Once upon a time, Rudy the basset hound was accidentally hit by a vehicle. The six-year-old pup had been living in Kirksville when the collision caused a very bad break in one of his back legs.
Guardian Angel Basset Rescue, which is based out of Dwight, Illinois, but helps bassets as far south as St. Louis, got a call from an animal shelter in Kirksville about poor Rudy. The call said the break was practically inoperable, and Rudy would have to be put down.
Enter Don Hunt, a Guardian Angel volunteer. He told the animal shelter he would help Rudy, and after they transported Rudy south, Hunt took him to Creve Coeur Animal Hospital. Wanting to get a second opinion, Hunt did some research and found someone who could help Rudy avoid amputation.
Hunt and Rudy made the nearly four-hour, 250-mile journey north to Pine Bluff Animal Hospital in Morris, Illinois, where Dr. Brian Schmidt said he could help Rudy.
A plate, six screws and a wire later, “you would never know Rudy’s leg was broken,” Hunt says. Rudy’s bills have been about $5,000 so far, and that’s including the discounts Guardian Angel has received.
But that hasn’t deterred Hunt’s love for his short-legged friend. Hunt, Rudy and a few other bassets reside in Belleville, and Hunt helps out with Guardian Angel whenever he can.
“I’ve been involved [with Guardian Angel] for about four years,” he says. “I got my first basset 25 years ago.”
About four years ago, the death of one of Hunt’s bassets hit him really hard. Seeking solace, he found Guardian Angel, and members of the group brought over a dog. From there, he got involved with transporting and fostering the breed for the rescue organization.
“I’ve driven probably 55,000 miles and visited 10 states transporting dogs and taking them to their forever homes,” he says. “The longest trip was 865 miles in one day. If a basset needs help, within reason, we’ll do it.”
Citing some information from Guardian Angel, he says the organization has been able to save 4,200 bassets over the past 17 years.
As for his own pack, Hunt says they all get along very well. This could be because they’re on the older end of the age spectrum.
“I’m a sucker for senior dogs,” he says. “Rudy is the youngest of mine, at seven years old.”
Hunt says senior dogs are great because they’re very set in their ways. There are rarely fights, he says, but they occasionally get into scuffles over food.
Rudy is especially “precious” to Hunt, he says. “He’s a total love bug.”
Every year, Guardian Angel hosts a “Waddle” event for basset mixes and their owners, and Rudy was named king.
“He’s been through so much,” Hunt says. “One of these days, the plate [in his leg] will need to come out, but the doctor saw him in September and said the X-rays looked fine.”
For now, Rudy and his forever family are content to lounge around Hunt’s home, relaxing on both dog and human beds.
“He likes to sleep next to me,” Hunt says. “When I’m walking around and have sweatpants on, he’ll tug on them. He’s the cutest.”
This story was originally published at laduenews.com. Read it on LN’s website here.