Rocco, the 3-year-old German shepherd, had no idea where he was or why he was there. He just sat there with an empty gaze and frozen in one corner of Dallas Animal Services in Texas, where his family had abandoned him because they were having a baby.
Luckily, a woman visiting the shelter noticed how sad and gentle Rocco was. So she posted a video of him online in hopes of finding someone who would take care of him. Preethi Pillaipakkam, who serves as a foster in DFW German Shepherd Rescue, noticed the post and immediately wanted to help.
“At first I was surprised,” Pillaipakkam said about the fact Rocco was abandoned because of a new baby. “But once I saw how underfed he was, it did not surprise me. It is probably a combination of change in family situation, plus not [being] the best owners in the first place.”
While the dog should have weighed about 85 or 90 pounds, he only weighed 60. When Pollaipakkam picked him up, she realized that she needed to give him days of attention for him to come out of his shell.
“The shelter is certainly not the environment for a dog like Rocco,” Pillaipakkam said. “He was very timid and scared to get into the car. He even hid beneath the seat in the car. He was pacing a bit and seemed very stressed.”
Rocco, as expected, was shy and reserved for the first few days in his foster home. All he did was eating and walking around a little bit. He still was very confused. However, Pillaipakkam and her own German shepherd helped him a lot, because of which, he started getting warmed up around the first weekend in his foster home. Rocco is now happy. He has his own toys to play with and chews bones, displaying his true personality even more as the days pass by.
“He slowly started exploring the house,” Pillaipakkam said. “He loves the couches and his doggy beds, and he really likes squeaky toys and tennis balls. He is a really good fetcher.”
He also likes being his Foster mom’s shadow, other than playing. “He was a bit aloof in the beginning,” Pillaipakkam explained, “but now he follows me around like a shadow.” Rocco is receiving a lot of adoption options because of the video. While he is opening up more and more every day, the rescue will be selecting a forever home for him.
Pillaipakkam has even started an Instagram account for Rocco, where she updates everyone about him. She wants to encourage people to adopt larger breeds of dogs, which are commonly abandoned in shelters because of changes in the owner’s living situation.
“The top reasons for large dogs to be given away typically include a change in the family situation, so this could be a move, a kid, a marriage, a divorce or any such factors,” Pillaipakkam said. “With a German shepherd and the prevalence of breed-based discrimination, it is getting harder and harder to find places to live with these breeds. We hope to bring awareness to this.”
Rocco is getting happier by the day, and his confidence is also flourishing. However, he is yet to find his forever home. Until then, his foster mom will drown him with all her love and care.
“Ideally, we would like to see Rocco placed in a new home around mid-September,” Pillaipakkam said. “We wanted to give him at least a week or two [here first] to ensure he feels safe.”
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