By: Holly Crotty, TAPS Executive Director
If you’ve ever met Red, you know he has a personality that fills a room. He is energetic, playful, affectionate on his terms, and an overall ham. I don’t think anyone has ever met Red and not fell in love with him. In fact, during his stay here at the shelter, he even had a day gig as a therapy dog. He would sit with people during therapy sessions to help them feel comfortable sharing their emotions. The individual in charge of the program even said that he could sense when someone needed him. During group therapy, if someone was crying, he would go and put his head in their lap.
Over and over again, we were asked, “Why hasn’t Red been adopted?” Red is a pitbull mix so that created one obstacle to adoption. Red has to be the only pet so that created a 2nd obstacle to adoption. Due to his energy and some toy possessiveness, he couldn’t go to a home with small children which created the 3rd obstacle to adoption. When you put that all together, it was the “perfect storm” to create a long term shelter stay. Red was with TAPS for 2 years.
Red did receive applications over his 2 year span but it was never the right fit. Applicants either had toddlers, no fenced in yard, had neighbors with dogs that he had to get along with, or a host of other concerns that prevented his adoption. His family finally walked in this spring. Some people ask me why I gave this family from Chicago a chance, why did I let him go so far away in case it didn’t work out? I always welcome the opportunity to share what I looked for in an application for Red and any other long-term shelter animal.
Red’s adoptive family saw beyond a long-term shelter dog that they wanted to rescue. They saw the challenges it would take to make him successful in the home. They called us to ask questions to determine what they needed to do to make Red fit into their home and not what Red would need to do to be successful in their home. Long-term shelter dogs and cats need families that understand that sometimes, you have to adjust your life to the animal and not the other way around. Red’s family understood that. They were willing to drive down for multiple visits. They tolerated the barrage of questions and interviews from Red’s family that he created here at TAPS prior to adoption.
Red has a great life now. He goes to weekly swim therapy for his leg, a luxury he probably would not have been afforded if he stayed here in Central Illinois. We don’t have the resources in our local community that they have in Chicago. His mom drives around to multiple dog parks until she finds one with no other dogs so that he can run. We don’t have that luxury here in Central Illinois. Most of our communities only have one dog park. Since Red has been adopted, he has been camping and visited 2 Great Lakes. He recently returned from a camping trip to Tennessee.
Red is not perfect, no dog is, and adopting him has had his challenges. It isn’t all moonlight and roses. Transitioning a long-term shelter animal into a home takes patience and love. He has been destructive of some items and has had some dominance issues from time to time but his family works through it. They are committed to his success no matter the challenges they face. They are also committed to keeping his TAPS family involved in his life. They understand how attached we get to our animals. Red’s mom sends us regular updates and even brought him back for a visit last month.
Red will be in a home this Thanksgiving, maybe his first time ever in a home for the holidays. He will be sleeping in his own bed, playing with his own toys, running around his own yard…and for that, I give thanks.