Pets Saving People: Where There's a Wag, There's a Way

PetSmart Charities pets saving people adopted dog Chica.Bruce Kaspari had no intention of acquiring a new canine companion, but Chica—a one-year-old long-bodied Chihuahua mix with an apricot stripe down her back and apricot tips on her ears—had a different plan.


"I'd gone to the mall in Surprise, Arizona, to do some shopping," he says. "As I was leaving, I noticed that PetSmart had an adoption going on. I thought, 'I don't really want a dog,' but I stopped in and looked anyway."


Chica stared straight at Kaspari as he walked in the door, bouncing on her hind legs, with her front paws on the corral and tail wagging wildly. "I asked one of the people with the rescue group if I could see the tan dog," he says. "Well, she picked up a different one, and I said, 'No, no, no, I want the one who's looking at me.' She lifted Chica up and put her in my arms, and that was it."


PetSmart Charities pets saving people adopted dog Chica 2From Loss to Love

When Kaspari, 72, lost his beloved wife in December 2014, his canine companion at the time (a female Chihuahua named Taco) helped him through the early stages of the grieving process. Not long after, he decided to move to Arizona from California to be closer to his son, so the pair hopped in the car and headed east. Just outside of Barstow, Taco suffered a heart condition and died in Kaspari's arms despite his mouth-to-nose resuscitation efforts.


"I was completely despondent," he says. "I'd had Taco for 13 years, and just didn't want to go through the pain again."


After being in his new house for the better part of three months, Kaspari says it still felt empty and lifeless. In fact, he did everything he could to stay out till it was bedtime, and then repeat the process the next day.


Then Chica wagged her way into his life last summer, and everything changed.


PetSmart Charities pets saving people adopted dog Chica 3Constant Companion

"I really think Chica saved my life," says Kaspari, a disabled Marine Corps veteran who also worked for 40 years with the California Department of Justice. "It was like the whole house opened up. Ever since the first night, she took it upon herself to sleep in my bed right next to me, stuck like glue, and I don't mind it all. She wakes me up at 4:30, and I'm instantly in a good mood. We've been together for a year now, and every day is a new day."


Chica, who was found abandoned at a high school in Scottsdale, proved to be a quick learner with the doggy door. She loves to play with Kaspari's son's three dogs, and thrives on cool-weather rides in his classic Corvette. Her presence also helped him cope with a health scare this spring, when he was diagnosed with lung cancer.


"I don't know what I would have done without her," says Kaspari, who is doing well after radiation treatments. "Chica lit up my life again, and gave me a reason to go on. The next time you see an adoption event, stop and take a look. A dog will find you—you don't have to find the dog." 



Read More Pets Saving People Stories:


Glen and Blake


Dottie and Pete


Adam and Zephyr


Mis Kyrene and Tobi


Ed and Polly


Daisy – PetSmart Charities 7 millionth adoption


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