Say Hello to Zuma, OBOL’s Newest Animal Ambassador

Zuma, OBOL Animal Ambassador
2021 OBOL Animal Ambassador Photo Contest Winner

Thanks so much to Zuma’s dog dad Brad for sharing his adoption story. Zuma, welcome to the pack! We’re happy to have you as our newest Animal Ambassador!

I Am a Firm Believer in Second Chances

Being a cancer survivor, I know the feeling. I am a firm believer that a dog needs a home and for those that don’t have one, they need a second a chance to find that forever home.

I have had a lot of dogs in my life… most of them from rescues. My first two dogs (golden retrievers) were from a breeder many, many years ago. Those goldens were absolutely wonderful dogs, but from that point on — and in gaining a better understanding of homeless dogs living in shelters — I swore I would never get a dog from a breeder again going forward.

That belief has carried on for many years and with many dogs.

With all of this I mind, I’d like to submit my own adoption story about a dog we recently adopted.

Meeting Zuma

Zuma, a flat coat retriever, came into my world from half way around the globe. Zuma was an unwanted and lonely dog who was living in the backwoods in Turkey. He spent 2 years of his young life there before a kindly and persistent rescue group was able to lure him into their hands and into their shelter. He was given the TLC that he needed but it was discovered that black dogs in Turkey rarely get adopted due to some religious beliefs. Zuma, being all black, had no hope of getting adopted and could have spent the rest of his life there. However…

A wonderful rescue here in California named Fetchin’ Retrievers Rescue had implemented a pilot program whereas they would bring retrievers stateside for adoption. Zuma, being a retriever, was an obvious choice to be included on the first selection of dogs to be flown out from Turkey.

My wife and I have always been golden lovers, but I had a soft spot for flat coats. The rescue informed me that they had a flat coat coming in from Turkey and asked if would I be interested in adopting. We’ve had previous experience with international dogs as one dog we took in, a golden, was from China. Since my wife and I are fairly adept at handling dogs we really know nothing about, we decided to adopt Zuma right out of the gate.

It was obvious from the start that Zuma brought along some issues with him from Turkey — the main one being that he is absolutely terrified of men. I can’t imagine what kind of torment and likely abuse he suffered over there at the hands of angry sounding men, but that fear made itself known with me right away.

Overcoming Challenges

I’ve always been accustomed to a dog being confident and happy around me. Zuma was the first dog of ours to break that trend. His fear of me was very pronounced. This was no more obvious to me than when I would walk into a room and he would dart away briskly… most often through our dog door where he would remain until I left the room. He would not take treats from me nor would he come anywhere in the vicinity where I would be standing. Working with a new dog is challenging in its own right, but one that is absolutely uncomfortable around you is a far bigger ordeal. Any normal means of training just simply didn’t work if I was around.

The flip side of all of this is that Zuma loves women… especially women with high pitched voices. No matter who came into our house, if they were female, he would nuzzle right up to them. My wife took on most training exercises as Zuma really responded to her.

My wife and I have never given up a dog that we’ve taken in. Returning Zuma back to the rescue was never an option. We both realized that it was going to take time, training, patience, persistence and love to get Zuma to feel comfortable around me and the world in general. A dog can really blossom into a terrific dog once that hidden personality shines through.

A Breakthrough

Of late Zuma has been showing signs of breaking through the fear wall. He has been joining us on our bed at night and will lie between my wife and I. Good things like this always get rewarded. This is a major step for him. The lingering problem though is that as soon as I get off the bed, that fear response triggers.

Zuma has been with us for while now, and we can honestly say that he is improving and is really trying to do the best that he can. I wish I could upload videos as one thing he does do is quite entertaining: Zuma has become a TV watcher. He literally watches TV when we do, and he will bark and hop around anytime a dog or other animal appears on screen. One funny side note — he really perks up when the little Gremlin on a 7UP commercial comes on.

Thank You, OBOL

I appreciate the chance to share my Zuma adoption story. I have donated several times to OBOL and really appreciate the work that you do! I’ve met Brad a couple times and he is really a nice person!

Keep up the good work!

Does your adopted dog or cat want to promote “adoption is the best option”?

Become an OBOL Animal Ambassador today! Contact Eileen at (818) 402-6586, and we’ll feature your pet on our blog and our social media.

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