Randy Spokely eased off the gas and came to a halt along County Road 13 about 3 miles west of Caledonia, N.D., around 3 p.m. Saturday.
The Hillsboro man initially believed he had driven by a large piece of cardboard on the side of the road and decided he should investigate, despite bitter temps that hovered below minus-20 outside.
Spokely put his vehicle in reverse and began backing up before noticing the object lying nearly motionless along the highway wasn’t a piece of cardboard at all.
“As I got closer, I realized it was a dog,” Spokely said. “It struggled to lift its head up and I thought maybe it had been hit because it was breathing so faintly. It was like a frozen ice cube.”
Spokely took a blanket from his vehicle, wrapped up the animal and placed the pooch in the passenger side of the car before contacting his wife, Angie, asking for help.
“I figured I had better see if any of the local farmers were missing a dog,” Randy said.
Randy snapped a photo and sent the picture to Angie, who posted the image to the Hillsboro Community Cares Facebook page asking if anyone was missing a dog.
Shortly afterward, Randy connected with Traill County Sheriff’s Deputy Kelli Tvedt and Journey Home Animal Rescue in Grand Forks, which took temporary ownership of the dog.
Later dubbed Dreamer, the animal was taken to the Red River Animal Emergency Hospital in Fargo where she exhibited signs of severe hypothermia and frostbite.
Angie kept the public updated on Facebook about efforts to save Dreamer, although the costs of the
animal’s emergency care quickly swelled from $700 for diagnostic work to more than $3,000.
But donors chipped in and raised nearly $3,500 through online contributions, catching the attention of WDAY TV and reporter Kevin Wallevand, who shared the dog’s story and the Spokely family’s role in saving the dog with a statewide audience Monday.
Dr. Andy Carver of the Red Red Animal Emergency Hospital told WDAY that Dreamer’s blood pressure when she was brought into the clinic was too low to read.
He estimated the dog had a 50-50 chance of survival, although Dreamer’s health began to slowly recover after hours of intensive care.
Leslie Rethemeier of Journey Home Animal Rescue told the Banner on Wednesday that Dreamer had been discharged from the animal hospital and was settling into a foster home.
The white and brindle dog still needed to be monitored closely for health issues and appeared be showing lingering effects from frostbite on her tail, ears and one of her feet, Rethemeier said.
“Overall, she is doing well considering what her fate would have been minutes later if not found,” she said. “She is enjoying the warm house and the spoils it brings. Dreamer is going to be a wonderful dog.”
Dreamer loves food and cuddling, sits for treats and clings like a shadow to her foster owner, she said.
Rethemeier said Dreamer will remain in foster care until she makes a full recovery.
After that point, she will be spayed and brought up to date on her vaccinations before being made available for adoption on Journey Home Animal Rescue’s website (journeyhomeanimalrescue.com).
Rethemeier said she plans to continue updating the public on Dreamer’s recovery through Facebook.
Randy and Angie said they were happy to have played a role in saving the animal – although they have a dog and don’t plan on adding another.
Randy remains unsure how Dreamer ended up abandoned along County Road 13.
The bitter cold would have prevented the animal from traveling too far by herself on New Year’s Day, leading him to believe the dog was dumped and left to die by its previous owner.
“If you’re going to dispose of a dog, that’s not the way to do it,” he said. “Hopefully, whoever dumped her there has a tough time ever getting another animal again.”