Foster Dog Brings Healing to her New Family

Together, Sacha and her (human) sister find their happily ever after.

Morgan + Sacha

A foster dog named Sacha shows a surprising knack for service work — and gives her new family hope.

"Sacha gave us hope, and she gave my daughter a chance at life. Sacha is trained to detect the slightest changes in my daughter’s breathing and heart rate to allow us to therapeutically combat an episode or a meltdown before it begins. I would never have guessed that a small fluffball from the shelter would give my family strength to succeed."

I met my daughter when she was 10 years old. She had spent half of her childhood in foster care. Fear, panic, and anger ruled her behavior and her ability to communicate. She would often wake up screaming in the middle of the night and I would run in to wake her up and soothe her. She wasn’t even safe from the fear in her sleep. It was heartbreaking to see our new daughter in so much pain. She carried so much anger, all of it justified. Our budding family was struggling. She already had one adoption fall through; we couldn’t let that happen again. We decided no matter what happened, or how hard she pushed us away, we wouldn’t give up. We would find a way to be her safe forever. 

A few months after she moved in, we began to foster for Angels Among Us Pet Rescue. I had fostered animals for years. We took a break to prepare for our daughter, but I thought helping dogs through abandonment and trauma could be healing. We fostered a handful of dogs and our daughter was very invested in the process and in making sure they found the best homes. In November 2017, we fostered a tiny ball of fluff named Sacha. “Can Sacha sleep in my room?” my daughter asked. A few nights into Sacha living with us, I noticed there had been no night terrors. Not one. No screams. No tears. Just sleep. Sacha would wake her up before the night terror could take hold, and kiss and snuggle her until she went back to sleep. 

How did she know to do that? I couldn’t help but wonder, “What else can this dog do?” I contacted a behaviorist for an evaluation. We got the best news. “Not only do I think she can be a service dog, I think she can be an amazing service dog.” On November 28, we formally adopted our daughter and as a special present just for her, we adopted our foster dog, Sacha, as well. Sacha immediately started her training to become a service dog. We trained every day and Sacha learned quickly. Before Sacha became a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) service dog, my daughter’s trauma ruled our lives. We couldn’t go out to eat. We couldn’t run errands. School was a huge trigger. The assistant principal had us on speed dial. We never knew when she would break down and her breakdowns could be violent and last for hours. I didn’t know how our family would survive. Sacha gave us hope, and she gave my daughter a chance at life. Sacha is trained to detect the slightest changes in my daughter’s breathing and heart rate to allow us to therapeutically combat an episode or a meltdown before it begins. With Sacha’s help, we have gone from having dangerous meltdowns daily to a few a year. I would never have guessed that a small fluffball from the shelter would give my family strength to succeed.

Each year, Petco Love Holiday Wishes campaign invites adopters to share stories of how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by Morgan won Angels Among Us Pet Rescue in Alpharetta, Georgia a 2020 Holiday Wishes award.