A couple weeks ago, Olena Kagui was scrolling through Facebook on the subway when she saw something that made her finger freeze on the screen. There was a post about a pit bull with wide, sad-looking eyes, who was going to be euthanized at a shelter in Brooklyn, New York.
“I normally scroll past, because it makes me sad that I can’t rescue all the dogs in need, but something about his face caught my attention,” Kagui told The Dodo.
The post described the pit bull, named Smiley, as a “friendly and outgoing” dog who was house-trained and loved to play with squeaky toys. The only reason he’d been taken to the shelter was because his family was having a new baby.
Sadly, Smiley hadn’t found a new home yet. If no one rescued Smiley soon, he was going to be put down very soon.
“I started bawling when I saw that no one in the comments said they could take him,” Kagui said. “My husband noticed me crying, read the post and said, ‘We can’t get a dog right now.’”
But Kagui was determined to be part of this dog’s life, so she talked her husband into fostering Smiley. When they made inquiries, they connected with Pound Hounds Res-Q, a local group that planned to pull Smiley from the shelter. The only thing holding the group back was the lack of a foster home — but Kagui and her husband filled that gap.
A few days later, after getting neutered, Smiley was theirs — but he was very nervous when he stepped into their home.
“He wouldn’t make eye contact or respond to any commands nor his name,” Kagui said. “He drank some water and it was … clear that he was house-trained, [and] knew not to jump on the bed or to chew anything except for his toys. But he wouldn’t settle down or look at me all day.”
When Kagui tried taking Smiley for a walk, he pulled hard on his leash, making it difficult to handle him. “I’d come home breathless with rope burn on my hands,” Kagui said.
But time made everything better. As each day passed, Smiley became calmer and more affectionate.
“On Saturday … we let him sleep in our bedroom on his doggie bed to make sure he didn’t lick his stitches,” Kagui said. “He slept like a baby, wagged his tail at us, and made eye contact, responding to his name. He also didn’t go anywhere at night, just shifted from one position to another while sleeping.”
Upon the rescue group’s suggestion, Kagui got a front-clip harness for Smiley, and this made it a lot easier to walk him.
“The next day we walked him, took him on a drive, which he loved, and took him to a very busy park using the walking technique we learned,” Kagui said. “He was much calmer, pulled less and loved being surrounded by dogs and people.”
Kagui and her husband ended up falling in love with Smiley — in fact, they’re planning to adopt him.
“Smiley already feels like part of our family,” Kagui said. “It doesn’t take long for a foster dog to make their way into your heart. Our home would already feel empty without him here.”
Donna Darrell, founder and president of Pound Hounds Res-Q, is delighted by how everything has turned out.
“I met him yesterday, and he’s perfect,” Darrell told The Dodo. “He is a completely different dog than at the shelter.”
“To think that he was going to be killed because his family was having a baby is ‘crazy,’” Darrell added. “He was such a good save.”