Dog Finds A Forever Home After Spending 1,007 Days at Delaware Shelter

Nevena Nacic
by Nevena Nacic
Mary Swift/Shutterstock

Tessy, now a 5-year-old black Labrador retriever mix, spent 1,007 days at a Delaware animal shelter before being adopted into a forever home. This cute pooch arrived at Humane Animal Partners (formerly Delaware Humane Association and Delaware SPCA) on January 17, 2021, hoping to be adopted in no time.

Unfortunately, finding her people proved challenging for Tessy. Days, weeks, months, and years went by, and Tessy was still living at the shelter with no prospective adopters in sight. 

Tessy is loyal, goofy, snuggly, and remarkably smart,” said Leigh McKinley, a director at the Humane Animal Partners, according to PEOPLE

Like many other shelter dogs, Tessy had some trust issues and was wary of new people and experiences. These problems were the reasons for Tessy’s longer stay at the Humane Animal Partners shelter. 

“Tessy exhibited fear-reactive behaviors in the form of lunging, barking, and growling towards unfamiliar stimuli. 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,” McKinley explained.

The shelter used a behavioral modification plan, which consisted of positive reinforcement training techniques to help Tessy overcome her fears. Fixing a problematic behavior takes a lot of time, patience, and effort, but the shelter’s staff didn’t give up on Tessy.

“Changing an involuntary physiological behavior takes dedication and consistency to be successful, and while we were determined to see this through, the nature of being in a shelter, with different staff members working with her on any given day, and for varying amounts of time, means the change would take time,” said McKinley. 

“We also needed to make sure her adopters were the right fit for her. We took a very thoughtful and careful approach to introducing her to people, and it took time for the right family to find her.”

Then, almost three years later, all of Tessy’s hard work paid off! After 1,007 days at the shelter, this cute pooch has finally found her forever home. 

The family who adopted Tessy, met her several times to help her feel at ease. For the adopters, it was love at first sight, and Tessy instantly felt safe around them. 

“When her adopters Jeanine and Jeff first met her, we all tried to keep a level head about it, not getting our hopes up too high. After their third meeting, though, we could tell Tessy had already established a level of trust with them that we had never seen so quickly before,” said McKinley. 

Jeff and Jeanine adopted the pooch shortly after the third visit, and the shelter’s staff was ecstatic that Tessy had found a loving home.

“It was a rollercoaster of emotions leading up to the adoption day, everything from celebrations to disbelief to sadness, excitement, a bit of anxiety, and everything in between. Mostly, though, we felt proud. Proud of her, proud of everyone who helped get her to this point, and proud of the results,” McKinley shared.  

“We all know she’d do okay, we are also quite aware that going from three years in the shelter into a loving home is a big adjustment, and it will take her a while to fully acclimate. We tried to instill in her adopters to be confident and patient but never to be complacent.” the shelter’s director added.

It’s important to know that not every visit to an animal shelter ends with ‘love at first sight.’ A lot of adoptable dogs have experienced some level of trauma and neglect, and are generally more anxious inside the shelter. 

Keep an open mind when visiting your local shelter and remember that each of these pups deserves a loving family and a forever home. 

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Nevena Nacic
Nevena Nacic

Nevena is a freelance writer and a proud mom of Teo, a 17-year-old poodle, and Bob, a rescued grey tabby cat. Since childhood, she had a habit of picking up strays and bringing them home (luckily, her parents didn't know how to say NO). When she's not writing for her fellow pet parents, Nevena can be found watching Teo sleep. To her defense, that's not as creepy as it sounds!

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