Changing one’s name can be a powerful thing, signifying the joining of a new family or the promise of a better life.
For ZIB, it meant all of the above.
The 1-year-old border collie’s early life was filled with neglect. Languishing in a shelter in Claremore, Oklahoma, the young dog, then known as Kong, was suffering from a painful skin disease and a sunburn so bad that he couldn’t be touched. His soft white fur was patchy in places, with shocks of bright pink skin showing through.
Taken in by Border Collie Rescue & Rehab in Prosper, Texas, and brought back to health, Kong took on a new moniker, becoming known as #387 on the rescue’s website.
But Curtis Hartsell didn’t need a name to fall for the little white dog with the big smile and curious eyes.
“I looked through his profile and just immediately fell in love with his single picture and the description they put on the page,” Hartsell told The Dodo. “His foster mom described his temperament and personality and I described my life to her a bit and she said we sounded perfect for each other.”
Hartsell, a cyber threat intelligence analyst with a credit bureau based out of Little Elm, Texas, worried his active lifestyle wouldn’t fit with owning a dog — but something indescribable told him everything would work out, he said. So he submitted an application.
“I asked for daily updates through the adoption process and felt as if he were mine from the very beginning and these people were just helping us get reunited,” Hartsell added.
After several interviews and a home visit, Hartsell’s application was approved, and the day finally came for the two to meet for the very first time. To mark the fresh start, Hartsell had decided to change the dog’s name from Kong/#387 to ZIB, in honor of a famous Soviet space dog.
“The original was just a lost dog running around base that they sent to space for successful flight,” Hatsell explained. “I felt this was fitting for my ZIB because he was just a lost dog until someone picked him up and helped nurture him back to health. Now he and I are off to the stars together!”
Hartsell arrived at ZIB’s foster house, and a friend managed to capture a picture of the powerful moment that the little lost dog was finally found.
“I was handed his leash … I got down in front of him and gave him his new name and asked if he wanted to come home with me,” Hartsell recounted. “‘ZIB, I’m going to call you ZIB. Do you like that? How would you like to come home with me, ZIB?’ He was sitting in front of me, looked into my eyes and then hugged me and bowed his head. It was adorable; I’ll never forget that moment.”
ZIB couldn’t be happier in his new home with his loving dad. The puppy who was once in so much pain he couldn’t stand to be pet, now can’t get enough cuddles and touches.
Despite his early worries, having ZIB around has improved Hartsell’s life exponentially, he said, and the lines of who rescued whom have since blurred. “I cannot even begin to describe how much happier and fulfilled I feel,” Hartsell said. “Knowing that this poor puppy was once neglected and all he wanted was to be loved — and that I get to give him that love every day now, it’s incredible.”
“I truly feel saved by him and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him,” he said. “Our lives revolve around each other now and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”