Theresa Strader, National Mill Dog Rescue founder, loved Harley and Harley loved her. Nobody believed in the “little dog with a big dream” more than Theresa. She traveled to Beverly Hills to support Harley at the Hero Dog Awards and I will never forget Theresa’s proud face when Harley won to top honor of American Hero Dog. Theresa also traveled to Washington DC to watch Harley testify before Congress. Theresa was always there for Harley, and we’re so very grateful to have her in our lives.
Theresa wrote the following tribute just after Harley passed away on March 25, 2016:
Harley was a truly remarkable little dog. He personified the forgiving and resilient spirit that we all love so much about dogs. He fought a host of medical conditions like a champion, allowing him to enjoy years of comfort and happiness. With great courage, he shed the horrors of his dreadful past to become a beloved member of the Taylor family. He was a fighter in every sense of the word until his very last day, when he gracefully let go to make his journey to the Bridge.
In the months following Harley’s adoption, as he kept beating all the odds, Rudi and Dan began to see something extra special in the spirit of this little dog … something that told them his life had a bigger purpose and that it was no accident he had made his way to their loving home. Rudi created a Facebook page for Harley, not only to share his remarkable story of redemption but to channel Harley’s steadfast spirit as an educational tool to share the truth about the commercial dog breeding industry.
Harley’s page gained popularity quickly as people were eager to learn. Harley’s precious face and candid truths, mixed with a wonderful sense of humor, kept people enlightened and engaged. What better way to tell the story of a puppy mill survivor than through his own eye? Harley now had a mission of his very own and the success of his mission was being heard around the world!
Soon after, another very special mission was created to further his awareness campaign while also helping raise funds to provide care for fellow puppy mill survivors at National Mill Dog Rescue. “Harley to the Rescue” became a twice-yearly event where Harley and his best buddy Teddy, along with their humans, accompanied NMDR’s rescue team on their biggest rescues of the year. “Dogs Saving Dogs” became their tagline, and their goals of spreading further awareness and raising funds to provide vet care for the dogs they rescued were incredibly successful. Having the boys along with us on rescue was so incredibly special. When I think of an empty spot on the bench seat next to Teddy, it’s hard to hold back the tears …
Harley’s win as the American Humane Association’s 2015 Hero Dog was a truly remarkable achievement. Being present to witness Harley win was one of the most special and touching moments of my life. To think that this little one-eyed senior Chihuahua, who spent the first 10 years of his life neglected in a cage, was now standing on a stage in Beverly Hills christened with the esteemed title of 2015 American Hero Dog, was absolutely unforgettable. Not only was this a truly remarkable achievement, but as a result, his story reached millions of people – giving a powerful voice to thousands of dogs still held captive by this shameful industry.
Reflecting on the legacy of Harley, I am flooded with hundreds of memories; precious moments in time where Harley was changing minds and touching hearts before our eyes. When I think of the incredible numbers of people he educated and the extraordinary support his mission brought to NMDR, I am humbled. I am so very grateful to Rudi and Dan Taylor for your love, support, ideas and courage and above all, for sharing Harley and his remarkable life with all of us. People across the globe are grieving along with you, but we are each better people for having known the story of your precious boy Harley, who – beyond the shadow of any doubt – changed the world!
-Theresa Strader, National Mill Dog Rescue Founder