When you’re a big dog with an uncertain past at a busy animal shelter, each passing day can seem a little dimmer than the last.
But not for Horace.
Although he had been at the bustling Baldwin Park animal shelter in California for months, he still embraced every moment — and every visitor — with a passion that ran from his heart to his paws.
In fact, his hugs had become so legendary, he earned the nickname "Huggable Horace."
And when Elaine Seamans, founder of the At-Choo Foundation, paid him a visit last month, along with volunteer John Hwang, Horace didn’t disappoint.
"I'm smiling thinking about my memories of him," Seamans recalls to MNN.
It was Horace’s whirling tail that first caught her eye.
Then there came a soft whimpering. It sounded so faint that Seamans looked around, thinking it was from a much smaller dog.
"Surely, it couldn't come out of this lug," she says.
Then came a mighty paw.
And an even mightier heart.
"He then revealed himself as a sweetie," Seamans says. "Sensitive, appreciative of attention."
And despite what he must have gone through — Horace had been picked up by animal control as a wandering stray — this dog was disarmingly funny.
"He practically danced when taken out and would fall over sometimes," she notes.
When Seamans crouched down, Horace rolled on his back, his paws outstretched. He acted like he had never been hurt before. And practically begged for hugs.
Over the years, Seamans and Hwang have become a potent tandem when it comes to publicizing the plight of shelter dogs. The idea? Showing the world the tender, sweet side of shelter dogs in danger of getting lost in the shuffle.
Hwang takes the photos. Seamans takes the love.
And again, and again, the resulting images have struck a chord on social media — often leading to a dog’s life being saved.
"I always like to promote the positive in a dog..." Seamans explains. "No matter their personality, there is always some reason, some lesson they have to teach us. Something positive. And who doesn't want the cream-of-the-crop kind of love? The unconditional kind."
We don’t know exactly how Horace found his family. But a few weeks after Seamans posted the pictures, someone took him home.
Maybe that stranger saw Horace through Hwang’s compassionate lens. But we can bet that Horace did his part — by hugging his visitor like there was no tomorrow.
And then that visitor offered him a real tomorrow.