By the dozens, they lined up for an audience with Hope the wonder dog. And there she was in her purple TCU harness, happily schmoozing with her public both canine and human at Wag pet boutique in Fort Worth.
It was a far cry from the Hope the public learned about in July. Her story captivated animal lovers near and far, all horrified after learning that the pug-mix had been found in Parker County with electrical tape sealing her mouth shut around her protruding tongue.
After an all-day search one Monday in July, animal control officers caught the tortured dog on a Parker County ranch, which belonged to Fort Worth socialites Charlie and Kit Moncrief.
Now restored to health and happily adopted into the Moncriefs home, Hope made her public debut on Thursday evening at Wag, for a combination pet adoption/ meet-and-greet put on by Saving Hope, a foundation dedicated to ending animal euthanasia, preventing abuse, and facilitating adoptions.
The would-be adoptions were set up outside in the Wag parking lot on Foch Street; three rescue groups were there: the Fort Worth animal shelter, Golden Retriever Rescue and the Humane Society of North Texas.
Meanwhile, inside, Hope held court, as Kit Moncrief navigated her through a sea of praise, well-wishes and photo opps.
I saw her at the vet the week they brought her in, and I was horrified, Moncrief said. I mean, number one, her nose was terrible, and you could see the bone in her nose. She was cut literally somebody tried to cut, with a hatchet or an ax, cut her head off she had a hundred and some odd stitches all around her head. You just couldnt believe it. Shes an inspiration to all, because if I were her, I wouldnt like anybody. But she loves everybody.
The search is still on for the torturer. A $35,000 reward, including $25,000 through the Texas Humane Alliance, is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
At one point in the evening, Wag was packed with more than 50 admirers; among them were the animal control officers who found her, and Rhonda Sears, a veterinary technician at Bowie Drive Animal Hospital in Weatherford. Sears worked on Hope when she was brought there for care, and also stayed with her during her recovery.
When Hope and Sears reunited at Wag on Thursday night, the joy was palpable. Hope jumped onto Rhonda, and they dissolved into a tangle of hugs and smooches.
Sears said in her 13 years in the veterinary field, Hopes was the worst case shed seen. But look at her now! Shes a good girl, and got the light in her eyes, she said, lapsing into doggie talk. Yes, hers a happy girl. Hers happy girl!
When it came time to give her to the Moncriefs, Sears said it was tough to let her go. But theres always going to be another Hope hopefully not to this extent. But I was just another chapter in her life. I helped her to start healing, and the rest is theirs.
And Kit Moncrief is well into Hopes next chapter. Shes just come to our house like shes always belonged there just sweet, sweet. Shes been a blessing to us, she said. You save em once, and they save you a hundred times over.