Foster Dog Helps his Pet Mom Find Appreciation and Joy

After working her shifts as a hospital nurse, Emma is delighted to return home to Zeus’ happy wags and slobbery kisses.

Emma + Zeus

Emma and her husband needed some brightness in their lives in the midst of the pandemic, so they decided to foster. Of those dogs they fostered, they were told Zeus was aggressive—but instead, his happy smile and wiggling wags let Emma and her husband know that Zeus was there to stay.

"From the moment we met him, Zeus proved to us that there is no such thing as a bad dog—just good dogs put in bad situations."

As we all know, 2020 was a year that held a lot of dark times for many people across the world. My husband and I decided that we would help combat some of these dark times by fostering shelter dogs that just needed a second chance at life. Zeus was the sixth dog we took in and the first one that was labeled “aggressive” towards humans.

From the moment we met him, Zeus proved to us that there is no such thing as a bad dog—just good dogs put in bad situations. He had lived in a home that lacked stability and safety, and he was just trying to protect himself the only way he could. It took us less than a week to know we couldn’t give him up.

Who rescued who, you ask? I didn’t know it at first, but I needed Zeus. No matter what my 12-hour shifts at the hospital held in store, I could always count on Zeus to greet me at the door with a goofy smile, wiggling butt, and sloppy kisses. Being a nurse in 2020 was more than I had bargained for, but four white paws and a wagging tail turned the year around. He gave me a reason to get up and get outside when I didn’t have the motivation or strength. He gave me unconditional love when I felt alone and isolated. He added so much to my life during a year filled with so much loss.

I’d felt like I wasn’t living life anymore, just going through the motions. But Zeus reminded me of a couple of important life lessons. He reminded me to appreciate the little things in life: the ability to throw a tennis ball in the park or enjoy the view from the top of a mountain. His pure joy from just riding around in a car with the window down reminds me not to take the everyday luxuries I have for granted. He reminded me that sometimes a nap is exactly what you need. Zeus reminded me that I have food in my bowl, a warm bed to sleep in, and people who love me—and that’s all you truly need in life.

We don’t deserve dogs, but I’m so thankful we have them.

Each year, Petco Love Stories invites adopters to share 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 Emma won Burlington Animal Services in Burlington, North Carolina a 2021 Love Stories award.