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402 days. So much happens in the span of 402 days, even in the most ordinary of times. The intensity of the sun changes, winds blow, milestones are reached. Relationships begin, relationships end, birthdays are celebrated. Time passes. While the outside world went on with its business, Koda was biding his time, in his kennel in a large open intake shelter in the south.
Koda was left outside the Eastbank Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter in the dark of night, along with six other dogs, all of whom were in pretty shabby condition. Through time and care, all the dogs regained their health and one by one were adopted. Except Koda, who had proven to be a stinker around other dogs- it’s always a challenge to find homes for dogs who don’t care for the company of other dogs, but Koda charmed us with his unwavering zest for life, always happy to bounce out of his kennel and chase a ball in the yard. As hard as he played, he would accept treats with a dainty precision, always mindful of fingers.
Despite the efforts of staff and volunteers, shelter days are monotonous days, filled with the sound of barking dogs reverberating off the walls, ever louder during the stress and excitement of visitors browsing for a new family member. Koda was passed up for 402 days.
Every night after hours, the shelter quiets down, save for a howl here and there, and the distant hum of traffic. The dogs who weren’t adopted make themselves as comfortable as possible, either on the cool concrete floor, or on their Kuranda bed. They each sleep alone, together under a strange roof.
Koda was safe while he slept; he wasn’t running in traffic or digging for food in the dumpster; he was fed and cleaned, but absent in the shelter is the comforting sound of humans in conversation, smells of food cooking on a stove, a soft dog bed that doesn’t need to be laundered day after day. Even so, Koda kept his wits and didn’t succumb to the stressful environment. He was patient in his mind, although his body was so very excited to run in the yards.
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Videos of Koda were shared on social media, photos were taken, Koda was even featured on the morning news, but for whatever reason, nobody came to adopt him. Oh, there were a few false hopes, but nothing panned out.
One day, we got a call from someone wanting to meet Koda. Outwardly, we were all thrilled; this guy sounded solid! He had no other dogs, had a trainer lined up, and even wanted to take Koda to work with him. Inwardly, it was hard not to be a little skeptical. The morning Koda’s new dad came to the shelter, Koda easily warmed up to him and had him charmed within minutes. It was clear that this was the beginning of a beautiful relationship!
The pandemic had given this man time to pause and evaluate his situation, and he realized he was ready for a dog again, after having lost his previous dog ten years prior. He knew Koda would need patience and guidance as he adjusted to his new home, and he was so ready to provide that. I think we all held our breath until he signed the adoption papers, and actually left the building. Koda fell into stride with his new dad and never looked back.
We take that as a good thing, Koda knew his good fortune. A few of us had onions in our eyes as Koda went off into… well, not the sunset as it was mid-day, but went off to begin the first day of his happily ever after.
Story submitted by Tiffanie Stinson.
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