GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — One of the Kent County Animal Shelter’s longest residents hasn’t given up hope on finding her forever playmate.
Toffee is a mastiff mix estimated to be 1.5 years old.
“She’s still very much a giant puppy,” Angela Hollinshead, director of the Kent County Animal Shelter, said.
Toffee came to the shelter in October as a stray.
“When she arrived, she was a bit nervous. It was hard for her to adjust. And we knew that there were some special things that we were going to have to do to get her ready for adoption,” Hollinshead said.
The energetic, playful pup has been working on manners, how to sit, walking on a leash with a gentle leader and socializing with people.
“…Our staff have spent numerous hours working with her and really teaching her and allowing her to be a real dog,” Hollinshead said.
Since arriving at the shelter, Toffee has been adopted once and returned. She hasn’t left since.
When dogs are in the shelter for extended periods of time, they can develop behavioral issues, become depressed or shut down.
“Some dogs really struggle the longer that they are here,” Hollinshead explained. “We do a lot to ensure their mental health and their physical health.”
Hollinshead said that as of now Toffee is “maintaining.”
“But it’s one of those things where we don’t really know how long that maintaining can be sustained in a stressful environment,” she said.
Through the walks and playtime that the shelter provides, Toffee has made a few friends including Blimpie, another long-term shelter dog.
“(Toffee) has a really playful, independent personality. She loves playing with the other dogs at the shelter,” Hollinshead said.
Toffee has a tendency to get really excitable and jumps to show she’s excited. This is something that shelter staff has been working on.
“(We’ve been) working with her on down, working to keep her excitement levels a little bit lower. Lots of positive reinforcement,” Hollinshead said.
Toffee is very food motivated and eager to learn.
“If you have food in your hand, she will do pretty much whatever you want her to do if it ends up being a reward for her,” Hollinshead said.
The shelter staff thinks Toffee would do best in a home without children and with a consistent routine.
“Ideally it would be a lower-traffic house where she has the opportunity to spend a lot of time relaxing (with) a really good schedule. Schedules are always good for dogs,” Hollinshead said.
Toffee still has a lot of puppy energy, so an active home and someone to go on walks or runs with would be best.
“She’s a young dog so she has a lot of energy that she needs to get out often,” she said.
When someone interested in adopting Toffee meets with her, she will take a while to settle down and may not when at the first meeting, animal shelter technician Amber, who asked to be identified only by her first name, said.
“I’ve been working with her since October so she’s good with me, so she will get to that point with people. These skills are transferable once she knows you and knows that she’s not going to be pushing your boundaries,” she said.
Anyone interested in adopting Toffee who already has a dog is encouraged to do slow introductions.
Once Toffee leaves with her forever family, shelter staff is there to assist with any transitional challenges and training needs.
“When a dog is adopted from us … we always ask (that) if you have training issues or behavior issues that you need to tackle, you reach out to us and ask our staff. They’ve spent a lot of time with these animals and they really want to see these adoptions be successful and they’re willing to do a lot of things to ensure that the adoption is successful,” Hollinshead said.
For more information on adopting Toffee or any pet from Kent County Animal Shelter, visit the organization’s website or call 616.632.7300.