When Jacqueline Colette responded to a plea for fosters from a local dog shelter, she thought it would be hard to pick between the dozens of puppies who desperately needed homes. What she didn’t know was that the right puppy would actually choose her.
“I see this little arm just go straight out of the gate,” Jacqueline told The Dodo. “Donut’s little puppy arm just fit through one of the chain links.”
Volunteers at Austin Pets Alive! were shocked when they saw 7-month-old Donut, who they called Cinnamon, reach her arm through her kennel’s bars. They told Jacqueline that the scared pup had not shown affection in the 11 days that she’d been there.
And then they told her Donut’s traumatic shelter history.
“[She] was rescued off the streets as a tiny pup and placed in a shelter, but that didn’t last long because the shelter caught on fire,” Jacqueline recounted.
Donut escaped the shelter fire unharmed but caught parvo shortly afterward, so volunteers sent her to the parvo ICU unit at Austin Pets Alive.
One week after Donut got to her new shelter, a sewage line burst and completely flooded the parvo unit. All the dogs at the shelter — including Donut, who’d just finished her parvo treatment — were displaced and moved to outdoor kennels.
“This baby is 6 or 7 months old and has been transferred so many times,” Jacqueline said. “She’s never had a home, she’s never had a bed to herself and she’s been stuck in a kennel.”
So Jacqueline filled out the foster paperwork and set off with her new foster pup, excited for their new chapter together.
On the car ride home, Jacqueline could see that Donut was nervous. She was shaking and had her ears back with her tail tucked beneath her.
But when a sudden thunderstorm forced Jacqueline to turn on the windshield wipers, the pup stopped shaking and spent the rest of the ride home following the wipers back and forth with her head.
Donut’s first day home included a thorough bath to get rid of the sewage smell and a chance to run around in Jacqueline’s yard. During the bath, Jacqueline noticed that Donut was becoming more affectionate and more comfortable.
“She kind of rubbed up against me and put her head in my hand as I was trying to console her,” Jacqueline said. “And she just looked up at me like, ‘Thanks, lady.’”
Donut’s ears started to perk up when she ran around her new yard for the first time, but would quickly go back down as soon as she noticed that she was being watched.
That night, Donut made it clear that she was not yet comfortable with the idea of sleeping inside. “She tried really, really hard to sleep on the lawn,” Jacqueline said. So, Jacqueline got a big quilt and lay in the yard with Donut for over an hour.
“I kind of ignored her at first, and then she came onto the blanket,” Jacqueline added. When Donut crawled over to Jacqueline and rested her head on her new human’s back, Jacqueline said, “OK she’s getting it. She knows that she’s safe.”
Just three days after bringing Donut home, Jacqueline decided that Donut belonged with her forever.
It’s been two months since Jacqueline first brought Donut home, and the sweet pup is continuing to come out of her shell even more.
“Every time she puts her head on me, she nuzzles her chin back and forth, and then she sighs,” Jacqueline said. According to Jacqueline, moments like this make it seem like Donut is trying to thank her new mom for changing her life.
“It’s amazing to see the gratitude in her eyes,” Jacqueline said. “You can tell that she is thankful and happy.”