Shelter staff couldn’t believe it when they saw him: Gumby was back again. Mind you, this wasn’t the first or even the third time that he had escaped his humans and returned to the shelter. It had happened so often, in fact, they were forced to consider a more permanent solution.
Don’t let the innocent look on Gumby’s face fool you because he’s actually a cunning escape artist. You wouldn’t be the first person to fall for his demure act and puppy dog eyes, however. He’s actually managed to dupe the Charleston Animal Society (CAS), too.
His story started in September 2014 when someone brought him to the CAS shelter in South Carolina. Although he was allegedly a stray, seven-year-old Gumby was very well kept for a street dog. He was actually fit and healthy, with none of the malnutrition problems common in abandoned pets.
The staff at CAS had some theories about Gumby’s situation. It was possible, they thought, that his owner had not long rejected him or that he had run away from home. Gumby is also a mixed-breed hound, the like of which are often used as hunting dogs, and some believe that these dogs’ owners sometimes abandon them if they don’t perform well.
However Gumby found his way to CAS, though, the shelter dedicated itself to finding him the forever home he truly deserved. That proved harder than CAS expected, however. It wasn’t that no one wanted Gumby – quite the opposite, in fact – but the dog wouldn’t settle down.
Three days after his initial adoption, for instance, Gumby ran away from home and returned to the CAS shelter. As a result, CAS tried Gumby with another home. This one was more successful, but only just: Gumby found his way back to the shelter six days later.
Consequently, CAS realized that Gumby was not only a mastermind, but he was also an expert escape artist. He climbed fences, he opened doors… nothing could keep him from returning to the shelter. Not even the love of his adopters could quench the hound’s wanderlust, it seemed.
Gumby’s determined third owner even tried more than once to give the dog a good home. But the hound’s heart belonged elsewhere, and the dog always escaped. In fact, he went back to the shelter four times via one method or another.
On one of these occasions animal control returned Gumby, and a kind-hearted citizen found him another time. His then-owner also returned him twice because he worried that Gumby would hurt himself trying to escape. And ultimately, the man said a heartfelt goodbye and returned the hound to CAS for the last time.
Unsurprisingly, then, Gumby became infamous for returning to CAS like a boomerang, and new adopters were made aware of his tendencies. But that didn’t stop enthusiastic dog lovers from taking on the Gumby challenge. Consequently, on March 12, 2015, another owner took him in.
And for a while, everything was quiet on the Gumby front; it actually looked like he had settled down. Then four months later, a suspiciously familiar hound showed up at CAS as a stray. Yes, Gumby had returned once again, and the search for his forever home continued.
Owner five lost Gumby two months into their adoption, and the dog turned up at an affiliated shelter 30 miles away from CAS. Owner six then returned the hound fairly quickly when Gumby didn’t get along with the family’s other dog. Was there anyone capable of homing him?
Well, when owner number seven returned Gumby on January 4, 2016, it became painfully obvious that he wouldn’t settle down. During a single month, for example, Gumby had escaped three times, one time through a broken screen door. In addition to this, the hound had showed no regard for house training.
So what could CAS do about Gumby? They couldn’t adopt him out because whenever he escaped, he returned to the shelter. On the other hand, his escape attempts were minimal whenever he stayed with CAS and its staff. In fact, Gumby seemed to love nothing better than basking in their showered affection.
There was something else, too: Gumby enjoyed the company of the shelter dogs. More than that, though, he had a temperament that seemed to supplement their own. If they showed fear, Gumby was comforting; if they were on edge, he was calm.
In 2016 CAS behavioral team leader Donya Satriale told BarkPost that she had a theory about why Gumby always returned. She said it’s because “he knows he has work to do.” And so there was only one solution to Gumby’s situation: CAS itself adopted him.
To be more specific, CAS couple Joanna Ferrell and John Martin adopted Gumby. And for a time, he served as an ambassador for new shelter dogs, as his calming nature helped their behavioral training. But his role at the shelter didn’t end there.
On June 4, 2016, the group announced on Facebook that Gumby had become a blood donor for CAS kittens, too. You see, veterinarians used an extract from his blood to make drops for treating kittens that had infected eyes.
Then on October 7, 2017, CAS reported that Gumby now lives in New York City with Ferrell and Martin. But the former CAS employees kept in touch and updated the shelter on the hound’s progress. “We’re loving life with Gumby! He loves New York City [and] sleeps in bed with us,” his humans reported.
“And the best news: Gumby has never tried to escape! He’s such a mama and daddy’s boy. He’s glued to our sides at all times, and we can open the apartment door and let him off-leash inside our building without worrying!” So it looks like Gumby’s finally settled, and he couldn’t be happier.