Team Cheeseburger: Stand Up For Burg!

Lost & Found - Burg’s Story

Sometimes angels come dressed in fur. To comfort us, to open our hearts after we’ve shut down, or to help us see that love never ends... that it just takes on a different form.

Just shy of a year ago, a gorgeous, enormous ball of white fluffy fur found himself in the loving hands of The Richmond Animal League. Nobody really knew his story.

Where did he come from? Who did he belong to? Why would someone leave such a majestic dog? Nobody knew.

The folks at RAL named him Cheeseburger. Burg for short. And everyone who saw him knew that there was something really special about him.

Burg is no ordinary dog. He’s stoic. Independent. He doesn’t let on to what he’s feeling very easily. But when you look at him – really gaze into those deep, brown eyes – you know there is a story. A very big story.

And as everyone came to realize, Burg was determined to tell his story in his own way. It’s a story about being lost. And about being found. And about learning to love and trust again.

When Burg arrived at RAL, he accomplished something that no other animal there had ever done. He figured out how to get himself out of a locked crate, and make his way over to the office of RAL’s Executive Director, Amy McCracken. Not once, not twice, but multiple times!

For Amy, Burg’s arrival at the shelter came at an exceptionally tender and difficult time. She had just come back from the funeral of Alyssa Doane - a girl whom she loved dearly – and who, despite an incredibly courageous fight, lost her battle with Cystic Fibrosis at 14 years old.  It was a loss that left Amy reeling with grief.

And somehow... Burg seemed to know. And he made it clear he didn’t want her to be alone. So he did the impossible. He kept escaping from his crate, and would go find her in her office. And he’d stay with her – his quiet, stoic presence there for her to lean on.

In a very special way, Burg needed her just as much as she needed him. At first, neither one of them would admit it. But then, like with all love stories, their connection grew – as did their love for each other.

She would take Burg out for walks to get him out of the shelter, and every time they came upon children, Burg would roll onto his back and revel in their attention and petting. There is nothing in this world that Burg loves more than little children.

There was no question in anyone’s mind that Alyssa sent Burg to Amy. If ever there were a sign, this was it. So Burg found his forever home with Amy and life went on.

Except that it didn’t, really. Because it soon became clear that underneath Burg’s stoic exterior was an enormous amount of physical pain. He had trouble walking. He wouldn’t run. He had a hard time getting up and down stairs. He didn’t want to let on that he was in so much pain – but it was obvious something was terribly wrong.

Testing was done. Initial results were inconclusive. More testing was done. And the news that everyone didn’t want to hear was delivered. Both of Burg’s ACLs were torn, and the meniscus in his left leg was completely wrecked.

Truthfully, it’s amazing he could walk at all.

The good news is that Burg is an excellent candidate for surgery. He’s young. He’s otherwise very healthy. And he has an amazing support network to help him through his recover. And a mom who loves him more than words can say. The bad news is that this surgery will be extremely expensive. The estimated tab is $8,000.

Which is where we hope you will come in. The first of multiple surgeries that will be needed for Burg has been scheduled for August 6th.

The recovery from these surgeries will be long and difficult. But Burg is a fighter. Just like Alyssa was a fighter. Alyssa made sure of that when she sent him... as a reminder to us all not to give up, even when things look the darkest. Because where there is love, there is always a way.

Our goal is to raise as much of the $8,000 as we can, to help with Burg’s veterinary expenses. 

We would love for you to become a member of “Team Cheeseburger” and Stand Up for Burg by helping to fund these surgeries for Burg. Any donation, no matter what the size, will be appreciated. Burg has a lot of work to do in this world. He just needs two strong legs to be able to get out there and do it. Your donation can help to make that happen.

Thank you in advance for your support!


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Elizabeth Sim Zielinski 
Chantilly, VA
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