Dex is an imposing figure of a dog. Around 100 pounds, the American bulldog has a bowling-ball for a head and rippling muscles beneath his sleek, white hair. If you’re like me, your first impression of this guy might be one of intimidation, brutish strength, and bullish behavior. 

But just like people, it’s difficult to predict what a dog will be like based on physical appearance. You see, Dex’s personality doesn’t match his physique at all. He’s a nervous, timid dog. If he could, he’d like to curl up into a tiny ball and disappear from this frightening world. His circle of trust is small. When earned, a new friendship reveals an affectionate, snuggly, marshmallowy, sensitive boy. One who literally blushes with his emotions. 

Unsurprisingly, he’s a staff favorite. Shelter workers are notorious for rooting for the underdog. On Wednesday, he was getting a little extra time and attention outside his kennel in our front desk area when something startled the big guy. Dex leapt from behind the front desk and charged his way through two sets of doors before escaping out the front of the animal shelter. The staff was devastated. 

I received the news as I was literally walking into my first meeting with my new Board of Directors. There was nothing I could do to help, only trust that our team knew what to do. 

It was a long meeting, and a long night. I closed the shelter up myself, the last one out for the first time since I started here two weeks ago. Dex was still missing. I wondered if we’d ever see him again. 

Then, the next morning, a text. One of our animal care staff came in early on his day off, hoping to use the time to look for the frightened dog. Dex was waiting for him outside the shelter doors. He came back all on his own. 

Like Dex, I too am experiencing some trepidation about the changes in my life and uncertainty about the future. But also like him, I can tell that the Cheyenne Animal Shelter is a safe and kind place. The commitment to animal care, teamwork, and community service is evident around every corner. 

Someday soon, Dex will leave the shelter under happier, more careful circumstances. He’ll be adopted and go on to a forever life outside these walls with a family of his very own. Meanwhile, I’m still getting to know this incredible team, the community that supports it, and the systems, processes, and procedures that work to ensure happy endings for thousands of animals like him every year. 

I won’t always be the last one out – nor the first one in. But, like Dex, I’m already looking forward to the chance to walk back through these doors every day. Because this work, and this place, are a dream for me and for so many others. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us all.