7 min read

Shelter Sends Dogs Out For Sleepovers To Get Them Adopted

It would be REALLY hard to end this pajama party.

Paul Anka the dog had been in the shelter for nine months. And despite being a sweet, cute, loving boy, he was having a hard time getting noticed.

Staff at the LifeLine Animal Project in Atlanta puzzled over how to get people interested.

Finally, they came upon a brilliantly foolproof idea: Dress Paul Anka in pajamas, and offer him up to prospective adopters as an overnight guest.

"We thought that putting a dog in pajamas and asking if someone would let him spend the night would be a great attention getter," LifeLine spokesperson Karen Hirsch tells The Dodo.

LifeLine Animal Project

Janna Sayer's sons had been pitching the family on bringing home a dog for a while. Finally, it seemed like the right time. Sayer's husband, John, really just had one requirement: no pit bulls.

But an animal rescuer friend showed them a video of Paul Anka at the shelter, and he looked like such a nice, loving dog. When the Sayers read about Paul Anka on the LifeLine Facebook page, he was described in exactly those terms.

Then they saw Paul Anka in his pajamas - along with the shelter's offer that he could be taken home for a night.

They figured, why not give it a shot?

Last weekend, Paul Anka came to spend the night with the Sayers. The shelter provided the family with a leash, food, bowls, everything he'd need. (Not, unfortunately, the actual pajamas; those were left behind at the shelter for other dogs to muck around in).

Within half an hour, they knew he'd be sticking around for good.

"He's just so sweet," says Sayer. "He just slipped right into our family."

Janna Sayer

Now LifeLine's trying the same thing with another group of dogs - long-timers who can't seem to catch a family's eye, or dogs who just need a little extra boost to get out of the shelter.

These pups have been dressed up in their most adorable PJs, and have been made available for sleepovers. (Email adoptions@lifelineanimal.org if you're in the Atlanta area and you'd like to invite a dog over to spend the night at your house.)

LifeLine Animal Project

The overnight visits aren't just tryouts for prospective adopters - in other words, don't feel badly if you take a shelter dog home just for one night.

They are also intended to give these pups a break from the stressful shelter environment - and an opportunity for a dog's true personality to emerge, so that they can be placed with a well-matched family.

LifeLine Animal Project

"At the shelter they can often act too excited, because they desire human attention so much, but aren't used to getting it for extended periods of time. When they go to someone's house, they can settle down and just be themselves," says Hirsch.

Plus, obviously, it's all really fun.

LifeLine Animal Project

Paul Anka's new name is Bryn, for his brindle markings. He is smart, adores belly rubs and can't get enough cuddling. Sayer describes him as a "60-pound lap dog."

Her sons are head over heels for the dog, who likes to follow them around and supervise their bedtime routines.

What does Sayer's husband think about Bryn's blocky head now?

"It doesn't matter, he's the best," she says.

Sayer credits LifeLine's overnight visits with Bryn now being home. It took a lot of the guesswork out of adoption; it let them see for sure that the dog they'd ogled online would actually fit in.

She encourages other families to do the same: Pick up one of the shelter's dogs for a sleepover - and maybe turn that overnight into forever.

Sayer's so smitten with Bryn, she warns that every pajama party may not be quite as successful, because "I'm not sure every dog is quite as ideal as Bryn."

Janna Sayer