As the sun set over Hagåtña Bay Saturday night, two dozen people and several of their dogs paddled and splashed into the water as part of Paddle for the Pups, a paddleboarding fundraiser organized by Tracilynn Kantrud.
Like many, Kantrud, a military spouse living on Guam, heard about the paralyzed dog – nicknamed Mama Dog – and her two puppies through rescuer Arwen Niles' Facebook posts. The three dogs were found near A.B. Won Pat International Airport in early August.
After she took in the dogs, Niles, a stay-at-home mother, took to Facebook to share Mama's story.
It didn't take long before Mama began to receive support, as people offered to pay for veterinary costs, started a GoFundMe campaign and even donated a canine wheelchair.
"It really just fell into place," Kantrud said of the Paddle for the Pups event. "We just band(ed) together and started going for it."
Kantrud is a former event planner and often paddleboards with SUP Girls Guam, which has hosted philanthropic paddleboarding events in the past.
She said she thought a similar event would be perfect to continue raising awareness and funds for Mama.
"We're doing it to not only better the animals on Guam but to better the living for humans as well," Kantrud said. "They enrich lives. ... Hopefully, (we'll) make a difference for them, which would make a difference for the island."
Since their rescue on Aug. 1, both puppies have been adopted and Women United for Animal Welfare, an animal rescue based in Los Angeles, has agreed to take in Mama while she undergoes additional assessments and eventual treatment.
According to Niles, Mama will either have to undergo surgery, physical therapy, or a combination of the two. Niles said it's possible that she could regain the use of her back legs.
"She said yeah, there's hope," Niles said of a Los Angeles-based veterinarian who has reviewed Mama's case.
So far, more than $8,000 has been raised through the GoFundMe campaign and a separate PayPal account, Niles said. Of those funds, $1,500 has paid for veterinary care for the three dogs. By the end of the event on Saturday, Paddle for the Pups had raised an additional $235 through a raffle. Remaining and future funds will go toward Mama’s veterinary costs and flight to Los Angeles.
Niles said she's hoping to fly Mama to Los Angeles as soon as mid-September.
For now, Niles is tasked with making Mama slow down. Despite her injured legs, she remains determined to run and play. It's a trait she passed down to her two puppies, who, when reunited at Paddle for the Pups, spent the evening wrestling and rolling through the sand.