Anyone who meets Louis today will tell you that the adorable, timid Chiweenie/terrier mix is one in a million. From his endearing bashfulness to his uncharacteristically long, lanky legs that keep admiring passersby guessing his breed, Louis is in a class all his own.

However, before he came to the Dumb Friends League, Louis was sadly one of 174 neglected dogs removed from a home that law enforcement deemed uninhabitable for humans and animals alike. These 174 animals were the lucky ones, whose will to live prevailed through unimaginably difficult and tragic conditions.

In the spring of this year, the Colorado Humane Society (CHS), a program of the League, was called to assist our law enforcement partners in bringing these dogs to safety. The cruelty and neglect situation was so extensive that it required several local agencies and community animal shelters to provide the many dogs with transport, veterinary care, and eventual placement. Louis, the only puppy in the home, experienced hope and true transformation at the Dumb Friends League.

Upon his arrival, the anxious and overwhelmed pup found solace in a League foster home, where he was given the time and space to grow accustomed to his new – and much-welcomed – reality. At just a few weeks old, Louis would spend the next month gradually learning how to trust people and accept the care and attention he had long deserved. Louis’ foster parent fondly remembers the many ways he would seek comfort and security, including burrowing in the warmth of her hoodie when she held him and resting underneath the weight of nearby blankets and pillows at night. With time, Louis began to open up, insisting on play wrestling before bedtime. He even befriended the resident cats, often returning their nose boops with excited play bows.

When Louis turned 2 months old, he was ready to take his next steps. Little did he know, his adoptive family was already waiting for him with open arms. Kati, a dedicated League foster parent, caught wind of his story and felt an immediate connection to him. She found his wiry golden fur and black button nose simply too sweet to resist. What’s more, Kati felt confident that her knowledge and experience as a foster volunteer could help Louis cope with the significant trauma he endured during the first weeks of his young life.

At first, Louis was prone to resource guarding (especially with respect to treats), a behavior he also experienced in foster care and one that Kati consistently redirected with grace and compassion. Although he now had everything a puppy could possibly need, he couldn’t seem to shake the scarcity of food and attention he experienced in his first home; fear and the instinct to survive seemed to influence his every move. Kati knew that the next several months would be pivotal to his development. Rather than becoming overwhelmed, she made it her mission to help him overcome these challenges, saying,

Being able to bring security and safety to [Louis] creates joy for me. Even though he is scared of pretty much everything, it is worth it to watch him slowly come out of his shell and begin to trust his world.

With the help of Kati’s 7-year-old daughter, Virginia, and fellow household dog, Marvin, Louis has begun reaching milestones that once seemed impossible. According to Kati, his resource guarding has improved and he is continuing to build trust as he finds his place in the family. However, perhaps the most notable of Louis’ recent triumphs is simply “learning to play like a dog.” Today, Louis can be found chasing balls around the backyard with Marvin and connecting with Virginia as the two rough-house and frolic like old friends. Virginia’s very favorite playtime activity with Louis is when she squats or sits down at his level and holds her arms out, bracing herself for full-hearted impact.

While Louis’ earliest days of despair and hardship will always be a part of him, they no longer define him. Louis is a survivor. Likewise, because of the care and devotion of our team and his new family, his story is now one marked by resilience and pure, unconditional love. “I love being the [person] who is helping him get to a secure place,” Kati shared. “I have to remind him a lot, but he is getting there. Helping an animal in this way brings hope that we might be one step closer to ending pet homelessness [and animal suffering].”

Make a transformative impact for animals like Louis – and their families – by donating to the Dumb Friends League.