When Jack and Emily Jokinen awoke one morning to find a stray dog mysteriously in their living room, they were scared for their safety. But they soon realized that fate had led the special pup through their front door to not only become a loving part of their family, but to make a big impact on hearts across the world.
Jack, wake up!” Emily Jokinen yelled, shaking her husband. “There’s a strange dog downstairs!”
A strange dog? the Philadelphia native thought, scurrying out of bed. Sure enough, a small, sickly looking pup was cowering in the corner of their living room.
Immediately, Jack felt a pull at his heart-along with worry. How in the world could a dog have gotten in here? he wondered, fear washing over him as a second thought followed: Did someone open the door for it? Is there also a human hiding in our home?
Making sure his wife and their 1-month-old daughter, Joey, were safe, Jack made his way around the house checking the doors and windows. All was secure, with no evidence of an intruder.
“But how could she have gotten in?” he asked Emily again, when suddenly, it dawned on him: “The security cameras! They’ll give us a clue.” Playing back the footage from the night before, Jack saw the stray dog hobble her way through their front door, which he’d accidentally left open after he’d walked their family dog, Jorge. Just after the pup entered, the video showed a friendly neighbor walk by and close it-locking the dog inside until morning.
Gazing at the pup, Jack and Emily were both sure that fate had steered her into their home.
“We have to keep this dog,” Emily said.
Jack hesitated at first, but as the pup looked up at him, her eyes filled with sadness. Resolute, he exclaimed, “Yes…yes, we do!”
A journey of hope
They named their new furry family member Suzyn “Suzy” Pupman, after the New York Yankees sportscaster Suzyn Waldman. Jack announced the new addition on Twitter, sharing her photo and the bizarre moment when they had discovered her in their living room. Meanwhile, realizing Suzy was just skin and bones and in bad condition, the family took her to their veterinarian’s office.
“She’s quite sick,” the vet pronounced after an exam. Suzy was malnourished and had fleas, ticks, damage to her paws and teeth and a heart murmur.
“But the good news is, with the proper care, she will heal!”
“And we’re just the people to help her,” Jack and Emily agreed. Still, the medications and surgeries Suzy would need would be expensive. How are we going to afford it? Jack wondered, when suddenly, his phone buzzed.
Looking down, Jack was shocked to see that the picture he’d posted of Suzy had gone viral, and messages offering donations were flooding in.
“It’s a miracle!” Emily cried as money flowed in from kindhearted strangers to help Suzy live a long, happy life with her new forever family!
The miracle of love
After just a few weeks in her new home with her family and puppy brother, Jorge, Suzy’s health improved dramatically. Eating heartily every day, she eventually grew strong enough to go on walks, and Jack and Emily found that she also loved to snuggle with her baby sister, Joey.
But as Jack continued to post about Suzy’s recovery on social media, the family noticed another miracle at play: A ripple effect of love began to spread.
I was so moved by Suzy’s story that I adopted my own dog! one woman wrote, posting a picture of her happy pup to Suzy’s Facebook page.
And she wasn’t the only one who was inspired, as more and more people began to share their heartwarming adoption stories. Jack was so touched that he began to share the inspirational rescues on his own page, and to date, Suzy’s story has inspired the adoption of 25 dogs, two cats and even two guinea pigs!
Today, the Jokinen family has raised more than $40,000 for Suzy- money that Jack plans to give back.
“Any money that doesn’t go directly to Suzy’s care will go to charities that help other animals in need,” he says with a smile. “We hope that Suzy’s resilience and everything that brought her to us will continue to motivate people to adopt and to be kind to each other. We’re so happy that Suzy found us-and that she has finally come home!”
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.