La Femme Nikita
A clarion call for change often comes from the unlikeliest—and furriest—of places. For Lena Liakhovitch of Jersey City, the well-being of a blonde pit bull named Candy became the young woman’s raison d’etre. The two-year-old dog—now known as Nikita—offered that incredible gift of unconditional love, in return for a steady parent’s devotion.
“At the time, I knew I needed a change in my life,” Lena explains, “but I didn't immediately think of getting a dog. I toyed with the idea in the past, but it only became a serious consideration when a close friend who works at the ASPCA asked me if I was interested in fostering one of the new arrivals at the shelter.”
Lena’s well-meaning friend warned her that foster situations are often gateways to forever homes. In other words, there was little chance that this potential foster mom wouldn’t fall in love and want to adopt the sweet and salty pooch. But Lena didn’t mind the risk. “I thought she could bring a new direction to my life—a little more structure and responsibility,” she says.
Add to that a booming social life, since Nikita soon blossomed into an extrovert under Lena’s tender care. “She is the friendliest dog I have ever met!” Lena boasts. “She gets along well with other dogs, people and children. I can take her anywhere, and she follows me everywhere—even to the bathroom!”
Lena soon learned that her foster pooch is also quite the comedienne, or at least a performer at heart. “Sometimes she snorts like a little piggy, and she loves to show off her stuffed squirrel toy,” Lena reports. And when did she realize Nikita would be her partner for life? “On Halloween, when we were walking around Jersey City,” she says. “Excited trick-or-treaters came up to pet her, and she ate up the attention like a ham. I then realized her happiness was what made me happy in return. I knew if I gave her up now, a part of me would be missing.”