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24 Sep 2017


By Gracie Carroll

My Dog Adoption Experience With The Toronto Humane Society

By Gracie Carroll

Engagement stories, wedding stories, birthing stories… from what I’ve gathered, people seem to enjoy sharing personal stories about monumental moments in their lives on the internet, and people like reading about them. Well, I don’t have a engagement/wedding/birthing story to tell, so I’ve decided to share my dog adoption story that involves my recent experience adopting a dog from the Toronto Humane Society.

My boyfriend Josh and I had talked a lot about getting a dog ever since we moved into our  home together three years ago. It was an almost daily discussion about whether or not we had the lifestyle to care for a dog properly, followed by the argument over getting a small or big dog. I wanted a small, he wanted big.

Eventually we inherited our beloved fluffy feline, #EmmyCrawford, from friends a couple of years ago, and have lived happily together ever since. But despite my love for Emmy, one thing was still missing: the unconditional love from a furry friend for the animal therapy that I craved. The reality is, our cat hates cuddling and has always been more interested in Josh than me.

After a recent trip to L.A. where I got to cuddle with my friend Jenny’s adorable little dog, Pete, I cracked. Upon returning home I marched through the door and announced to Josh, “WE ARE GETTING A DOG!!!” I had been looking on the Toronto Humane Society’s website and spotted a dog named Nahla that I wanted to see. Once they re-opened after the long weekend, we headed in to see her.

toronto humane society dog adoption

The last time I remembered being at the Humane Society was back when I was around ten years old for a check up for my family dog. Josh and I had zero idea of what the process would be like, and upon walking in, we told the man at reception that we were there to see Nahla.

As a place that relies heavily on help from their volunteers, it was clear that this man was taking care of a lot at once and was slightly frazzled. He gave us the room number where we could find her, and sent on us on our way. We were surprised that we would be wandering around looking for dogs on our own, but headed in the direction to see her.

Seeing the animals waiting for adoption at the Humane Society was a bit of an overwhelming experience. There are rooms filled with young dogs, old dogs and sick dogs who are patiently, or not so patiently, waiting for new homes. Some are barking, some are sleeping, and I couldn’t help but think that if I had a house big enough I would take them all home with me! It is really rather heartbreaking to see animals living in a cell rather than a comfortable home with a loving owner.

In the room where we were told we could find Nahla we didn’t see her anywhere. Confused, we headed back to the reception area and, on our way, saw her being led to another area of the building. Quickly we rushed over to the same man who had helped us before and asked where she was going as that was the dog we had come in to see. He wasn’t sure, but said it was probably for a walk and that she should be back in about 20 minutes.

I believe that everything happens for a reason and that things that are meant to be should happen somewhat serendipitously. I’ll admit that at that point I was feeling pretty bummed out, and I was getting a gut feeling that this dog wasn’t meant to be ours. Still, we had gone there to see her and we decided to wait out the time until she returned.

After a while, we continued to check back to see if she had returned but we still couldn’t find a cell with her name on it. After a good half hour we asked the man to double check if that was the right room for her. Turns out he had made a mistake and gave us a new room number. We laughed, rushed over to the new room and found her cell but this dog was still M.I.A.

Feeling defeated, we made our way out and stopped to look at another dog near the exit who was jumping up and down and barking enthusiastically. “Doesn’t she just have the most gorgeous face?” another man asked as he was passing by us. We agreed, and let him know we were actually there to see Nahla but couldn’t find her. “Oh, do you know about Nahla?” he asked. We said yes, sort of. That we read about her health issues online but wanted to find out more. He asked us to follow him back to reception so he could fill us in, but explained, in short, that her issues are expensive and on-going.

Upon following this man, Morgan, back to reception, he was immediately approached by a mother and daughter who let him know that they had made a final decision to not adopt the dog they had been visiting. Although they loved her, this young dog’s high energy was simply too much for their older Chihuahua who had the energy of a breathing statue.

Morgan looked at the mom and daughter and asked, “Okay, is it a no for sure?” they said yes, and then he turned to us and said: “if you guys are looking for a small dog, you have GOT to see this girl, Olive, right away.” Naturally, we were excited and intrigued. He instructed us to go find her in her room, and let him know immediately if we were interested in her or not.

We went on our search, and, unlike Nahla, little Olive was patiently waiting in her cell. Despite the chaos and barking around her, this dog hardly made a peep, and all she wanted to do was give us sweet kisses through the bars of her cell, and promptly rolled onto her back for some belly rubs. A quiet, young girl with no health issues that’s full of cuddly love? This was the dog of my dreams!

We rushed back to Morgan at the reception desk and we let him know that we were eager to see more of Olive. Morgan lead us to a private waiting room before bringing in Olive to meet us, officially. This, essentially, was the start of our adoption process.

In the room we got to play with Olive and get a sense of how she interacted with us. She was cuddly, sweet and calm – just what we wanted! Morgan asked if we wanted to take her for a walk and we said yes. He guided us on a walk with Olive around the block and he told us what he could about her; she was originally from Texas, she had come to Canada to escape Trump, and she had a broken leg that they fixed. She was perfect.

When we returned to the room, our adoption interview was started. There were a series of forms we had to fill out that mainly asked about our lifestyle and living situation. After completing the forms, Morgan asked us more about what we do, where we live, what our house is like, and more questions about our lifestyle to make sure that we could care for this dog properly.

Although it was slightly nerve-racking knowing that there was a chance they could decline our application, the process overall was easy and we answered every question truthfully. Afterwards, Morgan shared that he thought this dog would be a great fit for us, and, if we wanted, we could take her home with us that evening. He also expressed that he understood the adoption process can be like “Speed dating but for the rest of your life.” Since we had been approved to adopt Olive, we were able to put her on hold for 24 hours. We decided to put her on hold for the night so we could go home and discuss the adoption together further to ensure we were truly ready to commit to the care of another (more high maintenance) animal.

We went home and thought it over. But what was there to think about? This dog was exactly what we wanted. She was the perfect size, a great age, and had such a happy and loving demeanor. It just so happened that her colouring was almost identical to our cat Emmy’s — another great sign in my books!

toronto humane society dog adoption

Olive sun-tanning on our deck when weather was warmer!

We spent the rest of the night and the next morning doing our best to dog-proof our home before heading back to the humane society to get our girl. Morgan who had helped us the day before was at reception and excited to see us return. He asked if we wanted to spend time with Olive again and we accepted. She was just as great as we remembered, and after a few minutes we let Morgan know that we were ready to take her home with us.

The rest was simple. Filling out and signing a couple of extra forms, then paying for her adoption bill along with a fresh bag of food they’d recommended. Although I do realise that we were really lucky to find such a great dog on our first visit to the Toronto Humane Society, I was so impressed and happy with the help and support we got from their team, and especially the amazing Morgan who gently walked us through and supported us every step of the way.

If you are interested in adopting an animal in Toronto, I would definitely recommend going in and talking to their team! Know that they are totally happy for you to take as long as you need to find the perfect match, and they want to make sure each animal finds the right home too.

For more information on how to adopt a pet from the humane society, please click HERE.

Thank you for leading us to our Little Olive, Toronto Humane Society! Even Emmy likes her!




  1. Hello Gracie, this is such a lovely story! My name is Kate Shi and I’m a volunteer at Let’s Save Animals. Our goal is to help get more pets like Olive adopted! Would it be alright if we shared a bit of information about your adoption on our Instagram page (@lets.save.animals) for the purpose of promoting pet adoption? Thank you!

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