Mark Gennardo regularly goes to Busse Woods to fish. On June 23, he happened upon a bigger catch than he was prepared for.
"I walked up onto one of my spots, and, sure enough, there was a dog out there in the creek," Gennardo said.
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Gennardo went to a nearby pavilion, where a party was being held, and asked if anyone had let their dog into the water. When nobody said they had, he asked someone to come back and help him dislodge the animal from the thick weeds. A man walked back with him to the spot where the dog was stuck, but soon abandoned the recovery effort.
"How do you know it's not going to bite?" the man asked Gennardo, who was incredulous at the response.
Left on his own, Gennardo grabbed a long-sleeved T-shirt from his truck, rolling it up like a rope and fashioning a noose. He put on a pair of over-the-shoe boots and climbed on a big log, shimmying over to where the dog was stuck.
After he finally was able to pull the dog from the dense black mud, Gennardo realized the rough state the animal was in. He had to hold up her hind legs, as she was unable to move on her own.
"We got about halfway back to my car, and she just gave up," Gennardo said. "I'm just yelling for people, and no one's really around."
Finally, he was able to stop a man on his bicycle. Exhausted after an hour of exercise, the man wasn't physically able to help move the dog, but he got a blanket from his car and allowed Gennardo to place the animal atop it and drag it back to his truck.
When the dog arrived at Arlington Heights Animal Hospital, the outlook was grim. In addition to the issues with her legs, the dog was in severe renal failure and was suffering from dehydration and a uterine infection. Even as her life hung in the balance, she was given a name: Honey.
The veterinarians worked for days. They performed surgery to remove the dog's infected uterus. Honey, unable to eat or even lift her head, was being given IV fluids.
Eventually, the dog responded. A July 3 post on the Facebook page for the Young at Heart Pet Rescue center reflects the improvement:
"Honey loves everyone she meets and always wants to play. She can sit, shake, down, and speak, wants to play with other dogs and ignores the clinic cats."
Though Gennardo went back to the woods to see if any lost dog signs had been posted and though a notice was left on the Facebook page Lost Dogs Illinois, the dog's owner has yet to step forward.
Honey, who is believed to be some sort of red lab mix, is now under the care of Young at Heart, a nonprofit organization that works to house older cats and dogs in the Chicago area.
Depending on her recovery, the 8-year-old dog will either become part of Young at Heart's adoption program -- a number of people on both the Young at Heart and Lost Dogs Illinois Facebook pages have expressed interest in taking Honey in -- or become a permanent resident of a sanctuary home.
Doctors are working on restoring Honey's kidney function. Dawn Kemper, executive director of Young at Heart, based in Palatine, said the group doesn't know when or how the kidneys were damaged, but veterinarians are running blood work to see if the condition can be improved.
She said people on the Young at Heart Facebook page are offering their prayers and their money to aid in Honey's recovery.
"The social network that's out there supporting her right now is amazing, Kemper said. "She's definitely tugging at the heartstrings of a lot of people."
Donations can be made to help cover Honey's medical care through Young at Home's website. Those who wish to give money should put Honey's name in the "Sponsor a Pet" field on the donation form.