Nina the pit bull adopted at last. Submitted photo

The dog’s name was Nina and no matter what she did to look her best, nobody who came to the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society wanted to adopt her.

To Sandy Graul, volunteer coordinator at the shelter, it was a puzzle.

“I watched her present her best show when it came to people looking to adopt a dog,” Graul says. “Nina would sit pretty and smile — yes, smile — at onlookers. Or she would get right out in front of the cage door and wag her butt and tail. And they just bypassed her for four solid months.”

Nina, a pit bull, seemed woefully aware that she was not sufficiently charming the men, women and kids who came in shopping for dogs. Graul, meanwhile, was woefully aware that Nina was sad and it got to her.

“I formed a bond with the dog,” Graul says.

She started putting Nina on a leash and bringing the dog into her office at the shelter.


“And I could do my work all day long,” Graul says. “She was content to sit on a blanket with a toy, and to just be with somebody that day.”

This went on for a while. Surely at some point, someone would be interested in this sweet-faced pit bull, Graul reasoned, at which point Nina would go to a good home.

But it didn’t happen that way. At one time, there was a PETCO adoption event in which a dozen shelter dogs were sent out in hopes of finding homes. It was a successful event by all metrics.

But it wasn’t successful for Nina.

“Every single dog around her at the event was getting adopted,” Graul says. “She was the only dog that came back. So I said to my boss at the time, ‘Get the paperwork ready.'”

For Graul, enough was enough. Nina was a sweet dog and she deserved a home, so Graul went through the steps to make it happen, not pausing to clear things at home.


“When my husband walked in, there was a pit bull looking up from a dog crate,” Graul says, laughing at the memory. “He was like, ‘Oh no. What did she do?’ And I said, ‘Hey. It’s either me or the dog. You need to accept this dog and that’s all there is to it.'”

Her husband eventually came to accept the dog and Nina for sure accepted her new home. Four years ago that was, and Graul still talks about Nina with the love and devotion of a parent with a newborn child.

You can hardly blame her. The bond that was forged during hard times at the shelter has never been broken.

“She’s beautiful,” Graul says. “I love her and she loves me.”

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