An anonymous angel unites hearts in Rancho Santa Fe on Christmas Eve

This year, Christmas has come one day early for an unsuspecting adopting family and a cuddly pup at Helen Woodward Animal Center. An anonymous donor surprised the family with a very special holiday gift, covering the cost of all adoption fees. Center staff was asked to tell the family that an angel had taken care of the union and to wish them a Merry Christmas.

The donor, who had suffered the loss of a beloved family member and a cherished dog within the year, stopped by the Helen Woodward Animal Center adoptions building early one recent morning before business hours. In the midst of such sadness, the individual, who asked to remain anonymous, hoped to give life and happiness to an orphan pet and a hopeful family. The only request placed on the donation was that the family had young children who had always wanted a puppy.

The Saxten family from Encinitas fit that description to a tee. Parents Sarah and Graham said that their sons Jonah (age 7) and Wyatt (age 5) had wanted a dog for years. Informed that the boys could look at the Helen Woodward Animal Center website to see if there was a dog they would like for Christmas, the boys picked out Dasher, a female Labrador Retriever puppy.

“We all fell in love with her immediately,” explained Sarah. “We dashed down here for Dasher.”

The family was incredibly touched and surprised when they were informed that Dasher’s adoption fee had been covered by the anonymous angel. Unable to thank their donor, the family gave the hugs and love to their new puppy instead. Jonah Saxten explained it simply. “Best Christmas present ever!”

“I think this individual just really wanted to know that there would be a family and an orphan pet enjoying their Christmas morning together,” stated Helen Woodward Animal Services Manager Ed Farrelly. “They put love out into the world as their way to heal – truly the selfless spirit of Christmas. We are incredibly grateful and so is the family and pup whose lives this person touched.”

For more information on Helen Woodward Animal Center or to adopt an available orphan pet, please contact the Adoptions Department at: 858-756-4117 ext. 1, visit or stop by at 6461 El Apajo Road in Rancho Santa Fe.