Happy Endings for Homeless Dogs
Meet some lucky dogs who were adopted from the Douglas County Animal Shelter by Douglasville Patch readers.
Almost every week for the last seven months, I’ve gone to the Douglas County Animal Shelter to take pictures of homeless dogs and cats to feature here at Douglasville Patch. It’s hard to go back each week and realize a dog or cat that you really liked and worked hard to find a home for didn’t get adopted and will never have that chance again. I’ve considered quitting on many occasions, but these dogs you’re about to meet are the ones that prevent me from doing that. These stories and emails have brought a lot of joy to my life lately, and I hope they do the same for you.
A big Black Lab named Sara is one of the first dogs I fell in love when I started this job. We featured her in May, a couple of weeks after she came to the shelter, but come July, Sara was still there. In my experience, it’s rare for a dog to be kept at the shelter for three months, and if you know anything about the phenomenon called “black dog bias” or “black dog syndrome,” you know many Black Labs do not get adopted at all. I couldn’t let that happen to this amazing girl who preened and posed every time I approached her with my camera.
On the Wednesday after we featured her for the second time, I woke up thinking about Sara, wondering if she’d made it through another week at the shelter. I got up and checked my email, and the first thing I saw was a very nice letter from Patch blogger and community volunteer extraordinaire Charles Branson. He let me know that he had adopted Sara the day before and was working on getting her adjusted to his other two dogs. It was one of the best emails I’ve received all year, and I think I called everyone I knew to share the good news.
Back in August, Branson wrote about his experience adopting Sara here at Patch and about the joys of adopting an older dog. I won’t rehash everything he said about Sara, but I liked what he had to say about adopting older dogs:
I don't understand why fully grown dogs have such difficulty with adoption. They are not destructive, as opposed to puppies. I really believe that you can teach an old dog new tricks, if they involve the social skills the dog needs to have to live with you. I've almost always lived with dogs, and I'm happy if they already have personality. Most of all though, I'm not as young as I feel, and I would rather outlive my dogs than the other way around. I'd hate to leave an older dog grief-stricken and at the mercy of people strange to him or her. So we adopted Sara.
I did get a chance to talk to Sara’s new dad a few days and ago and he told me she’s doing quite well. She and one of his other dogs, Grady, have become best friends, and it looks like Sara has found a favorite spot to sleep in an easy chair. (I'm sure it's much more comfy than the cement cage.)
Chloe came to the shelter in early July. As a matter of fact, I met her the day I went to take new pictures of Sara. She was one of the most beautiful dogs I’d ever seen, but she was absolutely miserable from day one. Most of the dogs will come to the front of their cages when someone walks by, but not Chloe. Immediately, I knew I had to feature her, too. We got her out of her cage, and she was so scared that everyone around us gathered to see what was wrong with her.
Every week after that, I’d stop by Chloe’s cage, but she didn’t even look up when I called her name. On occasion, she’d just sit in the corner and shake. Again, I knew I had to do something. In late August, we featured Chloe again. I finally made a promise to myself that if she was not adopted within the next few days, I’d adopt her myself. I began preparing myself to bring a new dog into my home, and the day before I was going to go to the shelter to adopt her, I got another nice email from a family that wanted to let me know they had adopted Chloe. Again, I was thrilled.
Last week, I received a follow up email from Chloe, or should I say Rosie’s new mom, Debbie Hunter. I will admit it brought a tear to my eye. Hunter has given me permission to share part of it here:
She is wonderful. She is very, very affectionate. We have two other dogs and three cats, plus a parrot, so I was a little worried about bringing another animal into the household, but she fits in seamlessly. She is my shadow. When I leave one room for another, she follows me and settles nearby wherever I sit. When I go to bed, she hops on the bed and curls up with me. I have learned that I need to actually be in bed before she gets on the bed because if she gets on the bed first, she is likely to take her half of the bed right in the very center of it. Then I stretch out across the top of the bed or just wherever I can find to curl around her.
We did change her name to "Rosie.” She had had such a rough couple of months in the shelter, that I wanted things to be rosier for her. The day we went to the shelter to get her, all the dogs came up to the fence as we walked by. They were all vying for attention. Rosie (Chloe) was just lying there. She didn't even bother to raise her head when we came up. It was as if she didn't have any hope. We got her out and walked her on a leash, and we could tell what a good dog she is. She was scared, but she began feeling better on our drive home. She got up in my lap-and you know, she's not exactly lap dog size! When we watch television at night, she will occasionally come over and sit in my lap, though.
You were so right about what a good dog she is. She could not have a sweeter nature and having her is a blessing.
Snuggles is a little Collie who we featured in mid-September. On the day I went to take pictures, she’d just been dropped off by her previous owner, and she seemed a little depressed. She was also in pretty bad shape: dirty, overweight and lots of thick, tangled fur.
Despite her circumstances, Snuggles was very sweet and loving. She minded well and didn’t jump or bark or get overly excited. I didn’t think much about her after I wrote up her “Pet of the Day” story, but when I went back over the next two weeks, Snuggles was still there. I almost didn’t recognize her. She looked so pitiful, just getting dirtier and more tangled, but she was still her happy-go-lucky self. I really began to feel bad for her, because I knew she was not the most visually appealing dog at the shelter, and I began questioning whether or not she’d be adopted.
Last Saturday, I was getting ready to go to a birthday party, and Snuggles popped into my head. I did a quick search for Collie rescues in the area, hoping maybe I could find someone who would take her and get her fixed up. Before I could so much as consider contacting one of them, I got an email from a Patch reader who wanted to know if Snuggles would get along with other animals. I couldn’t believe the timing.
After a few emails back and forth, Snuggles’s new mom contacted me earlier this week to let me know that she and her husband had adopted her. Here is a part of that email:
Thought I’d take a rare quiet moment here to tell you that we got Snuggles today! She's a real sweetie-doesn't bark, whine, or be one bit aggressive towards our other two dogs and the cat. She WAS a mess, though-taking her to the vet Wed.
It'll be slow going, our lab isn't too crazy about her, but all she does right now is avoid being around her-it'll happen, I’m sure!
I received another email from Snuggles’s new mom today. She told me that she took her to the veterinarian this week, and aside from her need to lose a little weight, she is doing quite well. I think we were both a little worried about her health considering her appearance. She also mentioned that her older dog is warming up to Snuggles quite well.
These three girls were all considered underdogs in my mind-older, larger dogs who had been failed in some way by their previous owners. They certainly weren't the most stand-out pets at the shelter, but all it took was a little exposure and communication to find good homes for them. If you’re considering adopting a new pet, I hope you’ll consider one of the many great dogs and cats at the Douglas County Animal Shelter. Even if you’re not sure, I encourage you to go up there and take a look around. You might just find a new best friend that you didn’t know you were looking for.
Also, please take a look through the photo gallery for “before” and “after” pictures of Sara and Chloe/Rosie, and see what a difference a good home makes.