Our 10 most heartwarming dog adoption stories of 2021 (so far)

October 15, 2021

What does love look like? A wagging tail at the door welcoming you home. A paw on your knee, reminding you to go outside and play. A soft nuzzle on your cheek after a bad day.  

When we adopt a dog, we change their life. But dogs’ unconditional love changes our lives for the better too — we receive dozens of adoption stories from our community every year telling us so.

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. To celebrate, we’ve selected some of the most heartwarming stories we’ve received from adopters in the last year.

So grab a coffee, kick back, and get ready to feel all the feels!

Charley, a dog adopted from AHS, with his adopter


Laura says, “We adopted Charley in January of 2019. She was from Texas and had been in a shelter for months before we found her. She’s my first adult rescue and the most incredible dog I've ever met. She adores people, loves the snow, and will give you the biggest smiles you've ever seen. She loves to cuddle next to you and bring you her toys. When we adopted Charley we didn't know she has some dog reactivity. It was a challenge because we had another dog at the time. We’ve been working on this with her and she’s so much better. She’s intelligent and so loving, and can make anyone smile.

I cannot thank you enough for all you do. You're the reason Charley was brought into our lives, and I will never be able to express the gratitude I have for that. She’s become me and my family's whole world.”

Leo, a dog adopted from AHS, with his adopter


Leo, a shy Great Dane/Mastiff mix, spent nearly a month in our care last year overcoming health issues and waiting for the right family to come along. Turns out the wait was worth it! This gentle giant found the perfect home.

Krystle says, "Leo (formerly Arlo) is our third dog adopted through AHS. He was timid and wouldn’t greet us or move when we looked at him. It wasn’t until we got him on a leash to walk outside and meet him that he showed us his true colors. He had some anxiety and trust issues, which we’ve worked to overcome. He’s turned into a great addition to our family and we love him to pieces!"

Kiwi, a dog adopted from AHS, with her adopter


Patrice interned at Animal Humane Society and formed a special connection with one dog specifically, but not in the way you’d imagine!

“I’m a senior veterinary student at the University of Minnesota,” she says. “It’s been a dream of mine since starting school to adopt my first solo spay dog. So when I was on an externship with Animal Humane Society and that happened, I had to bring her home. Kiwi joins two other rescue dogs at home, a Cattle Dog mix and a Shepherd mix. It’s quite the trio. I’m also very excited to say that I have accepted a veterinarian position with the Animal Humane Society after graduation!”

Moses, a puppy adopted from AHS, in a car


Jamie says, "Going through a divorce is hard, going through one in the middle of a pandemic is harder. My two daughters were begging for a dog and I had put in applications at different rescues only to be told multiple times that the dogs had too many applications.

I finally got an email from AHS that said they were going to do in-person meetings again. I was waiting at the computer for registration to open up, and chose Golden Valley because I saw a puppy named Artichoke. I got an appointment at 4 PM on the first day they were allowing people to come in-person.

I was convinced he would be gone with his blue/grey color and soulful eyes, but there he was waiting for me. He was a typical puppy jumping everywhere, but when I picked him up he just stopped moving and hugged me back. I knew he would be perfect for my 8-year-old who just wanted a puppy to snuggle.

I took him home that day and the next day when my girls got home they both started crying when they saw him. My 8-year-old described him as the missing piece to her puzzle. Artichoke quickly became Moses, and he is a loyal sweetheart that loves to snuggle. He was exactly what my girls and I needed."

Scooby, a dog adopted from AHS


It can take more than one adoption for dogs to land in the right home, but the process is always worth it when animals like Scooby find their person.

Mackenzie says, "Scooby was transferred from Missouri to the [now closed] St. Paul location. She was then returned twice before I met her. A note on her stall stated she was highly destructive and energetic, and I knew the odds weren’t in her favor. So I took a chance on her (my first ever dog, mind you) and it took A LOT of hard work and long days. Six years later she has matured into a well-behaved young lady who is my best companion and friend. She’s the classic story of 'who saved who?'"

Oakley, a dog adopted from AHS, on a boat


Breanna says, “One year ago, we got this little guy from Animal Humane Society. He became known as Oakley. Little did we know at the time, we would become essentially stuck at home for the year and need him just as much as he needed us. Little was known about his past, but the more time we were around him, the more we knew his past was not very great.

When we brought him home, he was afraid of everything that most dogs love. He was terrified of squeaky toys, would not eat his dog food or anything else we gave him, was always shaking with fear. But the one thing he loved from the start were people (as long as they were not too loud). Being home this year became our blessing. With lots of work over the first few months, he started to become less afraid. We changed his food multiple times until we settled on feeding him raw food, and now he is no longer underweight and he loves meal time.

We learned he loves squirrels and any other small animal he can chase. So we started buying toys that resembled them to teach him that it's okay to play with the toys. This is still a work in progress, but every day he is playing more and more. And lastly, we did lots and lots of work out on the sandbar on his recall, so that he can run and play with the other dogs at Grandma and Grandpa’s and out at the dog park. He has grown so much in his skills this past year, but more importantly, he has grown in our hearts. We love this handsome little guy so much. We can’t wait for so many more years to come with him now that he is a healthy thriving dog living his best life with us.”

Abbie, a dog adopted from AHS, in her new home


Through Animal Humane Society’s hospice adoption program, animals with poor medical prognoses are able to find comfortable homes for end-of-life care. Their adopters are heroes in our eyes!

Libby says, “My wife and I adopted Abbie from the Woodbury location as a hospice adoption. Abbie is a wonderfully sweet 9-year-old with bad arthritis and a history of Lyme disease. With regular short walks, a bit of weight loss, and the right medications from her vet, Abbie’s mobility has significantly improved since her adoption. She is great with our cats (if a bit intimidated by them), well-trained, and well-socialized. Abbie loves her octopus toy, rides in the car, taking up more than her fair share of the bed, and sneaking the occasional bite of cat food. She is the perfect energy level for our household. We love her so much and couldn’t be happier with our decision to adopt a hospice dog. Thank you AHS!”

Breezy, a dog adopted from AHS, sits outside in the grass


Did you mean to adopt, or did it just happen? Meghan’s chance visit to the shelter brought a sweet dog named Breezy into her life.

“Two years ago in July, my boyfriend Anthony and I went to Animal Humane Society to pet and walk dogs,” says Meghan. “We’d done this a few times to cheer ourselves up when we were feeling down. We met a dog named Cakes and I asked Anthony if we could walk her. She was the only dog at AHS not barking. She was quietly and fearfully sitting on her bed away from the door. We took her for an hourlong walk.

She’d had a litter of puppies and was from Arkansas. That is all anyone knew. She had open wounds on her head and legs. She looked at toys, especially tennis balls, like we are idiots for throwing them.

Something or someone drew me to her and I just knew she needed us. What we didn’t know is how much we needed her. Since [bringing her home] we’ve renamed her Breezy because she’s easy breezy, or ‘Nana’ because she is such a loving and motherly dog. She now loves fetch! She loves to wrestle and run with other dogs, has become one of the Larson pack, loves seeing her puppy and human cousins, loves going up north, and especially loves the neighbors.

She makes our bad days good and our good days better. Everyone who gives her a chance loves her! Getting a rescue [dog] can be a wild card, but we hit the lottery."

Delilah, a dog adopted from AHS, in her new home


After saying goodbye to his beloved dog, Warren questioned if or when he’d feel ready to welcome another pet into his life. A serendipitous internet search gave him the answer. 

“A few weeks after losing Princess, my elderly pit bull, to cancer, I was really struggling to move past the grief. I decided to look into some of the local rescues and shelters to see what the adoption process was so I could be informed and ready when the time was right. As I was looking at the Animal Humane Society website, one of the photos really jumped out at me. Even though I wasn’t actually ready for a new dog yet, I had to go and at least meet the puppy in the picture. Her name was Delilah and she was another lost pit bull puppy just like my Princess was. She came home with me that day. It turns out that there is no correct timeline with this stuff and we’ve been together a couple of months now. She was exactly the medicine that I needed to heal my broken heart.

I can’t say enough good things about Animal Humane Society. After my success with Delilah, my niece also ended up adopting a dog named Biscuit from the Golden Valley location. Happy dogs and happy humans.”

Hunter, a dog adopted from AHS, playing fetch


How did you know your pet was “the one”? For Brianna, it came down to one moment in a visitation room.

"Our sweet 8-year-old boy Hunter was adopted in March of 2020 at the start of the pandemic,” she says. My boyfriend and I had been together for four years, and had talked endlessly about getting a dog since we moved into a home together. We were on vacation when we saw that AHS would be closing its doors for a month due to COVID.

The day we got back from vacation, we went to three different AHS locations. We were happy to see so many 'on hold' signs, but something kept pushing us to keep going to different shelters. Our last stop was the Golden Valley shelter. We walked around for a while and saw so many wonderful dogs.

It wasn’t until we did a second lap that we noticed our boy. He was standing by the gate, breathing so heavy that his cheeks were puffing in and out. He didn’t move, didn’t make a sound, just looked at us while we tried to get a reaction from him. We didn’t want to leave his side. As soon as we locked eyes with him, we felt he needed us. We asked if we could meet Hunter, and after waiting in the room for what seemed like forever, we saw him turn the corner. He walked in the room and did the same thing: didn’t move, didn’t make a sound. I moved to the floor and called his name. He came straight up to me, put his head on my shoulder, and just sat there. I was in love. He then did the same to Curtis. We knew he was family.

Fast forward to us taking him home. We were so worried about him being scared and apprehensive. Instead he walked through the door like he owned the place. Within minutes he was snuggling with us on the couch, smiling, and exploring. It wasn’t until we got him a tennis ball about a week later that his true personality came out. Something lit up inside him and he turned into a puppy. Since then, every day he does something new and goofy that just makes us fall in love with him all over again. He is so well trained, so well behaved, and just wants to be around us all the time (especially me, he’s a mama's boy).

Everything that I was apprehensive about getting an adopted, older dog, he proved wrong. He completed our family and I am so, so thankful."

Are you interested in opening your heart and home to a new dog?

If you loved these happy tails, start your own adoption story today! Meet the dogs currently waiting for families by visiting our adoptable animals page.

For caring, compassionate advice and resources to address all your animal concerns.

Contact the Pet Helpline