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Then everything changed. She grew up in a shelter, waiting to be adopted by a family.

“I’m a good girl! I promise …”

This sweet dog, named Ginger, apparently suffered from abandonment when she came to Dogwood Animal Shelter in Missouri in 2013. Even though she was only a few years old at the time, her early experiences made a lasting impression.

Ginger was considered “unadoptable” by some because of her anxiety and sluggishness to trust.

Ginger would therefore have to wait to find someone who would give her the tolerance and affection she required. And hold on.

And hold on.

DOGWOOD ANIMAL SHELTER

Ginger waited for the better part of 10 years, staring out of her chilly kennel while prospective adopters passed her by, choosing instead to bring home other dogs they thought were cuter than her.

After seven years had passed, the once-young puppy had definitely matured. Her once chocolate-brown fur was now gray and white.

Unfortunately, though, Ginger’s life had not changed much else.

DOGWOOD ANIMAL SHELTER

Ginger might have given up on the depressing realities of living in a shelter and lost hope for a better life. She had not, however, been forgotten.

After learning about Ginger’s plight in 2020, shelter pet advocate Scott Poore of Misson Driven made the decision to fight back against what looked to be her certain fate of leaving the world unloved.

“It absolutely broke my heart, so I stopped what I was doing and dedicated all of my time to her,” Poore told The Dodo. “I started telling her story to anyone that would listen.”

After seven years of languishing in silence, Ginger finally had a voice.

MISSION DRIVEN

And before long, everything started to shift.

People started to reach out to Ginger with promises of hope when she gained more visibility and awareness of her predicament, which had been ongoing for years. She had lost hope.

Among them was Beth, too. In the years she had left, Beth made the decision to offer the elderly dog another chance at a happy life. Then, though, something else started to shift.

KEEPINGUP_WITHGINGER

Ginger gradually came out of her shell, the only life she had ever known, at home with Beth, experiencing new sensations of safety, love, and stability. And she never turned around after reaching each significant milestone.

KEEPINGUP_WITHGINGER

“100 percent, there was a transformation,” Beth told The Dodo. “She was very skittish and protective [at first]. Now she will walk into a new environment with her head held high. Seeing her jump on a bed or walk on floors and be able to be a dog was amazing to see. She’s not this fragile shelter dog anymore. She knows her name and she stands bold with it.”

KEEPINGUP_WITHGINGER

Ginger believes that her life truly began when she was ten years old.

At 13 years old, Ginger is experiencing some health problems, much as many puppies of her age. However, the many years she spent in the shelter don’t seem to have diminished her remaining years. She had been anticipating this.

“She is an old girl, but very puppy-like nowadays,” Beth said.

KEEPINGUP_WITHGINGER

Ginger’s environment had significantly improved, and in the process of making that shift, Beth’s had as well.

When Ginger was adopted, Beth was a young woman managing her life while dealing with anxiety. Beth is now married, a homeowner, and has a prosperous career.

“Ginger and I have definitely grown together. I feel like when I got her, we were both kids entering adulthood together,” Beth said.

“I think the most important thing Ginger taught me is that it’s okay to start over … that no matter what life gives you, there’s a better tomorrow — you can’t grow in the same place that broke you. We are thriving together now.”

KEEPINGUP_WITHGINGER

Ginger, however, is not the only dog who has missed years or months of contentment while waiting for a second chance while residing in an animal shelter; in fact, many puppies continue to do so.

There is still hope that the lives of other shelter pets can change in a similar way to how Ginger’s life did.

Ginger’s beaming expression is proof of the possibilities. However, they cannot accomplish this on their own.

KEEPINGUP_WITHGINGER

“I want to challenge more people to adopt the ‘unadoptable’ or long-term animal and give them a second chance to love and live,” Beth said.

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