We Are Family
In April 2007, shortly after they received the keys to their first apartment in New York City, Lisa and John Bolender decided their first order of business was to adopt a dog. The young couple made a beeline for the ASPCA Adoption Center in Manhattan, where they met a special, one-year-old Cane Corso named Aniya, who also goes by the nickname Niya.
"She put her paw up against the glass when I came near, and we knew we had to meet her," Lisa says. "The first night in our place in New York was spent with Niya curled up with us on a pile of blankets and pillows. She has been devoted to us ever since."
Eventually, the little family moved back to their home state of Michigan, where they decided to expand their brood. "Niya wanted to play with every dog and person she came across, from sun up to sun down," explains Lisa. "So John went to the Livingston County Humane Society and adopted Brutis, another Cane Corso, about four months younger than Niya."
Now the two pooches are best buddies. Says Lisa: "Niya will plop herself down on Brutis' head or back her rear end into his side at least once an hour to get him to play. They run around and follow us from room to room, always jumping on each other."
But the family didn't stop there—in March 2008, Lisa and John welcomed a daughter, Ava, into their furry world. "Niya was wonderful with Ava from the start," Lisa muses. "She even sleeps in Ava's room at night by her bed. Every time Ava wakes up, Niya is the first one she looks for."
This fun-loving, loyal pooch has settled into life as a big sister and canine matriarch with ease. "She shakes her entire rear end when she is happy, to make up for the lack of a long tail," Lisa laughs. "She also likes to 'talk' to us when she wants to play or just wants attention, and never ceases to get excited to see us when we walk through the door."
She adds: "Niya is very special to us. She is an essential part of our every day. She makes us laugh and is Ava's best friend. I am so happy that we walked into the ASPCA that day."