After more than five years in the Shelter, a saviour came along
RAPS is a no-kill animal-serving organization. Under our care, no animal is ever euthanized due to lack of space, treatable illness, physical defect, age, rectifiable behavioural or socialization issues.
These may sound like they’re just words, of course, until you hear a story like Jolie’s and understand the real-life impacts of this promise.
Jolie spent more than five years at the RAPS City of Richmond Animal Shelter. Five years. In most other jurisdictions, she would have been euthanized – not because there was anything fundamentally wrong with her health or personality, but just because she had a couple of quirks that made her hard to place with a forever home.
Jolie was beloved by staff and volunteers at the Shelter, but as welcoming and loving as our people are, the Shelter is not a home. Jolie needed a very special someone.
Finally, along came Christa Grochowski. She saw the icons next to Jolie’s posting on the RAPS website indicating that she needed a home without kids or other pets. By this time, RAPS was looking for a foster home, hoping just that Jolie could get accustomed to a family situation.
“I know that she was very beloved at the shelter and she was one of their favourites,” says Christa. “By the time I met her, she was the kind of dog where, if somebody wanted to walk a dog, let them take out Jolie, because she was very well behaved. I also didn’t know a ton about her background but I knew that she had been adopted out a couple of times, with not such good outcomes, and returned.”
Beloved as Jolie was, Christa recalls a staff member frankly telling her: “She’s no angel.”
“She had issues,” says Christa, who adopted Jolie five years ago. “She’s very different now but, at the time, she had a lot of anxiety and definitely had a lot of trouble with separation anxiety. I was told, don’t ever crate her, somebody tried to do that and it was very bad.” In one instance, Jolie chewed her way out of a crate. In another, the adoptive family introduced Jolie to another dog too soon, after promising not to. She needed someone who would get to know her; to understand and accommodate her fears and quirks. That’s where Christa came in.
“She’s a whole different girl now,” Christa says. “She doesn’t have any fear-aggression anymore. She doesn’t have any fear of dogs anymore and she doesn’t have any issues. I’m so proud of her. She’s often the one who will try to defuse the situation or walk away from trouble. She’s great.”
Well, Christa admits … “She’s not 100% perfect.” She gets up on the furniture when Christa’s not looking. She barks at the door when people come.
Jolie is good friends with Christa’s parents’ dog, but she’s still a bit snippy to him when she’s on home turf.
“She bosses him around,” Christa laughs, “Not that she would ever hurt anybody or any dog.”
Her parents’ sheltie has been begging Jolie to play with him for years and, just recently, Jolie finally consented and cavorted around with him.
“It made my heart happy,” Christa says. “They’re buddies.”
Jolie, who is mostly Staffordshire terrier, was found as a stray on Number 4 Road. After a few failed adoption attempts and years in the Shelter, Christa came along, embodying the patience and devotion Jolie needed in a person.
“I fell in love with her immediately,” Christa recalls. “When I met her, she was a pretty sad case, actually. Something about her soul — I don’t know, we just had a connection right away. I told her that I would help her out.”
It took a long time for Jolie to settle in and be comfortable in her own fur. “I went very slowly in baby steps with her. … But I don’t regret it,” says Christa. “We learned a lot from each other.”
When Christa first met Jolie, “she wouldn’t even look at me,” Christa says. “Now we have a connection that I’ll cherish forever. …
“She’s changed so much. I would meet people and they’d say, is this the same dog? Her whole countenance, her energy has totally changed. She’s a good girl now. She had to learn how to be a dog. I think that was her trouble.”