Back in December, I wrote about my foster dog Zoli, pulled off the euthanasia list at the Manhattan Animal Care & Control shelter in New York City. Thanks to the shelter’sNew Hope Program, approved foster-rescuers may take the sick and injured dogs deemed unadoptable, and work to cure them and fix them up with permanent homes. It’s a brilliant safety net that’s helped save a lot of sweet lives, and I’m proud to be a part of it.
It took many weeksforZolito recover fromthe particularly virulent case of kennel cough that landed him on the euthanasia list. Duringthat time I too had abarking cough, so the two of us were quite the noisy pair! Finally,Zoli was well enough to be neutered, and ready to find his forever home.
But fostering is easy; finding forever homes is hard. How do you think I wound up with so many dogs?
Zoli seemed like a no-braineradoptable – besides being a looker, he happens to be one of the sweetest, smartestdogs I’ve ever known, combining the endearing personality traits of three of my all-time favorite pit bulls: mydearly departeddogs Samand Pepper,plus Angus, the dog who now lives with my ex. He hasa pale blond coat,an enormous head, and dazzling green eyes. He loves to give people hugs – especially youngwomen with hair as blond as his own!
He’s also, paws down, the strongest dog I’ve ever handled – stronger even than Magnus, who’s almost twice Zoli’s size. If I let his leash get too long,Zoli had a habit of tunneling under my other dogs andlevitating their rearends; this was funny whenit happenedto myyoung dogs, but no laughing matterwhen thevictim wasmyarthritic Sheba, who would shriek in pain.Managingthis super-high-energy dogin my animal house was one of the toughest challenges I’ve ever had to man up to.Zoli needed a strong hand – much stronger than mine – and fast.
Which is why I’mthanking my lucky starsfor the instantIran intoayoung man on the street who expressed interest in adopting a dog from Animal Care & Control.
It was a Saturday night on upper Second Avenue. The young man, a law student,had read about “Urgent Part Two,” a Facebook page that listsabout-to-be-euth’d dogs,in a New York Times blog.This kind soul wanted nothing more than to adopt a dog from the city animal shelter, to do his partand save a life. I told him about how Zoli had been an “Urgent” because of kennel cough. I describedwhat a sweetheart he is, and how he ached for a permanent home with fewer or no other dogs in residence. I didn’t forget to mention his magnetic attraction to young, blond women. The guy agreed toswing byand meet the dog.
Upon receiving the Zoli bear hug and running up and down the block with him a few times,he agreed to takethepupfor a few days’ trial period. But first, something had to be done aboutZoli’s powerful pull.
So we all trotted over to Petco, where the better part of an hour was spent wrestling Zoli into a no-pull harness. The entire time,Zoli alternately wiggled aerobically, barked loudly with joy, and licked at his new best friend’s head and face, fogging up the poor guy’s eyeglasses and making him laugh so hard he could barely finish fitting the harness. After selecting and purchasing a few toys and food items,plus a large bottle of water to share on the long walk home, Zoli and his new friend walked 5miles before collapsing in a heap at the young man’s place; they slept most of the next day.
Not all such intimate first meetups turn into lasting relationships, especially in New York City, so I was prepared to be disappointed. I didn’t hear from the guy for a solid week – and Ididn’t want tobreak the spell, ifindeed there wasone, by callingto askfor an update.
That’s why I’m especially thrilled to report thathe eventually did call to tell meZoli wasa keeper.
I put togetherZoli’s paperwork plus a fewitems I wish I’d had when I adopted my first pit bull: Get Serious stain and odor extractor(to erase all trace of anything unpleasant man or beast might leave behind); TheraNeem Pet Shampoo (perfect for pit bulls’ sensitive skin); and a soft flying disc by WestPaw Design, the perfect pit bull plaything. Then I handed over the lot to Zoli’s new owner.
I can’t get enough of saying that: Zoli’s new owner, Zoli’s new owner, Zoli’s new owner.
There’s an oft-quotedsaying that goes, “Saving one dog will not change the world…but surely, the world will be changed for that one dog.” At my place, Zoliwas one of many pits,the latest arrival and therefore the bottom dog in the pack hierarchy. In his new crib,he’s the only dog, focal point of all attention -not to mention sole beneficiary of peanut-butter-filled Kongs.
Zoli’s new owner (Zoli’s new owner, Zoli’s new owner) picture-mailed methis calendar-worthysnapshot, right. I think it perfectly captures the happy reversal of fortune that takes place when a rescued dog finds his permanent home. As the photo proves, one fateful day, a dog’s whole world can turn upside-down – in the best possible way.
Special thanks to the shelter’s New Hope program for makingZoli’s new leash on life possible.
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