Over the last several years, we’ve heard a lot about dogs in the meat trade industry and the incredible suffering they endure. The situation seems overwhelming, and impossible to make an impact.

But like the story of the starfish on the beach, sometimes you can make a difference if you start by focusing on just one new friend in need of help at a time. For Friends of Flicka, the opportunity arose in October, when we received a call from Retrieve a Golden of the Midwest (RAGOM).

Comy was relieved to discover the kindness of rescuers in Korea.

There was a dog named Comy who was living in a crowded South Korean shelter. She had somehow been rescued from the meat trade industry, but while the shelter was doing what they could for her, they did not have the special loving resources she so desperately needed to successfully adapt to her new freedom. When rescuers first saw her she was curled in a corner, and as they approached her, she turned her head to the wall and shook. She had clearly been through terrible trauma, and a happy ending was unlikely.

Friends of Flicka offered to fund her transport, and quickly, others jumped in to help. Rescuers in Korea found a temporary place for her to stay, and a flight from Korea to Chicago was arranged. Upon arrival, another new friend was waiting to invite Comy into her home to stay for the night. A kind pilot donated his time and expense to fly Comy from Chicago to Minnesota, where RAGOM had a wonderful volunteer lined up to foster her. Somehow, against all odds and in just a matter of days, it all came together. Comy would be free.

Comy in Minnesota.

Comy was scared, tired, and confused when she arrived at her foster home. She had never before lived in a home or been treated like a loved family member.

Her foster home included other resident dogs, who welcomed Comy into the pack and taught her important skills. With their guidance, she began to gain confidence and trust. After watching the other dogs soak up attention from foster mom Gretchen, Comy soon began to join in and request her fair share. Within days, Comy began to approach Gretchen on her own.

The downside to bonding with Gretchen was that Comy developed separation anxiety, fearful that when her foster mom departed she might not return. Gretchen consulted with a behavior expert to help Comy through her new challenge.

There were so many new sights and sounds for Comy explore.

First, Comy needed to be desensitized to cues that increased her anxiety when her foster mom prepared to leave the house. They started by addressing the sound of Gretchen’s keys, because whenever Gretchen reached for them, Comy’s anxiety rose. For two weeks, they worked on this small step of the process. Her foster mom would pick up the keys, give Comy a treat, and then set them back down. Over and over they practiced, with Comy’s anxiety slowly decreasing. Then they moved on to the next step – putting on a hat, gloves, and jacket.

Gretchen also began counter-conditioning. When dogs with separation anxiety are occupied the first 20 minutes after their person leaves, odds are high they’ll relax and stay calm until they return. To overcome this fear, Gretchen began supplying Comy with a Kong toy and chew bones filled with frozen peanut butter when she left.

In addition to her new separation coping skills, Comy became comfortable riding in cars and going for walks. She experienced her first snowfall. And she learned words in English, including her favorite – peanut butter, by far her favorite part of overcoming fear, and becoming a loved and loving dog in America.

Comy’s favorite: peanut butter!

Comy’s sweet personality began to shine. She loved playing outside with resident dog Cubbie, and soaking up attention from Gretchen.

After growing and changing so much, her foster mom knew from experience that Comy was ready to step out on her own.

The toughest part of being a foster volunteer is adopting out a dog you’ve loved and cared for. But another dog is always waiting, in need of a temporary place to stay on their journey toward finding a forever home. Gretchen’s family had taught Comy the skills she needed to thrive, and she was ready for a family of her own.

Gretchen reviewed the applicants interested in adopting Comy, and when a kind-hearted family with a dog named Lincoln came to visit, she knew she had found her match. The two dogs experienced an instant connection.

Love at first sight: Lincoln and Comy

When they aren’t playing, Lincoln and Comy enjoy a good snuggle.

Comy has been with her new family for a week, and she’s made so much progress. She hasn’t shown any signs of anxiety when her family leaves (they monitor her when gone with a dog-cam), and each day she trusts her family more and more.

Lincoln and Comy check out the pup cam.

She and Lincoln play for hours every day, and when they’re not playing, they cuddle together.

Her family is so grateful to have Comy in their lives. “We can’t wait to keep loving her and show her how amazing dog life really is,” her adopter states. “Thank you for all you have done for her. Rest assured knowing she is in the most loving hands.”

A warm welcome by Comy’s new family.