In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a sweet, white Staffordshire Terrier puppy with a unique (and very fitting) heart-shaped spot on her nose was rescued from the ravaged region. We don’t know the story of her previous family, but luckily she found her way to Best Friends Animal Society’s sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. But five years later, she’s still there, waiting for her forever home.
We couldn’t believe it as we played and snuggled with her in our cottage on the sanctuary’s grounds. Kathleen Prasad and Leah D’Ambrosio, directors of the Shelter Animal Reiki Association, had just spent the weekend training the staff at Best Friends how to use Reiki, a Japanese holistic healing modality, to help the animals and boost adoption rates at the shelter. When we picked China up at the end of the day for our overnight, we didn’t know what to expect, as we had been told she was dog-aggressive. What we got was an angel—in fact, we all kept calling her “Angel” by accident during our brief visit together.
As expected, China was initially a little shy when we first picked her up. But on her walk she really began to open up. We strolled in the last rays of sunlight over by the potbellied pigs in Piggy Paradise and admired the beauty of the landscape around us. China, whose age is estimated at about 6 years, fit right in and had a great time smelling everything, wagging her tail, showing her sense of humor, happily obeying our commands and having lots of fun.
She even joined us for dinner in town at Rocking V Café. Despite the fact that we had probably six other dogs on the patio near us (including a precious little Australian Shepherd puppy), she obeyed Leah’s orders (she had already picked Leah as her favorite!) and rested on the ground with her back to the dogs. Sometimes she wanted to look at them, but she exhibited no signs of aggression and did not beg from the table. (China has some food allergies and must follow a careful diet.) Still, she would do best in a home without small children or another dog. The owner at Rocking V knew her well—China always goes on overnights because she has such a sweet and easygoing disposition.
She remained calm even as we discovered an enormous hairy spider on the ceiling of our cottage after dinner. Kathleen bravely placed it outside as China watched us with curious eyes and expressive, floppy pink ears that look just like pig ears. Later, as the three of us curled up in blankets and chatted about the weekend’s amazing experiences and events, she fell into a deep, contented sleep on the bed while listening to our voices.
After China snuggled at the foot of Leah’s bed all night, the inevitable happened the following morning: We had to drop her off at Dogtown. She’s been through this many times before, and we witnessed firsthand the resignation as she prepared internally to go back. The volunteers and staff at Best Friends are absolutely wonderful, but China is ready to find a real home and meet her soul mate, best friend and lifelong companion. We believe that person is out there, somewhere.
We couldn’t leave without promising her we’d do our best to find her the perfect home. Maybe our visit to Best Friends—and the serendipitous way we were placed with her for the overnight (we let the staff make the selection, as the dogs we had offered Reiki to that day were not the right fit)—was timed just right so we can now tap into our global network to help China finally take the next step in what has been a long and solitary journey. She’s survived the largest natural disaster to hit the U.S. in more than a century, but she hasn’t let it break her spirit or dampen her hope or ability to love. Finding her forever home should be easy by comparison.
If you’d like to adopt China, a home inspection will need to be scheduled. You can also meet her in person at Best Friends in Kanab, a four-hour drive from Las Vegas. More info can be found in her official bio on the Best Friends site. Please forward this article to anyone you know who might be interested, and definitely keep us posted!
For more information on China, contact:
Tamara Dormer, CPDT KA, AKC CGC, APDT
Dog Trainer, Best Friends Animal Society
5001 Angel Canyon Rd.
Kanab, UT 84741
(435) 644-2001, ext. 4489
tamarad (at) bestfriends (dot) org