Despite having worked for over 20 years in animal shelters, Kay Hyman has never met a dog like Gumby.
Gumby is a Hound mix, tall and gaunt, but very energetic with a loud bark. But unlike most his fellow canines, he also has a set of incredible escaping skills.
Dogs like Gumby are pretty common to come across in the South of the USA, where he, too, was found. They’re famous for their stubbornness, and most Hound mix stray dogs in shelters are failed hunting dogs that either ran away or were abandoned.
At the time rescuers found Gumby, he was healthy and well-nourished, which even at the start was enough to make him stand out. He didn’t look like the average stray dog- there were no signs of abuse- but he wasn’t anyone’s pet either. The rescuers assumed he’s either a runaway or a recent castoff.
Gumby didn’t have to wait long in the shelter before he found his first home, but his stay was so brief, it’s almost as though it never happened.
His first-ever adoption lasted just a short 3 days. The next one in 2014 lasted twice as long.
The shelter was optimistic with Gumby’s third adoption, but it ended up being a total failure. During the third attempt at an adoption, Gumby was given back four different times by four different people.
The first time a kind-hearted stranger found the lost Gumby and brought him back to the shelter. The second time, Gumby came by the shelter in the company of an animal control worker. And the family that wanted to adopt him brought Gumby back twice. Having in mind Gumby’s expertise at escapology, the family was afraid he would run away, get lost or hurt, without them even knowing what had happened to him. The second time, they came heartbroken and finally gave up Gumby.
For the next few months the shelter was Gumby’s home. Regardless of the fact that they made sure to note to each family that he was inclined to escape, a fourth family decided to adopt him.
Four months went by without seeing or hearing of Gumby, and it seemed as though he had found his forever home.
But, one day in the shelter a new stray came in- and it was Gumby!
A month later, a fifth adoption was in motion, and only another month later, Gumby came back to the shelter. The sixth adoption lasted even less.
As the holidays and year were drawing to a close, a new home was found for Gumby which accommodated him for only three days after New Year. And so, from his seventh home, and 11th return, Gumby went one again to the shelter.
His last owner told the shelter how he escaped three times in less than a month during the time they had him, on one occasion even breaking down a screen door to do so.
The shelter workers finally figured it out: the shelter is home! They stopped trying to find Gumby a new home since he came back to the shelter every time he got adopted.
In this they were right: in the Charleston Animal Society Gumby rarely ever tried to escape again. He loved the staff members who adored him right back.
As they were getting to know Gumby more, they discovered another unique skill of his: he was able to read the emotions of other dogs and comfort them.
Whenever terrified and anxious rescues were bought in, Gumby somehow sensed it and he would adjust his behaviour to settle and calm the other dogs.
Even when he goes on an outing, Gumby always comes back to the shelter, as though he knows he has work to do. This made him indispensable and an ambassador to the shelter, the go-to-guy or acclimating new dogs.
Not only that, but some months later the animal workers discovered Gumby possesses a blood type that makes him a reliable blood-donor. The serum from his white blood cells have healing properties that have saved some 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!”