Liza was born in a shelter after her mother was abandoned on the streets while she was pregnant. Both the mama and all of her puppies were very sick at first, and it was an uphill battle to get them all to a point where they were healthy and thriving. Finally, when she was 13 weeks old, Liza was adopted by Debi Kolak and her other dog Mona, and Liza and Mona quickly became the best of friends.
For two years, Mona and Liza did absolutely everything together — until Mona passed away suddenly this past fall, leaving poor Liza completely heartbroken.
Kolak could see that poor Liza was clearly very lonely without Mona, so when she moved in with her boyfriend and his two senior Jack Russell terriers in December, she hoped that the company of other dogs would help to cheer Liza up. Unfortunately, though, the two terriers weren’t huge fans of Liza, as she was too energetic and playful for them, and so Liza was still left without anyone to play with. Kolak discussed the possibility of adopting a playmate for Liza with her boyfriend, but he was skeptical that they could handle a fourth dog, and therefore put off the idea.
Despite her boyfriend’s hesitations, Kolak began researching different animal shelters in the area until she found one that had some dogs up for adoption who seemed like they could be good matches for Liza. She took Liza with her to the shelter and talked to the volunteers there about the kind of dog they were looking for. They showed her a few different dogs — and one of them was Murphy.
Murphy was one of the shelter’s longest residents, and had been there for five months. He was found as a stray, and during his time at the shelter had been adopted by three different families and returned every time. He seemed so defeated, and didn’t strike Kolak as the kind of dog that she and Liza were looking for. Liza needed an active, cheerful playmate, and when she first met him in his kennel, Murphy seemed to be anything but that.
“Murphy was sad … defeated-looking,” Kolak said. “He had a large scar on his head. He didn’t bark or run to the cage. He just sat there, pressed against the chain link of his tiny kennel. I sat on the floor, put my hand up to the fence and talked to him. He nibbled at my finger and barely thumped his tail. I immediately thought, ‘There is no way this guy is a match.’ But I was drawn to his pitiful face.”
Despite her doubts, Kolak had the volunteers bring Murphy and a few other dogs out into the yard so that Liza could meet them. She left it up to Liza to choose which dog they would be taking home — and almost immediately, she chose Murphy.
“Liza and Murphy had an instant connection,” Kolak said. “He rolled belly-up for her and then the game was on! They ran and frolicked for almost an hour, never once showing aggression and matching each other’s playfulness. I knew he was the one, and Liza knew he was the one.”
Something about Liza completely transformed Murphy, and it was as if he had been waiting for her all along.
Even though Murphy clearly belonged with them, Kolak still had to convince her boyfriend, Joel. He was still resistant when she told him about Murphy — until she sent him a video of Liza and Murphy playing together, and he realized that they were meant to be together.
“I told the volunteers at the shelter that we would need to discuss it and I would let them know,” Kolak said. “He and Liza both whined for each other as they took him away. I called Joel when I left and talked to him about it and he said, ‘Well, you can’t just leave him! Go back!’ So I did!”
The couple decided to enroll in the shelter’s “Take A Chance On Me” program, which consists of a three-day trial period to see if a dog will work out in a family’s home. Kolak and Liza went back to get Murphy, and as the trio drove home together, no one could imagine it not working out. It was very clear that Murphy had found his forever family.
“Murphy immediately jumped in the back seat of my truck and just looked out the window with his tail doing its tiny thump and he finally leaned in and licked my face,” Kolak said. “Liza nuzzled into him as if she was assuring him that he was going to be OK and he would be loved, and I swear, she totally had a smile on her face the whole ride home!”
Murphy hasn’t been with his new family for very long, but they already can’t imagine life without him. His favorite person is Joel, and he follows him everywhere he goes. At night, he sleeps under the covers with Kolak’s daughter and Liza, and the whole family loves seeing him so content.
“In just a few short days of having him home, I can’t understand how no one would give this dog a chance, he is amazing,” Kolak said.
Murphy does still seem a little confused at times, as if he’s worried that he might end up getting returned to the shelter again. Kolak is hoping that as time goes on, the fear and confusion will fade. After all, now that Liza has found her best friend and soulmate, there’s no way she’s ever letting him go.
“I called the shelter and told them that I wanted to finalize his adoption and they all cried and cheered,” Kolak said. “I got him at no charge due to him being there for so long and they are giving us free transition training classes to help him learn trust and how to be part of a family. I’m excited to see how he does and I’m excited for him to finally realize that he is home for good.”