is now

To better serve our animal-loving community as we move into the future, we plan to expand our offering. And in the process, we thought a name change was in order is now

"Cuddly" is how we feel about animals and it's how animals make us feel. That being said, while there are many upcoming changes, our mission remains the same. We aim to help animals around the world live better lives through innovation, community, and kindness. Thank you for being a part of our movement and, now, the family.


Shot, Hit w/Beer Bottle, Malnourished, Stray

  • Breed: Pit Bull Terrier
  • Name: Ivy April
  • Color: White
  • Size: Medium
  • Sex: Female
  • Age: Young

In rescue, you dread the emails, messages, texts starting out with "Can you please help this dog?" which is an escalation on the standard message of "Do you have room for this dog?"

When I opened the message, there she was, a photo of a nameless stray dog living on the streets of a desolate, crime-ridden rural town in Illinois, named Cairo.  Her advocate calling her April and begging for help.  They had worked months to get her to come to them from the row of abandoned homes and now two monsters had shot and crushed her head with a beer bottle in a matter of days.

Blood on her head and back, holding her back leg up only utilizing the three others to move in the dirt and garbage filled the yard came next in video form.

The sight of Ivy's fragile body followed by the words, "she has been shot in the leg and had a beer bottle cracked across her skull, can you help?" 

How do you say no?  You don't and instead, begin calling out for a transporter to bring this dog 6 hours north to your veterinary hospital for medical care.  You don't think about the medical cost, the length of time she will need to become whole again, you only think about how fast can you get her out of that town and to safety.

Your eyes well up with tears and your heartbreaks as she cowers down inside the vehicle paralyzed with fear and her body shaking in response.  

After 10 minutes she allowed me to pick her up and place her in my vehicle to finish the next 3 hours of the drive.  She sat tethered with a seat belt harness, unable to see outside the window despite staring upward.  Not making a single sound, not moving from the spot the entire 3 hours, not taking the assortment of treats offered.

From coming out of the vehicle-to going into the vet hospital-to heading to the exam table and then the suite awaiting her with warmed comforters, fresh water, doggie stew and kibble are challenges as she looks at you helplessly afraid to trust.

Eventually, she lays down next to me in her kennel, lets out a sigh and slips into sleep.  Not wanting to disturb here I sit quietly allowing her to rest for 2 hours pressed up against me.  

I promise I will be there tomorrow to again sit with her and when she is ready we will begin exploring her new world.  A world where she is safe from being shot, having things thrown at her, being hit across the skull hoping for a death blow, searching for food or a place to hide away from dogs looking to fight and humans seeking to end her life.

Humans tried to take her life, they abused her, made her suffer and now it is going to take humans standing by her to rebuild her body and trust and life where she is able to be a dog with a family and never worry again.

Now comes the reality that vet care, training, boarding all take money, money we don't have sitting around.

Any donations to her care are greatly appreciated.  Although her body is injured and starved, you can see it in her eyes she wants to trust again, not all her innocence has been stolen from her.

Ivy April is estimated to be 1.5 to 2 years old.  She left the streets unspayed, unvaccinated and malnourished. Surgery to remove the knot on her skull from the bottle wound can be done in conjunction with her spay.  The bullet did not exit the leg but instead exploded leaving shrapnel inside the leg.  

Thank you for taking the time to read the beginning of Ivy's story, we hope you will contribute to fulfilling her happily ever after ending.

~Cynthia Lynn Guzman
K9 Enrichment Initiative
Founder/Executive Director



  • Ivy is doing great having healed her leg and undergoing cosmetic surgery to repair the damage to the skin on her head.  

    Her foster family could no longer foster her and so she finds herself back at the hospital in boarding.  

    Ivy needs continuing training to help her overcome her fear of other dogs, something that was not present when she was a stray running the streets.

    Ivy's private classes cost $75 per class and her boarding is $15 per night.  

    She in dire need of a foster home who can work with her through further training or a forever home without any other dogs and a fenced yard.

    Ivy learned to swim in the family pool over the summer and jumped in for a dip at every chance.  She did fantastic in massage therapy session to work the muscles in the leg and relax her tense body.  

    She attended the Strike Out Animal Cruelty baseball event hosted by the rescue at the Joliet Slammers game in Joliet, Illinois.  People loved her, but unfortunately many are looking for a dog pal for their dog.

    She has the cutest underbite and melts over being petted and is wild for belly rubs.

    I wish the update was one telling everyone that she had found her forever home, but that's not the case yet for our sweet southern belle.

    As always the gifts and donations have made a huge difference in Ivy's life thus far and are greatly appreciated.

    August 06, 2018

  • Ivy is our phoenix rising from the ashes. 
    She has come so far since first arriving in March after being shot and beaten with a beer bottled.  

    Ivy had her spay surgery in June along with cosmetic surgery to clean up the scar tissue on her head from the opening created by the beer bottle cutting into her skin.  You can barely tell that she once had a gash across the width of her skull.

    She continues to work hard at learning to trust other dogs when on a leash.  Ivy spent her life roaming the streets of Cairo, IL, no collar, no lead, no one containing her.  Now we are asking her to be around other dogs without a way to flee the situation.  This is very difficult for Ivy.

    She has had regular sessions with a behaviorist to work through these issues with the help of her foster Mom.  Still, it near impossible to bring her within 10 feet of another dog.  We know she roamed with other street dogs, that she fed and cared for 8 abandoned puppies, but that all took place prior to being captured after being attacked.

    We will continue to look for ways and work with Ivy to ease her fears of other dogs. She continues to bark at human males when she see's them approaching her, but is improving and can be won over with a handful of treats.

    Your continued positive thoughts and energy are greatly appreciated.  At this juncture, we are searching for a home where Ivy will be the one and only and hopefully in time learn to accept other dogs into her personal space.

    Things Ivy loves:

    Swimming in her fosters inground pool

    Massages from her therapist

    Treats, any and all treats

    Cuddling on the sofa and binge-watching tv

    Walks around the neighborhood

    Rolling in the grass

    Chasing squirrels from the yard

    and of course her love of people.

    If you live in the Chicagoland area and would be interested in adopting this one in a million dog, please complete an application at

    July 26, 2018

  • Great news, Ivy is off restricted activity and can begin using her leg to walk around on a leash.  Don't want her to take off running just yet.  Her ortho vet says the X-rays show the bone has fused itself back together and as long as she goes slow, it will continue to bond to the point of showing no signs of the split.  He called her a miracle dog.

    went to her first store meet and greet at our local PetSmart.  She was slightly overwhelmed and showed a concern over men with hats and other dogs no matter the size, shape or gender.  

    will be meeting with a canine massage therapist this week to do some bodywork, then with her behaviorist to set up a training program and then next week she will be spayed & have the excess tissue causing a lump on her pretty head removed.  

    She is in good spirits, enjoys her foster family and with work will start to accept other dogs being around her.  

    We are overwhelmed with the gifts she has been sent and you can see from her pro photo shoot, she was enjoying receiving a few of them that day in the park.

    you live locally to Plainfield, IL and are interested in fostering or fostering to adopt Ivy, please complete an application at

    May 22, 2018

  • Quick note of thanks from Ivy and I for the outpouring of generosity in helping to fund her medical care AND fulfill her wish list.  She loves every gift that arrives equally. Pictures soon.

    Her next ortho appt. is Wednesday.

    April 28, 2018

  • Ivy visited the orthopedist this past Wednesday for more imaging on her fractured leg.  The bullet spilt the bone down the middle as if you were splitting logs for a fire.   The doctor was hoping the bone would begin to fuse itself back together if she could be kept from using it and allowing healing.

    When he walked into the exam room after the imaging, he declared Ivy an amazing self-healer.  The legs bone had begun to fuse together at the center point.  Her body is recovering on its own without the use of a splint.

    Ivy has been spending 8 to 10 hours a day in her crate to prevent the use of the leg.  She now attempts to straighten it and place her toes to the ground, although this seems to be a good sigh, her doctor warned us it's critical she not.  The bone is still at high risk of splitting further or snapping in two if she falls.

    Much to her dismay, she will remain on crate care and we revisit the ortho doctor again in 2 weeks for more imagining.  Continued positive energy for Ivy , as nothing would be better than her own body healing.  An attempt to use plates and pins on the leg would be extremely costly and has a low percentage of being successful with the type of fracture in Ivy's case.  The bullet fragments surround the point of impact as the bullet did not leave the body, but poses no danger to her.  

    If she progresses in healing the bone, amputation will be removed from the table and she should not have issues going forward in her life with the leg. 

    Her foster family is doing an excellent job of keeping her immobile and entertained inside her crate.  She is able to lay on a blanket or sofa next to them in the evening after work.  No walking, standing, stairways, or dancing for this young lady.  We will learn more about what type of therapy she will need for the leg if the healing continues.

    Her personality is still cautious with people outside her immediate circle and her body freezes at the sight of male strangers on our trips to the vet hospitals.  

    Her head wound is healing, leaving a 3-inch by an and half scar across her head along the ear above her left eye.  It's not pretty as the ER vet she first encountered cauterized the wound to stop the bleeding, not for cosmetic purposes.  She has a bump of her pushed back skin at the end of the wounds scar.  Her general vet informed us they can do cosmetic surgery on it during her spay to remove the bump and attempt to lessen the scar.  At this point, we are concentrating on the leg and will most likely leave it up to her adoptive family.  She is beautiful to us no matter the scars on her body.

    We will begin taking applications for Ivy's forever family in mid-May after her next ortho appointment and prognosis. If you live within 60 miles of Plainfield, Illinois and wish to discuss having Ivy join your family, please contact us via

    Thank you to everyone who has donated products and financial aid to Ivy's care and well-being.  Your kinds words and support mean a great deal to all of us on team Ivy April.

    April 21, 2018

  • Ivy is doing well in the care of her foster family.  She has a room to herself with a giant sized crate to allow her to not feel trapped.  

    The family feeds her in her room and assists her in walking outside to relieve herself.  She wears a harness with a strap on her back to ensure they can keep her from hitting the leg on the steps in the home leading out the front door.  Every once and awhile her balance can be off or she gets excited and wants to take off running. 

    She extends the leg on occasion and will touch the tip of her pad to the ground as if to check it's still there.  Otherwise, she has done a fantastic job of holding the leg upwards to keep it safe against her body.

    Ivy has warmed to the teenage son and has also allowed the father in the home to help her outside to relieve herself.  A giant step from when we were told she was skittish of men in ballcaps and possibly all men due to her behavior at the hospital she was taken for emergency care to stop the bleeding from her head wound.

    To everyone who has supported IVY through donations of funds or items from her wish list, we gratefully say "thank you".  The support helps to keep our spirits up and in turn Ivy's.

    April 02, 2018

  • Ivy visited the Orthopedic Surgeon on Wednesday, 3/28 for the diagnosis and prognosis regarding her right hind leg that was pierced by a bullet.

    Ivy scooted into the corner of the exam room not wanting Dr. J to come near nor was she open to coming to me.  It was then used the magic words, "let's go".  Ivy stood and walked for the door giving Dr. J the opportunity to watch her walk and then examine her.  If you want Ivy to move from her hiding spot, carry her or just about anything else, "let's go" seem to be her all-purpose command word.

    Ivy is very stoic and she leaned into me as Dr. J went through the paces before carrying her to the x-ray room.  The x-rays brought him back to the exam room with positive and negative.

    The x-rays confirmed the bullet split the bone vertically, however the bone remained lined up and there is a chance it will heal together.  The trick being she needs to remain on bed rest confined in her crate unless a guardian is with her to supervise restricting her activity.

    Ivy is one of those very special dogs who is going to teach us more than we teach her.  Abandoned on the streets of Cairo, IL like so many other animals, living and surviving in an abandoned home with the litter of 8-week old pups we pulled from the same basement.  Finally trusting two gentlemen in wheelchairs enough to come out to them when they brought food to then losing that trust when two other men attempted to take her life.

    The Ortho vet said we are going to keep her inactive for 2 weeks, then do another set of x-rays to see if there is a positive change.  If not, or if she harms the leg further on her own, then surgery to insert a plate is on the table.  A very costly surgery to attempt to stabilize the bone, with no guarantees.  He reminded us there is still the possibility she will lose the leg to keep that in the back of our minds if that decision has to be made.

    Ivy was a very lucky girl yesterday in she did a brief photo shoot with volunteers and then moved into her foster home.  She is an only pet in the home, with all the attention and care being given to her. The poor girl has gone into heat and we are learning just how expensive it is to keep a dog in diapers. You can tell she is hormonal as she was sitting on the porch and a male dog sat on the sidewalk staring at her. She gave him a "growl & bark", I suspect telling him to "move along".  Besides the male dog staring at her, I think all the attention and gentle care left her feeling out of sorts.  I am certain she will get the hang of being doted on and beloved.

    Everything needs to come in moderation and patience for this girl who is now living a life far, far away from the one she lived a week ago.

    Continued positive energy for her healing is appreciated and your donations of gifts and funds are deeply appreciated.

    If you could all see her in person, your hearts would break looking into her sad eyes, until she leans forward to give you a kiss.


    March 29, 2018

  • Ivy April will need to see a specialist to determine if she will be able to keep her leg or not. We are so thankful for the donations that have already been given, please continue to donate and share. No amount is every too small when an animal is in need. 

    March 26, 2018