When a mixed breed dog named Big Mac arrived at the McKamey Animal Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the shelter staff knew the pup would have to wait longer to find a family
And it’s not due to bad behavior or an illness—it’s because the one-and-a-half-year-old dog was nervous around new people and didn’t take too well in a shelter environment.
The staff weren’t sure what his living environment was like before his arrival, but it was clear that Big Mac didn’t trust anyone right away.
However, there are particular moments when he is able to come out of his shell.
“He did warm up with treats and when he was out of the kennel and in the play yard,” Lauren Mann, advancement manager at the shelter, told The Dodo.
Big Mac’s former owner surrendered him to the shelter in December 2020 because they were moving and didn’t have time for him.
The brindle dog desperately needed someone to show him that humans weren’t that bad. But as time went on, the abandoned pup soon became the longest resident at the McKamey Animal Center.
Mann said the length of time a dog spends at the shelter can vary. Some stay for only a day or two, while other pups who are harder to place can be with them for an extended period. Unfortunately, Big Mac belonged to the latter group.
“Big Mac suffered from what we call ‘stranger danger, so he was very cautious of new people and environments. He wasn’t the typical ‘I want to kiss your face’ dog right off the bat for people, which was attributed to his longer length of stay.”
Big Mac was fostered three times by different families before one of the shelter volunteers agreed to foster him in her home. The first three were just to give him a break from his kennel in the shelter, and the fourth was a “foster to adopt” or a “trial adoption.”
What was often a temporary arrangement for Big Mac turned into a permanent situation. The volunteer fell in love with the once-tense dog and decided to officially adopt him!
“When my coworker took him in to foster, she said the first night he slept, like, 12 hours straight, and just really opened up and wanted to play with her other dog and even wanted to play with the cats,” Mann said. “[He] really made a 180 and was a great dog overall.”
The shelter worker’s dog also stepped up to the plate of helping Big Mac learn to trust humans again.
“Her resident dog took him under his wing, and when they were out for a walk and he’d get a little scared, her dog would be like, ‘No, it’s OK.’ And he’d show him that it was OK and people could be trusted,” Mann said.
When Big Mac left the shelter for the fourth and final time to go home with his new mom, Mann and the rest of the staff wanted to do something special for the happy occasion.
They lined up at the entrance and gave their once-longest resident a standing ovation as he walked out of the building that served as his home for almost a year.
“His new mom was surprised that he handled it so well, which shows that he’s doing a lot better with stranger danger,” Mann said. “He was just ready to go … he didn’t really care about treats or pets or anything. He was just ready to go home.”
We’re glad that Big Mac has now found a loving family that will never leave his side! Watch as he happily exited the McKamey Animal Center with his mom in the video below.
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