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08/28/2015 11:04 am ET

10 Years Later, Pit Bull Rescued During Katrina Finally Has A Forever Home

"It makes me cry. It makes me so happy."

A few weeks after Hurricane Katrina, veterinarian Jennifer Wellman was volunteering at a camp set up to care for displaced pets, many of whom were sick and starving.

Pinky came in -- a sunburned pit bull with a bad skin condition and a sweet disposition, and nowhere to go.

"I wasn't really planning on bringing animals back," Wellman says. But she couldn't bear to leave Pinky behind. 

Wellman (her last name was then Stobbe; that's how she's identified in the video) wound up coming home to her practice in Mississippi with three Katrina pit bulls in tow, Pinky among them, figuring she'd get them healthy and socialized, and then into homes.

Half a decade later, Pinky was still there.

Wellman had by then opened a pet resort, to go with her animal hospital. Pinky lived there, and was happy and comfortable.

He and another of the dogs, who also hadn't yet been adopted, had "a pretty darn good quality of life," says Wellman.

But she still hoped that they'd find families to love them. 

To increase their odds, Pinky and the other pup were dispatched to a progressive shelter in Colorado, where the climes seemed friendlier to pit bull adoption. 

The two dogs were given lots of training and love at the Colorado shelter. It worked for Pinky's friend, who got adopted.

Pinky was given a new name more fitting to the now older, no longer sunburned dog: Yogi.

But even with the new name and the new environment, Yogi still wasn't getting adopted. He's not great with other dogs and has lingering health issues, plus a patchy coat -- which might all have contributed.

Yogi began showing some signs of stress in the shelter. The options for a dog in this situation can often be grim.

His shelter caregivers wanted to see a happier ending, and submitted an application for Yogi to go live at the Best Friends Animal Society sanctuary in Utah. 

Yogi got to the sanctuary in July 2012.

The aim was still to find him a home. But if needed, Yogi could stay the rest of his life in this place -- where on any given day he'd go for long walks and take golf cart rides around the sanctuary, palling around with staff and volunteers.

"Yogi was always very happy here," says Cherie Mascis, a manager at Best Friends. "He has never had a home so we don't know if he knew what he was missing."

Yogi with his caretakers at Best Friends Animal Society
Best Friends Animal Society
Yogi with his caretakers at Best Friends Animal Society

Ingrid Lindberg and her partner, Melinda Miles, are dog lovers who traveled from their home in Alaska to volunteer at Best Friends over the summer.

The couple met Yogi on a golf cart ride. They were impressed with his sweetness and moved by his history. They asked if they could keep him overnight, at their hotel, expecting a short-term affair.

"A dog adoption was not on my list," says Lindberg.

After going back home to Alaska, Lindberg and Miles couldn't stop talking about Yogi. They posted about him on Facebook and tried to convince their friends to adopt him.

"I knew there was someone out there who would see that despite his challenges and his age, Yogi is a great dog," says Lindberg.

It did not take long for Lindberg to realize that she and Miles and their two kids were those someones. They put in an adoption application, and were thrilled to have it accepted.

Mascis says some happy tears were shed, as Best Friends staff said goodbye. They gave Yogi a few extra walks, and a few more golf cart rides, before sending him on his way.

"We knew that Yogi could blossom in a home, and we always hoped that would come true for him," she says.

Wellman is having a hard time keeping her eyes dry, too.

"He was just a puppy when we rescued him," says Wellman. "This is the most wonderful news, that he did find a home. It makes me cry. It makes me so happy."

Yogi with his new siblings,&nbsp;<span>Ramey and Suzanne.</span>
Ingrid Lindberg
Yogi with his new siblings, Ramey and Suzanne.

Now 10 years since the sunburned puppy was delivered out of the storm and into the care of humans determined to make his life good, Yogi's come home. 

About a week ago, Yogi arrived in Alaska, flying up from Utah.

It's been a very good week.

Yogi is having some trouble with going up and down the stairs -- maybe due to arthritis, or maybe because he's never used them before -- but he has started to make friends with the household's other pets, and "he's licking our kids like they're best buds," says Lindberg.

The other day, as the family pulled onto their street, coming home from a trip to the ocean, Yogi stood up in the car and began to wag his tail.

Lindberg thinks that might be the moment it set in for Yogi: this is where he lives now. These are his people and his people think that "this is going to work," says Lindberg.

"All he really wants is a home, a family, a couch, some rides in the car, maybe a few yummy treats once in a while and some chest rubs," Lindberg says. "It is just so easy to make this dog happy." 

Ingrid Lindberg

Get in touch at arin.greenwood@huffingtonpost.com! 

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