a young man leaning next to his dog
Andy Kostka says his dog Parks is as close to a perfect match as he’ll ever get. Photo by Julia Nikhinson

Maria Anselmo knew pretty quickly that she had a foster failure on her hands.

When the pandemic hit, the community relations manager for Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center in Maryland helped pair Parks, a female shepherd mix who’d entered the shelter as a stray, with University of Maryland, College Park, senior Andy Kostka. A veteran dog-sitter but never an owner, Kostka decided to use the lockdown as an opportunity to see if a dog would fit his lifestyle.

At first, “I kept telling myself, ‘Oh, I’m just a foster,’” says Kostka, a budding sports journalist.

Anselmo knew better. “Instantly, he was in love with this dog,” she says. “… I could tell after one day that he wasn’t going to be able to part with her.” Kostka described his fostering experience in a tribute to the pup in his college newspaper, The Diamondback, and a few days later he emailed Anselmo to say he’d like to make the arrangement permanent.

Parks “worked her way into my heart and mind,” he wrote in The Diamondback. “She’s there to stay.”

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