Channeling a dog’s boundless energy into a new home

Hollywood the dog sitting on an orange chair next to a stuffed toy
Hollywood was stressed out and struggling when he lost his home, but a team of people at Best Friends helped him find joy again, as well as an adopter.
By Nicole Hamilton

Hollywood has a grin so big it could light up Tinseltown. He greets everyone with a tail-wag, and his whole body wiggles whenever he makes a new friend. But when he arrived at Best Friends in Los Angeles shelter, his manners, missing in action, were not something to love. Still, there was so much to love about Hollywood, one might wonder why it was a challenge to find him a home that would stick.

It’s an understatement to say that Hollywood had a lot of energy. He was positively bursting with it, and it’s no wonder. He’s a young, joyful dog. But his exuberance was overwhelming to most people, and he just hadn’t yet learned that people don’t like to be jumped on or mouthed. Those basic lessons were important for him to learn. Without them, he not only landed in a shelter but he was adopted and returned more than once.

Hollywood needed someone to champion him. But instead of getting one person, he got an entire team. He made such an impact on Ana Pulido, a Best Friends staff person who frequently worked with him, that she considered adopting him. And when longtime volunteer Amber Krzys met Hollywood, she became one of his biggest advocates and, eventually, his matchmaker.

Team Hollywood

“A big goofy puppy with absolutely no manners,” was Ana’s impression of Hollywood when she first met him. It didn’t take long for Ana, as well as everyone on the dog behavior team, to see that plenty of work was cut out for them.

Back then, Hollywood had a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out). All he wanted to do was play, go on adventures and immerse himself in the big, exciting world. At the lifesaving center, he tended to get mouthy when he was playing or when he was stressed out, and he would sometimes spin in circles — common challenges for dogs with a lot of energy. He was just doing what he felt was needed to get the attention he craved.

Walks helped him a lot, so one volunteer took him out nearly every day to a favorite bench in the nearby rose garden where they would sit and snuggle. He also loved going on hikes (for miles and miles), which were particularly important in helping him relax and feel much happier.

[A story of love and learning with an anxious dog]

Eventually someone did adopt Hollywood, but it didn’t last long. “He was returned for being too big and strong,” says Ana, whose heart was broken seeing Hollywood return. It also made her and everyone else on Team Hollywood even more resolved to find him a great home.

“I just felt a connection with him and his soulful eyes immediately,” says Ana, who spent time with him each day at the center. “We would spend our time out in the yards cuddling, training, practicing and splashing around in the pool.”

In the meantime, the search was on for a foster home where someone could continue the coaching that was helping him. Says Ana, “We needed someone we knew would provide structure and boundaries for him, and follow through with a training plan.”

Enter Amber Krzys, a longtime volunteer with an affinity for helping dogs like Hollywood. “(Hollywood) is very smart and needed someone dog-savvy,” says Amber. “And being a young, energetic pup, he needed someone who would be patient … while teaching him the rules of the house, so to speak.”

As it turned out, Amber already had someone in mind and she envisioned Hollywood thriving in his company. And when that person met Hollywood, he envisioned it, too.

Learning boundaries, finding freedom

Travis Crandall, a professional dog groomer who understands canine behavior and is comfortable working with dogs requiring a little extra coaching and time, has been grooming Amber’s dogs for years. He was thinking about adopting a dog — specifically one who could benefit from a little extra coaching.

When Travis told Amber his plan, she suggested he meet Hollywood and consider fostering. If it worked out, Travis could adopt him, and if not, it would at least give Hollywood a chance to practice living in a home. Travis agreed and brought Hollywood home the day they met.

“I’ve seen everything,” says Travis of his dog behavior experience through work. So, he wasn’t surprised or intimidated after meeting Hollywood and observing his behavior. “What I saw in him was a state of mind. He wanted to belong but he just wasn’t entirely sure how to behave.”

Having served in the military, Travis thought Hollywood could use some of what he learned in boot camp — like sticking to a schedule and getting plenty of physical exercise. He began taking Hollywood for long walks around the neighborhood. He even taught him how to run on a leash while Travis rode his bike.

[Adopted dogs are veteran’s new best friends]

Travis also drew on his experience as a dog groomer. “When I groom dogs, I have to figure out where their boundaries are,” he says. “When I gave him a bath, he was great.”

Travis says at some point Hollywood seemed to know he was home. In fact, he can’t remember the exact day he decided to make the adoption official, because the transition from fostering to adopting was seamless.

Recently, Amber took care of Hollywood while Travis was away, and when he arrived, she and her husband, Vince, noticed right away how much he had changed. “He is absolutely the dog I knew he would be,” says Amber. “He's well-behaved and even more snuggly than I imagined. I'm thrilled for both of them to have found each other.”

Favorite memories of a special dog

One day back when Hollywood was at Best Friends, staff members shared stories about animals who had impacted them. Ana chose Hollywood.

On the day she learned Hollywood was going to his foster home with Travis, she took him to a lake for an afternoon of swimming and to a restaurant for a special treat. She wanted to spend the day making memories with him because she had a feeling that when he left for his foster home, he wouldn’t be coming back.

Now, whenever the team gets an update on Hollywood (who has been renamed Duke), Ana tears up, especially when she thinks about how far he’s come. “He could be wild and anxious at the center,” says Ana. “But I looked forward to seeing him every day. I am so happy he’s home.”

If not now, when?

Whether you’re seeking a canine couch companion or a running buddy, you’ll find your dog match at your local shelter.

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