Sweet Dog Charms His Way into PetSmart Charities Employee’s Heart

Longtime pet lover falls for senior dog at Everyday Adoption Center

This story is written by Suzy Hayton, PetSmart Charities Fundraising Specialist

I have been with PetSmart Charities for 7 years, providing training to our animal welfare partners and helping to build donor relationships. My job enables me to show my love for pets at work, and I have to fight the urge to adopt a new pet all the time.

woman with dogWe already had a toddler, 3 dogs, a cat and a mouse, which made for a bit of a crazy house. I had been considering another furry addition, but I wanted to make sure they would be able fit into our already-full lives. I had not given into the temptation to add to my family — and believe me, it’s everywhere here.

Shopping trip sidetracked by noisy dog

That all changed about a year ago when I went to our local PetSmart to grab a bag of bedding for our pet mouse. While in the store, I realized I hadn’t walked through the PetSmart Charities® Everyday Adoption Center in a while. I thought, “What could a quick look hurt?” Famous last words.

As I was looking at all the dogs, I noticed someone in the back row barking…and barking and barking. I walked over to see who was making all the noise, and my heart just stopped when I saw him.

I had really wanted our next pet to be a big black dog, and as I looked into the kennel, that is exactly who I saw. His name was Duke. He was looking straight up while barking and had made his bark hoarse — causing such a ruckus was hard work!

Older dog just needed some love

I immediately asked the volunteer if I could take him out, not knowing how he would react. He was barking constantly, so who knew whether he would calm down?

Duke was 75 pounds of black dog, and he limped due to muscle atrophy in his hind legs. When we got to the meet-and-greet room, he instantly quieted down and softly came to me. He plopped down next to me and placed his head in my lap.

While lying there, Duke looked up at me with the sweetest, kindest, cloudy eyes that can come only with experience. The volunteers guessed he was about 7 or 8 years old.

Family trusts mom, takes a chance on Duke

I fell totally and completely in love right away. I took a photo of Duke and sent it to my husband, asking if I could bring him home. Within 5 minutes, my husband responded, “If you think he would be a good fit.”   

Duke was new at the Everyday Adoption Center, so the shelter volunteers hadn’t learned too much about his temperament yet. No one was sure how he would react to other pets and kids, and my house was chock full of them. But I knew I had to give this big boy a shot!  

Duke has come so far since we adopted him. With medication and gentle exercise, he has built up his leg muscles and he can get around a little more easily. Considering how bad his legs were when I met him, he’s doing much better.

While I sometimes worry about his age and am sad for the years we didn’t get with him, I truly treasure every day he is with us. I’ve never regretted adopting an older dog.

I can’t imagine our chaotic life without him. To this day, he still looks up at me with the love and sweetness that captured my heart a year ago.  


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