Dog Rescue Effort: Local Woman Falls for Yoda's Big Ears

Romeoville's Nikki Balkovec is seeking assistance to cover the medical expenses of an 11-month-old Chinese puppy once dumped in a kill shelter in Mississippi.

Nikki Balkovec named her Chinese pup "Yoda" because of his big ears. Credit: Nikki Balkovec
Nikki Balkovec named her Chinese pup "Yoda" because of his big ears. Credit: Nikki Balkovec

Romeoville’s Nikki Balkovec looked past the tiny Chinese puppy’s medical record and saw “Yoda.”

She named the dog she adopted from an animal rescue shelter house in Joliet—Grahamville—based on his looks.

“He looked like Yoda,” she said. “He had big ears and buggy eyes at the time.”

Yoda also had issues.

He and his mom, Izz, were dumped at a kill shelter in Mississippi because Yoda was born with dislocated elbows and shoulders and had a heart murmur. Balkovec, a 50-year-old retired postal worker, first came in contact with the purebreds when they were transported to Joliet.

Initially, she took them in on a Foster-home basis, then decided she couldn’t part with their company.

“Yoda—as soon as I got him, I wanted to keep him,” she said. “I love the breed. They’re so tiny and so cute.”

Balkovec’s story is recounted on a GoFundMe page she set up in attempt to raise funds for Yoda’s medical expenses. She said his elbows were so badly dislocated they had rotated 180 degrees.

“His paws faced up instead of down,” Balkovec said.

He weighed 1 pound when she brought him home in March. He’s grown to 6 pounds now. And he is 11 months old and he’s up and walking.

Balkovec paid for Yoda’s elbow surgeries out of her own pocket. She is seeking assistance to cover a second set of surgeries to fix his dislocated shoulders. And, after putting Yoda through an echocardiogram, she has learned the spot on the wall of his heart is not life-threatening.

“The vet doesn’t expect that to change,” Balkovec said. “They expect he can live a pretty full life. It’s a heart murmur. It needs to be monitored. But, for now, that’s it.”

So, with a little help and one more trip to the Vet, Yoda will be almost as good as new. His personality is already off the charts.

“He’s hilarious,” Balkovec said. “He’s so happy and so bouncy. He loves to run and play. He has two speeds—running and sleeping. He’s amazing considering everything he’s been through, him and his mom, too.”

Balkovic guesses that Izz is about 2½ years old.

Her goal is to raise $4,000 to cover medical expenses and to help the young mother raise her son. She has collected $1,357 so far on GoFundMe.


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