When Sheldon the dog arrived at the animal shelter, he was simply one pit bull among hundreds of others. As a result, 30 long days passed without anyone paying attention to the sweet pup. But it seems that he was simply waiting for the perfect opportunity to show off his totally individual character.
Sheldon wound up at an animal shelter in 2016, although it remains unclear what kind of past he had. That said, staff at the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control shelter in Phoenix, Arizona, strongly suspected that he hadn’t always been alone. For instance, he knew how to sit and give his paw – commands that someone must have taught him.
Still, despite the staff’s assumptions, no one came to retrieve the two-year-old pit bull mix. Days passed, and the adorable doggy remained unclaimed. Soon, then, little Sheldon had been at the shelter for one whole month.
“He hadn’t had any inquiries that I noticed,” shelter volunteer Heather Haltmeyer told The Dodo in February 2017. “I never saw him doing a meet-and-greet. It’s unfortunate, but at any given time, we have about 600 to 800 animals between [our] two shelters. So you can imagine how hard it is for one pit bull to stand out amongst 600 other pit bulls.”
Yes, after more than 30 days, Sheldon was still having no luck with standing out from the crowd. However, he did catch someone’s eye, and that someone, of course, was Haltmeyer herself. She simply couldn’t bear to see the pit bull go overlooked for so long.
Now as part of her role at the shelter, Haltmeyer takes photographs of all the animals – and it seemed that she’d found her new muse in Sheldon. So, one day, she decided to take the dog from his kennel and put him in front of a camera.
Explaining her decision, Haltmeyer told The Dodo, “He was next to one of the dogs who I regularly took out. I kept seeing him, and he kept jumping up and down and wagging his tail in his kennel, like, ‘Look at me, look at me.’ He had the most adorable pink little lips.”
And it turned out that Sheldon was a natural: faced with a camera, he allowed his quirky character to shine through. “He wasn’t shy,” Haltmeyer revealed. In fact, she said, “He seemed to eat it all up.”
“He had this adorable droopy face,” Haltmeyer added. “I instantly thought of those ‘adopt don’t shop’ ads with a goofy dog with a grumpy face. Like, ‘My face when you told me you bought your dog from a breeder.’ But he’s super friendly – not grumpy at all.”
What’s more, the results of Shelton’s photoshoot were outstanding. Haltmeyer dressed him in a rather dashing bright-green bow tie – although the rest of the work was all Sheldon’s. In the images, the pooch pulls a number of amazing facial expressions, from frowns to goofy smiles.
Then in January 2017 the pictures appeared on the shelter’s Facebook page. “We may be biased, but we think Sheldon should be a doggy celebrity with all those expressions,” the caption read. “Think of all the fun you could have taking pictures of him if you adopt!”
“Sheldon is a great dog with a great energy level,” the post continued. “He’s not crazy hyper, but he’s no slow-poke either. Sheldon is equally happy to sniff around on his own or come over for some pets and attention.”
Of course, it may well come as no surprise that Sheldon’s adorable pictures proved popular, and plenty of readers certainly felt compelled to comment. “He looks a bit like a grumpy old man. Oh, somebody please help him to turn his frown upside down,” wrote one of the many well-wishers.
Now among those to be charmed by Sheldon’s grouchy demeanor was Emily Chmiel. In fact, Chmiel was so taken by the pit bull that she decided to contact the shelter. “I fell in love with his serious expressions in his pictures and knew he belonged in my house,” she explained to The Dodo.
And Haltmeyer couldn’t have been happier that her pictures helped find Sheldon a home. “I do think the photos are what attracted them, and it feels great,” Haltmeyer said. “The whole point of it is to get people’s attention and to help dogs stand out that would otherwise kind of get lost in the crowd.”
So, Sheldon went home with Chmiel the very next day – and yet the dog’s new owner decided that he wasn’t a Sheldon after all. Hence, she decided to name her new companion Castiel. And, thankfully, it didn’t take long for the pooch to settle into either his new name or his new home.
Now, Castiel spends his days exploring Chmiel’s courtyard and curling up on the sofa. He’s also friends with his owner’s many cats, although Chmiel says they occasionally make it clear to Castiel who’s boss. How? By bopping him on the head!
Meanwhile, Castiel’s shelter pictures were so popular that Chmiel set up a social media page for her new pup. She called the Instagram account “Official Grump Dog,” and in the description, she joked that Castiel was “judging you always, [a] professional grump [and a] destroyer of socks.”
Castiel’s page unsurprisingly already boasts hundreds of followers. However, it’s clear to see who the dog’s number one fan is. “I adore his personality and his spunk,” Chmiel revealed to The Dodo. “He already follows me around everywhere.”
Of course, if it hadn’t been for Haltmeyer’s photography skills, Castiel might still be at the shelter looking for a home. Instead, he’s finding his feet with his loving forever family. And while he may look grumpy, there’s little doubt that he’s never been happier.