When we first met Tommy, let’s just say he was a “hot mess.” He was young, energetic, and very stressed in the shelter: all perfect ingredients for a dog to fail in a chaotic and unnatural environment. His was misunderstood, routinely overlooked, his behavior was quite naughty, and he was in danger of losing his life without intervention. As you may have guessed, we saw this knew he was a prime candidate for our program. With regular outings, training sessions, and lots of enrichment and mental stimulation, he quickly became a favorite with our directors and volunteers. We knew he had gone from the dog no one wanted to one many would and he was adopted. It wasn’t long before we found out things weren’t going well. Tommy’s family had not kept up with our post-adoption offers; instead, he had been left to roam 10 acres with other animals and had reverted somewhat to his inner wild child and the family no longer wanted him. One of our directors drove out to pick him up, another took him in for a little while, and we began the process of reining this guy back in. A short time later, we met Candace and the rest…well, read on. We certainly cannot tell it any better than she did.
I met Dogs Out Loud in the summer of 2014; I met Tommy (now Thomas) a couple of months later. That one sentence isn’t so spectacular but I think our story is.
The summer of 2014 started out rough for me. I had just gotten through an intense PTSD-driven psychiatric episode and was desperately searching for a way to help me cope – specifically, a unique dog to partner with me in specialized training. I came across Dogs Out Loud randomly in my search and, while I immediately adored one of their program dog’s faces, their mission statement was what moved me to contact them. They were giving a chance to the dogs who had been forgotten or cast aside as unworthy – dogs like me.
It took about two and a half months but I was finally introduced to DOL program veteran Tommy at an adoption event. Whether it was the first date jitters or just general newness, I don’t think either of us was 100% convinced. I asked the team if I could take Tommy for a ride in my car and as soon as we hit a good stretch of road, it became clear: I was his and he was mine. I wasn’t sure about the particulars – if he’d pass therapy tests or any of that – I just knew he was meant to be my dog. We arranged for the official adoption to take place the next day and I excitedly shared the news with my friends.
While I can’t say the first few weeks went off without any hiccups, I will say that to this day I am surprised at how easily Tommy (now officially called Thomas) and I transitioned into our lives together. And, as we would soon learn, Thomas didn’t need any special training to help me feel safe and to trust more – he just had to be him. I don’t think I could ever get into all the details in one note but in the end, it just worked.
All I knew about Thomas before adopting him was that he had been found as a stray, taken in by the DOL team, adopted, and that the adoption didn’t work out. I also found out that he’d been shortlisted for euthanasia initially due to supposed irreversible fear-aggression but DOL saw past that to the dog he could be and he quickly became a program favorite! Everyone I have explained this to has been taken aback; Thomas is the epitome of kindness, the poster child for gentle giants, all thanks to the hard work and dedication of DOL.
I am constantly amazed by him. My fiancé and I regularly talk about how wonderful he is and how neither of us have ever had a dog like him. Thomas is utterly unique and I am so thankful to Dogs Out Loud for giving this sweet boy a second chance at his life, especially since he’s given me a second chance at mine.
It’s been about two and a half years since I first brought Thomas home. In that time, I’ve continued getting to know the DOL team and their truly amazing program. I’ve shared in their work and cheered for their successes. Thomas and I attended Tails Under the Stars where Thomas was a special host and got to show off his post-adoption (and now slightly naughty) self. And when it came time for us to move to California, we couldn’t leave without visiting the team for good-byes. It mattered to me, it mattered to DOL, and I know it mattered to Thomas.
Throughout it all I have excitedly shared DOL’s mission and our story because it matters. It takes a special group of people to take these hounds in and I think I can speak for all their adopters when saying we could not be more grateful. Dogs Out Loud makes magic happen not just for the pups, but for the people.
P.S. Thomas’ first night home was also our first date with a young man named Chris. (And I do mean “our” – Thomas came along on the date!) Two and a half years later, Chris and I are planning a wedding where Thomas will be at our side…just like he has been since day one.
While most shelter dogs go on to lead wonderful lives with no extra support or resources needed in their forever homes, there is a group of good, savable dogs who need creative solutions to succeed in the shelter and in adoptive homes. Even though Austin is “no-kill”, those dogs are still at risk of long stays, unsuccessful adoptions, and even euthanasia at Austin’s city shelter. The lifelong support Dogs Out Loud provides is an important way we help fill that gap and ensure that dogs like Tommy who don’t find the right home the first time around will receive the support they need until their forever home finds them.
That we can provide this level of ongoing support is possible because of the donations we receive. Tommy’s case is not the norm and we usually only have to provide a going-home kit once. Whether it’s once, or multiple times, we typically spend a minimum of $300 on items like a crate, bed, food, enrichment items, treats, a training scholarship to select local trainers, and more, for each of our adopted dogs. If you would like to help us help shelter dogs succeed in their forever homes, please consider donating to our Amplify Austin campaign and help us meet our goal of $15,000 so we can help medium-large breed dogs at Austin Animal Center find, and stay in, loving forever homes.