By Jennifer Yu

After a split with his spouse, a man surrendered not one, but four Chihuahuas to the Seattle Animal Shelter. The dogs were frail, skittish and under-socialized. Among the group was a chocolate-colored, doe-eyed male named Brownie. While Brownie’s siblings warmed up to volunteers and staff and were soon adopted, Brownie’s condition turned out to be more complicated than expected.

The little dog’s behavior proved to be a stumbling block for potential adopters, who were turned off by his inability to quickly warm up to people. His fearfulness led to constant accidents in his kennel. Worst of all, every time Brownie was carried or held, he would growl and snap. A series of vet visits and tests revealed some back inflammation but no serious injury, leading staff to conclude the behavior was probably fear-based. Weeks turned into months, and Brownie remained at his kennel.

brownieLearning trust in foster care

Despite his problems, Shelter staff had seen enough of Brownie’s sweet side to know that he would thrive in the right home. Luckily, SAS volunteer Molly came to the rescue. She had earned Brownie’s trust over months of interactions at the Shelter, and she offered to foster him. In her home, Molly’s mantra became “he is what he is.” She saw Brownie’s sweet side coming out more and more as he became comfortable with her family.

Molly’s family learned to read Brownie’s body language. If he became grouchy they would say, “Too bad, Brownie,” then ignore him and go about doing other things. Molly explains, “Brownie would usually get in his bed, then shortly start following us around, asking for attention. We would only pet or praise him when he was calm. Brownie’s episodes got fewer and farther between.”

Brownie boatBrownie settles into a new life

It wasn’t long after that Cori and Steve came into Brownie’s life. The couple had been searching for a playmate for their two dogs, Blueberry and Coconut. Cori and Steve did not flinch when they learned about Brownie’s behavioral problems. Upon meeting him, they loved the little guy and knew exactly what they were up against. Molly asked them to give him six weeks to adjust, and to give him the space to learn to trust them.

It took a few weeks for Brownie to settle in, but he has undergone a huge change in that time. Brownie’s adoptive mother Cori says, “Brownie has a sweet spirit and has really come to trust us. We are able to pick him up and carry him around the house, and he is sure to tell us when he is ready to get down.”

SASF grants help dogs like Brownie by supporting Shelter programs and initiatives including the foster program. SASF support enabled the Seattle Animal Shelter to offer Brownie dedicated and patient care, and more important, time and space to just be himself. Now, six months after his adoption, Brownie can be found sunbathing on the deck with his two sisters, Coconut and Blueberry, and getting lots of love and attention from his humans. This sweet and quirky chocolate-colored dog has found his forever home!


To help more dogs like Brownie, please consider donating to SASF today.