BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It is often said some of the greatest moments in life come out of some of the darkest moments. That is certainly the case with a precious soul named Diania Laubacher.
Diania is now retired after some 40 years as a nurse anesthetist. When she lost her husband, she gave up the will to live.
"I just went into the horrible ... I call it a black hole," said Diania. "Nothing escapes from it. Nothing gets into it."
"And, I was like that for five years. During those five years, I was like a zombie. The only thing that interested me was to die myself, so I could be with my husband. And, thank God for my faith that I was not proactive on that. But, I didn't belong here. I wanted to be with my husband. And, I really think that God sent me these little babies that they're the ones that brought me out of that depression, gave me a mission, gave me interest," she added.
Today, Diania has some 20-plus dogs. And, not just any dogs. Diania takes dogs that no one else would ever want - dogs in their final chapter of life. In fact, Diania applied for and was granted a 501 (c)(3) non-profit designation. She calls her home Precious Souls Canine Rescue & Sanctuary.
"For me to accept a dog now, they have to be first elderly. They have to have medical conditions or they have to have a condition that is untreatable. They just need some place to have their last days comfortable," Diania explained.
And, comfortable she does make them.
First, she bathes them, cuts their hair, and makes certain their nails are in good condition. Then, she takes them to the vet at her expense to asses their physical condition, and if possible, get them back to health. Diania spends every bit of her retirement to make these older, often ill, dogs happy for the remainder of their life.
"I mean, my dogs don't just get spayed or neutered and their annual shots. These guys have continuous everyday needs. And, I try to do whatever I can for them to give them the optimum quality of life," Diania continued.
"Sometimes that entails doing surgeries, which are very expensive, like cataract surgery that I just had done. I mean, it sounds ridiculous to spend like $3,000 to fix a dog's eyes, but I feel like that's part of my mission. If I accept a dog here, I accept them in the condition that they're in and try to give them the optimum quality of life. And, if I can restore sight to an elder dog that they can see for the first time or see again in their last few years, to me, it's worth it. I mean, that's what I'm about. That's why I'm here," she said.
Dr. Donna Kleinpeter is Diania's vet.
"Diania has been helping out indigent animals that get dropped off at shelters and other places for a while now," said Kleinpeter. "She takes care of any problems that they have. And, as long as they have a good quality of life, she lets them live out the rest of their life on that acreage that she has out in Albany."
"There's a lot of medicine going on. And, she has to wake up early. And, it takes her hours to get all the medicine into all the dogs and make sure they're all clean and groomed and nails are done on a routinely basis. And, any medical issue that they need done, it is done. She gets cataracts removed if it's possible. She gets MRIs done if we can figure out what's going on in the brain and if it can be cured. She does whatever it takes to make the remainder of that animal's life comfortable," Kleinpeter added.
Friends contacted WAFB's Hand It On and nominated Diania. The president and CEO of the Greater Hammond Chamber of Commerce actually presented Diania with the $300 cash award.
"So Diania, we are so proud of the work that you do with Precious Souls Canine Rescue & Sanctuary and to give your retirement your golden years to care for these special needs and elder dogs is such a blessing," said Melissa Bordelon. "And, that's why we've nominated you for the Hand It On award. And, we are so happy to be able to present this to you."
Melissa handed Diania three, crisp $100 bills.
"Thank you so much. Going to make me cry. Thank you. And, I can tell you this will go directly to the vet's office," Diania finally said, overcome with emotion.
Diania cannot really use food donations because most of "her babies" are on very specific and special diets. But, there are ways you can help. Visit her website: PreciousSoulsCRS.org.
And to nominate someone for WAFB's Hand It On program, send an e-mail to HandItOn@wafb.com.
Make sure to include your contact information especially your phone number.