In her home now, Zola’s days are full of snuggles, playtime and adventures with her pet parents and her furry family members.
Zola’s new life is thanks to the love and care of so many at the ASPCA, but especially her mom, Meghan, who fostered Zola when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Many animals rescue groups and shelters, like the ASPCA, have relied on the critical support of foster caregivers to provide shelter and comfort to rescued animals awaiting adoption.
But for Meghan and her partner Lia, a temporary home for Zola became something more as time went on and their bond with her grew.
“Zola brings so much fun and quirkiness to the family while also soothing us during these crazy times with an abundance of sweet kisses and snuggles,” Meghan says.
Zola’s Beginnings and Recovery
Zola’s path to joining Meghan and Lia’s family wasn’t an easy one. We first met Zola in December 2019, when she was brought to the ASPCA with severe injury to her back leg, consistent with blunt force trauma. Suspecting potential cruelty, we reported Zola’s case and an investigation was opened.
Her injury sadly required amputation, but there was never a doubt that Zola would recover, adapt and live a full, healthy life. After weeks of recovery in the ASPCA Animal Recovery Center (ARC), Zola was able to move on to the ASPCA Adoption Center, where we hoped that we could help her find a loving home.
However, life began to rapidly change for us all after the New Year, and Zola wasn’t able to find the right match before the Adoption Center, ARC and other ASPCA facilities had to temporarily limit operations starting in March.
But hope was never lost! And like many of the animals in our care, Zola was placed through our incredible foster program—a step in her journey that turned out to be the perfect one for her.
A Fresh Start
As the foster team worked tirelessly to place the animals in our care, they put out a call to staff as well—and Meghan’s name came up. Meghan is a Canine Caregiver at the ASPCA Canine Annex for Recovery and Enrichment (CARE), and in her role, she provides much-needed care for animal victims of cruelty, who are recovering both emotionally and physically.
Meghan was happy to bring Zola in and knew that their temporary situation could be beneficial to them both during these uncertain times. “This was an amazing chance to get her out of a shelter environment and explore what kind of dog she really is,” she explains. “What she liked, didn’t like. How she interacted with people, dogs, the city, nature. These were all things we didn’t have enough information on, and those were things that could expand her adoption success immensely.”
And it turned out, Zola needed a fair amount of help behaviorally. Something that with the virtual help of the ASPCA Behavior team, Meghan and Lia were able to fully take on while spending time at home with their temporary houseguest.
“The first couple of days were challenging. The Behavior team was very informative in helping my partner and I with strategic plans to benefit everyone—us, Zola, our dog Mozart and our cat,” Meghan says. “Zola came on strong in the beginning, but with the right knowledge, tools and experience I already have from being a caretaker for these animals, Zola learned very quickly.”
As the family adapted to having a new, energetic companion in their home, and as they helped her adjust, learn and blossom, they all began to fall in love with Zola.
Finding a Place to Call Home
After fostering Zola for some time, Meghan and Lia felt conflicted about saying goodbye to her. “We kept telling ourselves we didn’t want to be selfish and keep Zola if there was a better life for her—a big yard, ample playtime, etc.,” Meghan explains. But as time went on, it seemed more and more like Zola had already found the best life with her foster family.
“We sat and had hard, serious conversations and realized: so what if we don’t have a big yard. I invested in new inline skates to skate with her. My partner started running with her. We began going on longer walks with her and her new brother; we take her hiking, or to parks. She couldn’t care less if we had a big yard. We would do anything for her.”
With her family, Meghan and Lia describe Zola as goofy, snuggly and vocal. She has a favorite fleece jacket she likes to lounge in when she’s not playing with Mozart, and most adorable of all, she likes to talk to express herself and let her pet parents know when she needs something.
“She will sit or lay down and whine and whine at you until you sit down so she can just snuggle on you,” Meghan says. “She’s very vocal as to what she wants, and she pretty much gets it. She deserves it.”
Throughout Zola’s life, she hasn’t seemed to let anything slow her down, not her handicap, not behavioral challenges, or even a pandemic. She found exactly where she was meant to be, and thanks to Meghan and Lia keeping their hearts open, she’s flourished.
When asked about the challenges of helping a rescue dog adjust, Meghan tells us that it’s completely worth it. “Have you ever needed someone to give you a chance? Aren’t we all complex and complicated?” she asks. “Rescue animals just need to be given a chance, a lot of love, a lot of patience—that I didn’t even know I had—and determination.”
I think we can all attest, that in Zola’s case, patience, love and commitment, really paid off.
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