Dorothy and Toto aren't in Texas anymore.
About five years ago, Houston police found a fluffy little puppy while busting a suspected crack house. The puppy had serious health problems -- mange and a poor immune system, among them -- and appeared never to have been taken outside.
She was brought to the no-kill animal shelter Special Pals, where she was named Dorothy, after the Wizard of Oz character, since shelter staff thought she'd been through some tumult and had landed somewhere safe.
Dorothy started her medical treatment and then bonded with a skittish, formerly stray feline called Wild Cat. Once the two started palling around, Wild Cat was renamed Toto.
"Dorothy was in a private room because she had so many health problems and needed to be inside. Toto slept on top of a cabinet for a long time, until one day we noticed they were sleeping together on Dorothy’s bed," says Elizabeth Trick, Special Pals' executive director.
Soon the two were inseparable.
"Dorothy got better and began to walk around the shelter, and if the door was open Toto would follow her," Trick says. "Toto doesn’t like to be picked up, and she really doesn’t like to be pet either, but she always liked to be next to Dorothy."
Days turned into weeks, which turned into five years at the shelter, and Trick wasn't optimistic that either the dog or the cat would be adopted at all, let alone together. Dorothy, after all, has lingering health problems, and neither is what you might call sociable.
"Dorothy does not do well with children, most cats and a lot of dogs," Trick says. "Toto is not a cuddly cat and only does well with Dorothy, so we figured they would both live their lives at the shelter."(Story continues below.)
Dorothy and Toto at the Special Pals shelter. Photo credit: Special Pals
Foster lives in Ringgold, Virginia, down near the border of North Carolina, where he enjoys helping out at his church and working on the family farm.
His brother had adopted a dog with health problems, and Foster says he wanted to do the same, so he got in touch with Elizabeth Trick at Special Pals.
"We did all of the standard adoption checks, and we knew he was a good match for Dorothy," says Trick. "One day, I walked into Dorothy’s room and I saw the two sleeping together and I knew I needed to try and see if he would adopt both of them."
"And I told her sure," Foster says.
Foster and Special Pals raised the funds to get the cat and the dog to their new home. (Shelter pets don't travel by magical tornado, you know. It takes money!)
They've now been at Foster's for about a month. He says that Toto is still shy but "loves to eat and cuddle up with Dorothy. She also likes to play with her cat toys. Dorothy likes to lay around during the day but is excited when I come home to let her out."
As if she really knows her namesake, the dog's newfound interests including hanging around the family farm. Completely separate from the movie character she's named for, Dorothy also now enjoys shaking hands, belly rubs and dog treats.
"The transition to bringing them home was very easy," Foster says, adding that he would "absolutely adopt in the future, as they are no problem to me."
Trick's been receiving emails and photos from Foster about Dorothy and Toto's new life. She says it's been really magical to see that these little munchkins -- particular as they are -- finally have their family."Dorothy and Toto have shown us that no matter how hard the case, or how long the wait, there is hope for a forever home," she says. "Dorothy, Toto and Matt are very happy."
Dorothy and Toto at their new home, together. Photo credit: Matt Foster
Find out more about Special Pals' adoptable animals on the group's Facebook page. And get in touch at email@example.com if you have an animal story to share!