Rosie and Clyde: A Love Story of Senior Dog Adoption in Santa Fe

Meet the new "it" couple at a New Mexico shelter -- a dynamic human-canine duo.


Santa Fe earned its nickname “Fanta Se” because it’s a magical place, where phenomena so fantastical occur that they defy explanation. One such event took place last week at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society, when a little mutt named Rosie found her forever home with a lovely man named Clyde.

Four months earlier, on July 25, the diminutive DachshundChihuahua cross had entered the shelter as a stray, her age estimated at 3 years. She was named Rosmerta — possibly after the Celtic goddess of fertility and abundance? Or Madam Rosmerta, of Harry Potter fame? Even with her distinctive handle, Rosmerta wasn’t an attention-getter.

In her initial behavior assessment, she’s described as very shut down: “Lay down in the corner of the yard, never stood up to approach helper dog, stayed in a down position while helper dog approached. No interest in interacting at all.” The shelter’s behavior team worked with Rosie to overcome her crippling introversion, offering treats in a protocol they call “Drive-By,” in which they tossed treats to her in her kennel to get her used to the idea that when people pass by, good things happen.

Throughout August, volunteers and staff worked with her so she’d accept being leashed. Rosie got accustomed to the leash, but she walked so stiffly that handlers often had to pick her up. But by August 20, she was ready for adoption, accepting the leash and harness more and more. By September 9, she was a leash-walk pro.

Her kennel card read: “Hi there. My name is Rosmerta. I’m a fun little doggie ready to wiggle and bounce my way into your heart. I am all grown up and weigh about 22 pounds. I am still getting used to my surroundings here but once I get to know people, I am affectionate, loyal and a little goofball. I would love to go on lots of sniffing adventures with my new family, but don’t worry, I’ll do all the sniffing. If you have other dogs at home, bring them to meet me!”

No one took her up. As dog after dog got adopted, little Rosie was overlooked time and time again. It’s not hard to imagine why. Despite her rascally raccoon mask reminiscent of Zorro, the subtle inner beauty of this plain black-and-brown mutt isn’t flashy or obvious. Her reserved demeanor never screamed “take me!” to potential adopters. Rosie was a classic case of a “less adoptable” dog.

In September, Petfinder’s “Adopt-a-Less-Adoptable Pet Week” came and went, but still there were no takers for Rosie.

The shelter staff refused to give up on her — especially Sanjuana, one of Santa Fe Humane’s dedicated trainers. Kelly Moore, coordinator of Santa Fe Humane’s New Hope program, and her colleagues knew it would take a special person to see past Rosie’s cool, guarded exterior and into her warm, sweet soul. They worked hard to locate that person.

That person, it turns out, had already made several visits to the shelter, but always left empty-handed. It had been four months since the passing of Molly, his longtime canine companion. But Clyde, a retired MD and lifelong dog lover, couldn’t seem to make a connection. Kelly and her team worked hard to find the perfect match for Clyde; no luck. Until, that is, he happened to pass by Rosmerta’s kennel one day. Clyde did what few others had done: He stopped and took notice of the shy, quiet little dog lying there with such impressive calm.

He asked to meet her, and they went for a walk. The pair instantly hit it off and walked away together into the Santa Fe sunset. This sweet Southwestern scene came ready for its Christmas-card closeup, complete with a turquoise sky for a backdrop!As a parting gift to Rosie and Clyde, the shelter waived its adoption fee.

Clyde reports that the little dog he renamed Abigail (Abbie for short) is still withdrawn, but she’s making steady progress. He lets her sleep on his pillow, and offers her gentle strokes when she seems frightened. “I really love her,” he says. “And I’m willing to take as long as she needs to be comfortable with me.”

And to think it all happened in November, during Adopt-a-Senior-Dog Month. Abbie’s still a youngster — and so is her delighted new owner, who happens to be 95!

Their love match puts a sweet spin on “senior” dog adoption, does it not? Here’s to the mutt match made in Fanta Se. Way to go, Sante Fe Humane!

Do you know of a rescue hero — dog, human, or group — we should profile on Dogster? Write us at

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