Culkin, a seven-year-old pit bull, knew what it meant to be sad, so when his adoptive mother of just hours cried while attending a virtual funeral, he ran over and licked her tears away.
In our work, we’ve seen animals that have endured horrible things, and Culkin’s story is no exception. At his former home, Culkin was neglected and found with injuries consistent with force trauma. Despite his abuse, Culkin maintained a gentle and loving disposition. In heartbreaking and upsetting video recovered by the NYPD, Culkin is seen bleeding from his injuries, but he is still sitting and waiting outside the front door, waiting to be let in.
Fortunately, Culkin was removed from the home by the NYPD and brought to one of our partner shelters for immediate medical attention. Here, they stitched up his “curved laceration-like wounds” on his right front paw.
Shortly after, Culkin was transported to the ASPCA Animal Recovery Center (ARC) where we continued to treat his injuries and discovered that he was suffering from a few chronic conditions which, unfortunately, had not been processed by its former owner.
“He had a significant infection in his right ear which caused him to develop an auditory hematoma, a condition in which blood pools between the two layers of cartilage in an animal with a chronic ear infection. following a head tremor,” says Dr. Aubrey Crowley, medical supervisor at ARC. “He also had mild diffuse skin disease, moderate dental disease and a small mass on his right hind leg.”
It was clear that Culkin had been abused in the past, so our team of experts set out to give Culkin the care, love and support he never had, but always needed.
Dr. Crowley and his team treated Culkin’s ear infection, neutered him, and performed dental surgery for his dental disease. His mass was also analyzed and found to be a benign growth that resolved itself.
“Culkin was nervous during the treatment, but tolerated everything,” says Dr. Crowley.
“Also,” she adds, “We called him Culkin because it was December and I had just watched Alone at home!”
While recovering from his physical injuries, ARC personnel continued to care for Culkin by keeping him rested and providing him with painkillers and antibiotics. They also took him on slow walks on a leash, but limited his amount of activity until he was healthy.
Working through fear
Although his medical care was fine, Culkin had other issues he needed to work on.
“Culkin was extremely stressed in the shelter and was walked only by the behavior team for some time due to extreme reluctance to return to his kennel,” says Brittani Hrehorovich, behavior specialist at ARC and the Canine Annex for Recovery and Enrichment (CARE). “He was friendly with people and dogs, but growled from inside his kennel at someone at least once, probably due to kennel stress.”
In order to help Culkin with his kennel stress, the behavior team worked on building positive associations with his kennel by desensitizing thresholds and providing additional enrichment in the kennel. In other words, the staff showed Culkin that being in the kennel could bring good things like treats and toys.
Additionally, the Behavior team provided extra time out of the kennel by bringing Culkin into their offices to decompress while they did some administrative work. He was also brought to playgroups to spend more time out of his kennel, although he mostly co-existed with other dogs, he did not play.
After weeks of working with the Behavior Team, Culkin was ready to go to a foster home, where he could experience the joys of living in a loving home in preparation for his adoptive home. Before he left us, we did a final summary of the behavior; its results read as such.
“Culkin is a cold dog. He is affectionate with people he knows and warms up to new people quickly. He likes to lie on his bed and chew on rawhide and likes to be petted. It came out by all staff without any problems.
Thanks to the hard work of the behavioral and medical teams, Culkin was a brand new dog by the time he met his new nanny, Chynna L.
Culkin’s new finds
Chynna had lived in Dublin, Ireland for a few years. There, she learned to take care of animals.
“I’ve always loved animals and wanted one, but never had the time or money to feel empowered to have a pet and give them the happiest life possible. , so I was excited when I learned about fostering animals and fostering a cat through the DSPCA,” Chynna says. “When I came back from Dublin, I knew I wanted to continue fostering, so I searched various shelters here and came across the ASPCA, which immediately attracted me. Culkin was actually my first foster dog as an ASPCA foster!
When Chynna brought Culkin to her house, which she shares with her roommate, he adapted very quickly.
“Culkin loves everyone in this house so much that for the first few days he struggled to find the best place to sit so he could be with the two of us and constantly run between our rooms,” Chynna recalled. . .
He started by sleeping on the floor at the foot of Chynna’s bed. He – very quickly – decided he was done with the floor and walked over to the bed, but still stayed at the foot. Soon, Culkin was sleeping face to face with Chynna, his head on the pillow, like a human.
“Clearly, I was wrong”
Chynna hadn’t planned on getting a large older dog, she was just looking for a dog that would fit in well in her home.
“That being said,” Chynna says, “part of the reason I chose to foster Culkin was because he was bigger and an older dog. I thought those two things would deter me from wanting to adopt him. Clearly, I was wrong.
It took Chynna a little less than a month to make the choice to adopt Culkin.
“The decision to adopt Culkin was one of the hardest decisions of my life,” Chynna says. “For weeks I went back and forth, changing my mind every hour and boring every person in my life with questions. I knew I wanted to adopt him and I was ready for a huge change of way of life, but I wasn’t sure I could give him the best life possible, I just wanted him to be as happy as possible, whether it was with me or not.
“My indecision about his adoption was never about who he was, but about my personal situation,” she continues. “At the time the ASPCA needed a final answer before he was made available to the public for adoption, I still wasn’t sure, but I knew I could do it physically, so I took a big step forward and said yes. Although it was a last minute decision, I feel like me and everyone else in my life knew deeply from day one where he came home that I would end up adopting him It’s hard to give specific characteristics about him that let me know he was the one for me, there’s just something in his eyes that grab me every time.
By encouraging and adopting Culkin, Chynna became the rightful hero of Culkin’s story and changed her entire world for the better by doing so. However, if you ask Chynna, she’s the lucky one.
“Culkin is the best thing that ever happened to me,” she says. “He’s my first dog and so this is all incredibly new to me and it’s really a learning process. My whole life has changed. I suffer from depression and anxiety and having him in my life makes me helped a lot in that regard – I just feel physically happier and calmer when he’s around I’ve also got into a routine in accordance with his walk and meal schedule and he’s made me a morning person, well only reluctantly.
“I will say that it was not all easy, but it was worth it,” she continues. “Fortunately, I work from home most of the time so he and I spend most of the day together, with him sitting next to my desk sleeping while I work. He also largely refuses to leave me, even sitting outside my bathroom waiting for me to get out of the shower.
This year, for National Pet Appreciation Week, we’re asking our supporters to be heroes in the stories of other animals, like Chynna, and to open their homes to temporarily welcome a pet.
“If you’re about to adopt a dog, fostering is a great way to give it a try while helping,” says Chynna. “I can’t speak for Culkin, but considering how much we spoil him with treats and love, I hope he’s happy here and knows how much of a positive impact he’s had on my life, not to mention the lives of my friends and family – he’s been here for a few months.
To mark leaving her old life and embarking on a new, happier and healthier journey, Chynna changed Culkin’s name to Mac.
“Knowing that I have been able to give Mac a much better life than he had before me is one of the most satisfying and proud feelings I have ever had and seeing his hurts, physical and emotional, healing after being entrusted to my care is, selfishly, my greatest achievement in life.
Mac and Chynna’s new life together doesn’t just impact them, it reminds our staff why they do what they do every day.
“Foster’s failures are the best,” says Brittani. “It’s kind enough to open your home to an animal in need, but to know that Culkin and her foster family bonded so deeply that she couldn’t part with him and decided to adopt him. is the best possible result. Our goal is always to place our animals in loving homes and hearing such a great success story really helps us move forward in our work. We are so happy for him and his adopter! Good life, Culkin, you deserve it!