Sleepovers lead to forever homes

Paisley found a home quickly after the "Slumber Buddies" program with a family that was looking for a large dog that got along with cats. Courtesy photo.
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When Paisley arrived at the Best Friends Pet Adoption and Spay/Neuter Center Mission Hills last April from a city shelter, she came with a mile long smile and boundless energy. What she didn’t come with was the kind of information that could help adopters make the decision to take Paisley home.

For starters, it was not clear how Paisley felt about living with children, or cats. And while she wasn’t a fan of other dogs at the Center, it also was unclear if she’d feel the same about other dogs in a home setting.

Chukkis was having a similar challenge. Not only was Chukkis’ past a mystery, but he was also nervous at all the activity at the Center, and he showed it by barking at potential adopters.

But there was good news ahead for both dogs. That’s because Paisley and Chukkis, along with eight other dogs, got to take part in a special weekend-long program called Slumber Buddies. It is designed to give dogs like Paisley and Chukkis a chance to spend a weekend in a foster home, where their personalities could really shine, and ultimately, help them land permanent homes.

Dog fostering program with many benefits

“The program is a great way for us to learn more about these dogs so that we can then give them the best possible chance at getting adopted,” said Denise Landaverde, foster coordinator at the Center. It’s also a way to help get dogs who have been waiting the longest into the homes they deserve.

The Slumber Buddies foster program, open to Best Friends volunteers, exceeded anyone’s expectations. Of the ten dogs who went home with foster families over the weekend, seven were adopted soon after. “It’s a win/win,” says Landaverde. “Dogs get a chance to sharpen their socialization skills with a family. And we get invaluable knowledge that helps us find them homes where they can really thrive.”

When the foster families bring the dogs back to the Center at the end of the weekend, they also share videos and photos that capture them at their best. These can really help adopters envision what it would be like to live with the dogs they’re considering adopting.

The program is also a perfect way for dog lovers to foster without having to make a longer commitment, or who are only able to have dogs in their homes as visitors, due to lease restrictions.

Paisley steals the show

Paisley soaked up every minute of her Slumber Buddies getaway that she spent with Best Friends volunteer Laura Siciliano and her husband. On Saturday, Paisley stole the show at a big family get-together, where she was confident and well-behaved with everyone.

Paisley the dog gives her temporary foster mom, Laura Sicliano, a kiss. Sicliano took Paisley into her home for a weekend for Best Friends Animal Society’s “Slumber Buddies” program, which aims to get information on dogs in a home environment to increase their chances of finding an adopter. Courtesy photo.

Paisley was also calm and collected around Siciliano’s three cats, and giving them lots of space, which helped them to not be afraid of her.

Sicliano admits that when it came time to bring Paisley back to the shelter, a few tears were shed. In fact, Siciliano’s husband suggested they move to a bigger place – just so they could adopt Paisley.

But there was no need to keep feeling sad. Because of all the great information gleaned from Paisley’s foster stay, staff was able to find Paisley her perfect forever home, with an adopter who has three cats. Paisley was just the right fit, and she’s now settling into her new family and getting to know her feline friends.

Pet foster parent helps dog feel confident

While at the Center, Chukkis barked so much that he sometimes scared away potential adopters. But when he stayed with Samantha Daneman’s family for Slumber Buddies weekend, he didn’t bark once. In fact, the only thing he really wanted to do is play fetch, cuddle, and then play fetch again.

“He fit in immediately,” said Daneman, who has two big dogs of her own, and who Chukkis got along with right from the start. “He was snuggly and happy, and just thrilled to be able run in the yard.”

Chukkis relaxes in the Daneman home during the “Slumber Buddies” weekend, which helped find the active young dog from the Best Friends Pet Adoption & Spay/Neuter Center a great home. Courtesy photo.

The weekend also revealed that Chukkis, who sometimes hides at the Center out of fear, is not afraid of the limelight. He soaked up the attention he got at a party Saturday night, and then he went on to mingle with everyone at a Best Friends event Sunday held at a brewery.

A dog gets his second chance

Back at the Center Chukkis’ nerves got the best of him again, and he barked—a lot—to show it. But his days were about to get a lot brighter.

That’s because he was soon adopted by Laura Pinho, who visited the Center one day looking for a dog to join her family. Laura wasn’t looking for a particular breed or size, she just wanted a dog who would get along with her young daughter and the family’s other rescued dog, Max. And because of the information his Slumber Buddies foster family had shared about Chukkis’s weekend with them, they knew he fit the bill.

Today, Chukkis, has someone to play fetch with him every day. Thanks to the weekend with his foster family, who made it possible for Chukkis to live the good life

And with many more Slumber Buddies foster weekends to come, more deserving dogs like Paisley and Chukkis will get their chance leave the shelter behind, once and for all.

For more information about Slumber Buddies and fostering, visit

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