A Second Chance for Hazel

March 25, 2015

It’s amazing what a difference the perfect home can make. Sometimes, animals who seem fearful or reserved will blossom into social, friendly pets just by landing in the right environment. In the case of a five-year-old Dalmatian named Hazel, the perfect home was all it took to let her personality shine. Here’s her Happy Tail.

The ASPCA rescued Hazel from cruelty in 2010.  She was just a puppy at the time and it didn’t take long for her to find a home. We celebrated Hazel’s adoption and then returned our focus to the hundreds of dogs still under our care. A year went by, then another and another, until all of a sudden we got a phone call from her adopter in May 2013. Hazel wasn’t doing well.

Although the spotted pup’s adopters loved Hazel, she just wasn’t thriving in their home. She had put on a lot of weight and was showing signs of aggression. In addition, she was suffering from a leg injury that left her limping and uncomfortable. With a heavy heart, the adopters acknowledged that they couldn’t care for a dog of her size and needs, so they made the decision to do what they thought was best for Hazel: they returned her to the ASPCA.

Brown spotted dalmatian wearing a red blanket

It had been three years since we had seen Hazel, and when she arrived, she wasn’t in great shape. Her leg injury had made exercise difficult, and as a result, she became morbidly obese at 86-lbs. She was also reactive to other dogs and fearful of strange objects. We knew that it would take some time to help Hazel get ready for adoption again.

Over the next year and a half, Hazel received surgery, including the insertion of a metal plate and screws to repair a torn ligament in her knee, and was put on a strict weight-loss diet and socialization routine. When she was finally ready for adoption in February 2014, we hoped that the process would be as easy as it had been the first time around, but we weren’t quite so lucky. Nine months went by before Samantha F. and her boyfriend, Paul, stepped through our doors.

Samantha and Paul both had dogs growing up, so when they moved into a big apartment they decided it was finally time to adopt a pet of their own. They met Hazel on their first trip to the ASPCA Adoption Center, and they were instantly intrigued by the beautiful pooch. We filled them in on her history and had a frank conversation about her medical and emotional needs, but the couple was undeterred.

Brown spotted dalmatian resting head on man's hand

“I could immediately tell that she was the perfect dog for us,” Samantha recalls. “We fell in love with her story and couldn’t imagine leaving her in her kennel for another day.” With no hesitation, they adopted Hazel and brought her home to their Queens, New York, apartment. Samantha adds, “With everything she’s been through, she deserved a second chance at life.”

And what a difference that second chance has made. Within a few weeks, the Hazel we had known—fearful, wary, overweight—had all but disappeared under Samantha and Paul’s care. When we asked for an update, Samantha gushed, “Hazel transformed and exceeded our expectations! Through her time at home, she has been weaned off of all pain and anxiety medication. Her behavioral evaluation said she would never be a ‘dog-park dog,’ but now she loves going and is extremely social and friendly with the other dogs there. Even strangers fall in love with her, too.”

The ASPCA staff is overjoyed to hear of Hazel’s success. She is proof that there’s just no substitute for the perfect home—and that every animal deserves a chance to shine. Samantha says, “We feel extremely blessed to have Hazel,” but we know that for this Dalmatian, Samantha and Paul’s home was “just the spot.” 

Brown spotted dalmatian sitting upright on a couch