Mr. Bones Featured on National Geographic Channel's DogTown, Now Starring Member of Maryland Family

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Here's a different kind of Veteran's Day story. Perfectly wonderful old dogs are turned into shelters every day for being "too old," or they lose their home another way and are overlooked for adoption in favor of puppies. But at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, there has been evidence of a heartening trend which seems to be sweeping the nation: more and more 'senior citizen" dogs and cats are getting adopted as people realized the many advantages of adopting a senior pet. Here is one such happy story. Thanks to a featured role in the hit National Geographic Channel series, "DogTown," an elderly dog who could not get along with dogs -- or any other animals -- finds true love and a home of his own after 13 years at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

Mr. Bones and his adopter, Sharon Sowada

I told him I was coming back in October and he was coming home with me

For 13 years Mr. Bones was a legendary figure at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, but he couldn't persuade anyone to take him to a home to call his own. After one night of fame, however, he finally found a family that loved his "goofy grin" and wanted to share their lives with him.

Sharon Sowada of Ellicott City, Maryland, saw Mr. Bones in episode of "DogTown," the National Geographic Channel television series that chronicles Best Friends' work with abused, neglected and homeless dogs. She and her sister came to visit the sanctuary and made a point of meeting Mr. Bones. She had no idea she'd fall head over heels in love with the guy.

Sharon considers herself a cat person, but Mr. Bones changed all that with the first sleepover. From the moment she met him, she was smitten. She said there was something about the goofy grin he gave her. Her original plan was to take a different dog each night on a sleepover, but that's not how it worked out. By the end of her stay, she knew she wanted to adopt him.

"I told him I was coming back in October and he was coming home with me," Sharon said.

October is an auspicious month in Mr. Bones' life. He came to Best Friends in October 1995 from Puerto Rico. An undercover DEA agent saw a stray female dog sharing what little food she had with a bone-thin dog. Seeing this act of kindness touched the agent so much that she decided to trap them both. She called the skinny dog Bones, and the female dog, Negrita.

The agent called Best Friends for help. There happened to be a rare opening at sanctuary, located in sourthern Utah, and soon the pair of pups were living happily at Best Friends. Negrita settled in just great before finding a home, but Mr. Bones started to become aggressive toward other dogs, even Negrita. He had to live alone, away from other dogs.

Throughout the years, however, Mr. Bones' popularity grew. He was declared the sanctuary's Sleepover King because visitors loved taking him on overnight stays.

Unfortunately, it wasn't easy for him to find a permanent home because he couldn't get along with other animals.

Sharon has both cats and dogs, but after falling in love with Mr. Bones she returned to Maryland and totally renovated the the top floor of her home. Mr. Bones lives upstairs, the other animals are downstairs. He will never have contact with them, not even when he goes on walks.

When the time finally came to take Mr. Bones home, Best Friends caregivers and fans were excited . The "Jersey Girls," a group of three women from the Garden State who each year visit Best Friends, have always made Mr. Bones their number one stop. They even have T-shirts with his picture on them that say, "Mr. Bones fan club." Wanting to help Mr. Bones get started in his new life, the ladies decided set up a donation fund and within 28 days raised $3,150 for him.

By the time Sharon rolled out of town, she had come to realize just what a celebrity she had adopted. There were congratulatory signs everywhere. "Mr. Bones has left the building!" was a favorite.

The best, though, happened as Sharon and her sister tried to leave town. They stopped for lunch in Best Friends' hometown of Kanab, where random strangers already knew all about Mr. Bones and were thrilled to learn he'd been adopted. On the way to his new home, Mr. Bones was perfect. Now, Sharon says she and her husband can't imagine how they ever got along without him, and quickly adds, "You can't have him back."

Best Friends Animal Society: A better world through kindness to animals.

Barbara Williamson (435) 644-2001 ext. 4808 or 435-689-0200 (cell), barbara @

John Polis 435-644-2001 ext. 4858 (office) or 435-817-2980 (cell), johnp @

About Best Friends Animal Society

Located on 3,700 acres in Kanab, Utah, Best Friends Animal Society operates the country's largest sanctuary for homeless animals and is home, on any given day, to about 2,000 dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, birds, and other animals. Best Friends works globally with animal shelters and rescue groups to bring about a time when there will be no more homeless pets. Best Friends advances initiatives nationwide that promote community approaches to making the world a better place through kindness to animals, which includes adoption, spay-neuter, and humane education programs. Best Friends is the home of DogTown, a National Geographic Channel television series that chronicles the society's ongoing work with dogs.


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Barbara Williamson

John Polis
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