From Chaos to Comfort: Chowder’s Success Story

When we go through major transitions in our lives: moving, starting a new job, graduating, etc. it takes time to adjust to our new environment and routines. Our pets undergo major transitions too, and their reactions to change are no different from ours. The adjustment from the shelter to an animal’s forever home can be overwhelming, stressful, and scary. Just like us, it takes time for animals to settle into their new environments. Chowder, an adorable kitty who came through SHS this Spring, had a similar experience while he transitioned into his forever home.     

Chowder, originally Garibaldi, was adopted earlier this May. At the shelter, he was outgoing and loving, wanting to cuddle up with everyone he met. A family quickly fell in love with his amazing personality and took him home! However, once he arrived at his new place, his mood shifted, and he became anxious and aloof, and was afraid of his new family, especially his new doggy siblings.  

It’s easy for new owners to blame either the animal or themselves for these changes in behavior. The reality is that it just takes time. Time for animals to become acquainted with their new surroundings. Time to become comfortable with their new family members and other animals. Time to realize their new home is a safe space for them to be themselves.  

And time was exactly what Chowder needed. After the first few days of hiding and hissing at his new surroundings, Chowder realized that his new people were kind, and his new home was comfortable. He began to let his guard down and allow his beautiful personality shine through.

Now, Chowder is the pride and joy of his new family. He loves to be carried around by the kids and sleeps in their room every night. He’s nothing but purrs and snuggles and shows his love and affection every chance he gets. He even loves his dog siblings, although he occasionally keeps them in check with a playful swat. Chowder’s family are so grateful that they were kind and patient during his transition period, as they now see what an incredible kitty he is through and through. 

Chowder’s story gives insight into the realities of new pet ownership. Adopting a shelter animal is an incredible thing, but it can be met with a host of challenges. At SHS, we sometimes have individuals return animals after just a few days, citing anxiety and aggression as the reason they no longer wish to keep them. Often, these negative behaviors are a temporary part of an animal’s adjustment to their new environment. To reduce quick returns, we recommend owners to apply the 3-3-3 rule to their newly adopted animal. 

The 3-3-3 rule provides insights for the first three days, three weeks, and three months of your pet’s new life. The first three days, your new pet is likely overwhelmed and may exhibit signs of stress such as withdrawal, vocalization, or reactivity. In these early days, it is best to provide a calm, quiet environment for your animal to adjust, giving them space to come to you.  

During the first three weeks with your animal, they are likely to become more comfortable in their home. They will start to let their guard down and their personality shine, just like Chowder! At this stage, it’s helpful to establish a routine for your animal such as consistent feeding and walk times to continue the adjustment process. 

The first three months, your animal will adjust, develop routines, and lastly, establish trust with you. This time to deepen you connection is the most meaningful part of pet ownership, and it is the moments when you gain a new best friend who will always be there for you. Chowder, who exhibited normal behaviors of stress and anxiety during those first three days, is now in this wonderful stage of deepening his trust with his new family.

We are immensely grateful for families like Chowder’s who save our shelter animal’s lives by providing them with homes filled with comfort, love, and grace. We love to hear success stories of our animals in their forever homes! Send your animal’s story to