When Barbara Zuluaga saw a photo of a tiny, crusty-skinned puppy, she didn’t know what kind of dog she was.
“I thought that she was a Chihuahua or some other small breed,” Zuluaga, board member of A Chance to Bloom Dog Rescue in Houston, Texas, told The Dodo. “She was just covered in mange, and it was very hard to tell.”
The puppy, who was about 8 months old at the time, was actually a Staffordshire terrier mix — but she was so malnourished, she was half the size she should have been, weighing about 12 pounds.
The puppy, named Ziva at the time, had come into the BARC Animal Shelter in April after being found chained to a tree on a property in Houston. Besides being malnourished and covered in mange, Ziva had sores all over her body, and her foot pads had been rubbed raw.
“It’s a really sad story, and it happens a lot in Houston,” Zuluaga said. “For a dog to get the injuries that she had — the mange and malnourishment — they have to be kept in a certain state for a long time, so it’s really obvious that she suffered.”
Ziva was also scared of everyone she encountered. “When you held her, she shook, and she wouldn’t make eye contact,” Zuluaga said.
Zuluaga pulled Ziva from the shelter and got her to a vet for treatment. While she was there, one of the veterinary technicians, Stephanie Williams, fell in love with Ziva, and she didn’t want to say goodbye when it was time for her to go.
“It broke my heart to think about her leaving, and I wanted to be a part of her recovery,” Williams told The Dodo. “So I volunteered to foster her.”
Ziva lived with Williams for about two months, and during this time, Ziva gained weight, grew in a new coat of fur and learned a lot about being a dog.
“She got to see what it was like to be in a home, and how to eat out of a dog bowl and drink out of a dog water bowl and sleep in a bed and how to jump up on the couch,” Williams said. “She did really, really well overcoming the adversities and the challenges that had been set before her, and I’m proud of her.”
Lots of people were interested in adopting Ziva because she looked so little and cute, but Zuluaga knew Ziva required an adopter who could continue helping her through her fear issues. Eventually, Zuluaga found the perfect person.
“A lady wrote to me and said that she heard Ziva’s story and really connected to it,” Zuluaga said. “She’d previously rehabilitated dogs, and we had no doubt that she’d be the perfect adopter.”
This past weekend, Ziva went to her new home in Fort Worth, Texas, and also got a new name — Roxy.
“Roxy is doing fabulously,” Cassie Rogers, Roxy’s adopter, told The Dodo. “She is definitely attached to my hip — I have become her mom.”
“She is starting to play with toys, loves food time and treats, snuggles on the couch with us and sleeps in the bed, gives me kisses, and just wants to run and play with the big dogs,” Rogers added. “I am in love with her.”