6 stories about big love for big dogs

Nanami with Orion the dog and both are smiling
These adopters chose large dogs to join their families and they couldn’t be happier about it.
By Nicole Hamilton

One fell in love at an art museum. One was from seeing an online photo. And another was at the animal shelter. What do these pet adopters have in common? They each became smitten with a big dog who needed a home.

We’re celebrating big dogs this month because they need more help than pint-size pups. Across the country, large dogs are more at risk when they end up in shelters because it tends to take longer for them than small dogs to get adopted or be placed in foster homes. So, this is a time to show how good life with a larger pup can be.

Here are six stories about super-size canines whose adopters give new meaning to the saying “Go big or go home.” These big dogs are all home now and sharing their super-size love with everyone they meet.

1. Husky mix, once down on his luck, is now healthy and happy

Hank the dog with the rest of the 'pack' at his foster home
Photo courtesy of Wendy French

Two things were clear when Hank arrived at a Houston shelter early this year.

One was that life for him has not been easy because of his broken leg, not to mention his severe heartworm disease. In fact, it’s been downright painful. The other was that Hank’s life was at risk. Unless the shelter staff found a rescue organization to pick him up that day, he would be placed on the euthanasia list. He needed help and fast.

Turns out, a Best Friends team at the shelter that day arranged for Hank to go to a foster home with Wendy French, where she (and PJ, her other dog with three legs) helped him through heartworm treatment. Today, Hank is healthy, happy and living life with a wonderful family.

Read Hank’s story

2. Playful dog finds just the right family

Person sleeping snuggled with Homer the dog
Photo courtesy of Jordon Thomas

They say timing is everything. Such was the case for Homer, a big goofy dog from Pine Bluff, Arkansas. When he arrived at Best Friends in Northwest Arkansas, his manners needed some work, but it was clear that the smart pup was willing and eager to learn.

Over the next three months, Homer spent time in foster homes refining his people skills and learning to channel his playful energy. In late May of this year, Homer got a chance to test all the manners he learned at an adoption event held at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Luck was on his side that day. When members of the Thomas family met Homer, they fell in love. But they stopped short of adopting him. After all, they weren't expecting to meet a dog at the art museum. But when they returned home, they couldn’t stop thinking about the young dog with big ears. And on Memorial Day, they adopted him.

Read Homer’s story

3. Fergus converts foster volunteer to adopter

Nanci with Fergus the dog wearing a bandanna
Photo courtesy of Nanci Neugebauer

During the more than three years that Nanci Neugebauer has fostered dogs with Best Friends, she’s never fostered a dog with heartworm. That is, until she got an email featuring dogs from BARC in Houston as part of an upcoming Best Friends foster rally to help dogs at the shelter with heartworm to find foster homes.

There was something about Fergus’ eyes that drew her in. “Soulful” is how Nanci describes them. The more she thought about fostering Fergus through his heartworm treatment, the more confident she became. So, she headed to the foster rally and brought him home. Here’s the thing: He never left.

Read Fergus’ story

4. Pit bull terrier goes to prison for a lesson in manners

Orion the dog with Nanami Bombassei
Photo by Lori Fusaro

Part pit bull terrier and part social butterfly, Orion was happy to make friends with everyone when he was at Best Friends. But he was also anxious when alone and lacking in the manners department. So, he went to prison, where a trainer from the Paws for Life K9 Rescue Prison Program helped him shine.

Back at Best Friends, the dog behavior team and Paws for Life trainers continued to help Orion. That collaboration helped Nanami Bombassei, a longtime Best Friends volunteer, to see him in a new light. She was so impressed with how much he’d learned and grown that she adopted him.

Today, Orion is thriving in his home with Nanami and his best dog friend, Zeke, who shares Orion’s love of life and everyone he meets.

Read Orion’s story

5. A wonderfully quirky Great Dane-mastiff mix

Bruce the dog sitting on a big, orange chair

Let’s just say Bruce is a big boy, both in size and personality. After the Great Dane-mastiff mix proved to be a bit much for two foster families, he went to stay with Megan Lee, an advocate for big dogs who gave him a much-needed crash course in doggie manners.

Bruce learned a lot during the five months that Megan fostered him. Still, she knew that it would take a special person ready for a big dog with a big personality to adopt Bruce. His big day finally came when he met Robert Anders, who has a soft spot in his heart for big dogs.

Today, Bruce is living his best life with Robert, who happily embraces Bruce’s quirks like a proud parent. It shows that there’s a person out there for every dog (and vice versa).

Read Bruce’s story

6. Young German shepherd inspires a family to feel grateful

Child walking down a road next to Hanz the dog
Photo courtesy of Amanda Safford

After a foster-to-adopt opportunity with a German shepherd didn’t work out, Garrett and Amanda Safford started feeling a little defeated. As a family on the go with two young children, the Saffords had their hearts set on adopting a German shepherd.

When Amanda saw Hanz’s photo and read his story, she wanted to meet him. Neither the fact that she was miles away from Hanz in Nashville nor that Hanz was being treated for heartworm gave her pause — not for a second.

A couple of weeks later, the Safford family was Atlanta-bound to meet Hanz. Amanda says he’s brought a lot of happiness to the household and makes her feel grateful every day.

Read Hanz’s story

It’s a great time to adopt a big dog

Have your own big love story by adopting a big dog from your local shelter or rescue group?

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