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Zura, the Blue Staffy with the Very Big Heart




"Some are born to lead the blind, others are destined to nestle in human laps while many live for their daily walkies.

My beautiful dog, Zura, was born to be a mum." shares Christopher Melotti.

Here’s the story of how one adopted dog opened her heart and her home to around 200 rescue puppies and went on to win the Special Foster Carer Award in the 2020 Jetpets Companion Animal Rescue Awards.


This is Zura, our blue American Staffordshire Terrier.

Yes, that’s her with the big smile on her face next to one of her many temporary pups. This photo really does speak a thousand words.

My partner Scott and I adopted Zura around 5 years ago from the amazing RSPCA NSW team at Yagoona. With so many dogs needing a loving home, it was just a natural choice for us.

We didn’t have any breed in mind. But after the team brought out this beautiful blue and white little puppy sporting a giant smile on her face, we feel in love with her instantly.

“She’s the one,” Scott said without missing a beat.
“Right. We’re good. Where do we sign?” I followed.

Adopting from the RSPCA meant she came desexed. So, how is she a mum, I hear you asking! Well, you’d think she’d missed her calling - but we quickly found this wasn’t the case at all.


After she was just over a year old, we sensed she wanted company. But I was reluctant to adopt again, as we were renting at the time and I’m a firm believer that a dog is for life. So, we contacted the RSPCA team and asked to become fosterers instead.

I figured this way, we could give a home to some pooches needing a bit of extra love and give Zura some friends at the same time - all without fully committing. We weren’t sure how Zura would go but we thought it was worth a try.

Well! She took to it like a dog with a bone, becoming a natural motherly figure.

Since then, Zura has cared for and nurtured multiple litters, ranging from pups that needed a break from the shelter due to behavioural issues, to those involved in Court Cases, abuse victims, and even one deaf pup. She’s also looked after four kittens too.


Whether she was looking after five scruffy Maltese terriers or two agile Huskies, she always gave them the love, care and stern discipline they needed to grow into well-behaved, happy and healthy dogs.

It’s no wonder she has become affectionately named “Mumma Zura” by the staff at the RSPCA NSW Shelter.

Sadly, Zura has been through her own medical challenges over her very colourful life, which include three major surgeries.

The first was a common surgery to repair her ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) on her rear left leg. There was no reason for this that they could determine and so, she was under the care of the phenomenal vet surgeons at the University of Sydney Vet Clinic in Camperdown. She went in and we were told she would need several weeks of recovery. However, she surprised us (and the vets) by getting back to normal very quickly and suddenly, she was fostering once again.

Then, in 2018, both her back legs were playing up. She was acting very bizarre and limping in odd ways. So, back to the Sydney Uni vets we went where they just couldn’t find what was wrong. It was only upon performing an MRI and CT Scan that they discovered her spinal cord was being “squeezed” by what they believed was a strange genetic deformity combined with a slipped disc. 

So, back under the knife she went, where she was under the specialised care of Dr Laurencie Brunel and Dr Rui Sul. And once again, we were told she would have months of recovery time, only to get a phone call two days later.

“She’s showing amazing recovery signs. She’s ready to come home this weekend.”

Within a month, she was fostering once again. Yes, after major spinal cord surgery.

Then in 2020, Zura was showing signs of breathing problems. Yet again, she returned to Dr Laurencie who found unexplainable fluid on her lungs! Despite so many extensive tests, they just couldn’t work out why or how it was happening. All they knew was that it was potentially life-threatening. 
So, back she went again for the third time, and, just like before, she was out in record time, only to start fostering once again.

All I can say is thank gosh for Pet Insurance with Woolworths – whom I would like to personally thank. Despite all the hardship, they were always there for her, very compassionate and never had an issue.

Of course, I’d also like to say a big thanks for the team at the University of Sydney Vet Clinic in Camperdown for their miracle-working abilities too.

As you can see – she’s a mystery.


However, she continues to bounce back to be the beautiful Mumma Zura she always has been, looking after countless foster pups. 

After years of fostering, we have become very good at training young dogs! But it’s really Zura who gets to claim the most credit in this regard. She has a real instinct for the job and a patience that even the Dalai Lama would respect.

Luckily, she now has some backup in the form of Olympia or “Lympy”.

She was our first (and will be our last) ‘foster fail’ – which occurs when you end up adopting one of your foster dogs. Olympia came to us with a broken leg and needed a lot of love and care. As a giant dog breed, she was growing extremely fast, going from a teddy bear looking pup into a real bear. But she’s a gentle giant who we fell in love with.

We were worried that, being such a large breed, she would struggle to find a furrever home. So, we decided to give it to her ourselves and she has learned from the best when it comes to fostering.

Olympia is just as loving and nurturing now as Mumma Zura herself and, as the 2IC, is there to give Mumma a break when she needs it.

Fostering has undeniably been an extremely rewarding experience.

To anyone considering fostering, I would highly recommend it!

Yes, you often worry about becoming too attached. However, you quickly realise that it’s just like a job. You’re there to love and care for them temporarily. You get a litter, you do your thing and then they go back, find their forever homes and before long, there is a new foster for you to look after.

Scott and Christopher with 
Olympia and Mumma Zura
The role you play is very important for their healthy development and so, that’s how you treat it. I’m obsessed with dogs – and if I can have this mentality, everyone can! 

Plus, you get the undeniable perks of having a home full of puppies or kittens whenever you want and it’s super convenient - especially if you’re not available or you have holiday plans. This way, you still can have pets around, but you don’t have to find someone to dog sit or pay for expensive kennelling.

While fostering may not be for everyone, I suggest everyone consider it. And if you want a more permanent friend, you know where to find them! 

There are hundreds of loving dogs just like Zura, waiting for a loving home just like yours.

Please give the 
RSPCA NSW team a call and learn more. You won’t regret it."

written by Christopher Melotti from Melotti Media for Australian Dog Lover, October 2020 (all rights reserved).

Photography Credit (all supplied): Christopher Melotti.
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