Californian animal lover Liz Heatherly’s journey started out as just an ordinary drive in early 2018. But as she motored along her usual route, the 28-year-old was distracted by a most unusual sight. There, at the side of the highway, was a curious shape. At first glance, it looked like a very young dog, but there was something strange about its snout. The intrepid Heatherly got out to investigate, but when she got closer to the shape, her mouth dropped open.
Retail worker Heatherly lives with her mongrel dog, Jackson, in the small settlement of Greenville in Southern California. In April 2018, Heatherly found herself in the heavy glare of the media spotlight with a special canine, but it was not her old friend Jackson. In fact, the animal in question was one she had first come across earlier that month.
When Heatherly left her house on April 4, there was no way she could have predicted what would happen that day. She was taking a drive in her car, with her mother and sister as passengers, when they noticed something out of the ordinary. As a result, the party made an unscheduled and hasty stop.
It turned out that a small shape on the side of the highway was the cause of the impulsive interruption to their car journey. The driver had correctly identified the mystery form as a little puppy, but Heatherly had also singled out something weird concerning the young dog’s snout. It looked like Mother Nature had bestowed a very distinctive birthmark on the mutt.
The animal lover described exactly what had brought them up short to U.K. tabloid The Daily Express later that April. “We noticed this black-and-white puppy on the side of the road with a perfect white circle around his mouth,” Heatherly said. “It was so strange, we decided to pull over.”
Heatherly stopped the car with the intention of checking on the little tyke and its highly individual marking. However, when she left her vehicle and approached the pup, it seemed totally terrified. Consequently, the canine took off running and retreated into a nearby ditch before any human could get too close.
Despite her best efforts, Heatherly could not reach the animal in its safe place, so she concocted a plan to lure the pupper out. By using a piece of tasty ham as bait, she managed to get hold of the obviously ravenous young dog. But, it was only then that Heatherly realized what was wrong with the mutt’s nose.
Far from being a gift from Mother Nature, the white band around its snout was actually a plastic zip cord. It appeared as if some wicked person had used the tie to seal the poor animal’s mouth shut. Furthermore, the canine’s cruel tormentor had tied the band so tightly that it was cutting into the dog’s sensitive flesh. Needless to say, there was no way Heatherly could just leave the pupper in such a sorry state.
With that in mind, she whisked the ailing dog away to the Cleveland Park Animal Hospital in her home town. Subsequent to a medical assessment, the vet concluded that the pup was male and roughly ten weeks old. For such a young age, the little guy had already suffered so much.
A week or so after her road-side discovery, Heatherly spoke about it to her local newspaper, The Greenville News. “The zip tie had been put around his mouth so tightly, his mouth was all bloody and scabbed,” she explained. “[The vet] believed he had been zip tied for between three and four days.” So it was not surprising that, in addition to his injuries, the malnourished mutt was also approximately 14 pounds lighter than he should have been.
As well as his other woes, parasites of both the flea and tick variety infested the black-and-white puppy’s fur. But, despite having endured such an evidently bad start to life, there was now some good news for the dog. Heatherly had decided to offer him a happy home alongside her beloved Jackson.
Indeed, the animal lover decided to call the new addition Norman, and the veterinarian began treating his various issues straight away. “We got his shots and gave him a flea bath,” Heatherly explained. “We treated his cuts with the vitamin C oil once we got home.”
Understandably, the trauma of Norman’s highway ordeal distressed him when he was welcomed to his new Greenville home. And Heatherly’s neighbors could probably confirm that as the poor pupper cried throughout that first night. Nevertheless, his adoptive human mom had already fallen for his charms. She was determined to give the mistreated mutt the furever home he deserved.
And Heatherly was not the only one in her immediate family who quickly came to adore Norman. The new arrival wasted little time in ingratiating himself with his new human’s first dog. And, apparently, this came as a surprise as Heatherly maintains that the discerning Jackson has always been very picky about the company he keeps.
The canine fancier said as much to The Daily Express. “My other dog, Jackson, usually hates other dogs,” she explained. “But he seems to really like Norman’s sweet and timid demeanor – they get along so well.” Yet, since the younger animal was just a very young puppy, he still had a lot to learn…
Heatherly continued, “We’re struggling with potty training at the moment, but I think that’s the case with all new puppies.” The animal lover was now working hard to heal all of Norman’s scars – both emotional and physical. And, thankfully, the plucky pup has proved himself to be remarkably hardy.
Initially, Norman had a vivid band of scar tissue from where the zipper tie had embedded itself into the skin of his snout. In fact, the vets thought it would be a permanent brand of his past ill treatment and suffering. However, Norman’s fur has since started growing back and is doing a good job of covering the wound.
However, Heatherly noted that the replacement fur was a patchwork of white instead of Norman’s predominantly black color. Nonetheless, apart from this feature, there are no obvious outward signs of the trauma he endured as a very young pup.
And Heatherly was happy to report this in the article published by The Greenville News. “He’s full of life, energy and happiness,” she told the newspaper. “To have had his mouth closed shut and left for dead – he’s so resilient.” On that subject, the staff at the Cleveland Park Animal Hospital hope that Norman’s story will persuade members of the public to do more in the fight against animal abuse.
The veterinarians there have asked people to volunteer, foster, donate or to simply raise awareness of canine cruelty if they feel moved to by Norman’s plight. As for the little feller himself, you can follow the pupper’s progress on his Instagram account – Norman’s Happily Ever After. As Heatherly concluded to The Daily Express, “We’re just glad to be able to give Norman a loving home after all he’s been through.”