It's kind of perplexing that such a good dog had to live in a shelter for so long.
portrait of Opie, dog adopted after a long shelter stay
Credit: Courtesy of The Humane Society of St. Lucie County

It's a bit of a mystery how Opie, a calm, smiley 6-year-old chow chow mix, spent so much time at The Humane Society of St. Lucie County.  

In fact, according to Shannon Glendinning, the humane society's marketing director, Opie was one of the calmest dogs in the shelter, laying down in his kennel as folks would walk by rather than barking his head off. He was even a playgroup "rock star," getting along famously with the shelter's other pups. 

Yet he stayed in the shelter for 838 days, until the very end of August, when his new family came to pick him up after a community push to get him into a new home—finally. 

"He is a family dog now and living his best life and doing so well," Glendinning tells Daily Paws. 

Opie was the Florida humane society's longest-tenured resident after living there for more than two years. But he was a big helper during those two years. He'd appear at humane society events like "Bark at the Park," serving as an ambassador for shelter dogs while searching for his own home. Even more important, he'd help the society's trainer test the reactivity of other pups, Glendinning says.  

"Everywhere he went, he loved every single person he met," she says.

Along with people, he loves running around, very fitting for his free-spirit nature.  

With all that going for him and almost no restrictions on a future home—he couldn't move into a house with cats—it was perplexing that he couldn't find an adopter. The humane society promoted him frequently, but everyone seemingly had a reason they couldn't take him. 

"We really don't understand it," Glendinning says. 

Scott VanDuzer, the owner of Big Apple Pizza in Fort Pierce, decided to help. He contacted a local news station to do a story on Opie, and offered a $500 gift card to his restaurant to the eventual adopter as part of his campaign to free Opie. Someone else donated $500 toward the dog's food, and a local real estate agent covered his adoption fee. 

The news story aired on Aug. 26, Glendinning says. The next week, Opie's new owner and his daughter came to meet him, and they were soon heading home. 

"There are no dry eyes tonight," the humane society wrote on Facebook announcing the long-awaited adoption.  

Glendinning says the staff recently received a photo from Opie's new family, in which he was sunbathing while his dad grilled. He proves an important point: A dog staying in a shelter for a long time doesn't mean there's anything wrong with him. 

"Some just get, unfortunately, overlooked, and I mean that's not really on the dog at all," Glendinning says.