsons – “She’s more devoted than any other dog we’ve had. She’s happy all the time, just so happy. Despite her large stature, Holly loves to snuggle. Holly also knows our daily routines and puts herself in her kennel when she knows they’re leaving” Rick adds, “She’s the smartest dog we’ve ever had.”
The Johnsons – “Yes! Holly even knows the difference between her toys. Rick can ask her to retrieve a particular toy, and Holly chooses the toy Rick asks for. One of her favorite toys is her football.”
Stephanie – “Do you have any favorite places to visit?”
The Johnsons – “Holly has become a frequent visitor at a place called “Possibilities”. It’s a facility for developmentally disabled adults. We take Holly to Possibilities to spend time with the clients, and Holly is a favorite among the people. She also enjoys visiting residents at area nursing homes. Holly brightens the days of the residents with her calming demeanor.”
The Johnsons – “Holly is a canine blood donor. We learned about canine blood donors through Pat Bettendorf’s book, Ruby’s Tale. Holly was screened at a veterinarian’s office and it was determined that she is a universal donor. She was accepted into the canine blood donor program in December of 2012. Holly doesn’t donate blood on a regular basis, only when it’s needed, which is usually a situation involving an emergency.”
Stephanie – “How long did it take for you to get your first call?”
The Johnsons – “The first time Holly was needed to donate blood, we received an urgent call from the emergency vet office on the fourth of July in 2013. With a short five-minute drive to the clinic, we quickly brought Holly in. A dog had been bitten by a rattlesnake, and without a blood transfusion, the dog would likely die. Holly was partially sedated and her blood was drawn. Holly’s blood was then transfused to the snakebite victim, and after a few days at the vet, the dog made a full recovery. The owner of the dog that was bitten by the snake was extremely grateful to the Johnsons and Holly’s for her blood donation.”
Stephanie – “How many times has Holly donated?”
The Johnsons – “Holly has donated blood four times. Holly’s recovery time after donating is usually around twelve hours since she’s partially sedated during the procedure. 450 milliliters of blood is drawn during the procedure, which is similar to a blood draw a person would make when donating. Holly is sedated because the blood is drawn from her jugular vein, and the vets don’t want to put Holly at risk during the procedure. Holly is one of only two dogs that donate blood at Rochester’s emergency vet clinic.”
Stephanie – “Does Holly get any special treat for her services?”
The Johnsons – “After Holly has donated blood, we take her to Dairy Queen for an ice cream treat.”
Ruth proudly displays a tattoo on her left forearm of Holly. She’s happy to answer anyone’s question about who the piece of art on her arm is. “She’s brought us a lot of joy,” said Ruth. Holly, adorned with a pink bandanna, patiently waits for the next cue from Ruth or Rick. Perhaps a trip to Dairy Queen is on the schedule for Holly. She’s definitely earned it.
If you’d like to learn more about Holly and her adventures, check out her Facebook page Holly the Pibble.
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Wallace the Pit Bull Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of dogs and the people who care for them.