Eugene E. wasn’t looking for a dog when he found Foxie, but the time was suddenly right.
“I looked at one site—the ASPCA—and there was my dog,” Eugene recalls.
Having never adopted a dog before, Eugene filled out an application on the ASPCA website to see what the process was like. After Christmas of 2020, Eugene connected with Matchmakers for a phone interview to determine if Eugene and Foxie would be a good match.
“We had a delightful conversation about my experience with dogs,” he recalls.
Foxie, a nine-year-old pit bull mix, originally came to the ASPCA Adoption Center through Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC), where she struggled to find the right family.
During her time at ACC, Foxie was reported to pace, pant and struggled to settle in her kennel. Knowing this information, our Behavior team set Foxie up in a large kennel in a quiet area with a covered crate and lots of comfortable bedding.
“Surprisingly, Foxie settled into her kennel quickly and was very social with the Adoption Center staff from day one,” says Rachel Maso, Director of Animal Behavior at the Adoption Center.
One behavior Foxie did display, however, is one very normal behavior known as resource guarding. She would hover and growl when people came near the toys in her possession.
Luckily, Foxie’s guarding behavior was mild and easily managed with Rachel’s help.
“For treatment, our goal was to make her feel good about people approaching her while she was in the possession of her toys,” Rachel explains. “During treatment we offered her toys and our specialists would approach her and drop treats in front of her. Over time, she became less focused on the toys and would look for a treat when people approached.”
From there, Rachel and her team members taught Foxie to make trades; when Foxie dropped a toy, she would be given a treat or another toy.
“We would recommend practicing trades with all dogs to keep them feeling good about having people around their things,” says Rachel. “Dropping a few treats whenever a dog has something special on their possession can help to avoid resource guarding issues down the line!”
While Foxie worked with our Behavior team in treatment, our Matchmaking team was hard at work finding Foxie the best possible home.
In hopes of finding the right adopter for sweet Foxie, we asked animal advocate and longtime supporter of the ASPCA, Sir Patrick Stewart (who has a pit bull of his own) to promote Foxie on Twitter.
Making a Connection
When Eugene saw Foxie’s photo on our website, he was drawn to her, but he was alarmed by her size and looks. Hoping for a dog in the 40 lb. range, when he first saw Foxie he thought, “no way.” But in the end, Eugene knew that he was open to anyone as long as it felt right and like a pet he could truly bond with. And Foxie certainly checked those boxes.
In addition to her size, at nine years old, Foxie was also a senior dog.
“I had strongly considered the idea [of adopting a senior dog] because I figured a senior dog is likely to be trained and a bit more focused on relaxation. I was half right—Foxie is sweet and well trained but can really turn on the energy for tug-o-war and long walks,” Eugene explains.
In her new home, Foxie adjusted quickly, spending only three days acknowledging the noise coming from the hallway outside of the door. She immediately took over the sofa in the apartment as her own, and Eugene made sure the rest of the apartment was comfortable by moving around some carpets so that “she wouldn’t slide about.”
Having found love with Foxie, Eugene enjoys the responsibility that comes with being a pet parent.
“I should have adopted 10 years ago, but I prized unrestrained freedom. It’s good to have responsibility, it’s grounding. It moves the focus off me. Also, I talk to her all the time now and everything I say is a pronouncement of my love for her.”
He adds, “If you’re thinking about [adopting a shelter dog] then it’s probably feasible—so don’t over think it—just contact the ASPCA. They have an effective strategy for quickly moving things along.”
October 23 is National Pit Bull Awareness Day, and on this special day, consider opening your heart and home to a pit bull, like Foxie!
“Unfortunately, there are lots of pit bulls in city shelters and due to the number of bully breed dogs and people’s misconceptions about them they tend to be overlooked. Pit bull-type dogs are no more inclined to have behavioral challenges than other breeds of dog,” Rachel reminds us. “These dogs can be wonderful loving companions if people will give them a chance.”