I remember the exact days that many of our long-term shelter dogs arrived at TAPS. Both long-term Marleys’ were transferred in from Tazewell County Animal Control as was Vaya. I personally picked up brindle Marley and Vaya at TCAC and drove them to TAPS. The first time Odin came to TAPS in 2013, he arrived from Livingston County Animal Control. The 2nd time, he transferred back to TAPS from Tazewell County Animal Control as a shelter return. Lady Bug came in on a transport from Southern Illinois.
What sticks out to me the most about every one of our long-term dogs is that they were so full of life and loving at intake. I remember meeting every single one of the them and telling each of them that they’d get a home right away. I never imagined that any of them would linger at TAPS for more than a year. Odin had striking good looks and a playful personality. Brindle Marley and Vaya were only 6 months old. Our 2nd Marley was so playful and loving. Lady Bug was so relaxed in her kennel.
Brindle Marley was adopted fairly soon after intake but it was only a short adoption. Her adopters were moving and had to return her. She was still young and beautiful and full of life, but she came back with a few undesirable behaviors. Her adopters showed us how they could hold a toy over their head and she would jump to grab it…unfortunately jumping above your head and grabbing things out of your hands is not a desirable trait in a young and powerful dog. It was after this brief adoption that brindle Marley was with TAPS for over a year. After seeing this same scenario time and again in many of our pitbulls (puppies going home and being returned as young adults with no training…basically puppy mentality in adult bodies) we changed our bully breed adoption requirements. Since changing our bully breed adoption guidelines, we have reduced bully breed returns from an over 75% return rate to a return rate of less than 5%.
Brindle Marley, Odin, Vaya, our 2nd long-term Marley, and Lady Bug all sat at TAPS for over a year prior to adoption. The common characteristic among all of these long-term dogs is that they are all bully breed mixes that required being the only pet in the home. All of these dogs were human friendly, they just wanted to be the one and only pet. Due to their energy levels, we did ask that they go to adult only homes as well. Time and again, potential adopters decided against them. Our staff and volunteers loved these long-timers, spent a lot of time with them and shared them time and again on social media and still they sat waiting for their forever homes.
A volunteer eventually adopted our brindle Marley and she does so well as the only dog. They’ve brought her back to TAPS events a few times so we could see her. She’s just as loving as ever. Odin and Lady Bug are both well-loved by their families and both have their own Facebook page that gets updated from time to time. Vaya lives with her mom and dad that adore her and enjoy time snuggling on the couch. Our 2nd Marley, Marley Girl, actually lives in a multi-dog environment now. Her human dad committed a significant amount of training to make it work. Each of these families welcomed a long-term shelter dog into their lives and in return, they are receiving unconditional love.
All of these adopters had a similar trait as well. They all knew that after adopting a long-term shelter dog that it would take time from them to decompress. They knew they would need time in the home to adjust after living in a shelter for so long. They took time to get to know the dog they were adopting prior to taking them home. They asked questions of the staff and volunteers that knew them best. They made a thoughtful decision and committed to their needs and for that I give thanks.