Most dogs dream of the day they get adopted out of the shelter. Hoping for someone to notice them and take them home to a warm bed, lots of pets, and endless love. But for one dog at the Charleston Animal Society, that wasn’t quite the case.
Gumby, a seven-year-old hound mix, has been adopted out of the shelter seven times, voluntarily returned eight times, and brought in as a stray three times. His latest return to the shelter marked his eleventh time back.
The staff at the Charleston Animal Society (CAS) tried everything possible to get Gumby into his forever home. They worked with rescue groups and even tried pairing him up with a female hound for training sessions as part of the shelters “exemplary behavior team”. None of their attempts worked. (BarkPost).
Eventually, it became clear that with every return to the shelter, Gumby was trying to tell them something – the CAS was his home.
A typical Hound mix, Gumby is lanky, tall, and extremely energetic. But in her 23 years of working at the shelter Kay Hyman, the Director of Community and Engagement for CAS, has never seen a dog with Gumby’s escape skills. (BarkPost).
Gumby was first brought to the CAS as a stray in September 2014. Hounds are common in Southern states as they are used as farm and hunting dogs. They can be quite stubborn and if they don't excel on the farm or at hunting, they'll runaway from home or find themselves abandoned. Because Gumby was in pretty good shape, the shelter staff thought he was a runaway or abandoned.
Gumby’s first adoption lasted a mere three days, the next only six days. Thinking the third time was a charm, the shelter was hoping Gumby’s next adopter would be the one. That wasn’t the case.
In his third home, Gumby returned to the CAS four times – once dropped off by a good Samaritan, again by animal control, and two times by his adopter. Fearful Gumby would become permanently lost, his adopter returned him to the shelter for good.
Potential adopters were warned of Gumby’s escape skills but one brave person brought him home for the fourth time. That stint lasted four months – a new record for Gumby. His fifth adoption lasted two months and his sixth adoption lasted even less. Gumby’s final attempt at a forever home lasted just a month. In that time alone, he escaped three times – once even breaking through a screen door!
Ultimately, the staff at CAS decided not to put Gumby up for adoption again. They realized that while at the shelter, Gumby rarely tried to escape. They also noticed something else interesting about him - Gumby had a natural ability to read other dog’s emotions. New dogs arriving at the shelter dealing with anxiety and fear appeared comforted by Gumby. He seemed to know exactly how to adjust his behavior to calm reactive and fearful dogs.
Gumby is now helping out their behavior team and is their go-to dog for behavioral demonstrations and helping new dogs get acclimated. He is even helping out sick kittens with eye infections by donating blood every two weeks.
Although none of Gumby’s adoptions worked out, it is clear he was meant to be a part of the Charleston Animal Society all along!