Top Happy Ending of 2012: Dora the Shih Tzu

Thursday, December 27, 2012 - 3:45pm
4 shih tzus being held

As 2012 draws to a close, we’re thinking back on some of our favorite rescue stories of the year. One of them has to be Dora’s.

On a chilly day last holiday season, the ASPCA rescued Dora, a starving, matted little Shih Tzu with a severely injured tail. Back then, she was weak, terrified and emaciated. 

But slowly, Dora began to gain weight and strength. She started to gain confidence, too, and as 2012 began, Dora’s spirited personality started to shine through.

That’s when world-renowned designer and architect Robert Couturier learned about Dora. A steadfast ASPCA supporter with three Shih Tzus of his own, he was deeply moved by her story. Within a week, he became her new foster parent.

“She slept in my arms the whole time on the way home,” Robert remembers. “It was as if she could finally sleep, and that she knew nothing bad was ever going to happen to her anymore.”

At his Connecticut country house, Robert introduced Dora to his boyfriend, Jeffrey, who fell in love with her immediately. Then he gave Dora a toy. She took it to her crate and looked at him with wide, cautious eyes, as if to ask: Is it OK for me to keep something of my very own?

“Of course it’s OK,” Robert told her, his heart breaking a little. He scooped her up and carried her with him all evening, just as he does now whenever they are together.

These days, Dora sleeps between her guardians’ pillows and enjoys playing with her favorite canine sibling: five-year-old Hercule, who fell head over heels for her the first day they met. “He’s her knight,” Robert jokes.

In October, Robert and Jeffrey adopted Dora. That makes it official: For the first time in her young life, Dora was home for the holidays.

If Robert’s acts of kindness don’t melt your heart, we don’t know what will. We’re so glad these two found each other!

If you’d like to help animals like Dora—those who are still out there, waiting to be saved—please give to the ASPCA here. (Psst: Give before January 1 and you’ll snag a last-minute tax break.)

And if you’ve got a great 2012 rescue story of your own, tell us in the comments!

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The beautiful photo of Mr. Couturier and his adopted dogs swelled my heart. I am so totally happy for sweet Dora who had such a horrific start in life. The generous and kind Mr. Couturier has replaced cruelty and selfishness with love, kindness, care, and respect. He deserves every animal lover's gratitude and praise.


Robert and Jeffrey, you are such good men for your loving kindness. Dora is so lucky to be with you. She is a little angel. Congratulations to you both on the aodption of Dora.

Peter Willems

What a wonderful and moving story!
Robert and Jeffrey: you both are the TOP.
Greetings from the Netherlands (EUR)


THANK YOU and may God bless you! I'm sure this little girl know how lucky she is. I often think that they rescue us instead of us rescuing them. <3


When I read this story, tears came to my eyes. Two yrs ago I was given a Shih Tzu by a lady who had adopted him for her parents then found that they didn't want a dog. His name is Sam and he is the light of my life. My lil man sam.

Sherry Hoon

So happy that Dora found someone who will love and care for her. My two little adoptees are the light of my life.

Vicky S.

In late 2005, I lost one of my beloved cats (Bastet) to complications related to old age. Her little sister Matisse was sad and lonely; she needed a new sibling. I visited a local shelter with NO intentions of adopting a cat that day; I was just going to "look around." I wanted a Himalayan or Siamese, female only.

However, as soon as I opened the door at the local cat hospital, I heard a kitten crying. LOUD! I looked at the friend who was visiting with me and said, "That's my cat."

Following the mournful cry, I found a sort of cute kitten in a pet carrier. When we opened the carrier door, I found NOT a Himalayan, nor Siamese, nor a girl.

I found a tiny, frightened Maine Coon boy. He was eight weeks old, and so very lonely and scared. When I picked him up, he stopped crying and held on to me for dear life.

Upon investigation, I learned that the little boy's mother had been abandoned in a trailer park. She passed away, but not before giving birth to three kittens.

I fell in love with the little boy, and decided to adopt him. His name is da Vinci after my favorite artist and inventor.

I'm grateful that the universe led only me to da Vinci because he developed a health issue -- manageable, but an issue that one needs to know how to look for. Before we got his problem under control, I spent several nights with him (at different times) in the local veterinary ER. I believe that if someone with less experience with cats had adopted my baby that he might have died.

Today, my big, beautiful Maine Coon enjoys his home, his big sister Matisse whom he adores, good food, safety, and only occasional needs for medicine. He and Matisse are very best friends -- and the loves of my life.

If you are doubt about adopting a pet, then please speak with an adoption counselor at ASPCA or other local organization to find out if you're ready for a pet. You need to understand about pet care, what they need to feel happy and secure, and about how much you'll need to spend in health maintenance each year, including good-quality food, vaccinations, dental visits, and (hopefully) rare vet visits for medicine.

Happy New Year from da Vinci, Matisse, and Vicky!

Patty Cunniff

Thank God for people like you ,Robert. For as long as I live I will never understand how anyone could mistreat such an innocent animal.


You two gentlemen are simply the best and all heart. I love you and your story taking in a sweet dog who needed you and you love.

Stan Jones

Your recent ad that plays the sacred song, Silent Night, is so offensive that it mutes all of your good intentions. I could never support you since you have such a hatred for that that we hold sacred.