Beloved Canine ‘Sweetheart’ Embraces Grand Farewell After 500 Shelter Days

Joey possesses an undeniable charm that captivates the hearts of all who encounter him. It defies logic that this affectionate 5-year-old pit bull mix spent an astonishing 500 days in a shelter, despite being faultless himself.

As Joey endeared himself to the shelter staff, they recognized the need for an extraordinary send-off when his forever family finally arrived to whisk him away into his long-awaited dreams.

“We always wanted the shelter dogs to feel cherished and loved, so we initiated a special send-off ritual to show them how much they meant to us and to ensure their happiness in their new homes,” explained Kimberly LaRussa, founder of Sweet Buffalo to the Rescue, to The Dodo.

When it came to bidding farewell to one of their longest residents, the farewell celebration had to be exceptional.

“We aimed to create a tranquil and serene send-off for Joey, adorning him with leis as a symbol of friendship and presenting him with treats,” LaRussa shared. “It was truly beautiful to witness Joey adorned with the accumulation of leis during the final moments of the send-off.”

You can watch Joey’s sweet send-off here:

Upon arriving at the shelter as a former stray, no one anticipated that Joey, with his gentle nature, would remain unadopted for over a year. Unfortunately, he was repeatedly overlooked, leaving him in a state of prolonged waiting.

“[Joey] adapted as best as he could,” LaRussa expressed. “He received an abundance of love from the former staff and volunteers. However, as time passed, it became evident that he yearned for something beyond what we could provide… a cozy bed, nighttime cuddles, and a family of his own to adore him.”

When LaRussa witnessed the sorrowful pup, shedding tears and exuding hopelessness from his kennel, she took matters into her own hands by capturing a brief video of Joey and sharing it on social media. Suddenly, interest surged, but one couple, Daryl Koczaja and Melissa Leuer, stood out from the rest.

“I distinctly remember watching his videos repeatedly, tears streaming down my face, thinking, ‘Someone needs to rescue this poor baby,'” Leuer recounted. “Little did I know, that someone would be us.”

LaRussa organized a meet and greet for Joey and the potential adopters, and an immediate connection was forged.

“The moment we all met, love enveloped us—Joey was an absolute sweetheart!” Leuer reminisced. “He dashed straight to Daryl, lavishing him with countless kisses. It felt as though he was destined to be with us, patiently waiting until we were ready for him.”

Although Joey took a few days to adjust to his new life, he has now become an adoring snugglebug, greeting his family with an infectious smile each day.

“Joey remains as remarkable as the day we adopted him,” Leuer shared. “[He] has brought immeasurable laughter and joy into our home. We eagerly anticipate creating countless cherished memories with him and providing him with the perfect life he has always deserved. We couldn’t have asked for a more exceptional dog!”

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