The house on Indiana Street had long been abandoned. It was little more than shattered windows, a crumbling staircase and cavernous holes in the floor.
And one ghost.
At least that’s how the dog must have appeared to the woman who spotted her standing, stock-still on that Detroit rooftop earlier this month. No one — not the woman who spotted the dog and posted a picture on Facebook, nor the people who would rush to her aid — could quite figure out how the dog got up there.
Mike Diesel, founder of Detroit Youth & Dog Rescue, was one of those people. He doesn’t live too far away. But he had to hurry. Because after dark, a decrepit old house was no place for man or dog.
“I left immediately as it was only about 15 minutes from where I was and I prayed for the dog whole way there,” Diesel tells MNN.
Stepping gingerly through the ruined house — crumbling staircases, shattered walls, debris everywhere — Diesel made his way to the attic.
A longtime rescuer of dogs — many of them left behind by their families — Diesel knew the surest way to a castaway’s heart: Treats.
Once in the open attic window, he started laying out those snacks strategically on the rooftop.
“We’ve got to build some trust,” he said at the time.
But Diesel would have to leave the house completely before the elusive animal dared touch any of the food left out for her.
“There she is!” Diesel said, pointing up at her. “She’s eating the food.”
And then the dog slipped inside the house through the open attic window.
“She’s inside,” Diesel declared, going back into the house.
They met in the attic — the dog who was left behind no-one-knows-how-long-go and the man who specializes in bringing dogs back from the brink.
There was a connection as she edged closer, clearly starving.
More treats. Closer...
While every rescued dog knows Mike Diesel by the trail of his treats, this dog was hungry for something more.
“Want to go for a walk?” Diesel entreated, holding a leash.
It must have felt like a past, happier life. Because not long after that, the dog agreed that she would like to go for a walk. But still, it was slow-going through the house. Diesel, assisted by firefighter Naomi Huff, brought the dog through the broken house, emerging at last in the sunlight.
Mike Diesel rushed Sugarbee to the same veterinary clinic where, just eight hours earlier, he'd had an injured dog put down. (“We held her paws as she crossed the rainbow bridge,” Diesel later told MNN.)
He was still shaken by the experience when he arrived at the house on Indiana Street — and he was more driven than ever to save a life.
And for that kindness, Sugarbee repaid him in spades.
If you think you might be able to give her that home, get in touch with Detroit Youth & Dog Rescue through its Facebook page.
You can watch the full video of Sugarbee’s rescue below: