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MEANT TO BE
The heart wants what it wants — and in the case of Laura, a volunteer for Ventura County Animal Services in Camarillo, California, it was to save a senior pit bull with emotional scars. The 8-year-old dog — who is this week's #cutepic winner — had been relinquished to the shelter by her owners, who said she had been a backyard dog her entire life.
"I felt so sorry for this poor dog who clearly was never going to get adopted if she couldn't even interact with people," Laura tells PEOPLE. "I couldn't get her sad little face out of my head. On a whim, I decided that I should foster her. So she came home with me on New Year's Eve, 2015." And the rest, as they say, is history — although, Laura, who'd always been a cat lover, didn't actually sign adoption papers until a full year later. "I never wanted a dog — they are messy, expensive and a lot of work! Plus, I was a crazy cat lady to the core!" she explains. "But bringing Princess home was something that was not about me in any way; it was all about her."
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Laura describes those first few months with her foster pup as rough. "I had never owned a dog before and Princess had never been a family member before, so we both had a lot of adjusting to do! She has taught me a lot about patience and perseverance," she says. "Some people look at her and see a big, scary pit bull, but she is just the sweetest, most gentle dog. She is calm, quiet and has impeccable house manners. She is super gentle and she is totally great with children."
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This Princess has peculiar little fears. "Everything seems to scare her, even a little lizard scampering across the yard, but kids can be running around, screaming at the top of her lungs and she isn't fazed," Laura explains. Among her favorites are scrambled eggs, car rides, rolling in the grass and testing out new dog beds, and most importantly: "SLEEPING! For never having lived indoors, she sure loves it now: She never wants to leave the house! She's just like a little granny dog — no hiking or playing fetch for this couch potato. My husband wishes she would at least go on a jog, but nope!"
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Before Laura signed on the dotted line, putting Princess's forever in writing, she truly tried to find the dog another forever home. "We blasted her all over social media, taking advantage of publicity by copying viral memes that were making the rounds. We made her a website. She ran for U.S. president in the 2016 election and we even had flyers made, but sadly, she lost," she says. "After being fostered with us for a whole year, and after everyone (including my husband) kept telling me she was already mine, I took the plunge and signed the paperwork to make it official." As you can see from her Instagram page, the dog indeed hit the jackpot. "Princess got her miracle, so now we do what we can to promote the ones still at the shelter," Laura adds. "Right now I'm getting my cat fix by working with the shelter kitties!"
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LIFE IS GOOD
Princess found the love that every shelter animal deserves. "There were plenty of people at the shelter who thought Princess would never get a home, but she's one of the lucky ones," Laura says. "Of course, as any animal rescuer will tell you, I wish I could take them all, but if every family would save just one, imagine what an amazing miracle that would be."
Before and since her adoption, there have been many adventures, many of which are documented on the @thepittyprincess page. "She had a grand adventure right before Thanksgiving 2016, where she saw two skunks walking through our yard and decided she needed to meet them; they promptly greeted her with spray, which stunk up our whole house for two months," she says. "This past summer she went RV-ing with us to a few national parks, including Yosemite and Sequoia. I sometimes wonder if her former owners have seen any of her promotions on social media, or if they ever saw me around town with her while she was wearing her 'adopt me' vest. I wonder if they're happy for her and her new life, or if they're just glad to be rid of her. Whatever sadness she experienced previously, she is making up for it now."
Want to be next week's star? Share your #cutepic on Twitter or Instagram with @PEOPLEPets and your furry BFF could be featured in a gallery like this one!