I was volunteering at Animal Care & Control Team (ACCT) in Philadelphia with my mom and husband (then fiance) when I walked down the last aisle at the shelter and saw a shaking black dog in one of the cages. She was in the corner, trying not to make eye contact with anyone.
I tried to offer her a little piece of chicken and she wouldn't come out of the corner. My heart broke as I slowly opened the door and tried to coax her out. Eventually, her appetite won and she walked out of the cage. We led her outside where she stood timidly while I again tried to encourage her to walk over to me for love and pets.
After a period of time, she again gave in and slowly approached me. I saw the long scar underneath her chin. I saw the fear in her eyes. And I just hugged her and stroked her soft. shiny black fur and told her no one would ever hurt her again. We became foster parents to this beautiful girl, and I'll never forget the first time she curled into my lap (all 60 pounds of her!) and rested her head on my shoulder. I never wanted to move. I knew I had finally earned her trust. And then a family came along who wanted to adopt her. I couldn't stop crying but I knew it was what had to happen.
Then the unthinkable happened: the adoption fell through! We realized it had happened for a reason: Raven was meant to be in our family forever. That was two years ago, and today Raven is about eight years old and shares our home with myself, my husband, and her Schipperke sister, Jetta. She runs around the house like a lunatic, basks in the sun of our yard, and makes us laugh every single day. She has come so far from the scared dog we met in the shelter.
I could not be happier that I stepped outside my comfort zone to volunteer at a shelter, and then to become a foster parent - it ultimately led us to this loyal, beautiful girl who has changed our lives.
We love you, Raven!