A dog at the Humane Rescue Alliance was looking for his forever home, but had no luck.

Thankfully, trainers at the shelter saw just how special Bongo was, and knew he was meant for something more.

This is his story.

Bongo is an 11-month-old lab who had a rough start at life. Unwanted and essentially deemed un-adoptable at a shelter in Miami, Bongo was sent up to the Humane Rescue Alliance in Washington, DC.

After nearly two months in the shelter, Bongo's bad habits only got worse.

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"We had staff members who said the moment he opened the door he was all teeth, it was just really overwhelming for people to deal with," said Alexandra Dilley, a trainer at the Humane Rescue Alliance. "He was going to be a hard adoption."

Everyone only saw the bad in Bongo, except Dilley. Where most saw problems, she saw potential.

"He was a very sweet dog, all of his behavior was very social and wiggly," said Dilley. "He just had a lot of drive and interest in toys and he wanted to be out doing stuff all the time."

Bongo just needed to find a place for all that energy to go.

"So I started thinking maybe he would be a good candidate for search and rescue programs or a working dog program," said Dilley. She was right; Bongo aced his initial training. "He's a natural!"

Now, Bongo is in California going through his final testing with the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation.

Bongo hard at work. 
Bongo hard at work. 

"All the trainers love him and he loves it and he's doing so well there," said Dilley. "We are really pulling for him."

It turns out, all the characteristics that made Bongo un-adoptable, actually make him the perfect search and rescue dog.

"I think different dogs have different purposes in life," said Dilley. "I'm really happy and proud when we can match that dog and his needs and his purpose to what is out there in the community."

Bongo's purpose, is to save lives. But that was only discovered because someone saved his.

"I like to think about that, too," said Dilley. "It's the reason I come to work every day."

Bongo has one more test to pass before he can officially start working.

The Humane Rescue Alliance does everything they can to get dogs adopted - or into programs like Bongo's, for working dogs.

And it turns out - the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation is in desperate need of more dogs like Bongo.
If you would like more information about the program, click here.

While our cameras were visiting the Humane Rescue Alliance, we snapped some adorable, adoptable dogs looking for their forever homes! If you're interested in learning more about any of these dogs, contact HRA here.