She Grew Old In A Shelter Waiting For A Family — Then Everything Changed
"I'm a good girl! I promise ..."
In 2013, this dear dog named Ginger arrived to Dogwood Animal Shelter in Missouri, reportedly the victim of abandonment. She was just a couple of years old at the time, but the experiences of her early life had left their mark.
Ginger was anxious and slow to trust — qualities that, in the eyes of some, deemed her “unadoptable.”
So, when it came to finding someone who’d show her the patience and love she needed, Ginger would have to wait. And wait.
For the better part of a decade, Ginger continued to wait — peering out from her cold kennel as potential adopters passed her by, opting to take home other dogs considered more desirable than her.
Seven years had come and gone, and the once-young pup was by then very much a senior dog. Her chocolate-brown fur had given way to white and gray.
But sadly, beyond that, little else in Ginger’s life had changed.
Ginger may have resigned herself to the sad realities of shelter life, any hope of something better having faded from her mind. But she hadn’t yet been forgotten.
In 2020, shelter pet advocate Scott Poore of Misson Driven learned of Ginger’s situation — and decided to push back against what seemed her certain fate of leaving the world unloved.
“It absolutely broke my heart, so I stopped what I was doing and dedicated all of my time to her,” Poore told The Dodo. “I started telling her story to anyone that would listen.”
After seven years of languishing in silence, Ginger finally had a voice.
And soon, everything began to change.
With that added exposure, bringing new eyes to Ginger’s years-long situation, people began to reach out with offers of hope to the pup. Hope she had lost.
Included among them was Beth. Beth decided to give the old dog a second chance at a happy life, to enjoy in the years she had left.
But then something else began to change.
At home with Beth, feeling new feelings of safety, love and security, Ginger emerged slowly from her shell — the only life she’d ever known. And with each milestone step along the way, she never looked back.
“100 percent, there was a transformation,” Beth told The Dodo. “She was very skittish and protective [at first]. Now she will walk into a new environment with her head held high. Seeing her jump on a bed or walk on floors and be able to be a dog was amazing to see. She’s not this fragile shelter dog anymore. She knows her name and she stands bold with it.”
In some ways, life began for Ginger at the ripe old age of 10 — and she knows it.
Ginger is now 13 years old, facing some health issues as many pups her age do. But those many years she spent at the shelter don’t seem to put a damper on the time she has left. She’d been waiting for this.
“She is an old girl, but very puppy-like nowadays,” Beth said.
Ginger’s world had changed immeasurably for the better — and in the act of changing it, Beth's had too.
Beth had been a young adult navigating life with anxiety when Ginger was adopted. Now, Beth is married, a homeowner and has a successful career.
“Ginger and I have definitely grown together. I feel like when I got her, we were both kids entering adulthood together,” Beth said.
“I think the most important thing Ginger taught me is that it’s okay to start over … that no matter what life gives you, there’s a better tomorrow — you can’t grow in the same place that broke you. We are thriving together now.”
Sadly, Ginger is far from the only dog who’s lost months and years of peace and happiness sitting in an animal shelter, waiting for that second chance — in fact, countless pups are doing that still.
Just as Ginger’s life transformed, there remains hope that the lives of other shelter pets can, too.
Ginger’s smiling face is a testament to what could be. But it’s not something they can do alone.
“I want to challenge more people to adopt the ‘unadoptable’ or long-term animal and give them a second chance to love and live,” Beth said.