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One thing that unites all of us Calvin & Susie workers is our belief that all animals — dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, WHATEVER — are deserving of a second chance and a happy home.

That belief has lead most of us to either adopting our pets or working tirelessly to ensure adoptable pets find their forever home. Even on the toughest days, meeting a dog that found a good home after some tough times, or hearing a story about a cat went to a loving home after being abandoned, keeps us going and keeps us hopeful.

Since all of us are lifelong “crazy animal people”, we of course have some pretty great stories about how we met our furry family members.

One of the most remarkable success stories involves Ashley’s dog Zen. Because Ashley adopted Zen when she first started working here, we’ve all had the privilege of seeing Zen’s transformation.

Candidly, when I first met Zen he was a reticent ball of matted gray and white fur. Despite his charmingly obstinate manner, we all agreed Ashley had her work cut out for her — poor little guy looked a little rough.

But work Ashley did, and slowly a happy, “chatty”, strikingly snow-white dog emerged from the shell of that lost looking little fellow.

So we thought it was time to share Zen’s story. If any dog is, Zen is truly a Calvin & Susie success story.

What is your pet’s full name? Zen

Breed of pet or closest approximation: Lhasa Apso x Maltese

How old is your pet? 5

When and how did you meet your pet? Hawaiian Humane Society at a Pet Walk kick-off celebration

What is your pet’s favorite activity? Receiving belly rubs or treats

What is your pet’s favorite treat, if any? ANY; THAT LITTLE PIGGY

What is your pet’s favorite toy, if any? Zen likes people and food, not toys!

Finish this sentence: Zen will do anything for… FOOD!

The funniest thing my pet does is… roll over when you bring your hand over like you’re going to give him a belly rub

Describe Zen in 5 words: Cute; photogenic; Lhasa-loud; food-motivated; family-oriented (haha b/c he doesn’t like strangers)

In Ashley’s Words:

When I first met Zen he was really quiet, a little nervous, and had a weird little lion cut. He sat quietly with my mom and me when we first brought him out of his holding at the Humane Society.

We initially were just going to foster him for a week and then take him to a Mike McKenna’s adoption event, so I tried to not get too attached to him by telling myself that he’s just going to leave in a few days. He got along well with my family, and with strangers we met.

Two days into fostering Zen (formerly Chowder), my mom asked if I wanted to keep him. I had wanted to keep Zen, but because of my dad’s allergies I thought it would never work. However, since Zen is considered “hypoallergenic” he turned out to be a good fit for us.

I officially adopted Zen after only a few days. I named him “Zen” because when I first met him he was very quiet and shy (I have since figured out he was scared and hadn’t met many other dogs and people). But he soon relaxed and showed his true colors as a barky, outgoing, little dog!

We figured Zen was destined to be a solitary dog, at least at first, so we kept him away from other dogs. Not so easy since our neighbors have two sociable girl dogs, and they would regularly bark across the fence at Zen, “Come play with us!”.

Then one day my neighbors invited us over as we were walking past their gate. I let Zen off-leash — and he was fine! He was a little overwhelmed with the noses in his face and what not, but now they are his (only) friends. I’m really thankful to our neighbors for being so patient and understanding with him. I’m so grateful they try to include him whenever they have a “guest dog” over. We’re still working on socializing Zen, but with lots of treats and belly rubs, he’s coming around. I’m very proud of my little guy!

Zen may be slow to warm up to dogs, but I found out he can be a real people pleaser. Since I’ve had him, I’ve taught him to shake, go down, “leave it” and sit. He came knowing to stay outside until invited in, to stay at the top of the stairs until told to come, and regular stay. We’re working on “spin” next.

When I first adopted him, I gave him the Oxy-Doc and N’Zymes granules to detox and purge him of anything he might have since I didn’t have a history on him. A good diet also helped Zen’s knees.

Since he was a tad overweight when we got him, his knees were a little achy. Feeding him regularly with high protein, low carbohydrate food really helped his weight and feel better. (Note: This worked for Zen. Every dog is different. If your dog needs to lose weight, please consult your vet. We can certainly help you at the store to find the right food for your dog, but please start with a vet consultaion.)

Looking at Zen’s soft, shiny white coat and bright eyes now, it’s so hard for me to believe that when I first got him he had skin issues, and a dull, dry, discolored coat. Everyone who has known him from the beginning can’t believe how he’s come around. He is a testament to the “magic” good food, good treats, and smart supplementing can do.

Zen really is a rags to riches story!

Hold your fur-babies close tonight! You’re lucky to have each other!

It’s stories like Zen’s that make what we do so worthwhile!

Oh! And if you have a remarkable story about you and your furry, feathered, or fuzzy family member, email me at and let me know if you’re interested in being featured on our blog!

~Your Loyal Calvin & Susie Blogger

Always check with your vet before making any changes to your pet’s diet. The Calvin & Susie Blogger always researches to the best of her ability, but she is not a vet. This blog is not in any way meant to replace veterinary advice or care. When in doubt always ask a vet.

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