Reason #31 to Adopt a Shelter Dog: Everybody loves a comeback kid!

Animal shelters are the one-stop shop for just about any dog you can think of. It’s a place you can find every size, shape, age, and personality. While many shelter dogs received lots of love before they “entered the system,” there are those that sadly did not. Not all, but some shelter dogs do come from abusive or neglectful situations.

I don’t know about you, but my work in shelters since 2004 has given me a short bandwidth for such sadness. I don’t enjoy seeing the sob stories that nowadays flood social media feeds. When you face those things in real life on a regular basis, you prefer to focus on the good in world. At least, that’s how I feel about it.

Fortunately, many of the saddest shelter dog stories end happily. Thank DOG for that! I mean, who doesn’t love a comeback kid?!

Adopting a shelter dog with a sad past is a chance to show us all that there is indeed goodness in the world. That hairless dog with bloodied skin looks much healthier after the infection clears up. The matted mop looks much happier after a good grooming or two. That terrified, snarly, cowering shelter dog can turn out to be a very good dog in the real world.

If only they could tell us what happened to them. I’ve often looked at a shelter dog and asked them out loud “who did this to you?” I frequently find myself apologizing for my human race. Sorry just doesn’t seem to cut it. But that’s where adoption is the best option! It truly is a way of making up for someone else’s mistakes. It may not be my fault, but you better believe it’s in my power to make it better.

Here are a few of my favorite comeback kids. I can’t take credit for their tremendous turnaround. But I will gladly thank those involved in their recovery. Thank you for helping transform these shelter dogs AND for restoring my faith in humanity.


If I were a sarcastic human, I might have named him Pink Panther. Trooper arrived at the shelter in the brightest shade of pink I’ve ever seen on a dog. His skin inflamed and even bloody in some spots. Looking at him made me ache. Yet, he was nothing but wiggles and squinty eyes for me.

Trooper began getting the care he needed while in-shelter. Then he got transferred to a rescue. The rest as they say is history! His transformation pics say it all.

Photos Courtesy M. Bever

Aspen, formerly known as Donovan

If I had a dollar for every block-headed black dog that I encounter in a shelter, I’d be one rich lady. There are different theories surrounding the “black dog syndrome.” In my personal experience, I’ve found that large black shelter dogs tend to get overlooked. I think there are likely several contributing factors. One of the most obvious being that the lighting inside a shelter is generally unflattering.

At first glance, Donovan looked like every other block-headed black shelter dog. Dark, dull and generic. Those of us that spent time with him knew he was none of those things and so much more. He made a good friend in shelter volunteer Sarah, who spent hours with him at a time. She helped him find a place to crash (foster home). Then she made the connection with his new mom and dad!

Donovan, the underweight, stressed out, heartworm positive shelter dog is now Aspen. Aspens happen to be my favorite tree. Among their many interesting qualities, they’re absolutely stunning. I couldn’t have picked a better name for this comeback kid!

Photos Courtesy S. Galloway

Do you have a favorite comeback kid? Please share your story in the comments!

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