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  • Writer's pictureBarry KuKes

Column Three - A Bumpy Journey to Happiness

In 2018, a small and very neglected Staffordshire Terrier was brought to Halifax Humane Society by animal control. Malnourished and scared to death, the dog was bleeding from numerous bite marks all over his body. The smaller, more submissive dog was obviously used as a bait dog to train other more aggressive dogs for a dogfighting ring and was in dire distress. Another shelter might have elected to euthanize the animal, but our vet services team worked tirelessly to save the dog. After many weeks of rehabilitation, the dog, now named Bumpy, was on the mend physically, but his mental state was still a struggle. The behavior team worked with Bumpy nearly every day to reduce his fear of other dogs and his fear of the human race.

Over time, Bumpy adjusted and became friendly yet guarded. Still covered in scars, he was passed over time after time by potential adopters who would jump back at the sight of Bumpy. Although a favorite of the staff and volunteer dog walkers, Bumpy was not a favorite of the visiting public. He spent most days without seeing a friendly face or feeling a loving touch from a visitor to the shelter.

A year later, and Bumpy was still at the shelter. He had seen every dog around him go home to a loving family, yet Bumpy laid in his kennel and yearned for the kindness of a stranger to take pity on him and take him to his forever home. He was so happy to see volunteers come to his kennel to take him for a walk, but just 30-minutes later, again and again, he was returned to the confines of the four walls of his kennel, left to face another day alone.

One day, a couple from the Orlando area were traveling back home from a vacation in Keys and decided to stop at the shelter in Daytona Beach to stretch their legs and look at some of the animals. As they walked through the large dog kennels, they talked to each dog and offered a treat, to which the dogs would respond with a wagging tail and open mouth. But then they came before Bumpy’s kennel to find a defeated and despondent dog laying in the corner. The man knelt and said, “Come here boy. C’mon”, but Bumpy just raised his head but for a moment, and then again curled up as if to say, “leave me alone.” The woman with the man came to the kennel and noted how scared the dog was and how horrific he looked. She prodded the man to move on to the next dog, but he would not. The man stayed at Bumpy’s kennel and continued to engage with the dog by talking to him. Bumpy finally gave in and stood up. He walked with his head held low as tears streamed down his jowls. The man poked his fingers through the cage door and rubbed Bumpy’s head. The man heard an audible sigh from the dog as he watched Bumpy’s tail slowly began to wag back and forth.

The man smiled and asked a nearby staff member if it was possible to take the dog out to the exercise area. The woman with the man asked, “What are you doing? We need to get back on the road.” The man motioned for her to relax as the staff member took Bumpy out of his kennel and walked him to the rear entrance leading to the exercise yards. The staff member handed the leash to the man and said, “Don’t let him go until you are in the exercise area with the gates secured.”

The man, woman, and Bumpy walked to the exercise area. Bumpy was now getting very excited. No longer was his tail still and head held low. He was almost running to the exercise area in anticipation of playtime. “It’s like he’s a totally different dog,” said the woman. For the next 30-minutes, the couple played with Bumpy. Throwing a ball, playing tug, and just giving belly rubs, Bumpy was having the time of his life until the woman said, “We need to get going. Time to take Bumpy back to his kennel.”

Bumpy looked up as if to understand what she had said. The man looked into the dogs’ eyes and could see the disappointment he was feeling. “I want to give this little guy a home,” the man said to the woman. She just stood there for a moment and finally said, “You ask for so little from me. How can I say no to such a loving request.”

They returned to the kennel area and told the staff member that they would like to adopt Bumpy. A huge smile came to the staffer's face as he picked up his walkie-talkie radio and announced, “Attention, Bumpy is going home!” A collective outburst of elation could be heard throughout the shelter, for everyone there knew Bumpy and so wanted to see him find a loving home.

Without the help of supporters like you, our shelter wouldn’t be here to help the Bumpys of the world find their forever homes. Won’t you please help by visiting our website at and making a donation to help our community’s animals? (Or, support the animal shelter in your community.)

A couple of weeks after the adoption, we received an email from the people who adopted Bumpy along with an image of Bumpy sitting on the bow of their 100 ft. yacht. Below the image, the man wrote, “every dog has its’ day.” You can make a dogs’ day too. Support your local animal shelter.

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