Our top 10 favorite dog adoptions stories in 2020 (so far)

Opening your heart and home to an animal can be life changing. Stories of how pets impact humans can be joyful, exhilarating, inspiring, and sometimes even heart breaking. We ask all AHS adopters to share their adoption stories with us on our Happy Tails blog, and since this month is National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, we’re celebrating shelter dogs and all the reasons they make our lives so much better.

Here are ten adoption stories we loved reading. We hope they make you smile (and maybe cry happy tears too).

Maui, dog adopted from AHS


Maui, a sweet and energetic Silver Lab, was adopted and returned to AHS four times in less than two weeks. Each return broke our hearts, so we were relieved to receive this happy update from his latest adopters, the Cavegn family. They said, "Maui settled in immediately as a member of the family. The photos are from his first road trip to a friend’s cabin. I don’t think he’s been swimming before, but in true Lab nature he caught on just fine, with a little clumsiness in the beginning. This spoiled puppy dog has FOUR dog beds ... Hands down we adore him and I think he’s slowly feeling comfortable that we are his forever family."

Libby, adopted AHS dog


The stars just seem to align with some adoptions! Tina heard we needed help finding homes for animals before AHS closed its adoption centers temporarily in March. When she arrived, only one dog was still waiting for a family. Libby, a 5-year-old Golden Retriever mix, had been adopted in early February and recently returned. She struggled with house training and needed a family that could devote more time to her.

When Tina saw Libby on our website, she did a double take. It was the same dog she’d had her eye on a month prior. “This can’t be real,” she said to herself. Sunday morning, Tina woke up bright and early to ensure she was first in line to adopt Libby. This photo was taken shortly before they went home together. “Luckily a stranger asked to take our picture. Those are tears in my eyes,” Tina says.

Scooby, dog adopted from AHS


Ashley says, "We adopted Scooby and Tara almost a year apart. Scooby is goofy and learned fast but was lonely, so we looked for another dog. Tara was so scared and wouldn’t walk on a leash. Four families put her on hold and later changed their minds. It was love at first sight for us and we were determined to get her. When we brought her home, Scooby was gentle and loving. He helped her build some confidence and in a week she was playing and snuggling. They love each other and couldn’t be happier."

Melody, dog adopted from AHS


Shortly after Talia became staff at Animal Humane Society, she adopted a dog named Melody. While caring for Melody hasn't always been easy, it's always been worth it. Talia says, "I was off work early and not having the best day, so I decided I would go give some company to the animals in the shelter. This was something I did almost every week. Then, I stumbled across this little pup with the saddest eyes. I sat down by her cage for about 10 minutes trying to get her to come to me. Finally, she did. The volunteer came up to me and said that I was the only person this dog had gotten up to see all day. She was scared of everyone and everything. I’m sure you can tell where this is going — I brought the little stinker home with me. We struggled for a while through resource guarding and destructive behavior. I wasn’t used to this or ready for it. But, she loved me unconditionally and I knew I had to do the same for her. She goes with me everywhere — coffee shops, cabin trips, hiking, dog parks, parades. She taught me an extreme amount of patience and responsibility. Thanks to her, my life is forever changed for the better."

Izzy, dog adopted from AHS


On the final day our adoption centers were open before COVID-19 temporarily closed our doors in March, Abby was one of the first people in line to adopt. She had her eye on a specific dog, who ended up finding a home with someone else. Abby was heartbroken and unsure how to proceed, as this wasn’t the first time she'd missed the chance to adopt the dog of her choice at AHS. Staff at our Golden Valley location wanted to help Abby find a dog to adopt that day. They asked her for more information about what she was looking for. She said that, as an elementary school teacher, she was hoping to find a second dog to help alleviate her resident dog Maizy's separation anxiety. Ideally, a young Pit Bull like Maizy would be perfect. While no dogs matching that description were available at the time, Abby still met with several possible new pups. Then out of the corner of her eye, she spotted Izzy being brought up to the adoption center by animal care staff. A friendly black and white Pit Bull mix, Izzy was a staff favorite who had recently been adopted and returned. Abby asked to visit, and they had an immediate connection. Today, Izzy is enjoying her big backyard and getting along perfectly with Maizy, also adopted from AHS. “We're a happy family over here!" Abby says.

Eddie, dog adopted from AHS


Michelle says, “A year ago, my fiancé and I were thinking about adopting a dog when spring came around. We had moved into our first home, and we were so excited to be able to add a furry friend to our family. On our way home from celebrating Christmas with his family in Wisconsin, I mentioned that we could stop at AHS on the way home to look at dogs. We headed for the St. Paul location, still with suitcases and presents in the car. Volunteers showed us to the dog rooms. When we got to Eddie’s cage, he was sitting on the floor in the middle, looking around and not barking or begging for treats. A volunteer told us that this was his first adoptable day and while many people had visited with him today, nobody had decided to take him home. We just couldn’t leave nervous Eddie in the shelter for the night. Eddie has now been with us for one year, and he’s grown to love taking naps on the couch while we watch TV, go on long walks through the woods, chase a ball up and down and up and down the stairs in our home, and play with dog friends and people friends alike. We’re so lucky to have found Eddie.”

Walter, dog adopted from AHS


Walter struggled to find a family at AHS. Paul and Denise weren't even expecting to adopt a dog like him. But they couldn't seem to get Walter off their minds. The couple shares how he ended up in their home — exactly where he was meant to be. "We chose to put a hold on Walter ... Of course he deserved a loving, comfortable, happy, and active life, and I especially was hesitant to adopt this 90 lb., dog-reactive, Pit Bull mix with separation anxiety and only three legs. After all, his first adopter, though well-intentioned, had returned him, and Walter had now been at the Golden Valley Animal Humane Society for four months. Also, I had grown accustomed to a clean car and home, and I preferred early-morning gym visits to those at the park, scooping poop. But by then, we had on the brain Walter and his soulful brown eyes. So back we went the next evening to bring him to his forever home: ours. As it turns out, we were equipped to give Walter the loving, comfortable, happy and active life that he deserves — one that he can relive each night in his cozy chaise lounge chair as he dreams."

Gwen, dog adopted from AHS


Lydia says, “When my roommate and I walked into the Golden Valley location, we had initially planned on looking at dogs that would be energetic, young, and an even match for the Pitbull/Boxer mix we had at home. We looked at many dogs – most on hold. Then, out of nowhere, we found this little senior Toy Poodle sitting in her cage. She was dirty, missing teeth, and absolutely frightened by people who walked by her cage. Volunteers let us know that this was Pearl's first day on the adoption floor, and she was very nervous but a sweet girl. We met with Pearl and INSTANTLY fell in love with this little old lady. We put her on hold and chatted about it over lunch. I immediately went back to adopt her. Pearl got a new name and look. Her new name is Gwen and she is the most stylish little poodle in town. She got groomed when her spay surgery healed, and has more clothes than I do. Gwen still has a lot to learn about being a dog, but she is loving her new life and has come so very far. Adopting a senior pet really changed how we see the rescue process. They are sweet little animals who just want to spend the rest of their lives in a happy home being absolutely spoiled.”

Red Rum, dog adopted from AHS

Red Rum

Red Rum is a 7-year-old Shepherd mix who came to AHS from a cruelty case. She was missing one eye and partially blind in the other. Adopted and returned once, Red Rum was getting depressed in the shelter until Mara decided to make her part of the family! Mara says, “9 months. 9 months we have had this babygirl. She has traveled the country with us. She loves peanut butter and scrambled eggs. She loves loves loves to cuddle. She howls at sirens. She only jumps up into our arms when she’s super happy and playful. She loves to catch waves. When she’s off leash in a safe environment, she likes to keep close instead of running off. We still have a lot of work to do with her manners while out on walks, but one day we’ll figure it out. This is why we rescue. Someone may have given up on her and it’s beyond me as to why, because she’s worth every obstacle we have to work through with her on, and really it’s not that much. Red Rum is the best girl.”

Kylo, dog adopted from AHS


“A chilly Sunday morning in February, my fiancé and I decided to get breakfast at IHOP,” says Castiel. While we were eating, I toyed with the idea of going to the Humane Society that day and I told her I wanted to go, no, I needed to go. I hadn't honestly been looking at the adoptable animals online but something in my heart was telling me we needed to go and we needed to go NOW.

When we arrived, we took a lap around the kennels. A Cattle Dog who was pouting in the corner caught my eye, his name was George and he had been recently returned for the second time. George, now named Kylo Ren, immediately warmed up and just soaked up all the love I was offering him. His tail was going wild as I played a small game of tug-a-war with him while we were told more about him. My fiancé loved his energy and fell, right behind me, in love with him. Kylo now spends his days giving snuggles, chasing squirrels, getting into mischief, coming with me to my job at a doggy daycare and going on walks. Kylo loves everyone he meets, always expecting to be pet and never being shy anymore.”


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