Squirrel, a miniature schnauzer mix puppy, was left abandoned on the streets of South Korea until she was rescued and taken to a shelter in 2019. Later that year, she was flown across the Pacific Ocean to Los Angeles and adopted. However, her first adopters returned her within a week, stating that she was too afraid.
Despite this setback, Squirrel’s journey was only beginning, and her story of resilience and love is one that continues to touch hearts on Instagram.
Squirrel’s luck took a turn for the better when a kind foster family took her in.
“She was just so cute and I thought she was such a little character,” owner Erin Pfeifer recalls of seeing the puppy for the first time.
She says “Squirrel” was originally a nickname for the dog, who was named “Chrissy” by the rescue.
“I started calling her Squirrel because when she would play she was so bouncy, and tiny and it was just hilarious,” Pfeifer says. “I thought she looked like a little squirrel when she played and so started calling her Squirrel as a nickname and then kind of just created the Instagram as a way to introduce her to the world and try to spread the message that she needed a home.”
Pfeifer started Squirrel’s Instagram account as a way to help her get adopted. Obviously, that effort fell short, leading this “foster failure” to a beautiful new friendship.
“After a few months, I just knew I couldn’t let her go,” Pfeifer says. “She was mine.”
Squirrel was just 4 pounds when Pfeifer first took her in.
“When I first started fostering Squirrel, she was really nervous. She was scared of everything. It was hard to even get close to pet her because she was just so scared,” Pfeifer says. “She had been flown here from South Korea when she was just a tiny little baby, and I’m sure that was really scary for her.
With the love and support of her new human and doggy siblings, Squirrel is thriving in her new forever home.
“It took a few months for her to really start to come out of her shell. I don’t think that we would have been as successful if I didn’t have my my other dogs at the time,” Pfeifer says.” I think having my other older, more confident dogs in the house already was really beneficial to her experience. They helped her to realize that she was in a safe place and that she could just act like a puppy.”
Pfeifer has been fostering animals for years. She says, while it is not uncommon for an animal to act scared or timid in a new home, there are steps you can take to help the animal feel secure and comfortable.
“With fostering a dog who’s really scared and timid, like Squirrel was, I think it’s really important just to to go slow,” she says. “Let them lead the way.”
Pfeifer notes that Squirrel would not go outside to potty when she first came home. Dozens of potty pads and several weeks later, Squirrel finally felt comfortable enough to handle her business outside.
“It was a whole process of trying to potty train her, even taking the potty pad outside with us so she would learn to go potty out there,” Pfeifer says.” I tried not to rush because because that can actually make them regress.”
Pfeifer says her other dogs, Pixie, a 13-year-old terrier mix, and Xiola, a Dachshund mix, both rescues, were helpful in making Squirrel feel comfortable and safe.
“It was really exciting when [Squirrel] would start to actually play with them like a puppy,” Pfeifer says. “When she started snuggling with us and not acting timid or scared, It was really exciting.”
Sadly, the family lost Xiola to cancer in 2022. She was 16 years old.
“Xiola was a very special soul,” Pfeifer says. “For any foster dog that I brought into the home she was kind of like the mama dog. Everyone kind of wanted to be near Xiola. They wanted to lay by her. I think she just had a really good energy that made them feel safe. They kind of looked at her like the mama, and and squirrel was no exception. Squirrel wanted to lay by her all the time. You could tell that [Xiola] was a safe space for her.”
Squirrel’s journey from being abandoned on the streets of South Korea to finding a loving forever home in Los Angeles with Pfeifer is one of resilience and love. Despite facing setbacks, Squirrel found her way to a kind foster family which ultimately became her forever home.
“She has come such a long way,” Pfeifer says. “I still see her making strides and becoming more confident about the world. When I first started fostering her, she was kind of shut down. She was just very timid, very scared of the world. I’d have to very slowly lay down next to her and and it took a while for her to even let me pet her without acting terrified. Over time I’ve seen her blossom into the confident little lady that she is today.”
Pfeifer’s patience, love, and support helped Squirrel come out of her shell and feel safe in her new home, along with the companionship of her other furry siblings.
“She still has some nervousness, but she’s really come so far,” Pfeifer says. “She’s so brave and she’s excited to meet most new people. She loves other dogs. She loves going on walks and being out in the world.”
Squirrel and Erin’s story is a reminder of the transformative power of love and how a little patience and understanding can go a long way. Their bond exemplifies the special connection that can be forged between humans and animals, and how it can change both of their lives for the better.
Visit Squirrel’s Instagram page, hi_im_squirrel, to see more!
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