Yota was only about 12 months old when she ended up in the Mildura pound. Her coat was a dead brown colour, she had scars around her neck, her ears were torn and she had limited vision because her eyes were so sunken from starvation. She weighed a mere 14kgs.

We decided to foster her and when she arrived here she slept for a full day. She would steal food from the bench tops and the compost because she was not sure of where her next meal would come from. Yota was so terrified of everything that she would go and hide in the garden for hours at a time and often I thought she had escaped from the backyard only to find her cowering in the dirt in the back corner. It was heart-wrenching to see this little Koolie in such terror of the world.

We would try to walk her around the block and she would cringe at every car and every person she met and what should have been a five minute amble took us a painstaking half an hour to complete. Once I had to carry her down the street just to get her out of the house and walking.

Finally a breakthrough occurred when one morning we woke and she greeted us with a “Woo woo!” Until that point she had never vocalised, not even a whimper.

From that point things for Yota began to turn around. She made the couch her home and started to enjoy her daily exercise. Slowly but surely her dead coat came out and a gleaming merle dog began to appear. Her eyesight began to recover and she learned to play with other dogs. She now weighs 23 kgs and is still growing!

Yota and I now stroll around the golf courses for an hour each day now and she has a following of other dog owners who adore her because she is always so gentle and careful when she plays with their dogs. She regularly meets up with another merle girl (an Australian Shepherd) called China and they run and run down and over the green fairways at Cheltenham until China is exhausted. So far we have not managed to wear Yota out. I always return home after our adventures with a huge smile on my face, ready to start the day. Such is the infectious nature of Yota’s joy.

When we get back she launches onto the bed where Marc is still sleeping, nuzzling him and pawing him so he gets up.

Yota’s behaviour and her physical state were extremely challenging at the beginning and there were many times when I thought that we would never make progress. Through that dark time, Trisha, Holly and Ulrike from Vic DRG were always there to help and offer advice. Yota’s rehabilitation was fully supported by this wonderful community and never once did I feel alone.

Determined as I was to not adopt the first dog we fostered, we fell in love with Yota and she with us. We feel absolutely blessed to have taken such a journey with our friend in need.

I have had dogs all my life. Mostly purebreds that I have had on order from breeders. But I have never had as rewarding an experience as fostering a dog that has had a tough time and seeing it blossom.

Yota’s story is just one. There are thousands of dogs that wait on death row in Victoria, most with no opportunity of rescue. It is a kind and responsible choice to adopt or foster a Vic DRG dog and make a difference to just one.