This was my first experience adopting a dog from a shelter. I’ve always seen these stories on TV and social media where the process is romanticized, and how “you just know” when you see them. We went specifically to look at Mocha, a dog we had seen posted on Instagram (my husband’s dream dog is a chocolate lab). When we entered the dog area, I heard this incessant, continuous barking. I muttered something to my husband that it was probably her, and I was right. There she was, barking nonstop, refusing to make eye-contact with anyone walking by, and refusing to accept treats from anyone. At this point, I was very skeptical, but I also realize that a shelter environment is hard on many dogs. A volunteer brought her outside for us to walk her. Let me tell you, it seemed like she had ZERO interest in us, although she did seem happy to be outside. As we were wrapping up the walk, I felt like she was not even kind of connecting with us, so personally I was leaning towards no.

At the last moment, she saw a tennis ball in the grass, and out came this puppy-like excitement of just wanting to play. I asked if we could play with her in a private area where she could be off leash, and they gave us a room. That is when we got to see who she really is. Playful, sweet, and affectionate. We played for a good 15 minutes. As I sat down on the floor, she came and cuddled up next to me, looking so content. That’s when I knew, she was our dog. When filling out her paperwork, we learned she was an owner-surrender and had only been there for a few days. Of course she was barking nonstop. Of course she was disconnected. She knew she was left there. We brought her home a few days later.

It took about six solid months for her to really settle in to where she actually seemed at peace. Fast forward to now (1.5 years later); she is a great dog. Our snuggle bug, our protector, and a great big sister to her younger feline siblings.

I tell this because I hope people realize that these dogs need time to really show their true selves, their good sides to us in these situations. We need to be willing to put forth some effort to get the “perfect fit.” If I would have gone off my initial feelings, we would have missed out on something great. The shelter staff was absolutely amazing, and answered many of our questions. It was obvious they take great care of the animals there, and that the staff were loved by the animals, too.