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Shelter Pup Charms With His Goofy Grin

Written by: Dina Fantegrossi
Dina Fantegrossi is the Assistant Editor and Head Writer for HomeLife Media. Before her career in writing, Dina was a veterinary technician for more than 15 years.Read more
| Published on March 10, 2020

Choosing which pets to pull from a kill shelter is one of the most difficult parts of a shelter director’s job. Courtney Wingate, director of the Humane Society of Northwest Louisiana, knows this firsthand.

Recently she was at a local animal control center when she spotted three 8-week-old Labrador mix puppies. At first glance, they were typical shelter pups, but then one of them “smiled.”

Photo via Humane Society of Northwest Louisiana

Wingate fell in love. She contacted HSNWL volunteer, Sarah Walton who promptly picked up the pups. Walton decided to name them for her favorite college football team, the LSU Tigers. Just like that, the shelter had three new residents – Joe, Burreaux and O after LSU’s quarterback and coach.

Burreaux, the pup with the mega-watt smile, became ill shortly after arriving at the rescue and battled deadly parvovirus. Luckily, he came back stronger – and smilier – than ever!

Screenshot via Humane Society of Northwest Louisiana

In fact, his toothy grin gave his pals at HSNWL an idea. Littermate Joe had learned to play fetch and was quickly adopted. O was also working on honing her fetch skills.

While Burreaux was not as physically talented as his littermates, he was a “sucker for sweet talk.” His shelter pals decided to share a video of his rare, but adorable grin to Facebook in the hopes of attracting adopters.

“We were thinking, ‘Burreaux wants a home so bad that he’s always smiling, trying to cute it up,’” Walton told The Dodo. “So we took that video and now it’s going viral.”

Screenshot via Humane Society of Northwest Louisiana

There are several reasons a dog may “smile,” but in Burreaux’s case, it is most likely a submissive grin. The little pup likely felt overwhelmed when first arriving at animal control and used the submissive smile to show he was not a threat to his keepers.

With so much attention and positive reinforcement from his new friends at HSNWL, Burreaux’s grin is now a learned behavior cued by high-pitched words from a human.

“It’s whenever you’re talking real sweet to him … he gets this smile like he wants something,” Walton said. “[It’s] like he’s telling you, ‘Come pet me, come love me.’”

Before the video, Burreaux and O weren’t getting much attention. Since the smiley pup went viral with more than 600,000 video views, both have found wonderful forever homes!

Don’t feel bad that you missed out on adopting one of the LSU pups, the Humane Society of Northwest Louisiana has lots more adoptable cuties to choose from.


H/T to The Dodo

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