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Cookie – In Memory


The phone rang while I was in a staff meeting today.  A good samaritan was trying to catch a stray dog that was in really bad shape.  Would we be able to help?

Yes, even though we’re a sanctuary for wild cats, I can’t tell you the number of phone calls I get about all sorts of animals in need. Of course, we’ll do everything we can to help any animal suffering.

That’s how this sweet little girl ended up at our gate. Though she should weigh 70 lbs, she’s so emaciated she weighs only 38 lbs. She has mammary tumors, as you can see in the photos. She’s partially blind with cataracts.

As hard as the photos are to look at, you can imagine how heartbreaking it is to see a stray like her in person. And yet, she’s so sweet and trusting, despite how she must’ve suffered.

The plan for helping her

I had one of our caretakers rush her over to our local vet to be examined. She’s approximately 9 years old and is heartworm negative, but positive for lyme disease. The vet x-rayed her tumors and I’m thankful they haven’t metastasized. Once we can get some weight on her to improve her health, they can be surgically removed.

Her vision could be fine if she has cataract surgery. She’s staying at the vet overnight to receive hydration before returning to the sanctuary.

Cookie will remain a part of our family here at the sanctuary.  We miss having a dog onsite, and with her special needs, we couldn’t imagine her going anywhere else.

October 11, 2017

We were sorry to find out that Cookie has been diagnosed with diabetes, too. Her glucose levels came back very high and may be a reason why she is afflicted with cataracts.

We’ll be administering daily insulin and monitoring her levels. We’re hoping to stabilize it so she can begin to put on the weight she needs for future surgery.

October 17, 2017

The first few days, Cookie wasn’t responding to the insulin injections we were giving her. Our vet increased the dosage and the last 48 hours, her glucose numbers are coming down. She’ll be seen again this week by the vet to check-in on her. 

Her other surgeries are being postponed until we can get her glucose a little more regulated. Every time she wags her tail whenever we’re around, we know it’s a thank you straight from her heart to us – and to all of YOU – for going the extra mile to save her.

November 21, 2017

We’re so thankful to share Cookie’s had her first surgical procedure. 

Cookie was healthy enough that they were able to spay her while they also removed six of her largest mammary tumors. They left some of the smaller tumors because the surgery was quite extensive.

Cookie has seven total incisions. They’ve sent the tumors out for testing and we’re hoping to have results back in 7-10 days.  Cookie will be on medication for 7-14 days.  They reported she was stable during surgery and woke up well afterwards.

Cookie enjoyed staying at a staff member’s home before and after her surgery, but she’s back at the sanctuary today.

We’re so thankful for the outpouring of love and support you’ve sent Cookie’s way. She’s made so much progress in the six short weeks since she showed up here! 

Remember how emaciated she was then? Look at her now:

While we’ve been treating her diabetes, she’s gained weight steadily and is beginning to look and act like the adorably sweet dog we hoped she could be.

After she recuperates, we’ll begin to look into the cataract surgery she’ll also be needing. For her to be able to see again and be healthy is our greatest wish – and we thank you so much for helping make that wish come true for her! 

November 28, 2017

We had fun letting everyone guess what breed Cookie actually is. We sent in a DNA test on her and these were the results….

January 4, 2018

We’re starting off the New Year with the best news!

After undergoing another examination by Dr. Robert Larocca at Animal Eye Specialty Center in Andover, MN, our rescue dog Cookie was cleared for surgery to remove the cataracts causing her blindness.

It’s been a long 3 month uphill journey for this little girl – and you’ve been there for her every step of the way! 

Found as a starving stray, she was so emaciated. The first step was letting her gain weight back slowly and carefully. Since she had diabetes and out-of-control glucose levels, we had to manage that safely, too. 

Then, she had surgery to remove her mammary tumors and was spayed. After recuperating from that, she was finally ready for this last step. Could we save her eyesight? 

Dr. Larocca was able to remove the cataracts in both eyes and replace them with artificial replacement lens. As always, Cookie was a very good patient but woke up from the general anesthesia very groggy.

She spent the night at the home of one of our staff members and returned to the sanctuary the next morning. What would her reaction be?

YES, she can definitely see!!

Being rescued was one thing. But being able to see again – that’s truly been life changing for her! Cooper, the bengal cat she’s been friends with in the animal care building, is suddenly far more interesting. Cookie’s been trotting after him now as he wanders across the room.

She spends so much time looking out the window, watching all the activity outside. In the past, caretakers would take Cookie for a walk. Now, she takes them!   

Cookie will be recuperating for several weeks. She’ll wear a cone for two weeks to prevent self-trauma to the eyes. She’ll get three different eye drops four times a day during that time, too. We’ll be taking her for several follow-up appointments with the ophthalmologist over the next weeks and months.

All while continuing with the daily management of her diabetes. Caring for Cookie is time consuming, but so worth it with every wag of her tail she gives in thanks.

This procedure alone cost $3500. But it’s hopefully the last major hurdle Cookie faced on her journey to becoming one of the most loved cat sanctuary mascot dogs ever!

She’s one of a kind, that’s for sure, and we thank you so much for all the love, good wishes, and support you’ve given to get her to this amazing point in her life! 


In Memory ~ June 2019

Do you believe in miracles?

I do, because I met one.  And her name was Cookie.

We’re heartbroken to share that Cookie lost her final battle with cancer.  It just doesn’t seem real. Even though she rallied for a few days, she quickly became very tired.

Even her routine tasks became more difficult as her breathing became more pronounced. She began leaving food, which wasn’t like our girl at all. And even though she still loved seeing all her friends and family, we could all see her time was drawing near.

Cookie had done so much for all of us – including all of you. We promised her we’d be there for her, too – when she needed us most, no matter how difficult it would be.

Good-bye is only for now. The impact Cookie has had on us all will live forever.  That’s just how special she was.

She arrived diabetic, emaciated, blind and tumor-ridden, barely able to survive another day on her own.  But even that didn’t break her spirit.  Several surgeries later to remove the tumors and give her back her sight, she wasn’t recognizable as the same dog.  But that wasn’t why she was a miracle.

Cookie was a dog living in a cat’s world – literally. Just like a cat, she had 9 lives and used every one of those lives to the fullest. She adapted so quickly to sanctuary life among the tigers, lions and other big cats. She enjoyed long walks past each habitat and never even gave a second thought to the big cat just a few feet away.  But that still wasn’t why she was a miracle.

While this sweet, quiet and calm girl was healing herself, she was also connecting and healing the world. That’s what made her a miracle!  She wasn’t just our special dog, she was yours, too.

People from around the world rallied to support Cookie and embrace her and her story. She embodied hope, forgiveness, resilience and happiness. And did so until her last breath.

She inspired cat fanatics to love dogs, she helped an autistic boy share his first words, she taught us how working together can provide a second chance to live and love.

Amazing! This lost, blind dog could’ve found her way into the woods, curled up and passed away. But Cookie had more love to give and work to do. She made our lives better and I know she did the same for you.

We’ll shed our tears of sadness and grieve together for the loss of our special friend. But we must also honor Cookie.  She’d remind us to be resilient, move forward and love again.  We still have important work to do.  And we’ll always remember Cookie’s walking beside us each and every day, helping us.

Cookie, you were truly a gift. We were honored you found your way to us, so we could share you with the world. Everyone deserved to know you. And our lives are better for having you in it.

Sleep peacefully now so you can enjoy your walks with all your family of fans around the world.  I know they will welcome you with open arms.