Video convinces mom to adopt a dog
A few weeks after Allison Botwinick and her family began fostering Aragon for Best Friends in Los Angeles, she couldn’t imagine life without him. He settled into the family’s routine so easily that it was like he’d lived with them forever.
Aragon livened up the office when Allison took him to work with her. When she didn’t, he’d sit at the front door at the same time every night, waiting for her to come home. He got her up in the morning for long walks around the neighborhood and accompanied her when she went to dog-friendly shops and restaurants.
Sometimes during those outings, people would stop and ask her about Aragon, and she never got tired of telling people everything she knew about him, including how far he’d come after arriving at Best Friends, a 9-year-old dog as kind as can be despite some recent obstacles.
The more she talked about Aragon, the more she started thinking that after the loss of the family’s 17-year-old dog it just might be time to welcome a new dog into their home and hearts. But Allison lives at home with her mom, Alyce, and knew she’d need to get her on board first.
From fostering puppies to fostering senior dogs
“Immediately friendly, cuddly, and just a delight to be around.” That’s how Ana Pulido, one of the Best Friends staff people who worked with Aragon, describes him. The fact that the senior dog was always in a good mood was impressive, considering that Aragon had some health conditions back then that could have easily put a damper on his spirits. In fact, he needed critical medical care.
Not only did Aragon have allergies that made him itchy and required medicated baths, but he also had a large cancerous mass on his elbow. Aragon is a pet who could have easily been at risk of being killed in a shelter, especially if that shelter were already full and struggling to save younger, healthy dogs and cats. Best Friends’ goal is for all shelters to reach no-kill by 2025, and that means supporting them with programs and partnerships that help pets and their people. In Aragon’s case, he needed veterinary care and to be matched with a new home. So that’s what he got.
Best Friends veterinarians successfully removed the mass on Aragon’s leg. “He wore a lot of jammies to keep the mass covered,” says Ana. With his skin feeling better and surgical site looking good, the foster team sought out a home where Aragon could settle in until he was adopted. Ana immediately thought of the Botwinick family. They’d been fostering puppies with Best Friends for a while and were ready to foster an older dog, provided their cats approved.
Ana knew from Aragon’s history that he was respectful of felines, and after a meet and greet with the Botwinicks, they decided to foster him. The plan was to let him stay with them until he was adopted. But you know what they say about best laid plans: They often change — and sometimes in the best of ways.
A very good boy
Aragon takes life in stride (a slow and steady stride), and he easily settled into his foster home. To make sure he got along well with their two cats, they let Aragon meet them one at a time. “It was all about setting them up for success,” says Allison. Eventually, he felt comfortable enough with the cats to let them cuddle next to him.
Soon a routine was established. Allison took the lead in taking care of Aragon. He accompanied her almost everywhere. On the days she took him to her office, he became a star employee despite never doing any work.
In fact, Aragon wove himself into life with Allison and her family so easily that when Allison thought of her future, Aragon was right there next to her. “I just couldn’t see us handing over his leash to anyone,” she says.
The video that changed it all
Still, Allison knew that to adopt Aragon, she’d have to convince her mom. So she created a video with Aragon in the leading role (supporting roles went to the cats and extended family) that ended with a call to action: “Please call Best Friends and say you’ll adopt me.”
Allison wasn’t sure it worked — at least not at first because her mom didn’t say that, yes, Aragon could stay. But then, a couple of weeks later when they held a party to celebrate Aragon’s birthday, her mom asked her to open his birthday present. Inside was a dog tag with his name on the front. On the back it said, “Call my mom. I’m lost,” along with Allison’s contact information. “It was the best day ever,” she says.
Aragon is home
Now, coming home from work comes with joy for Allison because Aragon will be there to greet her (on the days she doesn’t bring him with her). They’re still going on morning walks together, and he’s still accompanying her whenever she goes to dog-friendly stores.
Lately, those outings have come with a lesson. “Aragon has opened my eyes to what it’s like to have a pit bull-type dog,” says Allison. “Sometimes people see us walking, and they go to the other side of the street. It’s been eye-opening and an opportunity to help open people’s minds.”
If only everyone could see how Aragon (who usually goes by “Ari” these days) lets the family’s cats climb on his back. Or the way he lies quietly next to Allison’s desk as she works. Or how much happiness he’s brought to her and her family (including their little cousins).
Now, Allison wants to raise awareness about pit bulls and breed discrimination. She’s a strong advocate for fostering, too. “Every dog has their own situation, so every time you foster it’s a new experience. Without fostering, we would have never met Aragon. He puts a smile on everyone’s face,” she says before concluding with some truth: “Dogs make the world a better place.”