New life for pet of the week

Senior female black Lab named Celine is featured as a Pet of the Week on the Best Friends' Facebook page and then is adopted into a forever home.
By Christelle L. Del Prete

Celine the dog's dark muzzle slowly turned grey, and her face took on the distinctive masked look that some black Labs get as they age.Before she became a Best Friends pet of the week, Celine had been waiting all her life for a home of her own. In 10 years, the spring never left her step, and she still loved long, fast-paced games of fetch and new toys. But her dark muzzle slowly turned grey, and her face took on the distinctive masked look that some black Labs get as they age.

Celine was more than just a longtime Sanctuary resident. She had become something of an icon in Dogtown. It was her home and she was happy living there. She liked to spend part of her days in the kitchen with her caregivers and to cuddle with them on her bed. But Celine’s caregivers, along with Best Friends adoption specialists, wanted her to experience the joy and comfort of a home and person of her very own in her golden years.

If only more people could learn about Celine, and if the process could be made as easy as possible, surely just the right person would want to adopt her. That’s how Celine became a Best Friends pet of the week. And it turned out to be just the ticket.

The pets of the week promotion

Each week, two Sanctuary pets (one dog and one cat) are highlighted as pets of the week on the Best Friends Animal Society’s Facebook page and other social media sites (Twitter, GooglePlus and Pinterest). The goal of the promotion is to bring extra exposure to some highly adoptable pets who might otherwise be overlooked, or to pets like Celine who have special needs that can make it difficult to find the right home. Potential adopters enjoy special incentives if they adopt one of the featured animals during the week they are highlighted. That includes free airfare if the pets must be flown to their new homes, and reduced adoption fees.

It was during one of the final pets of the week promotions of 2015 (December 22-28) when Celine’s wait for a home ended. Just a tiny puppy when she was pulled from the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina, the black Labrador retriever mix had spent several years at another rescue organization. After coming to Best Friends, she lived at the Sanctuary for nearly six years.

A pet of the week profile and a perfect opportunity

Always a sweet soul, Celine was a sleepover favorite with Dogtown volunteers, and she had her own loyal following and fan club. She loved people and they loved her. She just never had any luck when it came to finding a forever home. She needed to be an only dog, and it can be hard to find animal lovers who don’t have any other pets at home.

Leeann Lara wasn’t one of those empty nest pet lovers when she first saw the Facebook page that Celine’s fans had made for her. Leeann was caring for Daisy, the 14-year-old border collie who she’d adopted as a young pup. When she lost her beloved Daisy to cancer a year later, she wasn't planning to adopt another dog right away. “I was sure I would eventually find one,” she says, “but I never figured that it would be another senior.”

Then she came across Celine's pet of the week profile on the Best Friends Facebook page, and things just clicked. The timing seemed right and the opportunity was perfect. “Celine had been waiting so long for a family. I was already used to caring for a senior dog, and I wanted to give her a home,” Leeann says.

Welcome home, Celine

Celine the black Lab, who was a pet of the week, is doing great in her new homeAfter completing the Best Friends adoption application process to ensure her home would be a good fit, Leeann was ready to welcome Celine home. To prepare for her arrival, she bought dog food and toys, and set up a spot for her on the couch. She even researched the medications that Celine takes and made an appointment for her with the same vet who took care of Daisy.

As excited as Leeann was about meeting Celine and making her part of her family, she wasn’t worried about Celine fitting in. “She seemed to get along with everybody who was taking care of her before,” she says.

As predicted, once Celine arrived home, she and Leeann quickly became best friends. “She's doing great!” says Leeann. And Celine, whose new name is Sadie, has tons of food and treat puzzles to keep her puppy side busy and happy when she’s indoors. Outside, she has Frisbees and tennis balls to play with at the park. She and Leeann also share leisurely walks, as well as outings in the car.

“Take them home”

It might seem incredible that a one-week online promotion is what finally landed Celine in exactly the right place, with a whole new life and a person of her very own who adores her. But all it takes is the right set of eyes to see a pet of the week profile at the right time.

If she had to do it all over again and she came across Celine’s profile today, would Leeann take her home? Absolutely, she says. “If you see an animal on an adoption site who makes you happy, then take them home!”

Help more pets like Celine find happy homes.

To help more animals like Celine go from homeless to home, support Best Friends.

Photos by Molly Wald and Leeann Lara