As a volunteer for The Dawg Squad, a pet rescue organization in Los Angeles, Gillian helps at-risk dogs from the North Central Los Angeles shelter get another chance to find a home. When she headed to the shelter for a routine visit, she never imagined she would be meeting a future pet.
The dog was Sienna, a 1-year-old mixed breed. "As soon as I saw her, I really liked her," Gillian says. "Her puppies had been adopted, and I thought that was heartbreaking for a mom ... she did such a good job caring for these puppies, to watch them all go away."
Once she and Sienna left the shelter to transition to The Dawg Squad program, Gillian knew they were made for each other. "I put her in the car with me, she sat down in the passenger seat next to me, and I looked over and put my hand out. And she licked me," Gillian recalls. "And I said, 'This one's mine.'"
Sienna felt the same way, which Gillian discovered when she brought her home. "She was a bit nervous at first," Gillian remembers, mostly because there were other foster dogs already in her home. "She became protective of me very fast. She had an easy transition though - she knew this was her home."
Sienna's adjustment to family life is no surprise to Gillian. "She's the best, and I knew it. She's a really good dog," she says. "And now of course she's spoiled. Now she's really beautiful. She's confident, she's happy … and that's so good to see."
Sienna also takes care of Gillian. "It's just like after a bad day at work, she knows when I'm stressed and comes and puts her head on my shoulder. I always say she's my soul mate. She gets me; she can read me," Gillian says.
The bond that Gillian and Sienna share is special, for many reasons. While Gillian is usually content to help place dogs in happy homes, she just had to keep Sienna as her own companion. "She was the first foster dog that I kept," Gillian explains. "I feel like she's my dog. When I'm not at home, she waits for me. She's always really, really happy to see me. We're very bonded."
It's a relationship and an experience that makes both of their lives complete. "She's the best," Gillian says. "She's had a big impact on my life. I really feel like she was meant to come to me."