Skinny puppy is now living her best life

Dolly Jean the puppy looking up from sitting on a tile floor
Dolly Jean was too thin and had a belly full of worms when she came to Best Friends, but now she’s thriving.
By Best Friends staff

When Dolly Jean came to Best Friends in Northwest Arkansas from a shelter, it was easy to see that she’s a sweetheart who loves people. Sure, it would take the puppy a little time to warm up to someone she’d just met, but after a minute or two she’d find confidence. Then, she’d gladly roll onto her back for belly rubs or find a way to cuddle up close.

Dolly Jean certainly didn’t act like she felt bad, but her emaciated body and huge belly (she looked like she swallowed a balloon) told a different story. Dolly Jean had a belly full of worms. And for her to get healthy, she’d need dewormer medication — not to mention a steady diet of nutritious food to gain weight.

The tiny, sick puppy could have become a statistic when she landed in a shelter. But luckily, the shelter is one that has partnerships with other organizations, such as Best Friends. That’s one of the most important ways that shelters across the country have reached no-kill — by working together to save pets who need extra care or time.

[Foster home helps puppy stand tall]

Soon after her arrival, Dolly Jean went to stay with Nicole Smith, Best Friends coordinator of lifesaving outcomes, who offered to foster her as soon as she met her. At Nicole’s place, Dolly Jean warmed up quickly to her new surroundings. She took her medicine and ate like a champ, too. “She had this quickly little frog walk, and she made everything seem like it didn’t faze her at all,” says Nicole. “Once she warmed up, all she wanted to do was snuggle up in my lap, and when she wasn't doing that she was right at my heels, looking up at me with those precious puppy dog eyes.”

Little by little, Dolly Jean made progress. Her big belly got smaller and smaller every day with the help of her medication. And she looked healthier, thanks to routine feedings. After about a week in Nicole’s home, Dolly Jean’s fur looked shinier, too.

A puppy foster win

Once Dolly Jean was feeling better, she went to stay with the Wood family, who planned on fostering her until she was adopted. It didn’t take them long to decide she was already home.

[Puppy takes leg surgery in stride]

As they watched Dolly Jean and their dog play together like two longtime BFFs and saw how loving and gentle she was with everyone she met, they decided to adopt her. Now, she’s thriving in her new home. In fact, her family recently threw her a birthday party to celebrate her first full year around the sun.

Every so often, the Wood family sends Nicole an update about Dolly Jean. “I am so thankful I get to watch her grow up, and I don't have to worry about those sweet puppy dog eyes being ignored,” she says. “It is the best feeling in the world knowing that she is in such an amazing home.”

Our goal at Best Friends is to support all animal shelters in the U.S. in reaching no-kill by 2025. No-kill means saving every dog and cat in a shelter who can be saved, accounting for community safety and good quality of life for pets. Shelter staff can’t do it alone. Saving animals in shelters is everyone’s responsibility, and it takes support and participation from the community. No-kill is possible when we work together thoughtfully, honestly, and collaboratively.

Two puppies playing with a pink toy

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