A shelter dog’s journey home, in photos

Best Friend in Los Angeles works collaboratively with animal rescue groups, city shelters and passionate individuals who are all dedicated to the mission of making Los Angeles a no-kill city.

As part of this mission, Best Friends hosts adoption and fundraising events, manages two pet adoption centers, and leads the No-Kill Los Angeles (NKLA) initiative. Together, we will Save Them All.

Nina’s journey to her new home wasn’t an easy one. It took a lot of hard work, patience and a team of people who believed in her, even when she wasn’t feeling her best. Nina showed how she felt by barking and looking intimidating, so that people had no choice but to leave her alone.

Of course, the team at the Best Friends Pet Adoption and Spay/Neuter Center in Los Angeles had seen this behavior before. They knew that Nina was more scared than mad, and craved love from people much more than she let on.

Nina is not unlike many of the animals who arrive at the adoption center from one of the six Los Angeles city shelters. Like her, they may be scared and reluctant at first, but eventually they’re able to shed their past, to learn and grow, so they can get adopted.

When Nina came to Best Friends from Los Angeles Animal Services, she was overwhelmed by the situation after losing her home. She barked at anyone who approached her. She was difficult to control on a leash, and she was very wary of strangers.

Photo of Nina, an energetic dog, while she was at the Best Friends Pet Adoption and Spay/Neuter Center in Los Angeles

During the time Nina spent at the center, she received extra training, outings with volunteers, dog play groups and constant reassurance that she was loved. The result: She thrived, and then caught the eye of a family, who decided to adopt her.

Her journey home was captured through volunteer Todd Roisman’s lens. Nina was a favorite of his, and he not only spent hours working with her, he photographed her journey from homeless to home.

Rowdy dog Nina plays with a ball

Once Nina had settled in at the center, dips in a kiddie pool turned out to be one of her favorite activities. That’s how she earned the nickname Queen of the Pool. Her new circle of human friends discovered that she also loves to cuddle and thoroughly enjoys having her belly rubbed. She was beginning to let her guard down.

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Once Nina the dog had settled in at the center, dips in a kiddie pool turned out to be one of her favorite activities

A dog gains confidence

The more time volunteers and staff spent with Nina, the more she trusted people. The next step was to introduce Nina to other dogs via a play group. Socializing with other dogs is just as important as befriending new people, both for a dog’s happiness and her chances of getting adopted. After a little settling in, Nina enjoyed running and chasing a new friend named Derby.

The next step was to introduce Nina to other dogs via a play group

When she was ready for a “rough and tumble” style of play, Nina met another friend, Pepper. She still didn’t feel comfortable with dogs who intimidated her, but with the right match she loved romping with other dogs in the play yard.

With the right match, Nina loved romping with other dogs in the play yard

After staff had observed Nina interacting with other dogs in play groups, she got the green light to go on outings outside of the adoption center. One of her greatest days was spent with Todd and his family; she joined them for a Father’s Day celebration on the beach.

Nina the dog joined Todd and his family for a Father’s Day celebration on the beach

Nina rode in the back of the van with Todd’s son, Jaime, and at the beach they played in the surf.

Jaime and Nina the dog played in the surf at the beach

Nina finds a home

In the next few months, Nina flourished at the adoption center. She had lots of training sessions with the dog team, polishing her manners. The only thing left to do was to find her a home. Nina was ready.

One day, a family was at the center looking at dogs and they met Nina, who turned on the charm. Out of all the dogs at the center, they chose Nina!

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Out of all the dogs at the center, they chose and adopted Nina

There were tears of happiness that day at the adoption center. Everyone had witnessed Nina’s journey, and knew how far she had come. It was so wonderful to see her walk out the adoption center doors with her new family.

There were tears of happiness that day at the adoption center when Nina the dog was adopted

Nina’s nickname stuck. Today, she is the queen of her very own kiddie pool. She loves to sit outside under the trees in the backyard, and her family reports that she is doing great in her new home. They know Nina’s journey continues, but Nina has found the same thing in her new home that she did at the adoption center: people who can take the ups with the downs, and who know that with love and patience all good things are possible.

Nina the dog's family reports that she is doing great in her new home

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Photos by Todd Roisman