Caitlin UltimoPet Parenting / Pet Stories

From Kuwait to America: A Desert Dog’s International Journey

Photo Courtesy of Shannon O’Dowd

A Desert Dog’s Journey From Kuwait to Her Forever Home in America

Looking at her now, you wouldn’t think the happy puppy running around her human’s yard had such a hard start in life.

“Loreley has a very heartbreaking and unique pet story,” says Loreley’s new mom, Shannon O’Dowd.

That pet story starts all the way on the other side of the world. As a desert dog (she’s likely a Canaan breed) in Kuwait, Loreley’s chances for surviving were already slim—and then somebody decided to shoot her. 

“Loreley, her mother and her littermates were used as target practice one night in July 2017 when she was roughly 1 month old,” says O’Dowd. “They were on a farm when attacked, and fortunately for Loreley, someone nearby heard gunshots and called KareQ8, stating that she believed one puppy may be severely injured.”

The group headed out and looked for surviving animals in the area, finding her hours later. She had squeezed under a house to protect herself, the only member of her family to survive the shooting. KareQ8 immediately rushed her to their animal hospital to help her.

“Loreley had a broken leg, a couple fractured ribs, and a bullet lodged in her spinal cord, which caused her to be paralyzed from the waist down,” explains O’Dowd. “But during surgery to remove the bullet, the doctor realized he was unable to remove it without causing further damage.”

KareQ8 realized then that she needed the best care in the world for a chance at a normal life, so they contacted the Puppy Rescue Mission organization in the United States. Together, the two organizations worked to raise money to bring Loreley to America to see one of the best veterinary surgeons.

desert dog in wheelchair

Photo Courtesy of Shannon O’Dowd

In August 2017, when Loreley was well enough to travel, it was time to select a volunteer to help her make the journey to the U.S.—and that’s when O’Dowd’s mom came into the picture. 

“My mom had stumbled upon the Puppy Rescue Mission while looking around for animal rescue groups,” O’Dowd explains. “A friend had introduced her to a woman who was fostering Duke, who is now my mom’s dog; she connected and started supporting the Puppy Rescue Mission because she could support our troops while helping animals in need.”

O’Dowd’s mom has been a flying volunteer and foster since then. Flying rescue dogs and other animals is significantly more expensive when they are not accompanied by a human companion, so volunteers are an essential way to keep costs down for the rescue.

“When the money was raised, my mom flew to Kuwait to pick up Loreley and a few other dogs for transport to fosters and forever homes,” O’Dowd says.

desert dog rescued

Photo Courtesy of Shannon O’Dowd

Once Loreley arrived in America, she was taken to a veterinary surgeon where she was ultimately ruled as not a candidate for surgery, but was recommended for weekly aqua therapy to help her get stronger.

desert dog swimming

Photo Courtesy of Shannon O’Dowd

“My mom shared Loreley’s story with my boyfriend and me, and I found myself sobbing over a little puppy I had never met and I knew I wanted to help her,” O’Dowd explains.

So, she applied through the Puppy Rescue Mission to foster Loreley.

“I’m not sure why I was selected over others, but it likely helped that I was living in the same area as the surgical vet and I had my mom’s reference,” she adds.

Loreley spent only 1 month with O’Dowd and her boyfriend as a foster before they decided to adopt her—although O’Dowd confesses they were considering the option from the start.

“Our hearts were filled with love for her, and we wanted to be there with her to see her thrive,” O’Dowd says. “Our families had also fallen in love with her. She has so much spunk and personality, and she trusts and loves us; we could really tell she was meant to be a part of our family.”

cute desert dog

Photo Courtesy of Shannon O’Dowd

Aside from being paralyzed, Loreley is a perfectly healthy puppy.

“She has so much energy; she’s curious about everything she finds; she chews on things she shouldn’t—the usual puppy behaviors,” O’Dowd says.

And while she still has to wear dog diapers part of the time, O’Dowd and her boyfriend are working on potty training her.

O’Dowd says she’s aware that over the course of her life, Loreley will run into complications as a result of her paralysis, but the couple is doing everything they can to give her the best possible life.

“We take her to aqua therapy every week, she has a wheelchair, she has puppy playdates, and we shower her with love and puppy hugs and kisses, and so much more,” O’Dowd explains.

While the original prognosis wasn’t good, Loreley has been showing significant improvement over the past few months.

“She’s not completely paralyzed, as she wags her tail, she can stand on all four legs, she moves her legs and walks sometimes,” O’Dowd says. “We are hoping that with time and continued therapy, she will walk again.”

A typical day for Loreley involves waking up her humans at the crack of dawn to go outside, eating breakfast and playing with all of her dog toys. ”

“From there, she will make several more trips outside to run around in the wheels and play with our other family dog, Mocha, or Duke if we visit my mom,” says O’Dowd. “In the evening, she has dinner and plays with her toys some more, and she ends the day snuggling with Mommy and Daddy.”

lorelay's pet story

Photo Courtesy of Shannon O’Dowd



Diana Bocco is a full-time writer and adventurer who has written for National Geographic, DiscoveryChannel.com, Yahoo! and Marie Claire. Diana has lived in five countries and taken her rescued dogs along to each one of them.  

Share: