Shelter Staff Gave This Senior Dog a Grand, Tear-Jerking Sendoff. Here's Why It Was So Special

black dog on leash exits building as two lines of people cheer
black dog on leash exits building as two lines of people cheer

@adoptmas / TikTok

Senior shelter dogs sometimes have a hard time finding forever homes, and gray-muzzled Star was no different at Memphis Animal Services earlier this year.

He'd spent three months there, mostly in Director Alexis Pugh's office, before perhaps the perfect suitor arrived to take him home. The adoption inspired a lovely goodbye that's since gone viral on TikTok.

More than 3.5 million people watched the sweet sendoff, in which the shelter staff formed an applauding guard of honor to wish him good luck in his new life. It's punctuated by Star's face-to-face moment with Pugh, who had spent most of the previous three months with the sweet, floofy boy.


"To me, it was a very, just, organic moment where I was saying goodbye to my friend," Pugh tells Daily Paws.

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Star's Shelter Life

Star, who's roughly 8 years old, arrived at MAS with his brother toward the end of 2022 after health problems hospitalized his owner and no one else in her family could care for them. He quickly became a candidate for Pugh's office dog.

"It's known around these parts that I'm a sucker for senior dogs," she says.

She likes having the calmer senior dogs around while she works, and from his desk-adjacent bed, Star would often hear about the emails she received or meetings she attended. He ate a Pupperoni treat each morning—"not that he needed it," Pugh says—and they'd take walks and say hi to folks.

But her "great companion" was having trouble finding a new home. Pugh would post photos to social media to no avail, and even though a few people stopped by to visit Star, the weeks still stretched into months. And while he enjoyed his time with Pugh in the office, it was nothing compared to a real home.

Senior pups often face this challenge, Pugh says. People often don't want to adopt a dog who could pass away soon compared to a young dog or puppy.

"It just never seemed to quite work out, until one day," she says. "Just all the fates aligned."

Star Hits the 'Jackpot'

That day was Feb. 8 when a woman arrived at MAS interested in Star. She was a veterinary technician at the black dog's old clinic and had recognized him on social media. At first, Pugh didn't realize she was interested in taking Star home, telling her how difficult it had been to find him an adopter.

That's when she told Pugh, "Oh, he's got a home now."

"I lost it," Pugh says. "I mean, just tears pouring down my face."

Not only was Star going home with someone who knew him, she's married to a veterinarian and splits her time between two farms. He now has acres of space and some new siblings for his older years.

"This dog hit the jackpot," Pugh says.

The Super Sendoff

As Star's new owner went to fill out paperwork, Pugh spread the good news and rallied the staff. Everyone knew Star, from the facilities specialist to the person running accounts payable. This needed to be meaningful.

So out into the cold they went, about 20 people clapping and cheering as Star and his new mom exited the building. After his moment with Pugh, he even munched on a few treats for the road. She thinks he understood how much he was loved.

"Everyone was just thrilled to gather outside and give him that proper sendoff, and, gosh, it was just such a special moment," she says.

The viral moment sparked several tears from TikTok users, and Pugh was glad so many people have seen it so far. The animal welfare sector is hard, often thankless work, and Pugh says people sometimes hold a poor perception of their jobs, thinking they don't care about the animals.

Hopefully, the Star video changes some minds.

"This is how we really are," she says.