Shelter Dogs  

Maddie's® Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell


A Dog's Best Friend

Bonded Pair Pic Secondary PageYou’ve probably heard of the saying that a dog is a man’s best friend, but what happens when the dog is a dog’s best friend?  Several months ago, Coco and Mellow were surrendered to a local animal shelter from the same home. The shelter staff quickly became aware of the close relationship between these two dogs, as both dogs displayed significant anxiety when not within proximity of the other. The shelter behavior team deemed Coco and Mellow a “bonded pair,” requiring them to be adopted together.  This adorable duo is so attached to one another that if they were to be separated, or in this situation, adopted out individually, one or both dogs could potentially suffer severe mental distress. 

Bonded pairing is believed to be more than affection between two animals, but rather a dependence on another for emotional stability. Shelter teams may encounter this type of behavioral dependence between animals who have lived together for quite some time, often from early ages.  Although this condition has been reported in both dogs and cats, it is thought to be rare and should be diagnosed by properly trained shelter behavior staff.

Because Coco and Mellow are to be adopted together, the timeframe in which they leave the shelter could be extended. Most adopters come to the shelter seeking an individual animal only, as they know the hefty responsibility that comes along with adopting a dog or cat.  It is also common that a bonded pair will have tendencies to illustrate a possessive behavior over one another, which may also pose a challenge to potential owners and increase their length of stay. 

Although Coco and Mellow have been a popular pair with staff and volunteers over the past several months, they have yet to find their forever home at their current shelter. Bonded pairs often require creative adoption strategies that may require a community-wide effort. Luckily, a shelter from a nearby area has been in need of small breed dogs and they are certain that their community would welcome the chance at adopting this endearing dachshund duo. The value of collaboration between shelters can be tremendous, especially for Coco and Mellow, as they will hopefully soon find a loving family together! {back}