For over a decade, Stuart dreamed of finding his forever family. The 14-year-old dog first came into the shelter when he was around 1 year old and lived there nearly his entire life. Stuart needed a hero — someone who could see that he was deserving of unconditional love. And, maybe, something soft to sleep on at the end of a long day.

After two failed adoptions and returns, Stuart started to worry that he’d be in the shelter for the rest of his days — then he hit the jackpot.

Stuart entered an animal shelter in 2008, but he’s not the only one who’s spent the majority of his life there.

“It really broke my heart to know that there have been dogs there for 14, 10, 8, 5 years, like Stuart,” Emily Wozniak, former Friends of Strays, Inc. employee, told The Dodo. “So I posted his story [on TikTok] in hopes to find him a home.”

The video brought the shepherd-heeler mix plenty of attention, especially from a woman who lived five hours away.

“I first found out about Stuart through that video showing his intake paperwork,” Natalie Snyder, Stuart’s mom and founder of Repo’s Rescue, told The Dodo. “Stuart had many potential candidates available to adopt him, but I knew he’d be perfect for my household.”

Snyder couldn’t resist and drove to meet Stuart. But once there, Stuart’s availability suddenly vanished because the shelter felt Stuart had lived so much of his life with them, he should live out the rest of his days there. Still, she and the rest of the community pushed for the adoption, knowing she needed Stuart just as much as he needed her.

Now, Stuart’s life has drastically changed for the better. No more naps on concrete or uncomfortably loud noises.

“He loves his orthopedic bed and exploring the backyard watching the birds,” Snyder said. “It’s very emotional to watch him transition and experience life on his own terms.”

Slowly but surely, Stuart’s learning to trust this chance he’s been given to live out the rest of his days in peace. Snyder’s taking in every moment with her new companion, knowing he’ll never have to worry about finding a home again.

“Stuart makes me believe in the goodness of people,” Snyder said. “He’s opened my eyes to what I’m capable of and even more so, what he is capable of. It makes me proud to see him get up every day and try new things, and be brave despite his past. He’s a truly wonderful dog.”