After scrolling through her phone late one evening, a California mother came across a desperate plea to save a dog’s life.
Trish Bauer of San Bernardino, California, is not new to the world of fostering or adopting pets. But after her daughter beat cancer and completed her treatment, it took four years for her immune system to recover and allow her to be around any animals, Bauer told Fox New Digital.
For the past four years, the Bauers have fostered and rescued over 250 kittens, with an emphasis on NICU baby bottle-fed kittens.
Trish Bauer has always had a love for kittens, but for the longest time had an “immense fear of dogs,” she shared.
Bauer said that in February 2022, she delivered a daughter who was stillborn, and from that moment on it was “a tidal wave of animals” that made their way into the Bauer home — serving as companions to the grieving family.
Bauer said her fears subsided.
“It is her pushing me to move past different forms of fears knowing that if I push through those fears in life, maybe I will push through the pain and fear after losing her,” Bauer said of her late daughter.
A few months after losing her child, Bauer was scrolling on Instagram and came across a dog rescue page that posted a video of a German shepherd.
The text on the video stated, “I’m dying tomorrow in this cold lonely room.”
“He knew that we would love him just as much as we would fight for him.”— Trish Bauer
Bauer said she immediately found herself attached to the dog, a feeling that she had not experienced before.
“His eyes … looked like mine. It’s like he was harboring the same pain I couldn’t get through,” she added.
Hundreds of comments were coming in, but something told Bauer to also write a comment, she said.
She had volunteered to pick him up and hold him for 24 hours if the other offers fell through, she said.
Bauer woke up the next morning to an Instagram message saying, “He is being euthanized in 30 minutes, can you go and save him?”
When Bauer told her daughter Lilly, 10, that they were on their way to rescue a dog, the girl didn’t believe her. Added Bauer, “I thought I had lost my mind.”
The two of them grabbed a cat leash and hopped in the car to rescue Wilbur, a 12-year-old, 90-pound German shepherd.
“Our plan with Wilbur was for him to go to another foster who had other dogs,” said Bauer.
Wilbur had been living with his new foster family only one day before the foster parent called Bauer, saying one of their dogs had become very aggressive toward Wilbur.
Bauer and her husband, Josh, decided to pick up Wilbur and bring him home with them, making their bond permanent.
Once he found his new home with the Bauers, Wilbur was taken to the veterinary clinic for a checkup when a cancerous tumor was found in his neck.
“My daughter [Lilly] is a cancer survivor and all our family knows is fighting,” Bauer said.
“Any bit of fight is hard and scary, but we knew what to do. We immediately went into fight mode.”
The Bauers had found themselves fighting against cancer before, after Lilly was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at birth. The “need to fight” was something they were used to.
They found that Wilbur was not healthy enough to qualify for surgery.
He was given 60 days for his numbers to stabilize and to gain an extra 10 pounds — and within three weeks, he met the requirements.
“There is nobody else that could have known how to fight for him [or] how he needed to fight.”— Trish Bauer
The family has since renamed Wilbur; he’s Cooper now.
(Bauer said Cooper had not been immediately been responding to the name Wilbur, so she and her family decided that he deserved a brand-new name.)
The procedure Cooper underwent was made even more difficult because of his age, but after his procedure — he came running out, Bauer recalled.
A month after his surgery, Cooper’s full pathology results came back clear, meaning he was officially cancer free.
“We are going to love this dog until his very last day,” Bauer recalled her husband saying, after they received Cooper’s clean bill of health.
Cooper was officially adopted on the one-year mark of Bauer losing her daughter, Millie, on Feb. 11.
“It honestly felt like fate. There is nobody else that could have known how to fight for him [or] how he needed to fight,” Bauer said.
“He knew that we would love him just as much as we would fight for him.”
Cooper has made an impression on the entire family, especially Trish Bauer, she said.
“I’m so glad that he broke down my walls,” said the mom.
“There is such a therapeutic, peaceful thing that a dog fills your soul with — without you even knowing they do it,” she said.