Happy Tails | Love

Every single animal that comes through our shelter has a story. Some are complex, many are sad, but all of them get better the minute they arrive at the Virginia Beach SPCA. Love and her five puppies were transferred from the Eastern Shore to the VBSPCA in late April 2023. Love had not had the best start to life. She was malnourished, covered in fleas, and required treatment for heartworm disease.

Several months passed, and Love was still searching for an adopter. This timid shepherd mix was struggling with the shelter environment and needed a relaxed home to begin heartworm treatment. Up stepped Rachel, a Veterinary Assistant in the VBSPCA Clinic who had slowly formed a bond with Love in the weeks prior. Rachel agreed to foster Love during her heartworm treatment before finalizing the adoption in October 2023. We recently caught up with Rachel and her brother, Nick, to hear about Love’s transformation in the home.

How did you find Love?

I happened to be working the shelter surgery shift in the VBSPCA Clinic the day she was spayed. She was so nervous and shy but very sweet. She caught my interest for one reason or another that day, as we spent the whole day together. Then I started visiting her kennel almost every day for a couple of weeks. At first, I’d bring treats that she’d nervously sniff but not take, and she had no interest in being touched. So I’d just sit in the opposite corner from her and hang out for 10 minutes or so. Eventually, she tolerated a small pet or two. It was obvious she was pretty distrusting of people. 

How is Love doing in the home?

Now she’s doing great! She has sooooo much personality, and I always joke that her “puppy energy” has come out. It was a pretty slow process getting to where we are today. She didn’t know how to “dog.”

What sort of activities do you do together?

She’s mostly a couch potato, so we potato together most days. She’s a big snuggler and spends most of the time by my side. We love going on walks, and we just spent a weekend with friends in the Shenandoah Valley. She impressively toughed out a four hour drive and thoroughly enjoyed a 5 mile hike. She did really well with all the humans and doggos we interacted with along the way.

Does Love have any funny quirks?

My favorite thing is when I first get home. She’s so incredibly excited to see me and full of zoomies and play bows. She’s even gotten so excited she’s jumped clear over the couch! She’s a really silly girl and is full of love and secret wild energy.

How has Love enriched your lives so far?

Prior to Love, we just had our three cats – Smokey, Bandit, and Remy. Love has definitely encouraged a more active and adventurous lifestyle. She’s also provided so many sweet snuggles and laughable moments.

What would you say to anyone considering adopting a heartworm positive or timid dog?

The biggest thing is patience. I wouldn’t consider it an easy undertaking by any means. The first couple of weeks with Love in the home were hard. She was slow to warm up to interaction, and it was stressful to observe. It took a couple of weeks before she accepted laying on the couch with us. 

The treatment process was also hard on her. She was in pain after each injection, and it made me sad. Her first couple months in the home, I actually slept downstairs on the couch with her. I also found that it was important to develop a bond with her.

So once again, patience is the biggest thing. The adjustment is hard, the treatment is hard. Be kind, understanding, and give them all the sweetness they’ve never had the luxury of knowing.