Xena_5_yrs_LaterIn January 2011, my sister and I went to Austin Pets Alive! to find “a sweet old gal who needed a break.” After showing us a few 6-year-olds that didn’t seem to fit us, the staffer showed us ‘Xena,’ a 9-year-old German Shepherd mix who was the canine equivalent of a Charlie Brown Christmas true — unattractive, unwanted and unlikely to find a home. Abuse and neglect left her unable to make eye contact. Non-contagious mange left her with little hair in the dead of winter. She desperately needed someone to give her a home … and so we did. Week by week, month by month, year by year, GiGi’s fears have disappeared. But the psychological scarring will never heal 100%. Still, she is happy and healthy and closing in on 15. She is living her dream of “happily ever after.”