A dog who has spent the majority of her life in a shelter received more than 500 cards to celebrate her birthday – and hopefully help her find a forever home.
Truffles, a sweet black and white American pit bull terrier mix, arrived at the Brookhaven Animal Shelter and Adoption Center in New York City in 2013 at the age of 4. She spent three years waiting for a home before she was finally adopted in early 2017.
“She had a home with children that she loved so very much,” says Valerie Sanks, a volunteer at the Brookhaven shelter. Unfortunately, two years later, due to nothing that Truffles did, the dog ended up back at the shelter in June of this year.
“I was there the day she came back, and I was amazed that she remembered me like it was yesterday,” says Sanks. “She greeted me with lots of love and kisses!”
And while the reunion was filled with joy, coming back to a shelter, especially as a senior, isn’t great for any dog. Sanks wanted to get her back into a home.
So, as Truffles was about to turn 10 years old she came up with an idea to not only make her birthday a day to remember but also raise awareness about her current situation.
She booked a hotel room so Truffles could have a sleepover birthday party, one away from the shelter. The theme, fittingly, was a princess party. And every princess, of course, needs presents. But “since Truffles is on a special diet and never really had any interest in toys, she asked for birthday cards from all over,” says Sanks. And what Truffles wants, Truffles gets.
To help get the word out, Sanks asked Sophie Gamand to help. Gamand, a famous photographer in the dog world, had taken pictures of Truffles wearing one of her legendary flower crowns in 2014, and she was happy to help. She posted a notice on Facebook and Instagram, and, well, it went viral.
“Truffles received a total of 504 birthday cards filled with love and amazing stories of shelter dogs, cats and rescue animals,” says Sanks.
She printed out a map of the United States and began to color the states that sent cards. One by one, she recalls, states started to get colored in.
Sanks updated the followers on her Blankets for Buster and his Friends Facebook page about the states that they still needed cards from — and people started to tag friends in those states. “Seems people wanted to wish her a happy 10th birthday,” she says.
The idea was to read the cards to Truffles at her party, but they realized that it was going to be a long night. “So, we had volunteers become card readers,” Sanks says.
“Hour after hour, the outpouring of love via those cards meant everything to the people who care for Truffles and her shelter friends, day after day,” write Gamand on her Facebook page.
Truffles enjoyed being read to in bed while the volunteers would cuddle with her, Sanks explains. “Each card had a sweet message. Cards from dogs had stories about how they were adopted, how long they lived in a shelter and their own family. But most all said, ‘don’t give up. There is a perfect family out there waiting for you!’”
Some cards included photos, and children made homemade cards. People included gifts for the other shelter dogs too, special diet treats, toys or even gift cards or money. “One dog sent a stuffed candle that sang Happy Birthday and a princess blanket,” says Sanks.
When all the cards Truffles received were laid on the floor, they covered an area bigger than her actual kennel at the shelter, Gamand writes. “Imagine the power of all that love?? Now, can we get this girl a home?”
Truffles is an amazing 10-year-old sweet and loving dog that simply loves humans, especially children, Sanks explains. She is not a fan of other animals, but she will ignore them. “She wants to be the princess of the home.”
On an activity scale of one to 10, Sanks gives Truffles a two, so she is a perfect pet for people that enjoy hanging around snuggling. “Truffles enjoys car rides, belly rubs and sleeping a lot but lights up when she sees anyone, especially a child.”
To increase her chances of adoption, Truffles recently left Brookhaven Animal shelter to start a new journey at Jefferson County SPCA upstate. It’s the only shelter for that area, so dogs tend to get adopted sooner than at crowded shelters closer to the city.
“Thank you everyone who participated in making her birthday as special as it was,” Sanks says. “We have many dogs here that are also still looking for their forever home!”
If you’re interested in adopting Truffles, go the shelter’s adoption page. The shelter is open for adoptions 7 days a week.