Happy Pawlidays: shelter dogs celebrate Thanksgiving in Atlanta area homes

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Lifeline Animal Project offers tips for adopting older dogs

Ken Hood wasn’t sure he was ready to adopt another dog. His dog of 14 years - a sweet terrier mix, Cookie, had passed away months earlier.

But he knew he could open his home to a shelter dog during Thanksgiving week. So last year, Hood participated in LifeLine Animal Project's "Home for the Pawlidays," a program which places shelter dogs in real homes for the week surrounding Thanksgiving. Last year, 20 dogs were given a week-long vacation, and all but four of the dogs were either adopted or fostered long-term.

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Hood was paired with a Rottweiler-lab mix named Bullet.

He knew he was at least giving Bullet a break from the shelter, and it would also be an opportunity to see if he might be ready for another dog.

“It was love at first sight,” said Hood. “As soon as they brought him into a room, he rolled over on his back and let me scratch his belly.”

This year, LifeLife plans to place 50 shelter dogs (25 at DeKalb County Animal Services and 25 from Fulton County Animal Services) in homes over the upcoming holiday. Lifeline provides food and supplies for the short-term foster homes during the week. To participate, go to LifeLineAnimal.org/homeforthepawlidays. Dogs can be picked up Thursday, Friday or Saturday this week.

LifeLine Animal Project spokesperson Karen Hirsch said the dogs chosen for the program include “dogs who have been here the longest or who we really feel deserve a break from the shelter.”

Hirsch said although it might seem sad some of the dogs will return to the shelter, she said the break from shelter offers huge rewards for the dogs.

“Taking dogs away from the stress of a noisy shelter allows them to relax and recharge, so that they are renewed when they return (much like people taking a vacation),” Hirsch said in an e-mail. “And since dogs' personalities tend to shine through outside of the shelter, the input given to us by the foster parents is invaluable, allowing us to match the dog with a potential adopter more easily.”

Meanwhile, Bullet who is now about 7 years old, has brought great joy to Hood. Hood said Bullet generally “has two speeds” - he’s either full of energy eager to go a walk or play outside, or he’s sleeping on the couch. He loves meet new people, and he loves nibble on blankets, or have one in his mouth while falling asleep.

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For those who may be on the fence about participating in the program, he said,  “at the least, you are allowing a dog to get a break from the shelter. They need that time to decompress. . .At the best, like me you might fall in love with the pup and decide to keep them.”

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