From "foster failure" to adoption success story, one family in Maine can't imagine its home without its furry friend.
Last summer, Janice Ribeiro and her son, Sam, started feeling like they were ready to have a dog again. Their previous pet had passed away, and they wanted to ease back in to pet ownership. They decided to be a foster family for a dog at the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland.
"We loved him right from day one," Ribeiro said of poodle mix, Gaultier. The little gray dog was calm, affectionate and exactly what they were looking for.
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Days later, it was time to return him to the Westbrook animal shelter so a family could adopt him on Clear the Shelters day. But instead of simply dropping Gaultier off, the family got in line — waiting outside the shelter in the hopes of adopting the dog they had just fostered.
They woke up before 5 a.m. and were among the first in line that morning. A few hours later, Gaultier was officially their dog. They've been going on adventures together ever since.
"It's amazing how instantly he connected with us," Ribeiro said.
Gaultier enjoys walks on Willard Beach, camping trips, belly rubs and being carried around in bags. Ribeiro said he looks a little bit like an Ewok from Star Wars, so they dressed him up like one on Halloween.
She said from now on, her family will adopt shelter pets, and she is encouraging other families to consider fostering and adopting, too.
"There are so many animals that need homes," Ribeiro said.
And she thinks taking part in Clear the Shelters Day is a great way to do it.
"The event is really fun," she said. "If your family is ready [to adopt], go for it."