Joey is so special, everyone he meets instantly falls in love with him. There’s no logical reason the 5-year-old pit bull mix should’ve spent more than 500 days in a shelter, but — through no fault of his own — that’s exactly what happened.
The sweet pup quickly became such a staff favorite that when Joey’s forever family appeared to sweep him off to the life of his dreams, they knew they had to send him off in the most magnificent way possible.
“The staff always wanted to make sure the shelter dogs knew how loved they were, so a special send-off was started by us so the dogs knew how much they meant to us and to make them feel happy about going to their new home,” Kimberly LaRussa, Sweet Buffalo to the Rescue founder, told The Dodo.
When it came to one of their longest residents, the goodbye party needed to be extra special.
“We wanted to give Joey a relaxing and calm send-off, so we thought we could put some leis on him as a sign of friendship and give him treats,” LaRussa said. “It was really beautiful to see him with all the leis he accumulated towards the end of the send-off.”
When Joey arrived at the shelter as a former stray, no one expected the sweet dog to still be there over a year later. But he was overlooked with no potential adoption interest, and the endless wait eventually got to Joey.
“[He] adjusted the best he could,” LaRussa said. “He was very much loved by the former staff and volunteers. But as time went on, we could tell he longed for something more than we could give him … a nice warm bed, cuddles at night, his own people to love him.”
When LaRussa saw the sad pup crying in his kennel and looking hopeless, she decided to take matters into her own hands by recording a quick video of Joey, which she posted on social media. Suddenly, interest poured in. But one couple, in particular, Daryl Koczaja and Melissa Leuer came out on top.
“I remember watching his videos over and over while crying and thinking to myself, ‘Someone needs to help this poor baby,’” Leuer said. “Little did I know, it would be us.”
LaRussa set up a meet and greet for Joey and the potential adopters, and there was an instant connection.
“The moment we all met, we were in love — he was such a sweetheart!” Leuer said. “He ran straight to Daryl and gave him tons of kisses. We just felt like he was meant to be with us like he was waiting there the whole time till we were ready for him.”
Though Joey took a few days to warm up to his new life, he’s now the biggest snuggle bug, who greets them with a smile every day.
“Joey is still just as wonderful as the day we adopted him,” Leuer said. “[He’s] brought so much laughter and happiness into our house. We look forward to making many more memories with him and giving him the perfect life he has always deserved. We truly couldn’t ask for a better dog!”