Kate Matthews may have changed scenery when she moved from New York City to North Carolina in 2018, but her passion for animals stayed the same.
Little did she know, her fostering journey in North Carolina would start with one of her biggest challenges yet.
Keep reading to discover how one woman’s endless love and patience helped a frightened, abused dog make a magical transformation.
Tackling The Impawssible
As soon as the boxes in her new apartment were unpacked, Kate was ready to begin fostering dogs again.
Hope Animal Shelter had two siblings ready to be fostered: Dante and Guinness.
When Kate met the two lab brothers, Dante stepped towards her. She took this as a sign and agreed to foster Dante, while another family took Guinness.
“Our idea was that Dante had taken a step towards us, so he was more outgoing and we thought he’d be an easier first foster for us,” Kate said. “Little did we know that was not the case.”
However, what she and her partner thought would be an easy foster turned out to be one of the toughest cases yet.
A Rough Start
“He was very skittish, very scared, had no trust in anything, and didn’t know what to do. So the first 24 hours he just cowered in the back of his crate and wouldn’t move for anything,” Kate recalled.
Clearly Dante had suffered from something traumatic in the past.
She couldn’t imagine what he could have experienced to make him so scared of humans.
“I could try to coax him out with food and whatnot. He wasn’t aggressive in any way, he was just scared and didn’t want anything to do with us.”
After a full day of this, Kate knew she had to try a different tactic.
A Rewarding Risk
“He hadn’t defecated in his crate at all and so I took a very bold risk and I reached into his crate and pulled him out,” she said.
Dante didn’t react aggressively out of fear, but he was still terrified when she carried him outside.
“He was terrified, plastered to the side of the building and wouldn’t move,” Kate said.
While Dante was obviously scared, Kate was trying her best to mask her own fear. She worried her bold move would only traumatize Dante further.
Just when Dante was about to regret her decision, Dante did something to restore some hope.
After a quick search, Kate found a quiet, secluded area. There, Dante finally used relieved himself.
He was far from relaxed, but it was a small, yet important first step.
However, his journey was far from over. Kate would spend the next few months gently encouraging Dante with fingers crossed.
It took the better part of a month for Dante to come out of his crate and go to the bathroom willingly.
During that time, Kate continued to physically carry Dante back and forth.
Finally, Dante built up enough confidence to follow a trail of treats that Kate laid out from her apartment to the secluded spot.
“It took a lot of patience and caring,” she said. “Patience is an incredible thing.”
But it was all worth it when Dante accepted that he was safe.
Learning to Love
“One day I feel like a lightbulb switched and he was like, ‘Oh, I’m okay with this.’ And we were able to go for walks and hikes” Kate said.
Though he was still hesitant, Dante ventured out from his small area and began to explore the world around him.
All of the small victories had amounted to a big change. He could finally trust people and bond with them.
He knew Kate loved him unconditionally and would never hurt him. Though he was still shy, he was confident that Kate was on his team.
It was at this point that Kate knew he was ready for the biggest step: finding a forever family.
Love At First Sight
Kate knew that it would take a very special family to understand Dante’s shyness and be patient enough to see his personality shine.
“He had gained some confidence, but he was still quite timid towards most things,” Kate said.
But when the right family came along, everything changed.
“This family met him and it was like one of those Disney movies where they meet each other and it’s love at first sight. He jumped into their arms and licked their faces,” Kate remembered. “It was just great to see.”
Watching Dante conquer his fears and show so much excitement toward the family was a beautiful site.
Kate knew that he was ready to move on from his foster family to a forever family.
Happily Ever After
The family was patient, loving, and ready to accept Dante with open arms. Kate knew Dante and this family were a perfect match.
Kate continued to follow up with Dante’s family and check on his progress. Months later, she received a picture of a happy, confident Dante smiling at the Camera.
Thanks to Kate, Dante is right where he belongs with a family he can call his home.