GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After 523 days in the Kent County Animal Shelter, Blimpie found his forever home.

The American Staffordshire terrier mix came to the shelter in March 2022 after he was found near the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital dragging a leash.

“Oftentimes it’s hard for dogs to adjust to shelter life. Blimpie did exceptionally well,” Angela Hollinshead, director of the Kent County Animal Shelter, said. “He was really comfortable here. He didn’t love dog-to-dog interactions, so playgroups and things for him were not really a high priority for him to stay comfortable and happy.”

But he did make a dog friend named Toffee.

A following both on social media and at the shelter cheered him on.

“He grew to have a following of volunteers who loved to take him out on field trips. So even though he was here for a really long time, he had a lot of enrichment that allowed him to maintain the really happy status the whole time he was here with us,” Hollinshead said.

  • Blimpie is up for adoption at the Kent County Animal Shelter. (Courtesy)
  • Blimpie is up for adoption at the Kent County Animal Shelter. (Courtesy)
  • Blimpie is up for adoption at the Kent County Animal Shelter. Also pictured is Toffee (tan). (Courtesy)

“We don’t put a limit of time on how long we keep animals here at the shelter. It always depends on their mental and physical health and their well-being,” she continued. “If they’re maintaining and they’re happy, and they seem to be adjusting well, we will hold them as long as we can until we find them a home.”

For Blimpie, “home” was with Shawn Boomers.

“I had been wanting a dog and my friend Courtney told me about Blimpie,” Boomers said.

Boomers watched News 8’s feature on Blimpie from May and thought, “Oh, he’s cute.”

“I ended up going into the shelter. I left work an hour early because I wanted to go meet him to see how it went, and I ended up spending an hour and 10 minutes there playing with Blimpie,” he said.

A few days later, Blimpie was going home.

“They were actually surprised that I actually came back for him,” Boomers said.

And Blimpie, Boomers said, was excited to see him again.

Anytime the shelter sends home a long-term shelter pet, the shelter offers support for the new owner.

Heather Hughesian and Blimpie outside of the Kent County Animal Control on May 5, 2023.

“If there’s ever an SOS call where they’re having a behavioral issue with their new dog that was long-term, we have a whole huge group of people, staff and volunteers who are really interested in stepping up and providing a lot of support for these adopters of the long-term dogs,” Hollinshead said.

On the way home from the shelter, Boomers had to make one of those calls. The shelter’s volunteer coordinator Heather Hughesian, who had been working with Blimpie at the shelter, came to the rescue.

“Heather left the shelter, and I was at a park because he was worked up and wouldn’t let me drive… so Heather ended up coming up there and taking him the rest of the way to my house, which was like 35 minutes from the shelter,” Boomers explained.

If Blimpie doesn’t warm up to the car, Boomers said the shelter informed him that there are volunteers who will take him to the vet if needed.

Blimpie has been at his new home for just over two weeks and he’s been adjusting well.

“He likes to watch the Detroit Lions with me. He’ll just lay there. And normally, he’ll pass out on the couch, but he was actually somewhat awake watching the game,” Boomers said. “He’s (also) very cuddly. He likes his cuddles.”

Boomers said Blimpie has also become his shadow, following him around the house throughout the day.

Even with the improvements in the past two weeks, Blimpie still has some learning and adjusting to do.

“Most shelter dogs are not plug and play. There’s a great deal of them that are, but a lot of dogs come with their own individual behaviors, so we encourage everybody when they first adopt a pet to really give a couple of months for that dog to really show its true colors and become a good fit in a household,” Hollinshead said.

For Blimpie, he’s becoming less nervous, decompressing from shelter life and learning house manners.

“He doesn’t know house manners too well,” Boomers laughed. “He likes to jump on the coffee table because he thinks it’s a chair. He’s working on that — he hasn’t done that in about a week.”

Blimpie is the first pet that was featured in our long-term shelter pet series to be adopted.

For anyone interested in adopting a long-term shelter pet, Boomers says the main thing you need is patience.

“They haven’t been in a house in a long time, and so, they have to adjust to not being cooped up in a shelter and actually having freedom again. You just got to be patient and reward them when they’re good. They’ll catch on fairly easily,” he said.

For more information on adopting long-term shelter pets or any pet from Kent County Animal Shelter, visit the organization’s website or call 616.632.7300.