He was the puppy that fell from the sky.
On Jan. 12, the Austin, Texas, Animal Center released a photo of a 1-pound chihuahua it called “miracle puppy” that had been rescued by construction workers who heard his cries and then watched as he was dropped in midair by a hawk.
“He really did beat the odds,” said Jennifer Olohan, spokeswoman for the Austin Animal Center. “It was a true miracle. Not only that the hawk dropped him instead of taking off, but luckily people were around to rescue him, or else his fate would have been very different.”
The Austin Animal Center photo, which showed talon marks scattered across the puppy’s tiny head and an IV in his paw, quickly garnered thousands of likes on Instagram and ultimately made national headlines. But after the attention waned, there were decisions to be made. Where should this miracle puppy, the dog that literally fell from the sky, land permanently?
The decision was left in the hands of Renee Keyes, the foster mom who helped nurse the puppy back to health.
“The first night he came, he was a pitiful, whining baby,” said Keyes, adding that her son, Lucas, gave him his name: Tony Hawk. “The very next morning, his tail started to wag and he wanted to give kisses to my entire family, including my three large dogs.”
As Keyes helped the puppy heal, she also began to sift through more than 100 applications from people who had heard about little Tony and wanted to make him part of their forever family. One of those applications was from a local salon owner named Georgia Bramhall.
In November, Bramhall had lost her own beloved 9-year-old chihuahua, Bentley. She let him out into the backyard one night and he vanished. Had a well-meaning stranger picked him up, she wondered? Or had a wild animal, possibly a hawk, taken him?
Friends, family members and co-workers and clients at her salon, Honeycomb Hair Boutique, launched a full-scale effort to find Bentley, who was like a celebrity from his visits to the salon and even had his own Instagram account, @thenamesbentley. Even though Bentley was microchipped, they had no luck.
“It was so terrible,” Bramhall said. “I was just so shocked and heartbroken, and I was crying for five days straight. Everybody loved Bentley. Everybody was grieving with us.”
A few months later, a friend sent her a link to a story about Tony Hawk.
“When I saw that article, I texted my friend, ‘Oh, my God, that’s weird,’ ” she said. “I wasn’t really looking for a dog, but this sort of seemed like a full-circle situation, a meant-to-be kind of deal.”
Bramhall went by the shelter and then connected with Keyes, who arranged for a meet and greet.
“I cannot get him off my mind,” Bramhall wrote in an impassioned letter to Keyes after meeting the puppy. “I just feel like the way Bentley vanished and how devastated we were, and the way Tony Hawk just literally dropped from the sky like that and the way it stuck with me in such a strong way since the moment I heard that story, it just really feels like I’m supposed to have him in my family.”
Keyes, too, was surprised by how Bramhall and Tony Hawk seemed meant for each other.
“I loved her personal story about her dog, Bentley,” Keyes said. “He looked just like an older Tony. It was fate in my mind.”
Not long after, Keyes selected Bramhall as Tony Hawk’s “forever mommy.”
“Both Tony and Georgia are very lucky to have found each other,” Keyes said. “I am happy that I was able to make this match happen.”
Bramhall is still holding out hope that Bentley will come back — she thinks he and Tony, who constantly “brings joy to the room,” would be best buds. But if not, she knows Bentley’s memory will live on forever in Tony.
“One of my clients said, ‘If Bentley indeed got taken by something, it’s like he dropped you this puppy from the sky,’ ” Bramhall said. “It’s like he delivered him.”