Niko’s Search For a Forever Home Continues

February 19, 2013  

A true forever home can prove elusive for even the most wonderful dog

Update: A few months ago, we ran a story about Niko, who had been almost miraculously reunited with her original guardian. Sadly, due to a cancer diagnosis, her guardian has had to relocate and can no longer care for Niko. Niko is now in temporary foster care while she waits for a more permanent forever home.

The original story, published in October 2012, is below.

Miracles Happen


By Beatrice Martin

Last summer my husband and I agreed to foster a beautiful pit bull named Niko whose loving but young owner was forced to give her up. He had to move back home with his grandparents, who wanted no part of large dogs. They had already surrendered her to animal care and control when I found out and begged them to remove her stat and bring her to our home. We would, and did, try everything to keep her safe and loved while trying to find a good home.

Because Niko and our Lulu did not get along, we kept the dogs safely separated. One morning, however, my husband was a bit careless and forgot to secure the door. Niko and Lulu found themselves in a fight in our backyard, with my husband in the middle. Trying to separate the dogs, he fell and broke his hip. The police and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) would not come in to help him because of the five dogs in the yard. So my husband remained on the ground, with a broken hip, still trying to hold the two fighting dogs apart. Finally our kids were called by neighbors and secured the dogs.

Shortly after arriving in the emergency room, my husband had a mild heart attack, which went undiagnosed until the next day, after he had his hip replacement operation. After several days, before releasing him from the hospital, they did an angiogram and discovered that he needed three cardiac stints. Three major vessels were 80 percent blocked, and he had no symptoms! He was thin, athletic, eats flaxseed all day … not the typical cardiac suspect. If it were not for our fostering Niko, this never would have been discovered, and my husband would have just unexpectedly died one day without warning. Niko saved his life in a way.

Niko in Danger
In early October, we finally found what we thought was a perfect home for Niko. I kept in touch with her new family until Christmastime, and all was going very well. At that point, I decided to “cool it” a bit and not call so frequently anymore.

In late February, I began to have a weird feeling that something was not right with Niko. I told myself not to be neurotic and to trust that all was fine. At the end of April, while working in the operating room where I am a nurse, the grandmother of Niko’s original owner, who also works in my hospital, came frantically banging on the door of the operating room. She had just received a certified letter from animal care and control that Niko was there, picked up as a stray. They had correlated Niko’s microchip, thank God, to the original owner’s info. She was going to be euthanized if not claimed or adopted within two weeks. The problem is that the letter arrived past the proposed execution date. I was devastated. I tried contacting the new family, but their phone was disconnected.

A Lucky Turn
Miraculously, a good friend of mine, also a pit bull lover, went to the shelter without telling me, and Niko was still there and alive! She was skinny, her beautiful coat a bit shabby, but still sweet, lovable Niko. I was able to plead my case for her with a local no- kill shelter where I volunteer, and although they are overcrowded with pit bulls, they agreed to take her as a personal favor to me. Meanwhile, the grandmother of the original young man who owned and loved Niko agreed to tell him where the dog was, so he could give her exercise and love while in the shelter. As soon as he heard the news, he raced to the shelter, where Niko covered him with kisses. The staff told me they had never seen anything quite like it before. And the young man now had an apartment in an animal-friendly building, with his girlfriend. The entire time he was without Niko, he had kept her photo over his bed and on the fridge, never thinking they would ever be reunited again.

Two weeks later, when he was able to get together the adoption fee, he took Niko back home. We will never know what happened in the interim or why Niko wound up abandoned. But through a series of events nothing short of miraculous, Niko is once again in the arms of her loving original owner, having gone through hell and back and having saved my husband’s life in the process. The reinforced faith of everyone who has heard this story know that indeed prayers are answered … sometimes through pit bulls!

If anyone is interested in fostering or even adopting Niko, please contact the author, Beatrice Martin, at [email protected]. Niko currently lives in New York City (Staten Island).

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