Natalija Kokoreva

2023 AMAZING NEIGHBORS - Happy Valley
Hometown: Happy Valley

Why she is an Amazing Neighbor:
For the compassion she felt and the aid she gave to a stray dog.


Dentist organizes unlikely rescue of hurt stray dog

Found running around on a dislocated elbow back at the end of January, a skittish and frightened dog, given the name Sweet Caroline, endured quite the trauma for several months at the beginning of this year.

However, the Happy Valley community has done what it does best and banded together to make sure that the dog will get the best recovery possible. When she was first found, Sweet Caroline was limping and afraid, scared of anyone who would try to approach her. But eventually, she let her guard down and allowed people to help her.

At first, city of Happy Valley Community Service Officers Jason Thompson and Michael Barnes were contacted regarding the dog. 

“We responded to the dog call on Jan. 25 at 1 p.m.,” Thompson said.

Their team followed her around town and chased her down, but Sweet Caroline was unwilling to approach, so she took off.

Natalija Kokorova, a resident of Happy Valley, initially saw the dog wandering around her property on a camera at her home at the end of February.

“She would show up on our camera at random times of night, mostly, or early in the morning,” Kokorova said. “We would see her really quickly, and then she would just run away, and we couldn’t really trace her.”

Sweet Caroline was referred to as a “ghost dog” because of how elusive she was. When Kokoreva realized there was no way they would be able to catch her without scaring her away, she and her neighbors devised a plan and started contacting animal shelters.

Kimber Hysell at Waggin’ Tails shelter was called to set a comfortable “trap” to catch Sweet Caroline and take her to a place where she would be safe, but the pup was in bad shape when she was brought in.

“This poor dog’s elbow has been dislocated for a long time, and nobody corrected it,” Hysell said. “The vet went ahead and did a procedure to put it back in place, and as soon as they brought her out of anesthesia and she went to walk on it, it dislocated again.”

Because the reattachment was unsuccessful, Sweet Caroline needed surgery to amputate her leg. She was put on a surgery list and was able to be moved up in the schedule to get the surgery, but the cost was not light.

Luckily for her, Waggin Tails started a fundraiser by Waggin’ Tails to cover the expenses. Sweet Caroline had her procedure done on March 21 and has been moved to a long-term foster where she gets around-the-clock care and all the love she can get.

“She just wants to cuddle, and she’s eating and drinking and just getting lots of love with their foster,” Hysell said. “She’s doing great.”

Sweet Caroline has a long road to recovery, but with the community’s help and a lot of rest, she will be just fine.

Kokoreva, who knew she was going to be a dentist since she was in elementary school, was an unlikely person to organize Sweet Caroline’s rescue. Growing up in Eastern Europe, Kokoreva discovered her passion for oral health while watching her mother run her dental practice in a local orphanage. Since early childhood, she was interested in the science of the human body and spent her free time exploring anatomical museums and studying books about diseases.

When she was a teenager, the family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where she attended middle and high school. She has lived in Oregon since 2017 and has a dental practice in Milwaukie.

To keep up with Sweet Caroline’s recovery or if you are looking to adopt a new furry friend, you can visit Waggin’ Tails at, on Instagram @waggintailssar and at