For the past year, Kayla Filoon, volunteered as a dog walker at ACCT Philly, an animal shelter in Philadelphia. So, the 20 year old student was used to spending time with dogs. However, when she met Russ, everything changed. She knew there was something special about the quiet four year old pit bull.

ACCT Philly

“He came in as a stray, and he was really beat up,” Filoon says. “He was missing fur on his tail and ears. He was also terribly skinny. They told me he was about 40 pounds when he came into the shelter.”

But despite his rough appearance, Filoon soon recognized what a wonderful dog he was. “He was just sitting there calmly, staring at me,” Filoon said. “And I thought, he is adorable! I need to take him now.”

ACCT Philly

When she came back later to check on Russ, the poor thing had barely moved. “He was sitting in the same position that he was before, just being quiet while the other dogs were barking and causing commotion,” Filoon said.

She then walked the dog for about 45 minutes, but she had already fallen in love with him within five minutes. “He was really cuddly with me, even when we went into the yard,” Filoon said. “He seemed like such a sweet dog, and he didn’t bark at any of the other dogs.”

Kayla Filoon

Filoon also found out that Russ knew basic commands like sit, down and stay, which made her believe he used to belong to someone. This made her wonder how he ended up at the shelter in such a horrible state.

After the walk was over, Filoon unwillingly put Russ back into his kennel. She then called her mom.

“I told her, ‘I think I need to adopt a dog tomorrow,'” Filoon said. “My mom thought I was kidding, because I always fall in love with the dogs that I take out – it’s hard not to. So she didn’t really believe me, but there was something about Russ.”

Kayla Filoon

And the matter at hand was quite urgent. The shelter was overcrowded at the time, and had recently euthanized around 15 dogs.

“Any dog had a chance of being put down, especially the ones who were sicker, and Russ was definitely one of them,” Filoon said. “He had kennel cough.”

Filoon had class the next day, but as soon it was over, she went to the shelter. She decided to take Russ for a car ride this time.

Kayla Filoon

“He just sat in my passenger seat,” she said. “I thought, ‘He’s the perfect dog.'”

They returned to the shelter later that afternoon and the young girl knew she wasn’t going home without him. She quickly organized the adoption papers.

Kayla Filoon

“I took him home that night,” Filoon said.

Kayla Filoon

Filoon then told her six other housemates about Russ. Thankfully, they loved him, too. It took him quite a while to get used to his new environment. He needed to sleep a lot because he was still recovering from his kennel cough.

Kayla Filoon

But Russ seemed to love this new life, especially his owner, Filoon. “He always has to be close to me,” she said.

Kayla Filoon

“One night I’m sitting there on the chair, doing my homework, and he’s trying to find ways to cuddle with me,” Filoon said. “There was a whole other sofa open, and we had his bed on the floor, but he didn’t want to lie anywhere else. So he ends up positioning himself, and I look down, and I think, “Oh my gosh, look at him.'”

Kayla Filoon

Filoon’s friend took a picture and put it on social media. It went viral quite fast. Filoon hopes the photo will inspire other people to adopt shelter dogs too.

Kayla Filoon

“He’s such a love bug, honestly,” Filoon said. “I’ll be lying there, and he’ll put his head under my arm, or his paw over my chest. And he’ll even lay on my chest.”

Kayla Filoon

“I was worried that when I brought him home, his attitude might change,” she said. “But he’s still the same relaxed, I’ll-lay-down-and-cuddle-with-you kind of dog. He’s probably one of the most grateful dogs I’ve ever seen.”

Kayla Filoon

If you want to help dogs like Russ, make a donation to ACCT Philly.

Kayla Filoon

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