Dog’s new family is just his type

Potato the blocky-headed pooch with his new family
Potato is a dog with nine lives. He was at risk in a shelter, then beat heartworm disease, then needed emergency surgery, and finally landed a family who loves him dearly.
By Karen Asp

Potato is a blocky-headed pooch with a larger-than-life personality and a gigantic smile. Despite how loveable he is, it seemed that no one wanted to adopt him after he ended up in a Houston shelter. The fact that he had heartworm disease, would try anything to be next to a human (including busting out of a kennel), and often had an overwhelming amount of energy all caused adopters to pass him by. The longer he was in the shelter, the more his life was at risk.

Potato needed a fresh start and another chance at a loving home, so he came to Best Friends in Houston. Sometimes a change of scenery can do a world of good.

Dog goes from ‘at risk’ to safe

Potato was deemed at risk when the Best Friends team learned about him, and luckily they could help him. “(Potato) needed to get out quickly, so we brought him into our program,” says Sophia Proler, Best Friends manager of lifesaving programs in Houston. The team placed him in a foster home and soon learned about his gusto for life. “Potato is the friendliest bull in the china shop,” says Sophia. “He knows no boundaries when it comes to catching a toy or finding a treat you tossed.”

In his foster home, Potato had a big backyard to explore and went on runs almost every day. Afterward, he’d nap in his signature style: on his belly with his legs splayed out like a frog. Those runs and time in the backyard helped him rein in some of his excitement for, well, almost everything. This was especially important considering that the next stop on his journey, treatment for heartworms, would involve plenty of rest.

[6 unexpected benefits of fostering a dog during heartworm treatment]

With help from his foster family and guidance from the Best Friends team, Potato did well during his heartworm treatment. That involved three injections administered by a veterinarian, oral medication, and 90 days of rest. That’s no easy feat for a rambunctious and joyful pup, but he made it through treatment with no trouble.

Easing separation anxiety

Throughout it all, the team worked to match Potato with a permanent home. He went to adoption events, eventually moved on from his first foster home and into another, and sometimes hung out at the Best Friends office. Potato is a good dog, and he also struggled to fit into a world designed for humans. He had separation anxiety and didn’t like being contained away from people. If they tried putting him in a crate, he’d soon break out of it.

He also jumped up on people in his excitement and grabbed at their clothes or hands. Life just wasn’t easy for him. So the team tried something different and placed him with a trainer in hopes that he could pick up skills that would help him feel more at ease in life.

Emergency surgery

Potato made fast friends with people he met at the trainer’s place (and even scored a canine BFF, too). The team worked on impulse control and saw that his ability to focus was sharpest after he got plenty of exercise. He was back to going for long runs, and each day he learned something new.

One day, though, Potato suddenly shifted from high gear to almost no gear. He was lethargic, which was cause for alarm — it was unlike him to lie around. The team got him to a vet, and they ended up doing emergency surgery to remove something that was blocking his intestines.

The culprit? Part of a stuffed toy. It wasn’t enough for him just to play with his toys — he actually ate one. But the surgery was a success, and just a day after this major event came another one.

Home with a family who loves pit bulls

While Potato was still recovering from the surgery that saved his life, the Best Friends team received an inquiry from a family who was quite sure they wanted to adopt him based on his photos and bio alone.

Zac and Courtney Harmon had been searching for a dog to adopt, and pit bulls hold a special place in their heart. “Before we had kids, we were known as the pit bull house through a rescue organization called Pup Squad,” says Zac. “Ever since then, we’ve had a soft spot for them.”

[Fall in love with these dogs during Pit Bull Awareness Month]

Over the years they’d adopted and loved several dogs of their own, and they fostered and helped find homes for another 15 to 20 pit bull moms and countless puppies. Pit bulls are clearly their favorite, so when it was time to adopt a dog again, Courtney went searching for one. When Potato popped up online, the whole Harmon family, including their sons Zachary and Gavin, were drawn to his cute face.

The Harmons scheduled a meet and greet, and there was no question: Potato was theirs. Sophia, who helped facilitate the adoption, says Potato seemed to know it, too. “He loves to please people, so when he met his family for the first time, he was instantly in love with the two boys and followed them everywhere,” she says.

Just like that, Potato had a home.

Naps, walks, and car rides equal a happy dog

Potato adapted quickly to his new life, and now he sleeps with his family at night and rides along with Zac and Courtney in their truck everywhere they go. Their veterinarian prescribed him some anti-anxiety medication that helps him when he needs it. He loves daily walks through his neighborhood and chasing a ball in the yard.

Zac notes that although Potato is still a high-energy dog, he spends most of the day napping at their feet while they work.

Since becoming involved with pit bulls, Zac has turned into an advocate for them. His dad wasn’t comfortable around pit bull-like dogs before, but after meeting Zac’s dogs over the years, that has changed. Now he’s been known to doze off with Potato on his lap.

It might have taken some time and a team of people who believed in him. But today, finally, Potato has a home and more importantly a family who loves him for who he is.

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