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MAKING A MARK: Woman becomes a human hero for a pup with special needs

'Heart' came to the Portsmouth Humane Society at five weeks old, and had a serious medical condition. Local volunteer Shari Robinson stepped in to help.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — This is the story of a friendship made in a heartbeat.

Last year, six five-week-old puppies came to the Portsmouth Humane Society to find new homes. But one of them stood out from the rest. Her name was Heart. 

"Heart has always been a ridiculously outgoing puppy," says volunteer Shari Robinson. "Like, she has never met a stranger. She loves everyone she meets."

"Heart was the runt of the litter from the beginning," Robinson says. "She was much smaller than everybody else. And the only one with white feet." But her size and markings were signs of a serious problem.

Heart was soon diagnosed with 'megaesophagus'—an enlarged esophagus and lack of muscle motility, making it nearly impossible for food to make it to her stomach. 

"She had some trouble in foster with spitting up her food, having it kind of come out of her nose too," Robinson says.

Because of her diagnosis, Heart needed special care and treatment from the right foster parent. That's when Robinson stepped in to help. 

"Volunteering is kind of more selfish, just because I get so much out of it," says Robinson. "Like, I really love doing it. So, I gain a lot. It's not money, but a lot more."

The two-faced many challenges along Heart's journey, but they did it together. "I brought her home, and I did tons of research trying to figure out what to feed her, how often to feed her, all of that. It's very specific," Robinson says.

Today, Heart is ready to find her forever home, but she already has a forever friend. "I know that she's not gonna be with me forever, and I do love her," says Robinson. "And it's gonna be hard when she goes, but I know that she's gonna be going someplace great."

Robinson has now been volunteering at several other animal shelters and organizations, and Heart is now under the Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary. But Robinson is still Heart's foster mom.

If you are interested in adopting Heart - reach out to Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SafeHarborAnimalSanctuary/.

You can also follow Heart and Robinson's journey on the Facebook page, 'Be still my Heart': https://www.facebook.com/situporspitup/.

If you'd like to foster an animal through the Portsmouth Humane Society, call 757-397-6004 or visit https://portsmouthhumanesociety.org/.

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