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Adoption spotlight: Gannicus

Posted on Thursday, May 21, 2020

After 302 days in our care, Gannicus was adopted by dedicated Running Buddies volunteer Kimber Dowling. Over the past year, Kimber and Gannicus developed a close bond during their weekly runs and training sessions. Though Gannicus was wary of most people, he immediately took to Kimber. Over the months, she shared adorable photos of his cute expressions and videos of him doing commands in efforts to get him adopted. Though she did her best to promote him, it was evident his biggest cheerleader was meant to be his lasting guardian. After fostering him for the past two months, Kimber decided to make her teammate official and adopted him May 10, 2020. Kimber recounts how this special friendship blossomed.

Gannicus. I first met Gannicus during a Running Buddies volunteer shift. We had taken all the dogs on the list for runs, except for one: Gannicus. He was a “Trainer Permission” dog, meaning a volunteer had to meet with a trainer before being able to run with the dog. When I walked back to his kennel to introduce myself, I rounded the corner and saw his handsome face and it was love at first sight! Just kidding. He barked his head off at me! I left thinking, “I’ve seen your kind before. We WILL be friends!”

During my weekly visits, I worked to gain Gannicus’s trust. I would announce myself, walk by his kennel, give him a treat and go. After doing this several times, he became used to my voice and stopped barking when I walked in front of his kennel. Then I was able to sit in front of his kennel, talk to him and give him treats. After it appeared I had gained his trust, I asked the trainers if I could meet him outside of his kennel. Behavior and Training Associate Hannah Fuqua assisted me in this process. After we harnessed him and took him to the Richmond SPCA Assessment Room, Hannah instructed me to wait until he asked for pets before engaging with him. In less than five minutes he was belly up and begging for all the love and tummy scratches. We were friends! Told you it would happen!

As the weeks went by, I loved watching his confidence grow! He quickly became my favorite Running Buddies dog. He was smart and loved treats which made him eager to learn new tricks and commands. He did every command I asked him to do. He was such a good dog! However, his gregarious side was reserved for his trusted friends. He continued to be wary of strangers, which made him difficult to show to potential adopters. I heard one day that no one had ever asked to meet him, and it broke my heart. He was an amazing dog with a lot of potential.

Fast forward to when the world fell into pieces and we all had to shelter in place. To make matters worse, I was furloughed from my job. With all of this spare time, I asked my family about fostering Gannicus. I wanted to give him a break from the shelter, and they knew how much he meant to me. After some discussion, they agreed that we should open our home to him.

We brought him home on Saturday, March 21. He walked into our home like he had lived there forever. It was amazing to see him so happy and relaxed. He loved my family and quickly picked up on household manners. Gentle Leader training…check. Crate training…check. Waiting at the door…check. Honestly, if I were a better dog trainer, he would be vacuuming the house by now! And to watch him in our backyard…I could do it all day. It’s his favorite. Chasing squirrels. Chewing on sticks. Running zoomies. He was so happy!

Gannicus enjoying life at home

Needless to say, I was falling more in love with him. Well, my whole family was falling in love with him! I was a goner since day one! We talked more and more about adopting him. I was hesitant because as much as we loved him, I didn’t think our home was a perfect fit. We have two other dogs and we had to keep them separated from Gannicus. We are well-versed in the “dog shuffle” having done it before, but I wanted him to have a home that he had full access to. My husband asked “What in life is perfect?” I watched Gannicus again. He loved my family, he followed me around like a shadow, and he was so at peace in our backyard. This was where he was meant to be. So, on Mother’s Day, we made the decision; Gannicus would officially become a part of our family. Now here we are living happily ever after. I’m not sure who’s happier about it, Gannicus or me! Welcome home Gannicus. We are your home forever and ever and ever!


We are so grateful to the Dowling family for opening their hearts and homes to this sweet boy! Make an appointment to meet our dogs who are available for adoption by leaving a message at 804-521-1307 or emailing adoption1@richmondspca.org.

Kimber has been a Running Buddies volunteer since 2016. She lives in Richmond with her family and two other dogs. When she isn’t running she enjoys going to see live music, hiking and biking with her family, and road trips.

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