"She clearly never had a toy before in her life," the canine's new pet parent, Rachelle Carranza, tells PEOPLE
A 3-year-old rescue dog named Rory celebrated a happy milestone — playing with her first toy.
Rachelle Carranza, who's had Rory for about a month, tells PEOPLE the canine was "emaciated" and weighed about 30 pounds when her husband, a veterinary technician for their local animal control, first saw her in a kennel.
"She was super skinny, just really scared," Carranza says of the German shepherd/husky mix.
"He called me over to just come take a look at her, and I knew we couldn't leave her there," she adds.
Carranza, who works with wolf dogs at a nonprofit organization called Guardians of the Wolves, initially planned to foster Rory until she found her a new home. The Southern California-based couple already had three other dogs: wolf dogs Loki and Flame, and Davina, a husky/Malamute mix.
After Rory moved in, Carranza started encouraging the dog to play with some of the other pooches' toys.
"She clearly never had a toy before in her life," Carranza says. "It was very foreign to her. So, she would watch my other dogs play with their toys and just observe. She's very observant, trying to fit in here."
Carranza then decided to buy Rory her own pack of toys from Costco.
"I showed it to her, and she looked very suspicious at first, just kind of unsure what this was," she says. "And then I threw all the toys on the ground for her, and she kind of sniffed them. And then, right away, she loved that bear toy. She picked it up and started squeaking it, and then she just started crying out of happiness. And that's her favorite toy still. She still plays with it all the time."
Carranza says Rory's reaction, which she captured in a video posted on TikTok on Nov. 1, was "beautiful and heartbreaking" to watch.
"Beautiful because she was so happy, but heartbreaking because I knew she'd never experienced anything like this before," she adds. "The life she lived before us was probably full of neglect and abuse."
Rory has "come a long way" in her new surroundings, Carranza says.
"When she first came to live with us, she was very shut down, very scared," she recalls. "My other dogs are very affectionate, very happy, playful dogs. And they scared her because they didn't understand that they couldn't just run up to her and start playing because she never experienced that. So she was actually very defensive the first few days and would even go so far as to start fights just because she needed to decompress and learn how to live as a part of a pack. So my husband and I gave her that chance to just decompress."
Soon, Rory became a permanent part of the family.
"After a few days, she decided that she really, really wanted to live with us," Carranza says. "You could tell she was on her best behavior. She was basically saying, 'If I'm a good girl, can I please stay?' So she started to play with our dogs, and now she won't stop playing with them. She loves them so much, and I just feel like she really loves being a part of the pack."
"We knew we had to keep her at that point after she was so sad," Carranza adds. "And just seeing her brighten up at the thought of having a family, we couldn't give her to anyone else. We had to keep her at that point."
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Carranza said the response to the TikTok video, which has garnered more than 46,000 views, has been "a little overwhelming."
"People are just as moved as I am, I think," she says. "They all want her to succeed. They're all rooting for her to have the best life possible. So it was very moving."
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