Joe Rotunda is determined not to give up on Alva.
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AUSTIN, Texas — Do you believe in love at first sight?
That’s what Joe Rotunda felt when he first saw his furry friend Alva on Instagram.
Alva – who has wobbler syndrome, a disorder that limits her mobility – originally came to Austin Pets Alive! (APA!) in November 2020 when she was five months old. APA! said she was infested with fleas and had a hard time moving, standing and walking.
In March 2022, she was returned to the shelter because she had become territorial, defensive and fearful. APA! said her physical limitations had led her to be self-protective, keeping distance between herself and others.
But none of that mattered to Rotunda. He was determined to show Alva how much he cared for her.
He visited her at APA! every day for two months to gain her trust and added her photo to a wall of pictures he keeps of the dogs he’s loved throughout his life.
“I just looked at her and said, ‘I bet everyone has given up on you,'” Rotunda told APA! “‘I’m not going to do that to you.'”
APA!’s staff and volunteers worked to ease Alva’s physical discomfort and help her gain confidence so she would be ready to go to a loving home.
Rotunda was determined that home would be his.
APA! said after he earned Alva’s trust, Rotunda became her full-time foster and transformed his home to be more accessible for her, including building her an outside ramp, blocking off his living room with barriers so she has a safe space to move around and adding kennels for her to decompress.
PHOTOS: Austin man visits shelter dog every day for 2 months to earn her trust before fostering her
According to the shelter, Rotunda now has three pictures of Alva on his wall of dogs, and she is getting more comfortable in his home. She is even playing with another dog friend!
“Alva gave me a gift every time I saw her, and that was: inspiration. It is her spirit that is so infectious, she shines, and nothing gets in her way,” Rotunda told APA! “She does not know she is different.”
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