For four months, Andrew and Myka Berkson of Tyler, TX, were dedicated to helping two very special friends. Each day, morning and night, they would take turns stopping to feed a stray female German Shepherd and her best friend, a young female black cat. They weren’t just caring for feral animals though, they were slowly gaining the pup’s trust so they could rescue the two from life on the streets.
It all began one day as Myka was returning from dropping their daughter off at school.
The couple are active in animal rescue and specifically work with German Shepherds. So when Myka saw a gorgeous dog she didn’t recognize hanging out on the side of the road one day, she took notice. Going to a nearby home, she asked the owners if the dog was theirs or if they knew of one who’d gotten lose. The pup wasn’t theirs and they informed Myka the dog had just shown up one day, terrified and scared. No one could get near her.
Then they told her, “If you can catch her, you could have her.”
Myka knew it would never be that easy. They’d have to earn the dogs trust if they would have any hope of rescuing her.
To thicken the plot, there was a black kitten that had shown up one day too. The starving cat had seemed to bond closely with the dog, always by her side. For the very shy dog, the brave and social kitten seemed to help her confidence levels.
With her husband on board, Myka fed the odd duo each morning and Andrew would stop on his way home from work.
They named the German Shepherd Libby and the black cat, Gizmo. They estimate that Libby is almost 6-years old and Gizmo is around 10 months.
“The two of them were inseparable. Gizmo always came when we called for her. Libby would only come out to greet us if Gizmo lead the way. There were a lot of woods around this area and Gizmo often went off exploring in the woods. We know that there were coyotes in these woods and that Libby very likely protected her cat buddy as they were always together.”
Over time, Libby came to trust them more and more, but she never allowed them to pet her. They believe that she may have been used as a breeding dog and that she was definitely emotionally neglected. Even with her unknown past, she never once showed any aggression, just heartbreaking terror.
“Fascinatingly, we were able to put our hand in her food bowl while she ate. She would simply nudge our hands out of the way.”
The weeks turned into months and although they have the patience of saints, the Berksons knew they were pressed for time.
Winter was coming and the weather was becoming cooler. They had attempted to trap Libby, but she proved to cunning for them. There was no chance they were going to grab Gizmo, a very simple task since she loved attention, and leave Libby there alone. Drastic measures were needed to save them.
They began introducing a small pen for food that Libby would safely eat in. After a couple weeks of this, they recruited a friend of theirs who happens to be a veterinarian. To make her sleepy, they snuck a small dose of medication into Libby’s food.
Once she was calm, they were able to give her a shot so they could calmly transfer to their home without causing more stress. Both animals were vaccinated and Gizmo was spayed.
At their home, they could slowly and safely continue to build a relationship with Libby.
She made great progress — although they admittedly measured it with very small baby steps. But they were steps in the right direction! She is a timid but sweet girl, just unsure about what the world holds. It’s not uncommon for her to still flinch or shrink from approaching attention.
With Gizmo by her side, she at least has a wonderful role model. With no fear, loving Gizmo is happy to accept the indoor life, with catered meals and round-the-clock snuggle sessions.
“She starts purring the minute she lays eyes on you and is like a velcro cat in that she is always around and glued to your side.”
As much as the Berksons wanted to give the cute buddies a forever home, they are unable to do so.
They currently have 5 rescue dogs, 3 of who are not cat friendly. Sealing their fate, both Andrew and their daughter are allergic to felines. Refusing to give up though, they are dedicated to finding the pair the perfect home…together.
“We are looking for a safe and appropriate forever home for these two amazing friends. Libby needs to be in a home without other dogs. Or, if there is another dog in the home, with people with very strong dog experience and knowledge as they help her learn about the world. Gizmo’s needs are simply to be with her dog and with people that love her.”
Wanting to make sure the family that welcomes Libby and Gizmo have what they need, they have a “wish-list” for adopters.
They’d like them to have a fenced in yard for Libby to play but both need to be indoor pets. As for children, they believe older kids that can be patient, quiet and gentle with Libby may be okay. To make sure Libby continues to build trust with humans, ideally their forever home would have plenty of human interaction daily.
Just recently both Libby and Gizmo were adopted into a great home. Sadly, they were returned shortly after through no fault of their own. That families daughter also turned out to have severe allergies.
Although disappointed, the Berksons would rather suffer with their allergies until the cherished pair find the purrfect environment.
Libby and Gizmo survived together in some rough conditions for many months. Now they need our help to find them a comfy future together!
If you are interested in opening your heart to Libby and Gizmo, please contact the Berksons at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE: March 2019
After the story of Libby and Gizmo was shared, there was quite a buzz from potential adopters. The Berksons were contacted by numerous interested parties, but sadly nothing panned out. Then, only a week later, it went utterly silent. They refused to give up on the pair though.
Life went on and the time arrived when their humans had to go out of the country for a week’s time.
With the progress they were seeing with Libby, they didn’t want to have any setbacks while they were gone. So they found a local pet resort that they could board them together. Libby and Gizmo checked into the Circle Star Pet Resort in early February. This resort not only watched after them, they offered training classes too. So Libby was signed up for socialization while there to keep moving in a positive direction.
There were two trainers that got to work with Libby at the resort. One of them, Karen, had a loving story to share with the Berksons when they returned. Picking up Libby and Gizmo was going to come with an extra surprise.
Here are the dynamic duo checking out the facility–I think they approve!
Never far away from each other as usual.
Although they still have different opinions on some things.
Gizmo learning about [food] puzzles. Libby was hoping for a cheeseburger.
While spending time training Libby, Karen had fallen in love with the sweetheart. By happy default, she’d easily learned to love Gizmo too–a bit of a bonus. Sadly, this was a time that Karen needed the unconditional love they gave her even more. Perhaps they knew her heart was broken.
You see, Karen had been forced to make a difficult decision just the prior week.
Her own beloved pup had to be euthanized due to health issues.
With her devastating circumstances, Libby and Gizmo had shown up exactly when she needed them the most. She knew they were special and belonged with her permanently. Andrew and Myka were thrilled!!! Clearly from their faces, so were the “kids”!
She took them home and it has been just wonderful for all of them. Libby and Gizmo have filled a void in Karen’s life and Karen has the knowledge and patience to help Libby blossom. It’s a very happy and deserved fairy tale ending for all three of them.
REMEMBER: ADOPT, DON’T SHOP; FOSTERING SAVES LIVES & SPAY AND NEUTER!
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