For the longest time, Little Elm, Texas, resident Curtis Hartsell thought that his job and active lifestyle left him too busy to have a dog.
That changed, though, when he saw pictures of a dog only identified as #387 on an adoption website.
The dog, which had previously been named Kong, was in a sorry state. He had been languishing in a shelter in Oklahoma, suffering from sunburn and skin disease that left him without clumps of fur and with bright-red skin. He had been so badly abused that it was painful for him to be pet, meaning he shied away from cuddles.
Hartsell, who works as a cyber threat intelligence analyst (a wicked-sounding job for sure), had been worried that he wouldn’t be able to make dog ownership work. But somehow, he sensed that things would work out if he adopted the adorable—but clearly battered—collie in the pictures on the adoption website.
#387 KONG – ADOPTEDKong is a 1yr old Border Collie rescued from a Clarmore, Ok Shelter. So far, he's had a ruff life,…
“I looked through his profile and just immediately fell in love with his single picture and the description they put on the page,” Hartsell said, interviewing with The Dodo. “His foster mom described his temperament and personality and I described my life to her a bit and she said we sounded perfect for each other.”
Throughout the adoption process, he constantly asked for updates on the puppy’s condition. And when the pair were finally united, Hartsell just knew that he’d made the right choice.
In honor of the dog’s origin story, going from an abused dog without a home to a member of his family, he decided to name him ZIB after the iconic Soviet dog that traveled into space.
“The original was just a lost dog running around base that they sent to space for successful flight,” Hartsell explained. “I felt this was fitting for my ZIB because he was just a lost dog until someone picked him up and helped nurture him back to health. Now he and I are off to the stars together!”
Hartsell’s arrival at the foster home was captured in a series of photographs, documenting the moment that ZIB got to meet the person who would take him to his forever home. It was such a stark contrast from the first pictures taken, where ZIB had giant clumps of fur missing and didn’t want to be touched by anyone—and it showed just how bright the dog’s future was now that he was able to accept and embrace a loving family.
The years since Hartsell adopted ZIB have clearly been good for both the dog and the man. The pair have documented their adventures, full of smiles and cuddles that hadn’t been possible when ZIB was first found and brought to the shelter abused and neglected.
As incredible as Hartsell is for adopting ZIB, though, he insists that the true hero of their story is the dog.
“I truly feel saved by him and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him,” Hartsell said. “Our lives revolve around each other now and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”