It was a situation that stumped the shelter: a stray dog brought into Greenville County Animal Care in South Carolina with no tags, no microchip and no way of knowing to whom he belonged. Except, that is, for one old black-and-white photo, which appeared to be a soldier casually posing for the camera, that was found mysteriously tucked into his collar.
“It’s been interesting. We had people from all over the country trying to give us some ideas on how we might find who the photo was,” Susan Bufano, the shelter’s media relations coordinator, told GoodMorningAmerica.com. “We had people who were either very interested in the photo, or people who were very interested in the dog.”
Sadly, in the month since we first reported Soldier’s bizarre story, no real leads were ever found regarding the pup’s past, neither about who his previous owner was or where the antiqued photo came from.
But that hasn’t stopped the dog from receiving his highly-anticipated happy ending.
Soldier has now found a new “forever home” in Dryden, Va., with Julie Hensley, an attorney and pit bull enthusiast who has rescued and trained other dogs of the same breed in the past.
“When Julie came about, it seemed like the perfect fit,” said Bufano. “I wanted someone that was interested beyond seeing Soldier’s story on TV, beyond just his notoriety.
“And Julie had been a pit bull rescuer. She just had the perfect vet reference and she had trained and worked at a shelter, so she was just really the perfect match.”
Hensley made the three-hour trip from her Virginia home where she also has 22 chickens, 10 horses, four other dogs and four cats, to Greenville, S.C., on Feb. 15, to take in one more animal that she says is now “really settling in quite well.”
“He’s a pretty remarkable dog,” said Hensley, 50. “I don’t think what’s exceptional about him is the photo in his collar, except someone cared about him deeply, as much as I plan to.”
And although Hensley may be the one, out of numerous others who had expressed interest, to wind up taking Soldier home, she says, most importantly, she hopes people realize there are so many other dogs that need help, not just those with a mysterious back story.
“They can go into their local shelter any day of a week and find a Soldier,” she said.
As for Soldier, despite never finding out who it was that loved and cared for him previously, Hensley is satisfied knowing all the right steps were taken to ensure her newest addition will have a happy life moving forward.
“People love a mystery and the shame here is we’re probably not going to get the answers we’re looking for,” she explained. “But I’ve got most of the answers. He was loved. He developed a great bond with someone, but something happened. Some tragedy. Someone died, or he got away from them and he couldn’t’ find them, there was some tragic separation, and then he was fortunate to be found by the shelter in Greenville, [which was] willing to go the extra mile to give a plain old pit bull a forever home.”