Every once in a while, along comes a story that warms the cockles of the heart (wherever they lurk in one’s organism?!).
The story of a plucky little dog is one of those stories. Omid (pronounced “Oh-MEED”) is a little, mixed-breed dog who has come a long way, literally and metaphorically. “Omid” means to have hope.
Read on, and when you’re done, we hope you’ll share this story to inspire someone who is a little down or feeling sorry for themselves. Because Omid’s tale puts things into perspective.
Omid’s story came to us through Vet Organics’ Facebook page, via his proud “mom” Banafshé (Bany) Alavi. Like any other proud mother, she basks in telling the story of her little one. We were originally planning to condense much of what Bany shared with us, but as we talked to Bany, we soon realized that Omid’s story, like the plucky little dog himself, keeps going. Curl up with a cup of tea and read on. This is one dog that’s well on his way to being an international celebrity, as you’ll soon see, and who does indeed give us hope.
Omid’s life as far back as we know it starts back in Iran. Omid was hit by a car, and the impact was so severe that he should have died, but for the next couple of years, he dragged his paralyzed body in the streets fending for himself. During the time he was in the streets, he came across some people that did a lot of harm to him.
Someone cut one of his ears, and scars linger from knife wounds around his eyes, forehead, and body. At one point, somebody tied him to a motorcycle with his tail and dragged him through the streets, causing him to loose a couple of toes due to infection.
One winter night, Omid was spotted by an older man driving by. Now, this man, like many of us, had things to do, and a business to run, so the man kept going. However, throughout the remainder of the day and during the following day, the image of this paralyzed dog in the street kept coming back to him, and he sorely regretted not stopping for the injured dog. So, Mohsen (the businessman) sent his driver to go to the same area he’d seen the dog, with instructions to keep looking until he found the dog.
After some time, the driver came back with the paralyzed dog. (After all, when one can’t walk, and has no home or place to go, how far can you drag yourself in one day?) Mohsen took the dog to a vet, where he was advised that the dog should be put down, as his injuries were too extensive to help.
But as Mohsen said to himself, “There’s a reason our eyes met and our paths crossed, I cannot have him put down.” Mohsen took Omid back to his office where the dog stayed for a couple of weeks as Mohsen tried to figure out what to do.
Among other things, he put in a call to the Vafa Animal Shelter, which agreed to open up space for the dog. So Mohsen had his secretary deliver the dog. The shelter staff assessed that the dog was probably around 5 years old and was suffering greatly due to his vast injuries. Since the dog was paralyzed in his hindquarters, the Vafa Shelter staff realized his care was beyond their scope and contacted a supporter named Farah who resided in California. Remotely, Farah worked hard on dog’s behalf, trying to get the dog out of Iran and into U.S. in hopes of a better life and medical treatment for him.
Now prior to this, a couple named Banafshé and Babak, recent newlyweds and themselves ardent dog lovers, had found their call to meaning in helping dogs in the U.S.. Although they resided in the DC area, they had been activists to rescue dogs slated for destruction in over-crowded Californian shelters. They had found a way to raise enough money to fly from their home to California to rescue 93 dogs from high kill shelters and, with the help of some friends, drive the dogs to Oregon, where they knew they could find a way to get them into loving homes. They placed these dogs into rescue sanctuaries, where they were spayed or neutered, vaccinated, groomed and given up for adoption to suitable families.
Back to Omid. Farah, the U.S. representative of Vafa, happened to read an article about the couple’s rescue mission, and reached out to them on Facebook. Farah had started a search for a passenger willing to bring this dog from Iran to the US. As fate would have it, a young lady named Neda was visiting Iran because her father had passed away and she had gone there for his funeral. Neda saw the post on Facebook and volunteered to bring the dog back to the US with her. With the wheels of a rescue in motion, a woman in France named Parvine said she would sponsor the dog and pay for his ticket. So Farah asked Parvine to give the dog a name, and Parvine named the dog Omid, which means to have Hope in Farsi.
It was March of 2012 when Omid aka Hope arrived at the Washington Dulles Airport. There were many people there at the airport who had been following his story and rescue on Facebook and wanted to come to the airport to “Welcome Omid to America.” Among the people who learned of Omid was a gentleman named John, who had a paralyzed dog named Buddy who recently passed away. So, soon after Omid’s arrival in Washington, D.C., arrangements were made to send to the dog to Pennsylvania, where plans were made for Omid to live there on a farm with a couple. John drove for hours to take Buddy’s wheelchair to donate to Omid. Omid started walking for the first time after years of dragging his body through the streets. It was decided to bring Omid back to Washington, D.C., where he was living for a few weeks with a couple named Sara and Michael (and their two dogs). One weekend, Sara and Michael had other plans and could not take care of Omid, so Farah reached out to Banafshé and Babak to ask if they would be interested in dog-sitting Omid for the weekend.
This is when Omid found his forever home. Banafshé remembers,
When Omid came to our place, we bathed him and cleaned what must of been years of dirt, sand and things from inside his ears, his back legs still had some open wounds as did his face and around his nose….We were in awe of this dog, the way he just plopped his body into my arms and just basically said, “Okay, I’m letting go….. I’m all yours, do whatever you want to do.” And not ONCE did he growl, snap, or act up, absolutely nothing!!! No matter what we did with him, lifting his frail 28-pound body, bathing him, drying him, putting on a doggy diaper, no matter what we did, he just looked at us with the deepest, soulful eyes that shot straight into my heart. I wept for the next 48 hours for the pain and suffering he must of endured. While we doggy sat for him, I wanted to make sure he had everything he needed. So we went to PetSmart together, we bought toys, we bought treats, we went to the park, we showered him with so much love and attention trying to show him that not all humans are evil. Unfortunately, Omid had a lot of stomach issues and it didn’t matter what he would eat, whether it was treats or dog food, he would have bad diarrhea. At that time we didn’t know this but found out months later via X-rays that while in the streets he ate rocks, gravel…. just anything, and he had really messed up his stomach.
That Monday, when it was time for Omid to go back to Sara and Michael’s place, during our drive there, Babak and I cried. After we dropped Omid off, we cried on the drive back home and once we arrived into our place, it was so empty—we would look at different corners of our place and felt how empty his ‘space’ was. [Empty in a way it had never been before] even though we have 4 other rescues, as we had left our dogs at my parents place while Omid was with us because we wanted to devote our time and full attention to Omid during the weekend.
So, around April 2012, when Banafshé and Babak realized they just couldn’t live without him, they asked if they could foster Omid. They wanted to make sure all of their dogs would get along, especially as their existing rescues were all much smaller than Omid, and they knew they had to have harmony in the pack, with every dog safe and feeling secure. So for the next month, they started introducing Omid to one dog at a time, and slowly. By the end of May, it was clear there was the well-needed harmony and acceptance amongst the dogs and the couple officially adopted Omid. As Banafshé wrote to us, “Our little pack family was complete. :)”
From here on it, rest assured, Omid’s life takes a turn for the happy…
That summer Omid won a contest with the Humane Society and became the NOVA Dog Magazine cover making him the first “Persian” dog to ever be on an “American” magazine. The Humane Society invited his “dog parents” and Omid to their annual Bark Ball Gala, a black tie event at the Washington Hilton, where 800 guests arrived along with 400 doggy guests. That evening, the NOVA DOG magazine cover was revealed and the VIP guest, Omid, was brought up on stage where, as his ‘mom’ says “he shone like the brave boy that he is.”
That night, half a million dollars was raised for the animals. Banafshé shares,
“A camera crew from the BBC had followed us for the day, from us getting ready to going to the gala, and of course the story was OMID from the streets of Iran to the Nation’s Capital. ABC7 also did a story on Omid and little by little other networks and online newspapers and magazines started covering the story of this amazing dog named Omid. So many people overseas wanted to know what had happened to this dog, so my husband, Babak, suggested for us to open up a Facebook page for him so many people can be in touch with Omid and his life and well being. Every where we went, Omid’s beautiful smile shined and touched many people who would just see him walking in the streets with us. “
There are many, many more elements to this profoundly moving story and the lives he and his new family has touched. Omid now weighs a very healthy 38 pounds, he’s thriving! Banafshé notes, “he walks proudly in his wheelchair with his head up, smiling and just spreads his positive energy among anyone he comes across.”
We thank Banafshé (Bany) and her husband Babak, for allowing us to share their amazing story of redemption for a dog and encourage you to add your comments below. You are most welcome to learn more and follow Omid’s continuing journey as an ambassador of hope by joining them on Omid’s Facebook page.