Hugging Dog Gives Adopter New Hope

Lily has more than a special talent—she has a gift.

Laiza + Lily

I have a dog that hugs. Yes, a dog that pulls you down, throws her arms around you, and hugs you. I didn’t know it when I rescued Lily. Back then, she was a different dog. I was different, too.

I had spent the last six months mourning my Tina P., an 11-year-old pit bull, while living with my bipolar illness. Lily was found in an apartment, where she had spent the first years of her life as a breeding dog. She was neglected and emaciated, afraid of noises and sudden movements. She was afraid of the outdoors and petrified of people.

"They say a hug is some of the best medicine around. I say that a hug from Lily is my cure."

I drove 14 hours round trip to pick up Lily, a blue nose pit bull I had met only once. When we got home, I wondered if Lily would ever let me hug her or play with her without the anxious look she greeted me with the afternoon before.

A part of me had gone quiet living alone without a fur-kid. I wanted real noises again, not the noises in my head. I wanted to share in outdoor fun with pets and other people. I needed companionship. I wanted everything she feared. I closed my eyes, telling myself it’s okay to be nervous. Without really knowing her, I already loved her.

As I lay in bed, I felt warmth moving up along my backside. It was Lily crawling toward my head. She continued and then did something unexpected: she nuzzled her head on my neck. An excitement I had long forgotten came over me. This was my first glimpse of Lily’s personality. Despite what she endured, she was capable of affection. She wanted to love. I found out just how much as the weeks and months went by.

I arrived home from work one evening in mid-December. Like I had done for the last six weeks, I opened the door to greet Lily. She came flying into the living room with excitement. She grunted and snorted. She pawed at my legs. She wouldn’t stop! It was as if she was asking me to kneel down, which I did. Upon kneeling, Lily sat up on her hind legs and extended her front legs in my direction. I moved in closer and she placed her front paws around me, drawing me in. Her body collapsed into my chest. She was actually hugging me.

I sat there hugging her with tears in my eyes. I think she realized that I hadn’t left her. Lily was happy, and so was I. We found each other. She is grateful and she shows her gratitude in such an incredible way. They say a hug is some of the best medicine around. I say that a hug from Lily is my cure.

Each year, Petco Love 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 Laiza Goytia won For Our Friends Dog Rescue in New York a 2017 Holiday Wishes award.