Spur doesn't mean to be rude, but she can't help herself.
While a stranger waits to be introduced, she is sniffing over here, over there, this way and that.
If you think this is a weird way to act, don't. Spur is a coonhound, the same breed of animal intimately familiar to fans of the University of Tennessee Volunteers. With her ultra-sensitive sense of smell, she is born to sniff.
Eventually Spur, who lives at the Humane Educational Society of Chattanooga off of McCallie Avenue, comes to meet the stranger, her golden brown eyes taking on a glazed stare as she accepts some rubbing up and down her back.
"Like a typical hound, Spur loves to explore and sniff everything around," says Chasity Garrett, animal enrichment officer at HES.
Picked up as a stray on Signal Mountain, Spur has been a tenant at the facility since August, making her the dog with the longest stay.
Animal shelters around Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia have their own versions of Spur, animals that haven't been adopted, or found a "forever home" as workers in all the shelters call it. Some of the animals don't get along very well with others; some are older; some are too big or too small; some just aren't the cutie-pie, lovey-dovey animal that people want.
And for some, like Spur, there isn't any reason that shelter workers can find for not being adopted. At HES, for instance, animals are generally adopted after 26 days and rarely stretch out to Spur's eight-month stay.
But in some cases, eight months is a short stay. At the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia in Dalton, Gabi, a miniature pinscher mix, has been there 10 of the 11 years she's been alive, effectively meaning the shelter is her forever home. In general, though, most of the longest-stay animals have been in their facilities no more than two years.
Here, we introduce you to these would-be pets that have been at regional animal shelters the longest —including some that have been adopted since the writing of this story. Sometimes, all it takes is a second to fall in love.
HUMANE EDUCATIONAL SOCIETY OF CHATTANOOGA
Missing home for 8 months
Spur's personality is so friendly, when a new dog comes to the shelter and workers need know how well the newbie gets along with others, Spur is the dog of choice for the experiment.
Six years old, she has no problem walking on a leash; in fact, she loves long walks. She likes to romp and play chase with other dogs. Like most hounds, she has a deep, melodious bay — "Aaaroooooo!" — and she doesn't mind expressing herself when she gets excited and is having fun.
Missing home for 1 year
This lively feline has a lot of personality packed in her calm, cool and, many times, sassy demeanor. Though playful, she is not a bounce-off-the-walls kinda gal. She's happy to sit back and quietly check out all the craziness around her and laugh silently to herself. Rayne would probably do best in a home with only adults or older children, and she may not love them but she can live among other cats. She is surrounded by other adoptable kitties and gets along quite nicely. However, if she were to go to a home with other felines, you would need to introduce them slowly.
Betty was pregnant when she arrived at the Humane Society in March 2019. She had a litter of six kittens.
"They kittens all got adopted, but they left Mom here," says shelter volunteer Irene Rzymowski.
Betty, who's 2 years old, has a calm personality and enjoys being petted and held. Like most cats, she's curious and will check everything out whenever she is in a new place. She gets along well with other cats as long as they don't get right in her face and invade her personal space.
MCKAMEY ANIMAL CENTER
Missing home for 6 months
A 2-year-old terrier mix, Montie has lived at the shelter since October after his owner could no longer take care of him. He's a pretty calm guy with a knack for making canine friends. He spends his days strolling placidly around the shelter, keeping an eye on things. With other dogs, though, he gets rambunctious and playful — what shelter employees call the "zoomies." He's a bit shy at first but will warm up after a bit.
Cash the Vietnamese Pot-Bellied Pig
Missing home for 3 years
Yes, a pig. Cash has had the longest stay of any animal at McKamey. Tipping the scales at a not-so-svelte 311 pounds, he's a staff favorite. Comfortable both indoors and out, he's a people pig and enjoys just hanging out with shelter employees.
Five years old and neutered, he enjoys snacks — as his weight will attest — and also is a big fan of belly rubs; and it's a big belly to rub. It may be his size that keeps him from being adopted, says McKamey's Melissa Smith, but the staff is hopeful.
"We love him, but we would love for him to find the perfect family," she says.
A pot-bellied pig?
Many may not realize this, but both McKamey and the Humane Educational Society are contracted to take in any animal that comes to them from within their jurisdiction, Chattanooga city limits for McKamey and Hamilton County for HES. And yes, that does mean any animal. Up until recently, McKamey had several horses grazing outside and HES had two pot-bellied pigs of its own.
SPCA OF BRADLEY COUNTY
Missing home for 2 years
Polka is quite the lady. Polite. Calm. Quiet. Shelter workers say they can count on one hand time the number of times they've heard her bark. She does make noise, though, working up a pretty good snore when sleeping.
The border collie mix seems to have been abused, so she's still a bit shy around people, at least at first. As a plus, she's not a chewer who'll ruin furniture or anything else suitable for gnawing. She's OK with other dogs but will let them know she's not happy if they get too pushy. When happy, though, her whole body wriggles as she wags her tail. With her background, she'll probably do better in a kid-free, calm home, workers say.
Missing home for 9 months
Indy is a special cat that needs a special home, one that probably doesn't have any kids under 15 years old. Like many cats, she likes to play with anything she can, paper and playing cards among her favorites. She'll also steal your food if you're not looking.
But she doesn't get along with other cats and dogs are iffy, so the shelter recommends that she live in a home without other animals.
She also has not been declawed, which is banned at the Cleveland Animal Shelter, and she's a biter, playing with you one second, nipping you the next. Shelter workers believe that's why she hasn't been adopted.
"That does not mean she is a bad cat. She is a wonderful cat," they say. "It's just when she has had enough, she has had enough."
PET PLACEMENT CENTER
Missing home for 16 months
In the time Petey has been at the shelter, he has become bonded with another dog, Stabler, who has been at Pet Placement for a little over a year. "They're together 24/7. Because of that friendship, the two must be adopted as a pair," says Liz Gillespie, an animal caretaker at the center. "They eat together; they sleep together. It would be detrimental at this point to separate them."
Shelter employees think Petey is a boxer/hound mix, but for the sake of brevity they call him a "Heinz 57." One thing they know for sure: He is goofy, with a sweet, affectionate personality. He loves car rides and hikes and is confident enough to know what he wants and doesn't want. His downfall is treats, which he can't resist and will do almost anything to get.
Stabler, a boxer mix, is playful and easygoing, too. Like his buddy, he enjoys car rides and is good on a leash. Both Petey and Stabler are good around other dogs.
Sprout is not a nap-on-your-lap cat, but put her in the sun and she's a happy kitty. Though not all that fond of being picked up, she will gladly let you stroke her head. Her hobby is bird-watching — which makes sense; she's a cat, after all. In her time at the shelter since January 2019, the staff has learned that she prefers wet food and goes nuts for catnip. In general, though, you'll live with her on her terms, not yours.
HUMANE SOCIETY OF NORTHWEST GEORGIA
Missing home for 3 years
"Spicy" is a word that's used to describe Boo, but that makes sense — he's a Chihuahua. When he first arrived at the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia, Boo was not the easiest guy to get to know and was not very nice when people tried to get to know him. But he's come around and now likes to sit in your lap and be cuddled. Napping next to people is his favorite activity. He gets along with the other dogs, but prefers peace and quiet over barking and horseplay. He's housetrained and leash-trained and would be happiest in an adult-only home.
Missing home for 2 years
Dolly is a 5-year-old tortoiseshell, but she acts more like a kitten instead of a dignified lady. And that's a good thing. She loves to play and will follow you around to make sure she doesn't miss anything. She gets bored pretty easily, though, so she needs a home that's happily busy. She is not a lay-around, sleep-all-day kind of cat, although she does enjoy a nap or two. Other cats or dogs are no problem for her. She will be entranced by just about anything that's moving, such as a bird or bugs. As the shelter's veterinarian says, "She needs a job."