Nervous Puppy Won't Stop Hugging His Foster Mom Until She Agrees To Adopt Him
"I just knew he was supposed to be mine.”
When Kelsea McDonough brought home three 16-week-old foster puppies in May of 2021, she knew her work was cut out for her. Novo, Noah and Nash had been in an overcrowded shelter and were “extremely shut down,” McDonough told The Dodo.
“I was told they were scheduled to be euthanized at 3 p.m. the next day if not saved,” McDonough said. “Everything in me knew I was going to save these dogs.”
Because of their rough start to life, the three dogs were extremely timid when McDonough first brought them home. But Nash was on an entirely different level.
“All three puppies were brought to me in one single blue kennel. When I opened it, I started to cry immediately,” McDonough said. “They were covered in dirt, skinny and glued to the back of the kennel. They just wanted to be invisible.”
McDonough said that she noticed Novo and Noah were very protective of their brother Nash, and even when all three were hiding behind McDonough’s toilet, Nash was barely visible.
“Nash was at the bottom of the pile, with Noah and Novo directly on top of him,” McDonough said. “Nash was heavily protected and physically covered by his brothers. I knew then that the trauma of whatever they had gone through affected Nash most. His brothers both knew to protect him from the harsh world they once experienced.”
And when McDonough attempted to bring Nash outside, he was petrified and would not let McDonough put him down.
“When it came to Nash, something was just different,” McDonough said. “From the first day I saw him shielded by his brothers to the first day I tried to take him outside and he wouldn’t let me go, I just knew he was supposed to be mine.”
Nash wasn’t McDonough’s first foster fail. During quarantine, she fostered two puppies with an organization called A Wish for Animals, and both she and her mother fell in love with the dogs.
“They’re now my mom's soul dogs, and she says daily how significantly they’ve changed her life,” McDonough said.
So in January 2021, after a major life event left her feeling low, McDonough decided to give fostering a go for a second time.
“After a breakup of 10 years and failed engagement, I felt like I had lost almost every part of myself and hit what I can only describe as rock bottom,” McDonough said. “I found it very difficult to let anyone into my empty world at this time in my life but also knew the path to happiness was almost impossible to go through alone.”
When McDonough saw how terrified and unhappy Nash was, even after his brothers began coming out of their shells, she knew exactly what he was feeling, and that she needed to help him.
“I realized that [Nash] and I didn’t heal as quickly as the rest of the world,” McDonough said. “We were sensitive souls that felt the weight of the entire world with very little knowing of how to trust it. His path would need as much patience and grace as mine had.”
Slowly but surely, the four of them began healing together, with Novo and Noah being able to see happiness at the end of the tunnel a bit clearer than their brother.
“We [became] a family — one whole unit with many broken pieces,” McDonough said. “Where we were once shut down and left without hope, we were now safe and found so much comfort in each other. We started to live again. They brought me so much joy.”
“Every day they got better, and I did too,” McDonough said. “They eventually ate without much coaxing, learned how to play without feeling like they were in trouble and wouldn’t fall asleep without being rocked (which become my favorite memory of them).”
Once the puppies began to grow bigger and started playing and being more social, McDonough knew it was time to find them forever homes.
“We didn’t meet by accident, and the process of letting go was difficult for all of us,” she said.
Noah and Novo found homes with loving families right away, and McDonough finally made the decision to adopt Nash for good.
“We became a bonded pair — and when he met Lou (my shepherd), the three of us immediately felt whole,” McDonough said. “He was so much further behind his brothers in his healing process, and I knew I was so much further behind the rest of the world in my ‘healing after heartbreak’ process too … Nash officially became mine on June 11, 2022, and we haven’t spent a day apart since.”
Now that he’s settled into his forever home, some of Nash’s favorite activities include frolicking through meadows, playing with Lou and McDonough’s mother’s dogs, looking out the window on long drives, and playing with his stuffed animals — all of which have helped him develop into a much more confident and happy dog.
McDonough said that fostering and rescuing dogs can be overwhelming because of the pain and trauma in a dog’s past. But she’s learned to let past narratives go and focus her attention on providing the best second chance at life possible for her fosters.
“There are so many beautiful hearts in this world that have opened their homes to these dogs. I am so thankful for every single one of them,” she said. “Every [dog] that is saved is an ode to the belief that what was once broken can be found and put back together again with gentle hearts.”