Hank is thankful, family is Hank-ful

ROCKWALL, TX (Nov. 24, 2014) As summer turned to autumn in 2011, things were looking bleak for Hank He’d been living the good life before disaster struck. His family suddenly split apart due to divorce. As a result, Hank ended up at the Rockwall animal shelter.

As soon as he arrived at the shelter, he put on quite a show. Hank’s smile gleamed as he relaxed on the shelter’s outdoor bench, which quickly became his favorite resting spot. But shelter volunteers knew that Hank’s smile masked his concern over his fate. His head had to be spinning after he was ripped from his comfortable home and thrust into an uncertain future.

The shelter debuted its new mobile adoption unit at The Harbor on November 5, 2011, so Hank went along for the ride. It was a change of pace from his long days lounging on the blue iron bench. It would also be the day that changed his life.

As the Hightower family walked across the grounds of The Harbor that day, they glanced over at Hank and found themselves drawn to him. It didn’t take long before a family discussion broke out. After talking it over, they decided they were hopelessly in love with the big dog. Hank was soon in the car with them, headed to his new home in Heath.

Even though Thanksgiving was only 19 days after his adoption, Hank had to have realized that this was not going to be an ordinary holiday celebration. In that short amount of time, he’d found the home of his dreams. And the Hightower family was already aware that they had found a new best friend.

“I can’t imagine our life without him,” Kristi Hightower said recently. “He’s such a good dog and our very best friend.”

Three years later, Hank and the Hightower family are more grateful than ever that they found each other. And there’s a moral to this tale of Thanksgiving. Great dogs and cats like Hank end up in shelters every day through no fault of their own. These pets have been separated from their previous families for a number of reasons: family illness, job loss, moving to a place that doesn’t allow pets or, like in Hank’s case, divorce.

These pets are used to living in a comfortable family environment. They’re in limbo, many of them scared and nervous about their fate, while they wait for a new family to love. When you’re looking for a new family member, check out the great dogs and cats at a local animal shelter. It will be a meaningful Thanksgiving when you’re nearly bursting with gratitude with your new adopted pet. Just ask Hank and the Hightower family. They know exactly how you feel.

Story and photos by Blue Ribbon News guest columnist Michael Kitkoski, an award-winning animal shelter reform advocate and co-founder of Rockwall Pets and No Kill Solutions.

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