by Shari Sullivan

Imagine being left alone in a strange place with temperatures hovering in the 90’s. No food, water or friends anywhere in sight – you are all alone and you are sick. None of us can conceive of that happening to a human being, but what about a dog? It’s hard to believe that anyone would do that to a precious animal – let alone one that had most likely been a faithful companion. That is exactly what Girl Camper Dawn Cuttill found when she stopped at a rest stop at the Alabama state line on her way to a Girl Camper Alabama/Georgia camping event. Girl Campers to the rescue!

Dawns horse trailer camper
Dawn converted a horse trailer to a camper

Dawn was towing her horse trailer turned camper down from her home in Aiken, South Carolina to Cheaha State Park in East Central Alabama for the joint Alabama/Georgia Girl Camper Last Days of Summer 2023 event. She made what she thought would be a quick rest stop only to find a sweet American bulldog sitting by the sidewalk all alone and very hot. Dawn could tell he was lost as he was going door to door to the semi trucks stopped there looking for his owner. When she came out of the rest stop, he was sitting there in front and was throwing up. She suspected heat exhaustion since the temperatures were in the 90’s and he was on hot pavement waiting for someone to help him. Luckily for him, Dawn is an avid dog lover and dog rescuer with six dogs of her own at home.

That was definitely this bulldogs lucky day! Dawn asked people who were there at the rest stop if he belonged to them. She inquired inside the building as well, just to see if anyone had seen a person with the sweet dog. They helped her by going door to door of the semi’s, but no luck there at all. They said that there were no rescues or animal shelters nearby. She knew that he couldn’t stay there alone in the heat, so she did the only thing she could do. She put him in her truck and brought him to Alabama.

Winston in the truck
Dawn used an extra leash and collar and put the bulldog in her truck

Dawn had one of her own little rescue pups with her in the truck, and adding one more paw passenger was just the right thing to do. When she arrived at the campground she told us that she had an extra fur pal with her and that since she was not familiar with the area she might have to drive back home to South Carolina to find a place for him. The next morning, she told us that the bulldog had been sick during the night and he needed medical attention as soon as possible. Driving home seemed to be her only option.

Then the magic started. Alice Fox, a Girl Camper from near Huntsville, Alabama offered help and encouragement. She would help Dawn find some places and people to contact. After getting some information from a park ranger about local dog rescues, Alice drove Dawn to the campground office to make some calls since there was no phone service at the campsites. In a very magical and serendipitous circumstance, there was a bulldog rescue just an hour away from the campground in Jacksonville, Alabama. Not only that, the lady who runs the rescue said that she would be glad to take the bulldog and make sure he received the medical attention he needed.

Winston was not feeling well
The bulldog spent the night in Dawn’s camper, obviously not feeling well

All Dawn had to do know was make the hour long drive down the mountain to Jacksonville to the Rockin’ “P” Rescue. She had never unhitched her trailer before, so a fellow camper helped her with that. Enter Shana Bainbridge, a Girl Camper at our event from Corner, Alabama who just happens to have – you guessed it – bulldogs! Shana offered to make the hour long drive to the rescue with Dawn and help her get the bulldog to a safe place where he could get the help he needed. When they arrived, Angie Persch the founder of the Rockin’ “P” Rescue was waiting for them and had a vet tech there to help start an IV on the bulldog – henceforth known as Winston. He was left there in good hands.

We later learned that Winston was suffering from heat exhaustion, but also had a blockage in his intestine. Winston had to have surgery to remove the blockage, which turned out to be a corn cob. If Winston had been waiting on someone to save him at the rest stop for a while, there is no telling what he ate just to survive. Luckily for him, an angel named Dawn found him just in time to help him and no doubt save his life.

winston is thankful
Winston knew Dawn was going to help him

Girl Campers never cease to amaze me. We come from all different backgrounds, different states, different ages and circumstances… and we all camp the way that works for us. But, we have many things in common and that’s what makes it work. I’m happy and proud to know these three very special Girl Campers who helped save a life and make some magic happen here in Alabama this summer. Dawn, Alice and Shana – thank you for having hearts bigger than the universe, and a love for animals that is truly life-saving. We can’t save every dog out there, but these three ladies certainly saved one lucky bulldog.

Alice, Dawn and Shana
Alice Fox, Dawn Cuttill and Shana Bainbridge… Girl Camper Heroes

To learn more about Winston and the Rockin’ “P” Rescue, please visit their website at . If you are looking for a forever friend, there are bulldogs and boxers waiting there for you. And, there’s Winston! The rescue is accepting donations to help cover Winston’s recent surgery, as well as the needs of the other deserving dogs in their care. All donations are tax deductible.

Winston in his kennel
Winston recuperating after his surgery

Happy Trails… Shari Sullivan
Senior Editor for Girl Camper
Alabama Girl Camper Chapter Guide
Georgia Girl Camper Chapter Guide
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and Girl Camper Georgia
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