The Rescue Dog that Helped One Family Cope with Loss

Oct 19, 2019

The past few years haven’t been easy for the Stoll family. Several years ago, Ronnie’s husband was diagnosed with advanced stage colon cancer. She decided to rescue a 2 ½-year old pitbull mix named Petey to keep her husband company during the day. Petey was an amazing dog, and the whole family fell in love with him. After her husband passed, Petey even stayed with Ronnie’s father when he was in hospice himself.

Petey lived a wonderful full life until he passed away this past February to cancer as well. Ronnie’s twin sons, Brian and Robert, begged her to get another dog, but she didn’t think she could handle it. “I couldn’t go through that again,” she explained.



Things settled down briefly, but life doesn’t always give us the time we need to heal. In June of 2019, one of Ronnie’s twin sons, Robert, passed away very suddenly. “His death was an absolute shock,” she said. Brian and Ronnie were devastated, especially on the heels of so much loss. This time, though, when a grieving Brian asked if they could get a dog, Ronnie didn’t hesitate. “Let’s go find a pet,” she said.

dog day care - garden city - foster care


Finding the right dog to adopt isn’t always easy, especially when you have an active 1 ½ year-old granddaughter running around. Ronnie needed to find a loving pup that was good with young children. She contacted several shelters, but it was the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter that mentioned a pitbull mix being fostered at nearby Hounds Town USA. The popular dog day care does not breed discriminate and is known for working with local shelters to help at-risk dogs. Ronnie, however, wasn’t sure. She was concerned the dog might have behavioral issues.  She decided to go visit Hounds Town – Garden City with Brian and see for herself.



hounds town - garden city - rescue dog - day careIt felt a little bit like fate when Hounds Town owner Colleen Tracey-Shaver introduced them to “Bobby” the sweet-faced foster pup. “My son Robert’s friends always called him Bobby,” she told Colleen. And the coincidences didn’t end there. Turns out Bobby was a 2 ½ year pitbull mix, just like their beloved dog Petey when he was first rescued.

Colleen and Elizabeth explained that Bobby lacked  confidence when he first arrived at Hounds Town. “He lived outside most of his life and had some trust issues with men,” she explained. But the warnings were unnecessary dog day care - foster dog - hounds town - garden citybecause as soon as Bobby came bounding in to meet the Stolls, the dog adored Brian immediately. “Bobby was completely focused on Brian. He couldn’t take his eyes off of him. He sat at Brian’s feet almost like he was waiting to be told what to do,” says Colleen. “It was crazy. We knew then that Bobby had found his furever home.”



On October 13–Brian and Robert’s birthday–Ronnie Stoll decided to make what could have been a sad day into one of honor and celebration by formally adopting Bobby. “Bobby follows Brian wherever he goes,” she said. “Our house has become a home again. It was just meant to be.”

Colleen Tracey-Shaver and Erin Phillips from Hounds Town – Garden City came to visit Bobby on adoption day, bearing treats and toys for the puppy who loves his new family so much. “Bobby was so excited to see his foster moms and show them his big new backyard,” Ronnie says, laughing. In his new home, Bobby has also learned what a TV is (sort of) and how to destroy a box of tissues in under a minute. “He never had the opportunity to be a real puppy,” says Ronnie. “Every day we see more growth.”

For her part, Ronnie couldn’t be more grateful for the dog lovers at Hounds Town – Garden City. “Today could have been a very difficult day. But Colleen and Erin helped ease the pain and reinforce what a blessing Bobby is for us, and we are for him.” Pointing out the window, she says, “Look, there are paw prints on the patio again. It’s such a beautiful sight.” Ronnie has even given Bobby the green blanket that Petey used to love and was wrapped in when he passed. “I can’t help but feel that all of this was meant to be.”

To find out how you can rescue a dog or how to help, please visit Hounds Town Charities. Hounds Town – Garden City is located at 839 Stewart Avenue, Garden City, NY 11530. You can also connect with them on Facebook and Instagram




Check out these relevant posts