Parker lays his head on his mom’s lap, sighing contentedly as he curls up on the couch at his new home.
The big, brown five-year-old dog is the picture of peace, a far cry from the whirling dervish Amber Krzys met while volunteering at the Best Friends Lifesaving Center in Mission Hills.
While very handsome, the 65-pound Parker didn’t make a great impression in his kennel, where he would twirl and bark excitedly at passers-by, eager for attention.
But Krzys saw Parker’s sweet side, which he displayed whenever they would spend some quality time together at a nearby park.
“We would just sit in the grass and watch the people and dogs go by,” Krzys recalls. “Parker would look up at me, as if he were saying, ‘Just pet me. Just love me.’”
Krzys felt strongly that Parker would eventually become a part of her family. It was just a matter of convincing her husband, Vince, who also walked dogs at the center.
Krzys r’s first experience with Best Friends came while volunteering at the organization’s sanctuary in Kanab in 2009, then again in 2011.
When she found out about Best Friends’ work in Los Angeles in 2015, Krzys immediately signed up to volunteer at the center close to her San Fernando Valley home. Vince came on board in 2018.
“We wanted something we could do together. Since we both love dogs and being of service, Best Friends was a great fit,” Krzys says.
At first, Vince was a bit reluctant. “I didn’t want to get attached to the dogs,” he said. “I resisted because I thought it would be too hard.”
As such, Vince tends to walk and work with different dogs the three times a week they volunteer, while Krzys focuses on a group of regulars.
That’s how she came to know Parker.
With a light, chocolate brown coat and golden eyes, Parker is quite stunning, though he appears to have had a challenging life before coming to Best Friends. A deep, embedded scar runs across his muzzle and he came into Los Angeles Animal Services (where Best Friends receives all its pets in Los Angeles) as an extremely emaciated stray.
None of this affected Parker’s personality, however. Not only did he love people, giving big kisses to whatever human he could, Parker was also great with other dogs. He participated in playgroups at the center, romping with his fellow canines as if he didn’t have a care in the world.
Parker also had a bit of class clown in him. During summer months, he would run around the play yard and plop himself with aplomb into the kiddie pool, splashing around with a big, silly grin on his face.
Between her alone time with Parker and watching him in playgroups, Krzys felt like Parker could be a good candidate for her pack, which included two rescued senior males: Lucky, 10, and Matzah, 7.
Vince was not so sure. With his career as a lawyer and Krzys’s as a life coach and motivational speaker, the couple’s busy schedule includes frequent travel for work. “We had two dogs and a perfectly full life. I didn’t want a third dog to tip that scale,” he said.
Krzys was not ready to give up, though. “I knew if I could get him in our home, he wouldn’t go anywhere. I knew Vince’s heart would melt like mine,” she said.
Finally, the perfect solution presented itself.
A New Beginning
Like the rest of Best Friends’ Lifesaving Centers across the country, Mission Hills offers short to long-term foster options so that pets can enjoy some quality time in a home. Fostering also provides valuable insight as to what pets are like outside the center, which helps the staff match them up to the right adopter in the future.
Krzys asked her husband if Parker could come home for a two-week trial run, which he agreed to. First, they brought Lucky and Matzah to the center for a meet and greet to make sure it would be a good fit for everyone. Parker passed the test with flying colors, showing just the right level of respect to the existing pack.
Thrilled about the positive interaction, Krzys took Parker aside for a chat. “I told him to be on his best behavior and to be good to Vince,” she said.
On New Year’s Day, Parker came to the Krzys home and quickly settled in. While he’s more playful than his senior siblings and requires longer walks, Parker also proved to be an expert lounger.
A few days in, Parker jumped on the couch where Vince was laying. He snuggled between the cushions, closed his eyes, and went to sleep with his head on Vince’s chest.
Krzys was watching, restraining the urge to cheer from the sidelines. “I was like, ‘Yes!’,” she said with a smile.
Parker also made sure to stop by Vince’s home office as often as possible.
“He lays at my desk and looks at me like, ‘Please rub my belly,’” Vince said. “He’s just pure love and cuddle.”
On January 13, before the two-week foster period was up, Parker become an official member of the Krzys family.
Krzys credits fostering for making it happen. “Fostering gives you the chance to see the real dog and see if it’s a fit, so I’m a 100% advocate,” she said. “I hope other people will give dogs like Parker, who don’t present well in their kennels, a chance. They become a completely different dog in a home.”
Would you like to make a huge impact on a shelter dog by fostering? Best Friends Lifesaving Center has short and long-term foster opportunities. Learn more by visiting www.bestfriendsla.org or emailing [email protected].