When Pepperjack was brought in to the Galveston County animal shelter in Texas City, Texas, the center's director was sure this "good looking" yellow Labrador Retriever would be adopted quickly.
Animal control officers found Pepperjack wandering the streets and took him in as a stray on June 20, 2018. Shelter employees scanned the dog, estimated to be approximately 1 year old at the time, for any identifying tags or possible microchip, but didn't find anything.
The shelter's veterinary technician named the pup Pepperjack and six days later he was cleared for adoption after no one claimed him. It would take nearly two months, however, for Pepperjack to find a forever home.
"I was shocked he was here for so long," said Amber Adams, director of animal services at Galveston County Animal Resource Center.
Adams told NBC Pepperjack "was the best thing ever." She described him as well behaved and smart, and "loved to do things for treats."
Pepperjack was also very "good looking." Adams said the shelter doesn't normally come across yellow Labs that are as close to pure bred as Pepperjack, and she was sure he'd get adopted fairly quickly. After posting photos of Pepperjack to the shelter's social media platforms, the attractive dog garnered tons of "Likes" and comments, but no serious adoption inquiries, Adams said.
Pepperjack's charm even landed him on the pages of People magazine. He was featured in a July 2018 issue with other adoptable pets ahead of NBC and Telemundo Owned Stations' annual Clear the Shelters animal adoption campaign. But still, the national spotlight wasn't enough to get Pepperjack adopted.
Adams said it is generally more difficult for pets to find homes during the summer months as there is an overall decline in adoptions because families are usually traveling.
But "timing is everything," as the old adage goes, and that slump turned out to be beneficial for one North Texas family who was looking to adopt a Labrador. John and Cindy McGowan, of Santa Fe, saw a picture of Pepperjack online and knew he was the one as soon they met.
"We fell in love with his sweet disposition and his love to fetch balls," said Cindy McGowan. "We knew he was the one for us."
The McGowans adopted Pepperjack during last year's Clear the Shelter's event and renamed him "Jake." They said it didn't take long for their newest four-legged member to fit into their family and hearts.
"He quickly made friends with our older dog Toby, although Toby makes sure that he is recognized as the elder authority of the two," John McGowan said.
In the year since he was adopted, Jake has learned how to swim and loves traveling to the family's lake property. And while some shelter pets are reluctant to trust humans, John said Jake loves people, both young and old, and makes news friends easily. He's also eager to please his new parents.
"He is always by Cindy’s side when she goes out to the barn to take care of the horses. It's as if he is curious about what she is doing and trying to figure out how he can help," John said.
The McGowans said they have had several Labs over the years and had actually lost their last two older Labs a few months before adopting Jake.
"We feel very fortunate to have found Jake. He is a sweetheart and a very special part of our life," John added.