Meet Serena: A “Foster Fail” Fairytale
Five months ago, sweet Serena was a stray running at large in Baltimore City. For how long, we weren’t sure—but at less than a year old, Serena had her whole life ahead of her. With a heart-melting smile and gorgeous, mismatched brown and blue eyes, this happy girl was full of puppy personality and mischief.
During her intake exam, it was apparent that Serena would not respond to loud noises. After further interactions, our medical team determined that Serena was deaf.
We also soon discovered that Serena was guarding her food. Resource guarding occurs when a dog displays certain undesirable behaviors when you try to take something “valuable” from them like food or toys. This reaction is not an uncommon issue in dogs and is fortunately fixable with behavior-modification training. However, deaf dogs like Serena require a different kind of training since they don’t respond to typical noise signals.
So, our team decided that it would be best for Serena to be in a foster home. Foster homes are great for animals like Serena who need one-on-one attention. A foster home would be able to provide the enrichment, training and behavior modification that Serena needed to attract the perfect family for her.
Enter Abby Isaacs. She first found out about BARCS after doing stories with us as a reporter for WMAR-2 News. Soon after, she decided to get involved by fostering and volunteering with our dogs. After meeting shining star Serena in our daily playgroup, Abby jumped at the chance to foster her.
She explains, “I have a passion for working with dogs with behavior issues. I worked with one of my previous fosters for three months to get her ready for adoption. I was also previously trained for resource guarding, so when I learned what Serena needed to work on, I knew I was the person to help. Since she had already been at the shelter for a month, I decided to take her for the weekend to give her a break, and I immediately fell in love and decided to foster her.”
It’s fair to say that the goal for all foster families is to find the right home for their animal. Abby was no exception—she loved watching Serena blossom while keeping an eye out for the perfect family. But as time passed, Abby started to consider that the right home for Serena might be with her.
She says, “I would have people stop me on the streets to meet her and ask about her because she’s so unique and friendly. When I started introducing her as mine and not my foster, that’s when I knew.”
And so, in mid-September, Abby made it official: she adopted Serena.
Abby says of her decision, “I felt like all that I had gone through had led me to Serena. And while I never planned on adopting because I love fostering so much, I just knew I couldn't let her go.
“Serena is very special. She is the friendliest dog I have ever met and she doesn't let her disability slow her down at all! I hope her story inspires people not to overlook dogs with different abilities. Sure they require different training and more patience, but they are just as special and capable of love. Through everything, Serena has made me a more patient person, and I'm excited to keep spoiling her.”