It’s hard to tell how long he’d been curled up in that empty cardboard box. It said “Premium Plums” on the sides and somebody had placed pillows inside. When an animal control officer brought him into DeKalb County Animal Services just outside Atlanta, Georgia, the grey, white-chested pup refused to leave that makeshift bed—and so they named him Plum.
Daphne Bragg is a dog foster coordinator for LifeLine Animal Project, the Atlanta nonprofit that manages the shelter that rescued Plum. The organization also manages Fulton County Animal Services, two spay-and-neuter clinics and several volunteer-run community programs.
Plum was too emaciated and weak to stand on his own when he first arrived at the shelter, Bragg says.
“They couldn’t even get him out of the box to do an intake exam on him,” she says. “So me and the girl I share an office with carried him across the shelter and put in him in our office—[all] in that box.”
Not only was Plum malnourished, but he’d grown frightened and timid. Bragg guesses that he’d never had a positive interaction with a human before his rescue. And with no other means of sustenance available, he’d taken to ingesting plastic and trash—anything he could find.
Fortunately, just one day later, Plum, who Bragg suspects is younger than a year old, was chomping up wet puppy food. They were able to coax him out of his box and into a crate. Still, Bragg kept him close by, allowing him to snuggle up in her office every day. The pair had something in common: They were both new to the shelter.
“I was at Atlanta Humane for three years, and I left because I got offered this job with LifeLine. He actually came in on my first day, so I saved him on my first day,” she says.
With plenty of care from Bragg—every few minutes, she hugs him and coos, “I love you, Plummers”—the once-feeble and timid pup quickly gained weight and strength and has developed a sweet, inviting personality. Wanting to give him even more personal attention, Bragg decided to foster Plum. She’s got three of her own dogs at home, and Plum fell in line with the pack easily.
“They kind of teach him how to dog, but they also give him confidence,” she says. “He follows the other dogs on what to do. But he’s really smart; he’s been a quick learner. I’ve got him house broken already.”
All the while, Bragg has been documenting Plum’s progress. The initial clip from the shelter detailing his story drew an outpouring of support, so Bragg set up Plum on Instagram and has documented some of his firsts, from an outdoor trail trip with his foster sister, Waffles, to enjoying cozy, warm blankets during an icy Atlanta winter.
Another sweet feature of Plum’s? His endearing overbite. Plum’s isn’t as toothy as some Instagram-famous pups (like Tuna, the 7-year-old Chiweenie), but it does feature a subtle dimple in the center and sometimes a bit of drool on either side, too.
Today, more than 3,000 followers are rallying for his successful, permanent placement, which could be soon. Plum recently transitioned into a new foster home at a friend of Bragg’s, where he’s grown even more welcoming of human interaction (belly rubs especially). And a potential forever family—which includes a buddy for Plum in a fellow rescue dog from the same shelter—has already started paperwork to bring him home.
Video via: DeKalb County Animal Services, images via: Ashley Chupp, @plumpelstiltskin_