• March 13, 2024

The Rewards of Adopting

The Rewards of Adopting

The Rewards of Adopting 990 899 Animal Care and Control

In March of 2022 my husband and I volunteered to provide foster care for a two-year-old female Great Pyrenees dog for the Great Pyrenees Association of Southern California Rescue. She had been found on the streets as a stray by a wonderful woman who witnessed her being struck at by a person with a broom, so this kind rescuer bribed the dog into her car with some lunch meat and the dog made her way to safety at our Downey Animal Care Center.

She was emaciated, filthy, and had ear infections and diarrhea. Our Downey medical team treated her ear infections and tested her for parvovirus, giardia, and other diarrhea causes. She was vaccinated and dewormed. Great Pyrenees Rescue adopted her and provided ten more days of care at their veterinarian, but needed a foster family to take her in. We knew this girl needed help, so we stepped up. We took her immediately to the groomers for a good bath (she was so dirty we couldn’t tell what colors she was!) and named her Freya.

Freya weighed only 63 pounds, continued to have diarrhea, and her body had begun to shut down. Our wonderful veterinarian diagnosed a severe vitamin B deficiency; so low that her body couldn’t even absorb nutrition. She was in starvation mode, and we could feel every bone in her body. Her coat was thin, dry, and dull. But vitamin B injections, some antibiotics for GI troubles, and good nutrition began to turn her around. After four months, she weighed 89 pounds and her thin coat had fully blossomed – a background of white with patches of beige and a grey mask. She now has the thickest coat of all our dogs.

Despite her poor health at the beginning, Freya made immediate best friends with our other dogs. She and Holly, our four-year-old Great Pyrenees, formed a close bond and immediately began engaging in games of chase, bite face, and other canine fun. They became inseparable.

After four months, I just couldn’t send her on to a new home. This poor dog had only known hunger, loneliness, abuse, illness, and fear before she came to our house. Now she was healthy and thriving, with a best dog friend and pet parents who loved her. So, she became a permanent member of our pack. Some people jokingly call this a “foster failure” but to me it is a foster success!

I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to take in an animal that needs your love, care, and protection. There are so many wonderful animals for adoption at our animal care centers, each with their own history. Most do not have the health problems that Freya had, but if they do, they can make full recoveries. The majority are with us through no fault of their own – somebody left the backyard gate open, the owner is moving and can’t bring the pet, can no longer afford pet care, passed away, or other reasons that separated them from their animal. Many are already trained and housebroken.

I am always disappointed when I see people paying thousands of dollars for designer dogs that are the latest fad, when wonderful and loving dogs are in need of good, loving homes. Some people think the animals at shelters are defective in some way. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Some may need training or behavior modification, but even designer dogs will need to be trained and can come with genetic defects from inbreeding.

Freya has her quirks. She is on high alert on our walks and views other people and animals as threats. I’m sure that’s because she had to fight for survival on the streets. We just know how to manage her so she doesn’t have negative interactions and can enjoy herself. However, in our home she is as loving to anyone and any dog that comes over. She is also obsessed with tuna fish – we guess that she got whatever food she could scrounge from feral cat feeding stations when she was fending for herself on the streets. She loves to give kisses and snuggle and is a wonderful addition to our family. Her favorite place to sleep is on our bed.

Part of the joy of adopting an animal in need is getting to know them as they are – with their history, likes, and dislikes. Discovering their true personality and watching it bloom is extremely heartwarming. This month we are celebrating Freya’s “Gotcha Day” – the day when pet parents bring in a rescued pet to become part of the family. Freya, we’re very glad we gotcha! I encourage you to visit one of DACC’s animal care centers (or any animal shelter near you) and bring home an animal in need so you, too, can experience the joy of adopting an animal in need.

Marcia Mayeda

You can subscribe to Marcia’s blog here: https://animalcare.lacounty.gov/directors_blog/

The Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)3 charity that raises money to support DACC in its mission of saving animals and keeping pets and families together. Learn more at www.lacountyanimals.org.

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