The following true story comes from Rover sitter Karena L. in Richmond, TX. It a powerful testament to the lengths dog people will go to help each other and ensure pets are safe and sound. This is her story, in her own words. If you’re looking for more ways to support dog people and pets in need during Hurricane Harvey, please visit our hurricane resource page to offer your support.
Shortly after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, I got a message from Rover: There was a dog, marooned by flood waters on Houston’s suburban outskirts, in immediate need of a pet sitter. Her name was Annabelle. The photo showed she was a senior Labrador with a sleek black coat and eyes so bright they reminded you of a puppy.
Her current sitter could not reach her because she was trapped by the hurricane. Annabelle had no one to feed her, give her potty breaks, or administer her medicine. It was a true emergency.
We had no information about the state of her home. It could be bursting with flood waters or safe and dry.
The owner was out of town, so we had no information about the state of her home. It could be bursting with flood waters or safe and dry. I had to make my way there to find out.
Anxiously, I drove out to the address. But I soon realized that I’d have to walk—the waters were too high. I put on my knee-high rain boots and started wading through water to reach the owner’s house. My legs were sore and I was frightened by thoughts of what I might find. But the adrenaline kept me going.
When I approached the home, I contacted Rover’s support line to guide me through the situation. How was I going to get in? I didn’t have a key. What did I need to do to ensure my safety? And of course, the most important question: What about Annabelle? What should I expect from a dog left alone and scared in a flood, and what should I do if I found her in a bad state? The person on the Rover line comforted me and helped me think through the process. We got through this together.
We realized I would have to break a window in order to rescue Annabelle.
With the owner’s blessing, we realized I would have to break a window in order to rescue Annabelle. There was no hidden spare key, so I had to get creative. Keep in mind, this was four hours into the rescue, and there were moments when flood waters were up to my waist.
My fingers fumbled through the murky goo around the owner’s yard, and I felt a large rock. With a little hesitation, I threw it into one of the home’s windows. Shards of glass scattered violently.
I climbed through the window: No Annabelle. I was starting to get worried.
I began scanning the home. Fortunately, waters hadn’t yet penetrated the indoors. I walked through the vacant house, calling her name: “Annabelle!”
In the master bedroom, I finally found her. She was curled up in her owner’s closet, terrified and confused. I introduced myself by extending my right hand, and once she sniffed it and perked up. I had a feeling we would get out of this together.
It was time to go back into the flood, and I began to wonder if Annabelle could swim.
With my adrenaline still pumping, I tried to locate Annabelle’s harness, her medication, and other important items to her. It was time to go back into the flood. I began to wonder if Annabelle could swim.
Annabelle was a good 60-70 pounds, and I wasn’t sure if I could carry her after the tiring first leg of my trip. I watched her closely once we exited her home. I threw a backpack over my shoulder and took several deep, conscious breaths.
Annabelle could swim! She seemed to realize the teamwork we needed to practice. I tried to channel Annabelle’s courage whenever I saw a snake swimming through the gloomy bayou that the town had transformed into.
I tried to channel Annabelle’s courage whenever I saw a snake swimming through the gloomy bayou.
Visibility was low, and even with my thick boots on, I had trouble overcoming my personal fear. I took a gulp and marched on, hoping no danger would find us.
On our journey back, we didn’t encounter any problems, but it was starting to get dark. I wanted to make sure that we got to my vehicle safely before nightfall.
Once we approached my car, I felt a huge sense of relief. My body’s tension started to release, and I started trying to contact Annabelle’s owner right away.
Annabelle’s mom was beyond grateful when she picked up, overcome with joy and a sense of peace. Annabelle was no longer all by herself. Her baby girl was fine—but, she did need a bath. I fixed that problem as soon as we arrived home.
While Annabelle was obviously exhausted after that ordeal, she recuperated quickly and seemed to enjoy the presence of other dogs (my Rover daycare clients). She played with them, slept beside them, and appeared to feel as if they were her “pack.” They helped her achieve a sense of normalcy.
Her owner kept in close contact with me throughout her time with me, continuously offering her thanks. She may have seen me as going above and beyond, but I only did what I considered to be the right thing. That’s the spirit right now in the Houston area, and Rover helped me pay it forward. Annabelle deserved it.
Annabelle is now safe, dry, and happy, and that’s the best result I could have gotten out of this.