Nadia came to us as a foster, underweight and silent, face half-shaved with stitches from a fight. She had a skin condition and chewed the hair off both front legs. She went to her kennel, wore knee socks for a month, and never uttered a single sound. When we went out, she snapped unexpectedly at other dogs, whined uncontrollably at small dogs, she didn't know what toys were and would stare blankly if you tried to play with her. She was flat and docile; I didn't think she had much personality.
She barked for the first time, 3 weeks after we got her. We put Nadia in her kennel for the night, and she worked up the nerve to tell us she'd rather stay with us, please. First contact.
I talked to a Korean co-worker and learned basic dog commands. When I came home that night, I called my fiancee over and rolled the dice. "Anja!" Nadia sat, right away. I'm not sure whose face was more surprised, Nadia or Saya-my future wife. That's where the connection finally started. She wasn't empty; she had been waiting for something that she understood.
Saya works from home, and the two of them were inseparable from that point on. Nadia learned to play with toys. Her skin condition improved. Her mild heartworm treated. Saya took her everywhere, socializing and learning.
One of the places Saya took Nadia was to her therapy sessions, dealing with some really tough issues with childhood abuse. Nadia would come over and lay her head on Saya's lap when things got especially difficult. She apparently understands some things, all too well. They were there for each other. Walking home one day, Nadia stood up for my wife when she was accosted by an aggressive panhandler. At that point, I knew Nadia wasn't really a foster anymore; she was family. We all made it official when Nadia was at Saya's side at our wedding.
She doesn't have papers, but Nadia is definitely Samoyed through and through. She has impeccable manners in public, a sense of humor, is gentle and kind to people, but I also know she's fierce when she needs to be and that she keeps an eye on Saya. She loves getting lovies, catching popcorn in the air, having her own toys (these are MINE??), and she's been amazing going to the senior care center for visits. She still doesn't really know how to play with other dogs or what the point of a dog park is, but she's trying. She also prefers her Korean commands over English, so we're trying, too. We all laugh together, every day.
Taking in a rescue is a little more work, but the reward has been amazing. I've had 4 Sammies before and I couldn't ask for a more loving or faithful companion. Thanks to Yvette, Y-Not-Save-A-Sam, and all of the other kind fosters who helped change her life and ours.
We'll have to follow up with some pictures later.