‘Grateful’ Shelter Dog Thanks All His Rescuers With Loving Hugs

A book can’t be judged by its cover, just like a dog can’t be judged by his fur — take it from Sonny, a homeless dog whose genuinely loving spirit is hidden under his not-so-perfect exterior.

Sonny was picked up as a stray by Jackson County Animal Shelter (JCAS) in late March 2023. When they met the sweet pup, staff members could tell right away that both his body and spirit were shattered.

“He just looked like he was about to give up,” Lydia Sattler, Jackson, Michigan’s animal services director, told The Dodo. “He looked broken in his eyes.”


Sonny’s ears were previously clipped, his nails were overgrown, his coat was patchy and he was positive for heartworm. He’d survived being neglected by his family, and, while he still had a long road of healing ahead of him, he didn’t have any resentment — he was just full of love.

The staff at JCAS started treating Sonny immediately, and the sweet pup started improving a little each day. After a while, Sonny’s caregivers could tell that his defeated spirit was finally perking up again.

“You could literally see the life come back into his eyes as we were caring for him,” Sattler said.


As Sonny started to feel better, his caregivers learned just how affectionate he was. Every time someone would kneel down to his level, Sonny would gently bury his head into their chest and stay there for as long as possible.

“He literally just wants to hug everyone,” Sattler said. “He just melts into you. It’s almost like he can’t get close enough.”

No matter who was around, Sonny would always be ready to dish out the warmest hugs. Only he knew what his life was like before, and he wanted everyone to feel how thankful he was to have been saved.


“With daily care and someone to love him, he’s gotten so much better,” Sattler said. “It’s like he’s grateful for it. I don’t know how to explain it, you can just feel it.”

Now, Sonny’s ready for adoption, but he keeps being looked over. His friends at JCAS know just how loving of a dog he is, but his appearance is keeping people away.

As devastating as it is to watch their adored pup be ignored by adoptive families, they know he’ll find a home soon enough. As Sattler sees it, it’s only a matter of time before Sonny’s looks match his spirit.


“He looks awful, but he’s gonna get better,” Sattler said. “His coat is gonna grow back, he’s gonna gain weight … his ears are never gonna be normal again, but that’s just an appearance.”

Soon enough, Sonny will find a family of his own. His friends at JCAS will miss his hugs when he leaves, but they’ll be comforted by the fact that Sonny finally found his perfect match.

“A perfect match for Sonny would be someone who has as gentle and loving of a spirit as he does so they could share that every day,” Sattler said. “That’s what he deserves.”


A Good Samaritan has already covered Sonny’s adoption fees, and the shelter is willing to pay 100 percent for his heartworm treatment as soon as he finds a home. All he needs to do is find his person.

Until then, Sattler and her team will keep soaking up Sonny’s affection one hug at a time. They’ve cared for countless dogs in the past, but, to them, Sonny is extra special.

“To meet Sonny is to love him,” Sattler said. “And the overwhelming love he has to share after being so neglected is incredible. He’s just so sweet.”

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