April 15, 2024

Bowlingual Dog

Animal Planet Directory

Delivery driver takes lunch to animal shelter, ends up adopting a dog

Food delivery driver Alan Moncayo had his daughter along with him when he dropped off a lunch order at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter in Lorton, Va., on a recent Saturday.

Moncayo, a single father, took 5-year-old Sabrina along for his Grubhub drop-off, thinking he’d spend just a few seconds making the delivery.

But as Moncayo approached the shelter on Feb. 10, he spotted a sweet-looking pooch staring at him through the front window. The dog reminded him of his late dog, Rusty, who ran away nearly 30 years ago.

“They’re identical,” said Moncayo, 51. “Rusty was exactly the same stature and build.”

Although his daughter had been begging him to get a dog, Moncayo said, “being a single parent, and with inflation being so high … it’s not in my budget to pay for a dog.”

But the pup in the window drew him in.

After making his delivery, Moncayo asked staff if he and his daughter could meet the dog. He was excited to learn that there was a promotion going on — it was Super Bowl weekend, and the shelter held an “Adoption Bowl” event, waiving adoption fees for dogs that were 45 pounds or bigger.

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“The goal was to get as many dogs as possible into loving homes,” said Rebecca Cavedon, communications manager for the county’s Department of Animal Sheltering.

Shelter staff introduced Moncayo and Sabrina to Jihoo, a 6-year-old 65-pound pit bull mix.

“Right away, he played with my daughter. He was very sensitive and gentle,” said Moncayo, noting that Jihoo also seemed obedient and well-trained. “This dog is unbelievable.”

“They seemed to mesh together right away,” said Cavedon. “It just seemed like it was the perfect fit.”

Moncayo adored Jihoo’s brown-and-white coat, his large eyes and the freckles on his snout.

“He’s beautiful,” said Moncayo, a Navy veteran who is working as a food delivery driver while he is between jobs.

Moncayo was also touched by the dog’s background.

Jihoo was surrendered by his owners last June and had been at the shelter for more than 240 days. On average, pups stay at the shelter for about 24 days.

“His guardians could no longer care for him,” said Cavedon, explaining that although they weren’t able keep the dog, “they loved him very much.”

Since big dogs are generally more difficult to adopt out, Cavedon said, Jihoo remained at the shelter for longer than usual.

“It can be hard to get some of the larger dogs adopted, with a lack of affordable housing and affordable veterinary care as well,” she said. “Last year alone, we saw a 30 percent increase in large dogs like Jihoo coming into our care. There’s such a critical need for large-dog adoptions.”

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Staff at the shelter had developed a soft spot for Jihoo.

“He was very special to all of our staff and volunteers,” said Cavedon. “He’s just an amazingly gentle, sweet, kind boy.”

It only took a few minutes for Moncayo and his daughter to feel the same way about Jihoo. On the spot, Moncayo decided that the dog was meant to be theirs.

“It was a no-brainer. It was a done deal,” he said, adding that he did not have another dog after Rusty, as he didn’t feel ready.

“It was like an empty space in my heart that just needed to be filled up,” Moncayo said. “It had to be healed, and now it’s filled with so much love for our beautiful new dog.”

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After going through paperwork and completing a counseling session with shelter staff, Moncayo adopted the dog that day.

“I went to drop off some food, and I walked out with Jihoo,” said Moncayo. “What are the odds of that?”

In addition to waiving Jihoo’s adoption fee (which would have been $100), the shelter also equipped Moncayo with supplies for his new pup, including a crate, food, toys and a leash.

“We always want to set families up for success when they leave our doors,” said Cavedon, noting that the shelter was able to adopt out 20 dogs over the four-day Adoption Bowl event.

So far, Jihoo has been acclimating well to his new home and family. He enjoys belly rubs, playing fetch and licking faces.

“He is so affectionate and loving with both of us,” said Moncayo, who lives with his daughter in Prince William County. “He has been a blessing.”

“He makes us laugh all day long,” he added. “He’s a very funny dog.”

Moncayo recently delivered another lunch order to the Fairfax County Animal Shelter, and he brought Jihoo with him to visit the staff. They were delighted.

“We feel like a complete family now,” said Moncayo. “He was always missing.”