Two-year-old Hazel Walker leaned in to give her new dog, Baby, a kiss on the forehead Monday morning after the small white dog was delivered to her family in Squaw Valley. Baby is now the youngest member of the Walkers, a beloved addition to an extended family that includes horses, a donkey and a lamb.
The adoption fulfills the Christmas wish of Baby’s former owner, Cliff Herbert: Find a loving home for his beloved dog, Baby, before he dies. The Fresno homeless man said last month that a cancer in his body spread to his brain and that doctors don’t expect he will be able to care for himself past the end of January.
“I can’t imagine someone I know or love going through that, especially with a dog, because dogs are your kids,” said Baby’s adoptive mother, Stephanie Walker. “It just made me want to help, however I could.”
I’m hoping that this will give him some relief that she is in a good home.
Never miss a local story.
Animal rescue volunteer Jenine-Lacette DShazer spotted Herbert and Baby on the streets in November and went to work finding the pair temporary shelter and Baby a forever home.
DShazer was flooded with emails and phone calls from people interested in adopting Baby, thought to be an Australian shepherd and pit bull mix around 10 months old, following a Dec. 24 article in The Fresno Bee announcing Herbert’s Christmas wish. A GoFundMe account created and managed by DShazer to pay for lodging and food for Herbert, “Help Cliff + Baby Live Through Holidays,” had raised more than $24,000 as of Monday.
DShazer said there were people interested in adopting Baby from as far away as Spain, Ireland and Colombia. After calling a number of interested families, she decided on the Walkers for a number of reasons, including: They are a local and young family, they have two other dogs, there will always be someone around to watch Baby, and they have a large, fenced yard on 5 acres, giving Baby plenty of room to run and play.
My hopes for Baby in the future are that she can be a puppy and be loved and know that she can grow into a family who loves her.
Stephanie Walker is a medical assistant and small business owner and her husband, Cody Walker, is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran planning to return to school. They hope to take Baby back to Fresno to visit Herbert in the future.
DShazer said Herbert no longer is able to care for Baby safely and that a new home was needed for her sooner than they had expected.
DShazer said Herbert is now staying at a Motel 6 in west Fresno and has been working with a caseworker at Clinica Sierra Vista, who also has been checking in on Herbert and providing him with information about renting an apartment if he decides to do so.
DShazer said she has been paying for Herbert’s motel room in increments, and stopping by to give him gift cards for food at nearby restaurants with money raised through the GoFundMe account. If Herbert passes away before the money is spent, DShazer said, she will donate the remaining funds to local organizations helping homeless and abandoned animals.
DShazer is very touched by the outpouring of support for Herbert and Baby. She hopes all the people interested in adopting Baby will decide to help another animal, or person, in need “because I guarantee you there’s a Baby or a Cliff or both right around your house.”