'Gentleman' Senior Dog in Shelter for 2 Years Finds Ideal Adopter in Fellow Senior Citizen (Exclusive)

"He just bloomed," pet parent Jeanette says of how Velcro, a senior dog with special needs, reacted to being adopted

<p>Karen Hardwick/Austin Pets Alive!</p> Velcro the 10-year-old Carolina dog mix

Karen Hardwick/Austin Pets Alive!

Velcro the 10-year-old Carolina dog mix
  • Velcro, originally named Beluga, arrived at Austin Pets Alive! in 2022 and spent over 700 days at the Texas rescue

  • The 10-year-old dog has special needs, which made it harder to find the right adopter until Velcro met Jeanette

  • Jeanette, a 74-year-old woman, has committed herself to spoiling Velcro since bringing the senior dog home

After two years of waiting in the shelter for his perfect match, Velcro the senior dog found his soulmate in a fellow senior citizen.

Beluga, now renamed Velcro, arrived at Austin Pets Alive! (APA) in 2022 and started his search for a forever family. The Carolina dog mix has special needs: He is partially deaf and partially blind and has neurological and mobility issues.

Because of these special needs, Velcro required a home with certain specifications — calm, slow-paced, ideally one story — which unfortunately extended his stay at the Texas shelter.

But then, in February, Jeanette walked in. Jeanette, who is turning 75 in April, was searching for a docile, loving companion after the death of her two dogs in December. The animal lover initially visited the shelter to meet a different dog, but then she saw 10-year-old Velcro.

"He has a neurological issue, so his head kind of tilts to the side, and he looked like, 'Oh, look at poor, little me.' So I said, 'Okay, I have to see him,'" Jeanette tells PEOPLE.

"He was reserved at first, but as soon as he came out with me, he changed," she adds.

<p>Karen Hardwick/Austin Pets Alive!</p> Velcro, a senior dog with special needs, before his adoption

Karen Hardwick/Austin Pets Alive!

Velcro, a senior dog with special needs, before his adoption

After spending time with Velcro, Jeanette felt the dog was meant for her. The dog's special needs only made her want him more.

"I wanted a dog that was more placid, and Velcro fit that bill. He can't jump up; his back legs are weak. He can't hump, which is another plus in a male dog," Jeanette shares.

Related: Dog Who Lost Her 'Limbs, Ears, Tail, and Toes' to Animal Cruelty Cares for Foster Puppies as She Heals

Shortly after meeting Velcro, Jeanette brought the dog home and started the foster-to-adopt process, which allows the shelter and the foster to help the pet acclimate to their new home by providing at-home behavior consults and lifelong adoption support.

<p>Karen Hardwick/Austin Pets Alive!</p> Velcro the rescue dog

Karen Hardwick/Austin Pets Alive!

Velcro the rescue dog

After a few days with Jeanette, Velcro "became more personable." He still acted like "a sedate old gentleman" but also "perked up."

Now, "he trots around in the backyard," Jeanette says, a behavior APA never saw from the dog during his two-year stay.

"He's just bloomed," the pet parent adds.

APA posted an Instagram video documenting Velcro's transformation. In the clip, the formerly shy and slow-moving dog happily prances after Jeanette as the pair trots around a backyard.

Since welcoming Velcro, Jeanette has committed herself to "spoiling the dog wild."

Velcro has large dog beds scattered throughout his new home, so there is always a place to sunbathe. Jeanette showers him with pats, praise, and Pup-Peroni treats — Velcro's favorite. The dog also joins Jeanette on leisurely walks outside.

"I'm not that spry myself, but it gives me a reason to get out in the fresh air and walk in the woods," Jeanette shares, adding, "We don't walk; we stroll."

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When Jeanette and Velcro aren't strolling side-by-side, they can still be found together.

"He's never more than two feet from my side. That's why I renamed him Velcro. If I get up, he gets up. Wherever I go, he follows me. If I'm up and moving, he's up and moving with me," Jeanette says.

She adds that her home "has always been owned and operated solely for the pleasure and convenience of dogs" because the pets give "so much love."

<p>Karen Hardwick/Austin Pets Alive!</p> Velcro the senior rescue dog with his new owner, Jeanette

Karen Hardwick/Austin Pets Alive!

Velcro the senior rescue dog with his new owner, Jeanette

Jeanette hopes her adoption story with Velcro inspires others, especially senior citizens, to consider senior pets.

"I hate to see these older dogs passed over," she says, "Velcro is just so happy to be out of that shelter."

Related: 'Shut Down' Senior Dog Surrendered After 11 Years with Family Finds New Home Thanks to Viral Video (Exclusive)

"It's nice for seniors to have a senior dog because you don't have to try and keep up with them. And it's companionship," Jeanette adds.

Of course, adopting an older pet means you will likely have to say goodbye to them sooner than a younger animal.

"You have to be prepared for that. But if you can handle the loss, the joy of having them is more than worth it," Jeanette says.

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