Dog Marked “NEXT” to Die Gets Surprise Visitors

The Great Animal Rescue Chase is delighted to bring you this extraordinary story of how the simplest acts of love can yield the most tremendous rewards.  What happens when someone stops to take a look at the nameless dog in a shelter whose only marker is the one that indicates that he is “next” for euthanasia?  This is one story you won’t soon forget.

By Karen Gleason of New Hampshire

My dog Abby had recently passed away and my other rescued dog, Copper, was visibly as sad as I was.  He didn’t want to eat or even play in the yard without his companion.  I had been taking Copper along with me to visit shelters and dog pounds for a couple of weeks.  I looked into many sad eyes, but no one had spoken to me, yet. 

One Saturday morning, we had only an hour or so before we had to go to a friend’s wedding, but my husband and I stopped by a humane society in the next town.  As my husband looked at the dogs in the first few cages, I immediately went to the end of the row, not knowing why.  I looked into the last cage, and I got my first glance of Ben.  I couldn’t really tell what kind of dog he was, but he was very big (about 90 pounds), cowering in the back corner, and shaking.  His black fur was so knotted that it formed dreadlocks all over his body.  His elbows were covered in thick, raw sores.  I looked on his name tag to see if any more information was listed, but besides his name, there was only one word: NEXT. 

Was He “Unadoptable”?

I got a leash and coaxed him gently out of the cage and guided him past my husband to the man on duty.  My husband looked at me, wondering what I was doing, but he knew me well enough to be able to tell what was on my mind.   The man explained that Ben had been there for three days, but that was long enough for them to determine Ben was unadoptable.  He would be put down that afternoon, as he certainly wasn’t going to find a home, no matter how long he was there. 

I was told that he was surrendered by his former owner because “he was a pain” and was about one and a half years old.  They guessed he was a mix between an Irish Setter and a Black Lab. 

I then went to talk things over with Copper.  He hadn’t been overly receptive to any of the other new prospective brothers or sisters I had introduced him to.  I looked into his eyes and pleaded with him to give this dog a chance, and that he really needed to come home with us.  Copper gave Ben the once-over and wagged his tail in approval. 

The Love We Shared….Priceless.  More Photos

I told the man at the counter I would take him.  He asked me if I was sure I wanted him.  I told my husband to give him the $35 adoption fee, and we were on our way home.  

Well, Ben was a very heavy breather.  He smiled and panted loudly all the way home.  After his bath, I couldn’t get the knots out of his coat, and most of his fur had to be shaved. 

Well, he spent the next 12 years keeping me company, taking care of me when I was sick, bringing me on great adventures and showing me how grateful he was that I brought him home that day.  Copper and he were the best of friends.  In twelve years Ben never asked anything more of me than to be by my side.  I am convinced that dogs are the most noble and loyal of all God’s creatures.  There is no doubt in my mind that I did not save Ben or any of the others.  It was me who was saved. 

The image above is one of Karen’s favorites and depicts her daughter Bailey with Ben.  See more photos of Ben here.

Have You Ever Helped An Animal?

Sometimes it’s as simple as helping a slow-moving turtle cross the road.  Or perhaps you helped a bird with a broken wing.  Whatever your acts of kindness, we want to hear about them.  Join in The Great Animal Rescue Chase’s worldwide event to empower everyday animal lovers to save more lives.  Simply logon to our website and share the story & photos of your rescue.  You never know who you might inspire!

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Photo credit: Karen Gleason


William C
William C2 months ago


W. C
W. C2 months ago

Thank you for caring.

Dianne Dunn
Past Member 3 years ago

Bless You Karen Gleason....... : )
Thanks for making my day! And Ben's life!...... : )

E. Talamante
E. Talamante3 years ago

Every animal deserves a chance - some, more than one. People often report feeling 'blessed' by the animal they save (I know I have!), but I think it goes both ways.

June Lacy
June Lacy3 years ago


Mary Mccarthy
Mary M3 years ago

I worked in a cat shelter. There was a cat that they deemed "unadoptable" because it attacked anyone who came in his cage. He was due to be put down. I don't know why but I decided that night that I was going to pet him whether he liked it or not. What did I have to lose? I donned heavy work gloves and just went right into his cage. He attacked me as usual but as soon as my hands touched his head and back he literally melted into my arms. I took off my gloves, scooped him up and he held on to me crying. He had only attacked people because he was completely terrified. After that moment he never tried attacking any of the volunteers. He ended up being one of the most friendliest, affectionate, cuddliest cats at the shelter. He was eventually adopted by a 68 yo woman who had just lost her husband. She said he was the best thing that had happened to her and I believe he probably felt the same. Just goes to show that you can't always judge a book by its cover, especially when it comes to shelter animals.

Pinke A.
Pinke A3 years ago

Lucky you and little Ben

Alexandra G.
Alexandra G3 years ago

thanks fot the great story !

JD She
JD S3 years ago

Lucky pup

Erin H.
Erin H3 years ago

Interesting article, thank you