‘They pay it back tenfold’ 

Left to right: Lucas/Luke lounges in the sun with his favorite toy. (Will Hartmann); Bossk rides in the back as the family heads off to their next adventure. (Kelsey Alonso); Roxy leans up to watch the traffic as she rides, and to bark at any offenders. (Cody Adams)

Find your next best friend at the animal shelter 

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Tribune has run its Pet of the Week feature with the Cullman County Animal Shelter for quite some time. Pet of the Week is designed to give shelter animals a boost to hopefully find their forever homes. But what about the ones who already have forever homes? The Tribune chatted with three residents who got their forever dogs from the Cullman County Animal Shelter to hear their stories, sympathize with their struggles and celebrate their successes.  

Will Hartmann and Lucas/Luke, adopted April 2023 

With two rescues named Zeus and Heidi, and having just lost his 6-year-old white lab Lucy to bone cancer, Will Hartmann is no stranger to adopting and rehabbing animals. However, adopting Lucas, or Luke, would prove to be his most challenging one yet. 

Lucas came to the shelter with what rescuers believed was a broken jaw and heartworms. While they were correct, the disturbing cause of the broken jaw was discovered at Lucas’ first vet appointment after joining the Hartmann household.  

“Lucas was really the most challenging health-wise,” said Hartmann. “The kind people at Cullman had him checked for a broken jaw, which was indeed broken, but our vet at Compton’s discovered it was from a bullet wound that broke his jaw, cut through his tongue and knocked out two molars. He also had heartworm.” 

Hartmann said that even with a lengthy and expensive treatment period ahead of Lucas, they just couldn’t say no, especially seeing how Lucas behaved with their existing pets during the meet and greet at the shelter.  

“Luke immediately got on the ground to play at Zeus’ level. Heidi meets other dogs at her pace and Luke immediately respected that. It was a no-brainer,” Hartmann smiled.  

“Luke makes it simply easy to get over the money spent to get him healthy, house training him (obviously never an indoor dog) and dealing with his (still pronounced) separation anxiety because he is the sweetest, joy-filled, gentle dog you’ll ever find. We are the lucky ones!” exclaimed Hartmann.  

Hartmann maintained that while they still grieve the loss of Lucy, a white Lab who served as Lucas’ namesake, their house feels a bit fuller these days – all thanks to Lucas. 

“These three dogs all fill our hearts and home,” he said. “Yes, we are proud to have saved them, but they pay it back tenfold.” 

Kelsey Alonso and Bossk, adopted October 2021 

Kelsey Alonso was searching for a companion for her high-energy puppy and found him in the meaty, steel grey pit mix named Bossk. She realized the search for a companion was over after a visit to the shelter one autumn day with her family. 

“We adopted Bossk on Oct. 4, 2021, and we got to bring him home on the 5th,” recalled Alonso, saying that while they had visited the shelter before, no animal stood out or seemed to be the right fit for their family.  

“We had been searching for a companion for our high-energy puppy. We had gone to the shelter a couple of times with our dog to find the right new member of our family,” she said. “But on that October day my husband and I took turns walking in the kennel area while the other stayed back with our pup, and after we each had a turn, at the same time we said, ‘That’s our boy.’”  

Bossk came home the next day, and has been “the best boy” according to Alonso, who described him as loving, obedient, playful and loyal.  

“He instantly bonded with our child, cat and puppy. We’ve since adopted another dog through a rescue service and Bossk has helped make her feel at home, too!” exclaimed Alonso.  

Cody Adams and Roxy, adopted February 2023 

When Cody Adams adopted Roxy, he had just recovered from losing his beloved bulldog Dixie, and had no idea he had just adopted a full-time best friend. In February 2023, Adams saw Roxy in the kennel and called on God for guidance.   

“Well I prayed about it, and prayed about it,” said Adams, explaining he wasn’t sure if he was ready for another dog. “It was just the love in her” that made him sign the papers and bring her home. 

Not that she has stayed gone from the shelter for long; Roxy goes with Adams just about everywhere, including the shelter a couple of times a month to hang out with clients of the Margaret Jean Jones Center who volunteer there. 

“The folks at the Margaret Jean Jones Center, they love Roxy!” laughed Adams.  

He explained a few of Roxy’s quirks, mentioning her affinity for car rides – and for barking at fellow drivers. “She thinks she’s a big dog,” he grinned. 

Adams said the advice he would give to anyone who may feel hesitant to adopt a shelter animal would be to pray about it, see the need that is there and go for it.  

“All those dogs need a loving home. They’re some of the best dogs you will ever get, and I can preach to that,” said Adams.  

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