As soon as Lola saw her parents Wednesday, her tail began wagging, her tongue kept licking and licking, and her whimpering all but said: I missed you guys like crazy.
Lola had a tough week. Back surgery for a slipped disk that prevented her from walking. And the prospect of a new home.
The 4-year-old dachshund’s owners also had a difficult time. Unable to afford the surgery, the Pembroke Pines couple had given up Lola to an animal rescue group.
Never miss a local story.
But when Kendall veterinarian Michael Wong found out that the family couldn’t afford the $6,000 back operation, he did the surgery for free.
On Wednesday, Lola was reunited with Sumey and David Hageman, who thought they would never see Lola again.
And despite the stitches, Lola gave the Hagemans some serious doggy love.
“This is the best Christmas gift I could’ve gotten,” said Sumey Hageman, who cried even before the dog, wearing red and green bows, was brought in.
Wong cooked up the Christmas Eve surprise for the the Hagemans after he saw how heartbroken they were to give up Lola.
“I was doing the surgery, and it came to me,” he said. “I wanted to give them their dog back.”
Wong, of Southeast Veterinary Neurology, 11774 SW 88th St., said he often works with the rescue group and knows that once someone decides to give up a dog they lose rights to visit.
But knowing the reason was financial, Wong reached out to the rescue group and asked if he could give the dog back to the Hagemans after the surgery. The rescue group agreed.
On Wednesday, Sumey Hageman showed up thinking she would just be able to visit Lola, whom she had since the dog was 5 weeks old.
Her husband, David, knew of the plan in advance and kept it from his wife.
When Wong gave them the news, the tears started to flow.
Sumey Hageman said giving Lola up was “the hardest decision of her life.”
Having just bought a house and having a 2 year-old son, Sumey Hageman said they just couldn’t pay for Lola’s care.
“We had to do what was best for her,” she said, adding she had put away Lola’s stocking and favorite frog toy.
Wong said seeing their reaction was worth it.
“I can’t imagine having to make that kind of decision,” he said.
For the Hagemans, having Lola back means having a brighter holiday season. Sumey Hageman said Wednesday she was heading home to dig out the stocking and get it ready for Lola.
“Basically it’s having your whole family back together for Christmas,” David Hageman said. “It’s amazing.”