It’s heartbreaking to see the photos of all the abandoned animals waiting to be adopted from shelters. Kayla Filoon regularly volunteers as a dog walker at ACCT Philly, an animal shelter in Philadelphia, and tries hard to shower the animals in her temporary care with endless love and affection.
The 20-year-old student has seen many pets come and go and was thrilled every time each one was adopted. But when she met Russ, a timid four-year-old pit bull-terrier mix battling kennel cough and skin issues, something about him caught her eye. “He came in as a stray, and he was really beat up,” Kayla told The Dodo. ” He was missing fur on his tail and ears. He was also terribly skinny. They told me he was about 40 pounds when he came into the shelter.”
Kayla realized that Russ had had a rough start of life. He definitely deserved better. She spent extra time with him and quickly realized what a wonderful dog Russ really was. He was obedient and sweet, starved for attention. “He was just sitting there calmly, staring at me. And I thought, he is adorable! I need to take him now,” she said.
Kayla had other things to handle before she was able to volunteer with Russ. When she returned to check on him, she couldn’t believe that he hadn’t budged an inch. “He was sitting in the same position that he was before, just being quiet while the other dogs were barking and causing commotion,” the woman added.
The two enjoyed a leisurely stroll together. Five minutes into their 45-minute walk and it was true love. “He was really cuddly with me, even when we went into the yard. He seemed like such a sweet dog, and he didn’t bark at any of the other dogs,” Kayla said. While hanging out together, Kayla discovered that the docile and friendly dog who was regularly overlooked at the shelter knew all of the basic commands. He obviously was someone’s pet before arriving at the shelter.
When their walk was over, Kayla couldn’t bear to return Russ to his kennel at the shelter. She called her mom and informed her that she absolutely had to adopt Russ. “My mom thought I was kidding, because I always fall in love with the dogs that I take out – it’s hard not to. So she didn’t really believe me, but there was something about Russ,” the young woman recalls.
The shelter was bursting at the seams with animals needing to be adopted and had to euthanize more than a dozen dogs recently. Time was of the essence for Russ, especially since no one had expressed an interest in him. “Any dog had a chance of being put down, especially the ones who were sicker, and Russ was definitely one of them. He had kennel cough,” Kayla said.
After finishing classes the next day, she rushed to the shelter. This time, Kayla opted to take Russ for a car ride, she told The Dodo. “He just sat in my passenger seat. I thought, ‘He’s the perfect dog.’” Kayla relished their time together. When they returned to the shelter later that afternoon, she absolutely knew she would not be going home alone.
The staff was thrilled that she wanted to adopt Russ, so they put on a rush on his adoption papers. Kayla was able to take him home that very night! One thing Kayla hadn’t done, though, was inform her six roommates that she was adopting a dog. Fortunately, they instantly fell in love with him, too.
Russ had a slight adjustment to make getting used to living with six people, and he slept quite a bit as he battled kennel cough. But he loved his new home and his mom Kayla in particular. “He always has to be close to me. One night I’m sitting there on the chair, doing my homework, and he’s trying to find ways to cuddle with me. There was a whole other sofa open, and we had his bed on the floor, but he didn’t want to lie anywhere else. So he ends up positioning himself, and I look down, and I think, “Oh my gosh, look at him.’”
Kayla’s aunt captured a photo and shared it on social media where it went viral. She hopes that the endearing photo convinces everyone else to consider adopting a shelter pet, considering how much of a love bug Russ is. “I’ll be lying there, and he’ll put his head under my arm, or his paw over my chest. And he’ll even lay on my chest. I was worried that when I brought him home, his attitude might change. But he’s still the same relaxed. He’s probably one of the most grateful dogs I’ve ever seen.”