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Suzzane Murray sits with Cookie, a Chow she recently rescued. (Graphic photo by Amanda Clark)

Determination to save an animal's life can make all the difference.

Suzanne Murray is proof of that.

Murray spent 48 days driving from her Spring Hope home to Nashville to check on and feed an abandoned dog, who she named Cookie.

Murray discovered the Chow dog in a field on Cooke Road when driving home one rainy, Sunday night.

"I like to drive the back way," Murray said. "I saw (Cookie) walking on the side of the road."

Murray said when she came back through later she again saw Cookie, laying on the edge of a field in the rain.

Murray said she didn't realize at the time that the dog was a Chow breed. Today, she jokes that she may not have stopped since that particular breed is one she is afraid of.

Murray provided a shelter for Cookie and some food but she said the dog wouldn't come to her.

But Murray didn't give up.

She contacted Carol Vierela, founder and president of Nash County Animal Friends, for advice. Murray continued to visit the field on Cooke Road everyday, bringing food and water and eventually, a little dog house.

Vierela said Murray would take a little chair and sit on the edge of the field and read a book, waiting for the moment when Cookie would trust her.

"Suzanne went over there everyday," Vierela said. "She charmed her basically. Suzanne created a bond."

Eventually, the Sebastian Foundation was contacted.

The Sebastian Foundation is a non-profit organization that partnered with Nash County Animal Friends and Murray to rescue Cookie.

Executive Director Amy Garrety came down to Nashville and was instrumental in helping get Cookie to come into a crate.

From there, Cookie was taken to Vierela's house, where Murray continued to visit. Eventually, Murray was able to put a leash on Cookie and walk her.

Unfortunately, when Cookie was taken to the vet, it was discovered she was heartworm positive.

Garrety said she is amazed at Cookie's transformation over the past few months.

"Saving Cookie was the result of a tremendous group effort from dedicated people who share the same commitment and passion," she added. "Suzanne Murray's relentless determination and will was incredible and inspiring. If we had more people like her, more homeless animals could be saved."

Murray kept Cookie at her home for a few days and then the dog was transported to the Sebastian Foundation, which is in Pennsylvania. Garrety said Cookie will be treated for her heartworms and then will have the opportunity to be placed in an adoptive home.

Chows are special dogs, Vierela said, and she said many get the dogs as puppies only to realize they take too much time and attention.

"If you've never had a Chow before, you may not realize how needy they are," Vierela said.

Garrety said the breed gets a bad rap because of careless dog ownership. Actually, she added, Chow Chows are "loving, loyal and sensitive indoor dogs who are deeply committed to their family."

Murray said giving up Cookie was tough. She had developed a special bond and letting her go was tough.

"She's very special to me, to a lot of people actually," Murray said. "Cookie is special but it's also the awareness of animal welfare and rescue and responsible pet ownership."

"She's a perfect example," Murray added.

Vierela said Cookie's story is important because it shows what one person can do.

"One person can make a difference," she said. "This is what one person can do if they are determined."

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