Every dog dreams of finding their forever home, but it takes some longer than others. Some animals wait months or even years to get adopted out, and some even have the sad distinction of being their shelter’s longest resident.
But recently, after more than a thousand days in the shelter, one dog has finally found the home she deserves.
Tessy, a Black Labrador Retriever mix, arrived at the Humane Animal Partners, a shelter in Delaware, in January 2021 after being transferred from an overcrowded shelter in Texas.
Her background isn’t clear, but Tessy exhibited some nervous behaviors. Still, her personality began to shine through and with love and care she learned many tricks and commands.
“With lots of love and a little patience, Tessy let her amazing personality shine through and she quickly became a staff favorite,” Humane Animal Partners wrote on Facebook. “She can still be a little unsure of strangers at first, but once she realizes nobody wants to hurt her, she melts into an affectionate ball of love!”
But while Tessy was a loving and affectionate dog once she let her guard down, her nervous personality made it difficult for her to find a home. According to Good Morning America, Tessy was adopted out twice, only to be returned to the shelter.
The shelter realized that Tessy’s fears and anxieties were holding her back, and worked hard to ease her nerves through positive reinforcement training.
“Tessy exhibited fear-reactive behaviors in the form of lunging, barking, and growling towards unfamiliar stimuli,” Leigh McKinley, a director at Humane Animal Partners, told People. “Our goal was to help her overcome those fears and learn to trust humans and her surrounding environment, essentially changing her emotional response from a negative to a positive.”
“Essentially, you’re turning [Tessy’s] negative feeling into a positive by pairing the trigger with treats, praise or distance,” she told GMA. “Over time, her reaction to what previously scared her turned into a, ‘Oh, there’s a dog walking by. I know I’m safe. I’ll look at my handler and get a treat. I love when dogs walk by.’”
Over time, Tessy became less nervous, and Humane Animal Partners set out to find just the right home for this long-waiting dog. As of last month, 5-year-old Tessy was the shelter’s longest resident dog: she had been with them for over 1,000 days.
But a perfect home was just around the corner. Jeanine Walker-Porter and Jeff Bush, of Millsboro, Delaware, heard Tessy’s story and immediately fell in love.
“Her story broke my heart. The first day I saw her and her smile, her pictures, I was just like, ‘She’s the one for me,’” Jeanine told GMA. “When I saw Tessy, everything that I wanted everything and everything [Jeff] wanted went out the window. We knew, ‘This is our girl.’ We knew that she was the one for us and we knew that she was completing our family.”
On October 20, the couple officially adopted Tessy, 1,007 days after she first entered the shelter. For her friends at Humane Animal Partners, it was a bittersweet send-off for their longest resident.
“It’s such an emotional adoption because she was essentially our dog for [nearly] three years,” McKinley told GMA. “And to see that transformation over the course of these years, and now to see her so happy in a loving home like every dog should be, it’s just wonderful.”
We’re so glad Tessy has finally been adopted, and we wish her the best in her loving new home! Please share this story if you love dogs! ❤️🐾