Deaf Foster Dog Helps Shelter Pups Find their Way

Together, Yuri and Amanda are helping adoptable dogs rehabilitate and thrive.

Amanda + Yuri

A dog thrives in the care of her dedicated foster mom. Today, Yuri has been adopted and helps other dogs like her to rehabilitate and find their families, too.

"Yuri thrived. She became a helper dog and full on playgroup rock star, and she helped dog after dog learn to be social and compatible with other canines."

As a Deputy Dog Warden, I see thousands of dogs walk through our door every year. Yuri’s story starts like many of the other dogs that enter the shelter system, sick and neglected. She came in with pneumonia and a high fever, tested positive for heartworm, had scars along her back and legs, and was very pregnant.

Adopted Dog Yuri

Even though I have seen so many dogs, something about her squishy face stuck in my mind. We gave her the treatments she needed, but she still failed to thrive. She was so sad. I spent many meals sitting with her, trying to encourage her to eat. She was taking shelter life hard and I knew it, so I took her home as a foster. While Yuri started to slowly recover, we were devastated when we lost her pups one by one due to canine herpes. Medical treatment failed to save them, breaking my heart and hers.

Adopted Dog Yuri

I tried to focus my grief into helping her become the healthiest and most adoptable dog I could, but she still had several tendencies that did not seem normal. I was unable to call her over when she wasn’t looking at me. If she didn’t see me coming and I reached out to pet her, she would startle and spin. After tests with our veterinary team, it was determined that Yuri had neurological tendencies that caused her to wobble and pace when she walked, and circle without interruption; also, she was deaf. None of which would go away once she was healthy.

Adopted Dog Yuri

After several months of recovery, I started to take Yuri back to the shelter for day trips to introduce her into our playgroup program. I was worried about how she would do: would dogs treat her differently because of her quirks? Did her scars indicate that she had dog reactivity issues? Instead of my worries coming to fruition, Yuri thrived. She became a helper dog and full on playgroup rock star, and she helped dog after dog learn to be social and compatible with other canines.

Adopted Dog Yuri

After exactly a year, Yuri became one of my foster failures and I adopted her. Not only is she the perfect dog, but she has ignited my passion to give every dog a chance, every day. Yuri gave me the confidence to learn the tools I needed to be able to teach dogs with severe medical and behavioral issues. She and I work as a team to rehabilitate dogs and give them the social skills they need to be adopted. She has shown me that differences don’t equal disabilities, and dogs only need a little time and patience to thrive. To this day she is not only a playgroup rock star, but also a rock star in my heart.

I don’t say I rescued Yuri. I think Yuri was the one that found me when I needed her the most. She gave me a purpose: to do what I love and to help those dogs who cannot help themselves.

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Amanda won Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter in Valley View, Ohio a 2019 Holiday Wishes award.