Nina’s road from hopelessness to adoption

Boxer Nina showing off her new life.

Brooke Welp photo

Boxer Nina showing off her new life.


Tied up to a furnace, no food, no water and covered in your own feces. Nina, a three month old Pitbull, has lived her whole life like this: not knowing what a loving touch is, what it’s like to be full or what it’s like to be a happy healthy dog.

The Dubuque Animal Control received a call from a neighbor with a complaint of a dog whimpering from a run down house. When animal control arrived, there was no way they could be prepared for what they were about to see: a corpse of a 3-year-old boxer lying next to her. Once the puppy arrived at the Dubuque Regional Humane Society, the staff quickly agreed she would be named Nina, strong girl in Spanish.

“Nina should be three times as big as she is now,” operation director at the Dubuque Regional Humane Society Aimee Heinrich said. “And I will be the person to take care of her and nurse her back to health.” After being evaluated, the vet’s observations were that Nina will need at least three months to gain enough weight to be considered healthy and will always be stunted in growth.

While at the Heinrich home, Nina discovered what it was like to be loved and cared for. Heinrich has three dogs of her own and Nina made friends very quickly, with Buddy, Heinrich’s lab, taking to Nina and quickly becoming her protector. They spent hours outside playing, running through the yard and enjoying puppy time.

Nina had a super power of making anyone and everyone fall in love with her. She touched so many lives at the Dubuque Regional Humane Society. Every week she came in for her weekly checkup and everyone fought for their time with her. “The vet would announce her new weight and there isn’t words in the world to describe the happiness everyone felt for her,” Heinrich said.

Heinrich’s friend, Natalie would frequently come over to visit for cookouts and she bonded with Nina very quickly. Natalie would joke about dog sitting Nina and never bringing her back, never thinking she would become Nina’s mom. Through the months of love, affection and plenty of food in the Heinrich home, Nina gained 25 pounds and finally was given the bill of good health. Heinrich had so much love in her heart for Nina, but she knew she couldn’t keep her. She knew Nina belonged with Natalie.

Once Nina was able to go up for adoption, Aimee purchased Nina as a gift for Natalie. “Natalie could not speak but the happy tears in her eyes spoke volumes,” said Heinrich. Nina is now named Fiona, after the beautiful girl turned ogre in Shrek.  Fiona, now a muscular little sweetheart, is a perfectly healthy puppy.