A dog that shed 35 pounds of matted fur is ‘learning to dog,’ according to the foster mom

It took the neglected pup some time to adjust to his new haircut!

The groomer who shaved Lazarus’ body of 35 pounds of matted fur was like resurrecting him.

His previous owners, who are terminally ill, neglected him severely, and he had never been groomed, as far as rescuers know.

“His coat was in the process of matting to his skin,” says Amanda Charsha-Lindsey of the Big Fluffy Dog Rescue, who is now fostering the Great Pyrenees in Virginia. “When it gets to that point, brushing and trimming aren’t options any longer and the shears have to come out. It was quite literally mats on top of mat on top of mats.”

A YouTube video shows Lazarus unsteady on his feet at first as a result of his new look.

“I know it was a new feeling he had never felt and he seemed unsure,” Charsha-Lindsey tells PEOPLE. “After a few treats and some encouragement, he took his first few steps without his coat.”

Having seen his incredible transformation, Charsha-Lindsey hopes it will spark more conversation about animal rescue, and the remarkable things it can accomplish.

Perhaps it’s fitting that Lazarus — who Charsha-Lindsey describes as “joyous” and “grateful” — arrived at his foster home on Labor Day. In his time there, he’s enjoyed sitting outside in the mornings, sniffing the grass, and getting warm in the sun.

Slowly, he is learning to dog,” Charsha-Lindsey says, adding that he’ll remain there until he’s ready for a forever home. “Showing him new things brings us joy as well, just to see the smile on his face every day. He has started seeking out affection from us and won’t go to bed without a hug and a smooch.”

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