Many dogs sit inside of shelters for weeks and weeks without getting adopted. But some stay so long that they become residents. Freya, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, spent practically her entire life in a British shelter. The pup, who was deemed “Britain’s Loneliest Dog” was found in the streets as a six-month-old stray. “No one came to claim her,” says Debbie Hughes, from Freshfields Animal Rescue Centre, the organization that took Freya in. When guests would come to check out dogs at the shelter, they would stop to look at Freya. But nobody was willing to take her home. Soon, her handlers realized that she had been turned down over 18,000 times! “They all passed by Freya in favor of other dogs,” reveals Hughes.
The shelter employee said that watching the dog repeatedly rejected was unbearably heartbreaking. “One of the things that people often could not get past with Freya was her very boisterous, giddy personality,” Hughes explains. “She was just so pleased to see people that she could get carried away and she could be a bit of a handful!” To make matters worse, the over exuberant dog eventually developed a case of epilepsy, a condition that requires lifelong care. Her diagnosis made it even more difficult for the dog to find a forever home. “Freya’s epilepsy can be controlled very well with medication,” says Hughes. “She can live a normal happy life, just like any other dog.”
After years of her being overlooked, the staff at the kennel eventually started a Facebook page for Freya in the hopes that it would garner more publicity for the dog and ultimately lead to her adoption. The page quickly took off and attracted thousands of followers. News of Freya began to circle the country. Eventually, renowned director Michael Bay caught wind and decided to help give Freya some attention. “We gave the Loneliest Dog, a role in Transformers (The Last Knight),” he tweeted to his 63 million Twitter fans. He also said that if Freya didn’t get rescued eventually that he would take her in himself. “Freya has epilepsy and has been in a shelter her whole six year life. We are also going to find her a home,” he tweeted. “If not she will come to my house. Welcome to the cast Freya!”
This past July, after stumbling upon Freya’s Facebook page, Jennie Mulcahy, a writer with The Mercury Press, wrote an article about Freya that was picked up by a national breakfast show titled Good Morning Britain.A few days later, the telephone at Freshfields rang and a couple called to inquire about Freya’s availability. “Ray and Jackie saw Freya on TV and that prompted them to contact us. Everything else just followed from that!” says Hughes.
The new owners were introduced to Freya at the Rescue Centre in Liverpool. “They spent some time very gradually getting to know her, under the advice and supervision of the kennel staff who have known Freya all her life,” explains Hughes. This progressed to Freya visiting the family’s home, then an overnight stay, and then visiting for longer periods of time. Part of that trial run involved her getting to know and make friends with Teddy and Joanie, the couple’s other two dogs. Teddy has since passed away, but Freya and Joanie are now friends. The once-overlooked pup is fitting in nicely with her new family.
“It was obvious from the start that they had a special connection with Freya,” says Hughes, of Freya’s new family. “They are experienced dog-owners and have two rescue dogs already. They gave Freya the time and patience she needed to become familiar with them and their family. They were not put off in any way by Freya’s previous experiences, and their sensitive and thoughtful approach has paid off.”
When news of Freya’s rescue spread through the shelter, the employees banded together in celebration. “We were all delighted for her. There were some tears, but they were tears of joy!” says Hughes.
The couple that adopted Freya prefers to remain out of the spotlight but they honored her film commitment to director Michael Bay. Freya recently spent time filming scenes for the upcoming “Transformers: The Last Knight,” which will debut in 2017. In a Facebook post on the official Transformers page, video footage shows Freya working hand-in-hand with world-renowned actors. “She’s working with Sir Anthony Hopkins—her very first movie,” Bay said in the Facebook video. “She’s doing a great job.”
Freshfields plans to continue to keep Freya’s Facebook page up and running. In the weeks following her adoption, they have posted photos and updates about the dog’s new life. They are also using the page as a means of promoting awareness of other dogs in need. “We will now use the platform of the Facebook Doggie Diary Page to publicize one of the other 45 dogs at our Rescue Shelter who need a home,” says Hughes, who adds that the experience of knowing Freya has really touched her heart. “It just proves what can happen if you never give up hope that one day every one of our animals may find a home.”
Images courtesy Freshfields Animal Rescue Centre