Waiting for the Right Family

Long-timer. It’s a word you frequently hear shelter staff use when referring to a dog or cat who has been waiting in adoptions for a long time. “She’s a long-timer,” they say. Or, “He’s been with us forever.”

How does a pet become a long-timer? We wish we knew. It’s not really something you can diagnose. Sure, some might say that a long-timer dog has a particular look – an adult dog, a black dog, a large dog, a dog with lots of energy, etc.


Truth be told – there is no formula that can predict how long a pet will have to wait for a family. It might surprise you to know that long-timer pets come in a wide array of colors, shapes, ages, and sizes. (Read the myth about black pets.)

There was Zahara, the two year old tabby cat who was friendly, affectionate, and liked other cats. It took her over 100 days to find a home.



Who can forget Rosco, the adorable brown-eyed Boxer mix with the wrinkly face and cute spots? He was finally adopted on his 365th day in the shelter.


There’s no exact reason why a pet will stay in the shelter for any length of time. Adopters may think that a longer stay equals hidden issues. Imagine, walking by a kennel and seeing a sign that reads: I’ve been waiting forever! Your heart might say, “Oh no! I want to save this one!” Then your head interrupts — “I bet there’s a reason that dog is still here.”

Being in the shelter for any length of time can be stressful on animals. We provide our pets with a wide variety of engagement and interaction, but we can’t change the fact that this is a shelter. While it may be hard on the animals, it can actually be a bonus to adopters who take home a long-timer. Here are three excellent reasons.

#1 – Improved Behaviors: JHS has a behavior team that works diligently with identified pets to increase their adopt-ability and take them from good to great. For example, Sebastian, a spirited two-year-old terrier mix, spent his first day in the play yard tugging on his leash and trying to climb the fence. A few months later, after some hard work with our staff, Sebastian was able to go on a field trip with a volunteer to a local park. The volunteer reported he was very easy to walk on his leash and stayed by her side the whole time. What an improvement!


 Sebastian learned all his manners during his 9 months at JHS!#2 – Earning Trust: The shelter is a new place and even the friendliest dogs can be anxious. That’s definitely an area where JHS and our amazing volunteers can help. One of our current long-timers, Happy, was very afraid in her kennel when she first arrived. She would cower, bark and run from adopters who came to see her. Our staff and volunteers spent many days walking by her kennel and giving her treats, using a clicker training tool to help her overcome her fears. Now, Happy shows genuine interest in her potential adopters and will gently tip-toe up to meet you. We know that she will adore the family who takes her home!


Our sweet Happy is still looking for a home!

#3 – Extra Details: Another additional bonus is that we can provide more information about the long-timer pets, simply because our staff has spent ample time with them. For example, current long-timer Tiki can give a double-paw high five, loves to ride in the car, and is very tolerant of wearing bunny ears. (She’s also house-trained and loves toys.) You can even watch Tiki in action on the local news: bit.ly/1VuLQo3 . Imagine taking home this TV star!



So, while we don’t like pets to wait for a long time, adopting a long-timer is a great choice for many families. You will take home extra information and tips from our team about keeping your new pet’s behavior on the right track. And one more bonus – most of our long-time residents’ adoption fees have been sponsored by the Peaches Pays fund!

Next time you visit a shelter to find your new furry family member, take a second look at those long-timers. Remember, they have only been there so long because the right family hasn’t come along yet. And that family might just be YOU!


Roberto’s new mom said, “We can’t imagine why it took him so long to find a home. We think he’s perfect.”

Please come meet our current long time residents!

Current Dogs:

  1. Taylor 497 days*
  2. Buck 384 days
  3. Gloria 209 days
  4. Happy 203 days
  5. Candy 195 days
  6. Jethro 186 days
  7. Leo 164 days
  8. Brandi 133 days

Click here to view dog pictures and profiles.

Top Cats:

  1. Ellen 42 days
  2. Kaci 37 days
  3. Joy 35 days

Click here to view cat picture and profiles.


*This number indicates the number of days currently spent in the shelter by each pet on the list. Some totals include time spent at ACPS and JHS combined.