One-Eyed Dog And Injured Cat Fall In Love In Their Foster Home
The dog didn't get along with cats until he met this one.
Not too long ago, Lai Lai was an unwanted old boxer with a bum eye, who didn't get along with cats.
That was before she came to Kickie D'Alfonso's magical, transformational home in Austin, Texas, as a foster. That was before she met fellow foster Squirtle the cat, who had a rough background of his own, and an inability to take no for an answer.
"Squirtle has changed her," D'Alfonso tells The Dodo. "He is an insanely affectionate cat."
In July, Squirtle ended up in a busy Texas shelter with critical injuries. He had open wounds all over his body, and the skin around his tail was completely gone.
In this condition, Squirtle's odds weren't good in the shelter. A local rescue group asked D'Alfonso if she could take him in.
She said yes, as usual.
D'Alfonso said yes again a month later, when Lai Lai was picked up as a stray for the third time, with a canine sibling, and was sent to another area shelter.
Her eye was enlarged and painful, and had to be removed. Plus "she was covered in ticks and bumps which turned out to be a huge bacterial infection, had multiple masses that had to be removed and is heartworm positive," says D'Alfonso. "The shelter contacted the owners but they never came to reclaim the dogs."
Lai Lai's brother was adopted. No one showed any interest in her, and she was slated for euthanasia.
So D'Alfonso decided to foster this one, too.
D'Alfonso specializes in the tough cases. The sick animals, the old ones, the ones who have little chance in the world, without her.
She left New Orleans for Austin after Hurricane Katrina, and was, she says, "welcomed with open arms."
Fostering animals was "a way to give back to a community that gave me a new life."
At first, D'Alfonso - who is a vet tech - took home healthy pets. Ones who'd easily be adopted.
Over time that turned into those with extraordinary needs, "as they are typically tossed aside and forgotten," she says.
Her home is now full of such lucky critters.
Among them, there are a half-dozen elderly dogs, a Chihuahua who'd been returned to the shelter eight times (D'Alfonso intercepted the ninth return), a rescue pig with bad knees, a cat who'd been thrown from a moving car and another found in a bucket of wet cement.
And, of course, for now, Lai Lai and Squirtle.
D'Alfonso has been encouraging folks who are interested in one to check out both. But she's OK if Lai Lai and Squirtle get adopted separately, so long as they are taken into very good homes.
Lai Lai may need a house with no cats, unless they are Squirtle - or exceptionally laid back.
"I would love for Squirtle to find a home with dogs that love cats so he has an affectionate buddy," she says.
Mostly, D'Alfonso just wants them to find the families who will care for them always. So they can be happy, and so she can take in the next desperate pet.
"Our friends like to say the jankier, less teeth, less hair, etc.," says D'Alfonso, "the quicker they go to Kickie's house."