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Niko and Mom
Niko and Dad
Niko and Sibling
Niko and Sibling!


After the passing of our beloved 15 year old chihuahua to cancer back in April, I was devastated. I had him for half of my life and found myself sad to be at home because everything reminded me of him. I constantly searched rescue websites as my husband and I played with the idea of adopting another dog. There were many cute dogs but something was always missing. When I came across Lil Joe’s picture I sent it to my husband stating that he looked like a little version of our other rescue dog Kona, a black lab/whippet mix. I kept going back to his picture and just had a good feeling about him; almost like I knew he was supposed to be a part of our family. We sent in our application on a Saturday and I anxiously awaited a reply. Finally, my husband received a phone call from the foster mom a few days later. She told him about Lil Joe’s story. He was found running around the streets of Indianapolis during the middle of winter without any identification. At the shelter he was named Thor and the foster mom changed his name to Lil Joe. Bryan called me at work saying that we could pick him up. I was so excited. I couldn’t remember the last time I had a smile on my face that big. My husband came by my work and Lil Joe was in the back seat and terrified. He was so scared and confused about what was going on. I’m sure he thought ’who are these strangers and were are they taking me?’ When we got home, he wouldn’t come near us. I wanted to hold him so bad and let him know everything would be okay but he was very unsure about us. He would come a few feet away from us and just stare trying to figure us out. But when we would try to get close he would run away scared. He wouldn’t even sleep in his dog bed that first night. He slept in the dining room. We knew we needed to give time and be patient. As we looked upon our new addition to the family, we came up with a new name. New home, new name. We decided on Niko. That next morning Niko actually let me pet him. I had created a little safe zone for him in a pen with multiple blankets and he immediately ran inside it and got comfortable. That afternoon I went home for lunch to check on him and he slowly started warming up to me. Finally that evening he let me pick him up! That second night he slept in his pen in our bedroom. We left the pen door open so if he wanted to leave his pen he had the freedom to roam or jump in our bed. The third day was a major breakthrough; he followed me around everywhere. I could pet him, pick him up, cuddle and play. The third night he slept in bed with us and cuddled next to me the entire night. Ever since Niko, formerly Lil Joe, and I have been inseparable. He has slowly warmed up to my husband, it has just taken a little bit longer but now they are buddies. All Niko needed was time and patience from us. We needed to earn his trust and show him that we are his family. His personality has really come out these past few weeks. He has found his voice and is the new man of the house. He is still scared of newcomers but the more he is around someone the more comfortable he becomes. He is best buds with our other rescue dog Kona. They love to run around in the yard together, sleep next to each other, and go on walks. Niko has been such a blessing. He helped my heart heal and opened it up to a new love that I didn’t think would be possible until now. I didn’t just rescue Niko, he rescued me. -Melissa and Bryan

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