Kay Hyman has worked with animal shelters for over 20 years, but she had never met a dog like Gumby.
Gumby, a Hound mix, was tall, lanky, energetic with a braying bark—like most of his breed—but he also possessed uncanny escape skills.
These dogs are common in the Southern states where they found him, and known for their stubborn nature. Many Hound mixes they find are failed hunting dogs that either ran away or were abandoned.
When rescuers found this stray dog the first time, he was healthy and well-fed, which already set him apart. He was not your average stray, and not an abused dog, but not someone’s pet either. They shelter workers thought maybe he was a runaway or recent castoff.
Gumby did not have to spend too long a period in the shelter before finding a home—but his first stay was so short it was unheard of.
“His first adoption lasted just 3 days,” the Charleston Animal Society shared. The next adoption in 2014 lasted twice as long.
The shelter had high hopes for his third adoption, but it was even more of a disaster. Gumby was returned four different times by four different people during his third adoption.
One time, a kind stranger had found the lost Gumby and brought him back. The second time, an animal control worker showed up at the door with Gumby.
And the adopted family themselves returned Gumby twice—they feared that Gumby, with his penchant for escaping, would get lost, hurt, or even fatally so, while he was out and the family wouldn’t even know what had happened to him. The second time, they were heartbroken and said they were giving up Gumby permanently.
Gumby stayed at the shelter then for another few months. The shelter made sure to warn each new family that he was prone to escaping, but eventually a fourth family adopted him.
For four months, the shelter workers hadn’t heard about or seen Gumby again, and it seemed like he had found his forever home.
Until one day a stray was brought in—and they immediately recognized it was Gumby.
A little over a month later, a fifth owner tried to adopt Gumby. About the same amount of time later—a stray turned up 30 miles from Charleston Animal Society—it was Gumby yet again.
His sixth adoption was much shorter.
By the end of the year, the holidays were nearing and the shelter wanted to try finding Gumby a home yet again. He lasted until three days after the new year this time—his seventh home, and 11th return—and was brought back to the shelter.
The adopter told the shelter he had escaped three times during his stay—less than a month—and even once broke down a screen door to do so.
The shelter workers decided enough was enough. They wouldn’t try putting Gumby in another home—after all, he would always escape and come back to the shelter. Maybe the shelter was home.
And they were right. In Charleston Animal Society’s care, Gumby rarely ever tried to escape ever again. He adored the staff members, who doted on him right back.
And as they got to know Gumby better, they realized another unique ability of his.
He had the ability to read the emotions of other dogs, and comfort them.
Whenever anxious and terrified rescues were brought in, Gumby somehow just knew, and would adjust his behavior to settle and soothe the other dogs.
Animal behaviorist Donya Satriale told Barkpost that Gumby, even if he goes on an outing, always returns to the shelter because “he knows he has work to do.”
Gumby had become an ambassador at the shelter, their go-to guy for acclimating new dogs.
A couple of months later, the shelter realized another amazing thing about Gumby. His blood type made him a reliable blood donor, and the serum from his white blood cells also has healing properties that saved their sick kittens.
“He plays with over 50 dogs a day has all the toys treats and food he can ask for and we love him like he is our own dog!”