Life is an ongoing learning process. Along our life’s journey we encounter many teachers. We first learn from our parents, family, teachers and friends. Even those who we have never met are invaluable to our learning. Every so often, however, an unlikely teacher comes along and strikes a chord which resounds within us. Simba is one such teacher.

Zoe’s Animal Rescue group located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada was contacted by a community liaison regarding a dog in dire need of help. They found the dog was extremely emaciated and not using one of his front legs. Zoe’s Animal Rescue immediately took custody of the dog they named Simba. The veterinarians estimated Simba, a mixed breed, was 4-years old. Upon physical examination, it became appallingly clear Simba was severely abused, neglected and in extreme pain. Simba had a gunshot wound the size of a tennis ball located on his shoulder. He also had many broken teeth, mouth abscesses and multiple embedded quills in his face, shoulder and feet.

Simba’s tremendous pain was heart wrenching. Astoundingly, rescuers stated, “He was still full of love and showed tail wags even when he was too weak to walk and we had to carry him.” He was immediately placed on pain medications, IV fluids, and antibiotics. The next 24 hours were critical as Simba needed to be stabilized to undergo emergency surgery. Once stable, Simba’s wound was cleaned, debrided and extensive damaged tissue was removed. He required drains and continued IV fluids, antibiotics, and pain medication.

Zoe’s Animal Rescue reached out to the Ian Somerhalder Foundation and was awarded an Emergency Medical Grant to help lessen the financial burdens of the surgeries needed to save Simba’s life. Simba endured surgery to remove significant necrotic muscle from the gunshot wound area and the lesion was then closed. He had dental surgery to remove many broken teeth and his mouth abscesses were treated. Simba braved multiple surgeries to remove the quills rooted in his body. Miraculously his leg was saved as the gunshot missed his vital organs and his leg bones. Through it all Simba expressed such sweetness towards all those who rose to the occasion to save him. Rescuers had this to say about Simba, “He loves to be with people and gently takes his favorite treat, cooked chicken breast. When you look into his eyes you feel like his is looking right into your soul saying thank you for showing kindness. He is such a special dog and everyone who meets him feels a pull at their heartstrings. Even the vets were shocked at the extent of the injuries and neglect and the fact that he was still so sweet.”

According to Zoe’s Animal Rescue, “Simba recuperated very well, loving his foster home and his two furry sisters. He has a slight limp when he is tired but other than that he is perfect.” Once Simba was medically cleared the search for his forever family began. A family heard of Simba’s journey to recovery through social media. Their application was chosen from several potential families as being the ideal fit for Simba. On November 21, 2015 the loving family gave Simba the home he so desperately deserved. Zoe’s Animal Rescue had this to say about Simba’s new family, “They were so excited to have him and set him up with great care right away, including a warm jacket for the Edmonton winter.”

Zoe’s Animal Rescue contacted the Ian Somerhalder Foundation to say, “We’re so grateful that the Ian Somerhalder Foundation was able to help Simba in his hour of need. Saving his life and providing him with complete care for his serious wounds, including a gunshot lesion, and now being able to place him in a loving adoptive home has made his story a Zoe’s favorite.”

Animal abuse is an inexcusable act which Simba suffered tremendously at the hands of his abusers. Yet, he was described as “the picture of forgiveness and the fight to live.” Simba’s response to his rescuers teaches us love and forgiveness cannot be separated. Simba showed his rescuers he had a willingness to put the past behind him and to love from the moment he was saved. This neglected, abused, and dying dog taught humans to love and forgive no matter the circumstance.

ISF would like to thank Zoe’s Animal Rescue for rescuing Simba, for this unlikely teacher taught us forgiveness is the highest form of love as he forgave the inexcusable.

Written by Theresa Blangiforti

Edited by Bob Stone