Let’s talk about Karma. #whereisKarma
Not the belief that your intent or actions influence your future – the dog named Karma.
The attached video sums up my experience with Karma, Barbara Zuluaga and Doggedly Dog Rescue Society but I know we live in a tiktok world where a ten-minute video is unheard of. I tried to shorten it, I even sped up some of the clips, but it was so hard to put 10 months of my heart, soul, sweat, tears and literal blood into a single post or video.
Karma’s time on this earth has been cruel. My understanding of her story was that she was found as a stray walking down the side of the road after most likely being hit by a car.
An independent rescuer placed her in a home with no vetting. Shortly after she was found in a dumpster with a gunshot wound through the head outside of the apartment building of the people who adopted her. The adopters stated they had given her away as well and no files were charged.
In February 2019 she was “re rescued” by Barbara Zuluaga under A Chance to Bloom Dog Rescue. She was rushed to the emergency vet where Barbara claimed the veterinarians were incompetent (a common theme with her) and was then taken to Texas A&M. Where they did in fact diagnose her with a GSW through the head and subsequent neurological issues including walking in circles, blindness in one eye, and seizures. She was prescribed seizure medications which she was apparently never given. She was also noted to have a bad limp – likely from the car.
During her time in foster care I was told she was “a totally normal dog” and that she lived freely in the house with several other dogs. I was later told (after my attack) that she actually lived in a vacant house on someone’s property where she had her own bedroom but shared the house with several other foster dogs, uncertain if they were actually living freely together. In this home I was also informed (after my attack) that Karma chased and cornered the foster’s boyfriend and had to be locked in a bathroom while sedatives were fed to her under the door to get her to calm down.
She went viral and raised tens of thousands of dollars for A Chance To Bloom and was even featured on the nightly news in Houston.
The timeline is really unclear (since nearly everything that comes out of Barbara’s mouth is a lie) but at some point, A Chance to Bloom reached out to a local trainer for board and train. She was supposedly dropped off there by Jessica and never picked up. I am still unclear as to how Barbara ended up unaware of her location or how she ended up back in her life. After training she was said to have been doing much better behavior wise.
In October 2019 I visited Barbara in Texas and at that time I met Karma in boarding. I don’t remember my interaction with her, but I sent a message to my husband stating I met her. I also don’t know if she was still technically with the trainer at this time or if she was back with Barbara. Later that month Barbara “exposed” A Chance to Bloom Rescue/Jessica Russell for fraud and embezzlement but assured us she had no part in it and wanted to take Jessica down and do right by the dogs.
Only now do I see that Barbara actually pulled a significant majority of these dogs and left them at DogTown herself, so the idea that she didn’t have any idea what was going on is ludicrous at best.
In December 2019 Barbara claims she “re-re-rescued” Karma from A Chance to Bloom (aka herself) under the rescue that I helped her start – Doggedly Dog Rescue Society. She was given her hip surgery – an FHO but still didn’t receive any neurological follow up. At that time she was bouncing back and forth between Barbara’s back bedroom in a crate and a boarding facility.
In June 2020 Karma attacked the kennel attendant at that facility and the trainer had to come get her to stop. He received a bite then.
I was told Karma had kennel/crate aggression and some resource guarding issues “only while in her crate” but that she was perfect otherwise. The fact that she attacked the kennel attendant was played off as “he was mishandling her” or “he was drunk.” The stories always changed but you can see by the screenshot in the video Barbara knew that wasn’t the case. She apparently had also previously bitten a transporter, and both her and Larry. (Although Barb can’t/does not handle dogs, so I highly doubt her being bitten is true but who knows.) I was told so many things at that point, I guess I didn’t realize just how serious her case was or I never would have agreed to take it on.
July 2020 Karma came to me via the Doggedly ground transport with several other dogs at the same time. The goal was for them to come to me to decompress for a few days/weeks before getting picked up by adopters and to work with Karma as a volunteer/foster. I did not get paid for training her – in fact it was like pulling teeth to even get a bag of dog food from Barbara even if I paid for it from her wholesale account.
I was told by Larry that the best way to get Karma in to her kennel/crate was to put her food in the back of the kennel and shut the door. Grab her collar and walk her to the kennel. Open the kennel a few inches and while she was going for the food quickly shut the kennel and walk away.
The very first day I met her when I grabbed her collar she air snapped at me. I chalked it up to her being stressed out. Barb told me her husband was “an idiot,” and that’s not how I was supposed to crate her. Karma would have an extreme barking, growling, snapping fit whenever anyone closed her kennel/crate door or got near it. Her pupils totally blew and she would 100% bite you if any part of your body was in range of the crate to get bitten.
Unsurprisingly the resource guarding issues were NOT just limited to her crate. Karma would growl, posture, and advance at you if she had any kind of food – even a few pieces of kibble dropped into a bowl in front of her directly from my hand. She would also bring a ball to me, drop it on my lap, and then guard the ball if I tried to touch it – growling at me for moving my hand toward it at all.
Good behavior modification is quite boring, so I didn’t record or solicit any of this behavior to get it on film. Though I will say we made great progress. I was able to shape her in to playing with toys other than balls and to even enjoy and solicit games of tug. She learned leave it, drop it, and “get it” (chase food and eat it). She learned to go in and out of her crate on cue without reacting (although she was still tense about it especially if she was trigger stacked.) She would happily run in and allow you to close the door. She learned to sit, lay down, stay, go to place, hand target (although that was another trigger for her for whatever reason), how to ride in the car, how to eat puppacinos without wanting to kill me, how to walk, jog, run and stop on a slat mill, how to put on her own harness and collar, how to pull weight, how to wait to get in and out of the car, how to be around lots of people and still focus on her handler, the list goes on and on.
I put a lot of work into this dog. I put so much work in to this dog it was detrimental to my relationships with my own dogs and my husband. I trusted her completely. We trusted each other. I treated her like one of my own dogs purchasing the best memory foam beds (which she would promptly destroy), supplements, and physical therapy. I told Barbara countless times that she needed an orthopedic work up, a consult with a veterinary behaviorist, or a neurological work up but it never happened.
I don’t really want to rehash the bad times.
You can see the nutshell version of those in the video.
Until you live with a dog that is so aggressive, that she has to be physically stopped from attacking even if you try and get away from her… You’ll never know what it’s like texting your husband to make sure he’s okay when you have to leave the house. You’ll never know what it’s like scheduling your entire life around a dog so your husband is never left alone with her. You’ll never know what it’s like having to buy walkie talkies and carry them everywhere in case your dog takes you down outside and you don’t have cell phone service. You’ll never have to cry yourself to sleep knowing the best choice for the dog is humane euthanasia but still wanting to try in hopes that the next thing you do might get through to her. You’ll never understand how you can love a being so purely and unconditionally that could hurt or even kill you if you’re not careful – and yet wants nothing more than to play with and cuddle with you 90% of the time.
We had so may good times. We attended a training seminar together. Slept in the same bed. Cuddled. Played. Learned. Grew. Loved. Laughed.
But the truth about Karma is she was a broken dog from the moment someone put a bullet through her skull. I will always wonder, had someone actually given her proper medical attention rather than putting her in social isolation and never giving her the medication she was prescribed, if her outcome would have been better. We will never know.
What I did, and do know, is that Barbara has never done right by this dog. Whether she wants to blame the first independent rescuer, Jessica Russell, the first trainer who had her, the boarding facility or me… This dog has always been, and always will be used as a pawn in her narcissistic games. She doesn’t care who she hurts, humans or animals – it’s always about making herself look like some unsung hero.
Getting attacked and finally injured badly enough to need medical attention by this dog is what finally opened my eyes to the real Barbara. Karma set me free and gave me the strength to stand up to and expose Barb, despite the severe emotional abuse and manipulation I endured. I just wish I could have given Karma the same peace and freedom she gave me by euthanizing her and setting her free from her mental prison. She had 10 blissful months of being a real, truly loved, spoiled ass dog. Instead, she was forced to endure the 36 hour transport back to Texas and is rotting in Barb’s back bedroom in a crate, with god knows how many other dogs. Or worse, posing a danger to herself and others in a boarding facility or with another trainer who she inevitably lied to about her behavior.
There are things in the world worse than a peaceful death surrounded by people who love you. Sitting in a crate 23 hours a day as a social active dog is one of those things.
Please help me make sure that no more dogs ever suffer the same fate as Karma and so many others.
March 2021 - the trigger was gently grabbing her collar to prevent her from rushing toward a car coming up the driveway. This was the worst bite of a sustained attack.
After medical attention, the foster still has numbness and scar tissue, likely permanent
Documentation of other bites from the same dog prior to coming to foster in WA
She's "perfect" is what they told her foster