Written by Arati Patel – @aratip05
Adopting a shelter dog is an exciting experience, and the journey you take together is unforgettable. We’re highlighting the story of Ziggy the Stardog, who was adopted from the Liberty Humane Society in 2016. So, grab yourself a tissue; you may shed a happy tear or two reading his story!
Ziggy’s Journey Home
Ziggy’s parents, Erin and Joe, local Jersey City residents, talked about getting a dog for a few years before they decided to adopt. With no kids and room for space and love to give, in January of 2016, they decided to make a trip down to the Liberty Humane Society, their local municipal animal shelter. “There are just too many good dogs who end up in shelters through no fault of their own. We researched the profiles of available dogs and developed a pros and cons list for each — cons in terms of personality traits that did not fit with our lifestyle such as a dog needing long morning jogs,” shared Erin.
When they showed up at the shelter, a staff member provided them a list of five dogs that could be a good fit for them. However, when they walked through the kennels, the first dog they laid eyes on was Ziggy, then named Zeus. “He had a little Dixie cup of milk bones attached to his cage and a sign that read, “If you give me a treat, I will lean in for pets.” We did, and he did. He was leaning his full weight against those bars. So sweet, we thought. But…. he was not on our list,” said Erin. They continued to meet the dogs on their list, and they were each wonderful. However, they kept thinking about Ziggy, and when asked to meet him, they instantly knew he was the one.
Ziggy was an owner surrender. His previous owner loved him very much but couldn’t have pets when he moved. “On the intake form, he wrote “four” for his age and then crossed that out and wrote “two.” We think he did this knowing a younger dog may get adopted faster. He had been in the shelter for over four months and was one of the biggest guys there. Some of the volunteers seemed emotional to see him find his home,” said Erin.
The Adjustment Period
Erin knew that adopting from the Liberty Humane Society meant they were most likely adopting a Pit Bull mix dog, a term commonly used to refer to mixed breed dogs with a muscular body and broadhead. Although they did not have experience with Pit Bull mixes, they believed no dogs are inherently bad and that opinions about pit bulls being aggressive were misinformed prejudices.
It was evident Ziggy did not receive a lot of training previously. So, to help Ziggy with leash manners and his dog reactivity, they decided to join a local meet-up group known as Positive Pittie Pack Walks so he could get used to structured walks around other dogs. Joining the Positive Pittie Pack Walks helped Ziggy and his parents so much. With patience and hard work, Ziggy started to get much better at walking past other dogs and now can hang around dogs without issue.
“Travels with Zig”
When scrolling through Ziggy the Stardog’s Instagram, you see a dog filled with so much love and a life full of adventures. Since Ziggy came into their lives, they started planning vacations to take him on, known as “Travels with Zig.” They found a camper van rental place at Liberty Marina and began their adventures. So many people think Ziggy looks a little like Scooby-Doo, and the vans are the Mystery Machine. One memorable trip of theirs has been traveling the Eastern Seaboard. “Ziggy hiked the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park, frolicked in the waves in Myrtle Beach, and took a sunrise walk on the dunes at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. It may be silly, but we love sharing new experiences with him: what does this city dog think of cows? The sounds of a forest? Giant blue herons? Miles of beaches? In the end, we think he’s happiest just snuggled in between us in the van,” shared Erin.
Ziggy’s Stomping Grounds – The Jersey City Heights
When not riding the Mystery machine, you can catchy Ziggy walking down Central Avenue in Jersey City Heights. He often runs into a former dog walker or one of Liberty Humane Society’s volunteers. Ziggy never forgets anyone kind to him, no matter how long it has been. It truly is a special feeling.
Ziggy loves all the parks in the Heights. He especially enjoys his morning walks to Washington Park and enjoys going to the Jersey City Reservoir to get back to nature in this urban oasis. He can’t wait until the reservoir opens again!
When he isn’t strolling through the neighborhood, Ziggy often enjoys spending time at his favorite restaurants, including the Corkscrew and Hudson Tavern.
Advice from Ziggy’s Parents on Adoption
For anyone looking to adopt, Erin recommends not to overlook older dogs. “The shelters are full of older dogs who have a lot of love and good years ahead of them. They are a lot easier to train and integrate into your lifestyle than a puppy. Every dog deserves to live out their lives in comfort and happiness,” said Erin. She also added, “don’t let the unfounded bad reputation of Pit Bulls deter you from adopting this wonderful breed. We have learned what all pit bull owners already know: these are trusting, loving, affectionate, smart, loyal creatures. No dog arrives in this world perfectly behaved; it may take work, but it is vastly rewarding.”
Even though he’s been out of his shelter kennel for some time now, Ziggy still leans in for pets. He is known as a space invader since he doesn’t have much respect for your personal space. Ziggy is now a 75 lb. lap dog who constantly demands belly rubs. “All he wants is to be loved and to love you back. And we’re thankful every day that we opened our hearts and our home to his love,” shared Erin.
Are you interested in adopting from the Liberty Humane Society?
We hope you enjoyed reading about Ziggy’s adoption story. To learn more about where Ziggy was adopted, you can visit the Liberty Humane Society’s website. And in case you didn’t know, Liberty Humane Society is currently participating in the Clear the Shelters event, a month-long adoption campaign to help animals find their forever homes. All adoption fees are waived for featured pets until September 19th!