Many of us experience a moment of connection when we look into an animal’s eyes and know, instantly, that we’ve found our next pet. Susan DeVoe had that happen through a text message.

DeVoe had recently lost 16-year-old Ripley, a spirited border collie mix with one blue and one brown eye. When she received a text message from the Humane Society of the United States that featured a rescued pup with one blue and one brown eye, DeVoe thought maybe Ripley was sending her a message: It’s time.

The HSUS Animal Rescue Team removed Emma—along with 54 other dogs and 34 cats—from a cruelty situation in July. Emma was nearly hairless because of an allergy and her ears were infected. The rescue team transported her to Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation, an HSUS shelter and rescue partner, in Washington, D.C. to be fostered while she recovered. DeVoe tracked down Emma’s adoption profile and connected with her foster family by email. In September, DeVoe and husband Doug Dunco drove to D.C. from their home in Indiana to meet Emma. They returned with a new family member.

The dog they brought home was almost unrecognizable from the nearly hairless creature the Animal Rescue Team found two months before—her wiry black and white fur had grown back and her ears had healed. Emma settled right in with DeVoe and Dunco’s three other dogs, beagle mixes Bueller and Milly and Pomeranian mix Farrah. Emma’s new siblings are already teaching her plenty. Initially unsure about playing with toys, “once she saw Farrah and everybody else chasing toys,” says DeVoe, “she started getting interested.” She might have an ulterior motive: “I think she likes—just a little tiny bit—annoying Farrah with the fact that she has a squeaky and Farrah doesn’t.” Yet Emma is protective, too—when visiting canine friend Mara tries to steal Farrah’s ball, Emma steps in.

DeVoe doesn’t know Emma’s exact age (between 5 and 8) or breed (her spiky eyebrows suggest some schnauzer), but she does know Emma is sweet, laid-back and self-assured. “It’s just this subtle self-possession, self-confidence,” says DeVoe. Emma chooses to sleep alone, only joining her humans in the morning. “She comes up and puts her paws on the side of the bed, has a massive stretch, kind of waits to be invited up.” And she knows what she wants: Around dinnertime, Emma gently jumps up on DeVoe’s back, nudging her toward the dog food. While the other pups howl when they want something, “Emma just takes it into her own paws and says, ‘OK, this is where we’re really going.’”

After a rough beginning, Emma’s found her way.

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Sad dog with mange sitting on a couch

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This story originally appeared in our award-winning magazine for members, All Animals. Get informative and inspiring content like this delivered right to your door.

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