On a cold, dreary day in December 2018, Alaina Rosenblatt found herself driving around an unfamiliar neighborhood searching for a dog outside of an auto body shop. She’s an independent animal rescuer in Houston, Texas, who regularly gets calls from people tipping her off about dogs in need. That day in December, she’d received just such a call.
“As I was driving down a dirt road and passing lots of body shops, I noticed out of the corner of my eye a huge white dog sitting on an old, dirty chair by a pile of trash,” Rosenblatt said. “I slammed on the brakes and got out to go look and check on the dog.”
As Rosenblatt approached the dog, she noticed that he had no hair and was shivering and hyperventilating. “He was just pitiful, so broke, and so depressed,” she said. “It all shocked me because it was below freezing and the coldest day of winter, and it was drizzling.”
She got out of the car and walked up to the dog and started talking to him. Although he started to wag his tail, he was obviously sickly.
A man came out of a nearby body shop. Rosenblatt asked him if he knew anything about the dog. The man’s name was Melvin. “We feed him sometimes,” he said.
When Rosenblatt asked Melvin where the dog came from, he pointed to a house across the street. Apparently, the owners of the house let their dog roam the streets. This time they had left the country and locked the gate, leaving the white dog abandoned in the filthy chair.
A Promise to Keep
Because Rosenblatt’s own dog was with her and posed a safety issue, she was not prepared to take the big, white dog at that moment. She left Melvin with some dog food along with a promise to come back the next morning.
And she did. “The dog was waiting right there on the chair in the same spot,” Rosenblatt said. “He knew that I was there to get him.”
The day before, the dog wouldn’t leave his spot on the chair. But that morning, the dog got off the chair and followed her to the car. Rosenblatt decided to name him Melvin.
Rosenblatt’s car was set up with blankets. She immediately put a sweater on Melvin because his skin was exposed and he was shivering. “Then we drove away and were doing selfies on the way out.”
Melvin seemed to relax and was relieved and safe in Rosenblatt’s care. “I really think they know that I’m there to help them,” she said about the dogs she rescues. “He just knew things were going to get better from then on.”
She was unable to get him a foster home right away, so she took Melvin to her house. Shortly after, she and her daughter Brooke Sandoval tried to take him to the vet, but he didn’t want to leave the house. “He was decompressing,” Rosenblatt said. “He stayed on the couch and wouldn’t get off unless I was there.”
Finally, Sandoval carried Melvin so they could get him to the vet for care. He stayed there for a couple of weeks. He was in bad shape and Rosenblatt wanted the staff to keep an eye on him. Robin Budin of Unchain America stepped up to pay for Melvin’s vetting, his neutering, and his shots.
The veterinarian confirmed that Melvin was about four years old and, to Rosenblatt’s great relief, he was heartworm negative. His skin was in pretty bad shape—he had mange, open sores, and a bad infection on his neck from an embedded collar, which gave off a horrible smell. They had to cut off the collar.
While he was in the hospital, Rosenblatt’s Facebook followers sent Melvin toys and blankets. Rosenblatt and Sandoval visited him often. The vet said Melvin was melancholic but always friendly and never showed any aggression toward other animals. Because he was depressed, the vet staff suggested he get out of the hospital environment as soon as possible.
Fostering Saves Lives
A couple of weeks later, Cristian Gonzalez-Santos stepped up to foster Melvin after seeing the dog on Rosenblatt’s Facebook page where she posts about all of the dogs she saves. She posts widely and has a good following, including some people who foster dogs. “Something about his look said, ‘Please help me,’” Gonzales-Santos said.
Without hesitation, he picked Melvin up from the hospital and took him straight home.
“Overall it was an amazing experience just seeing him change from when I first got him until now,” he said. “It goes to show that even though it’s hard to foster dogs and then let them go, you’re having an impact on another life. Sometimes you have to let go and give love to the next dog in need.”
A Surprising Forever Home
Rosenblatt went from worrying about finding a foster home for Melvin to finding a permanent home for him—right next door!
Her new neighbor James Sakwitz has his own pit bull rescue named Billy. “I told him he has to foster one day,” Rosenblatt said.
But Sakwitz wasn’t so sure. “I don’t know how Billy would do,” he said.
It didn’t stop Sakwitz from continually asking Rosenblatt about Melvin. “He would say: ‘Tell me more about this Melvin,’” Rosenblatt said. She tried to get Sakwitz to commit to adopting Melvin. But Sakwitz worried about Billy being an “only child,” and he also traveled a lot for work.
Finally, Sakwitz gave in. He wanted to schedule a meet and greet with Melvin and Billy.
They brought the dogs to neutral territory to see if they got along. “James then decided to take Melvin home for a test run to make sure the dogs got along there,” Rosenblatt said. “I always like to do trials and do not want them to feel obligated until I know it works.”
By that same night, Sakwitz was sold.
“I received a picture of both dogs sleeping in the bed together and both laying on James [Sakwitz],” Rosenblatt said. “The dogs got along so well. It was a match.”
Now when Sakwitz travels, his mom watches Billy while Rosenblatt’s daughter watches Melvin who is now Melvin Jake or MJ, with Rosenblatt’s blessing. When he’s not traveling, Sakwitz likes to have his dogs by his side. “James takes the dogs everywhere,” Rosenblatt said. “Wherever he goes, they go.”
Melvin Jake went from being completely abandoned and treated like trash to living the good life. “When my daughter goes over to dog sit, James leaves her four-page letters on how to care for Melvin Jake. You can just tell he loves that dog so much.”
“He is the most loving, sweet dog,” Sakwitz said. “He just wants to be loved all of the time and be close to me. It makes me sick to think of the life he had before he came to me. I am truly blessed to have him. He and my other pit are best buds.”
Rosenblatt has rescued numerous dogs over the years, and she feels like somehow the right person always comes along to make those dogs part of their family.
“I would’ve never guessed in 1 million years that that white dog shivering on the chair would soon be my neighbor,” Rosenblatt said. “I don’t think things are coincidence; I think they’re meant to be.”
Follow Rosenblatt on Facebook. You can help with donations through her PayPal at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rosenblatt has started looking into her 501 (c ) (3).
Featured image: Alaina Rosenblatt