When a listing for a free puppy appeared on an East Tennessee Craigslist, a local foster mom knew she had to step in.
Though the breeder tried to pass off his littermates as purebred labs, one puppy didn’t make the cut.
His white spot on his chest and smaller spot on his paw hinted that he was not purebred.
While the breeder may not have seen any value in him, the woman who found him online knew he was worth so much.
Read on to hear how this boxer mix not only changed the life of his foster mom, but the lives of 175 other foster puppies as well.
Love at First Sight
When Erin Burke, a foster and board member at East Tennessee Alliance for Animals (ETAA) in Chattanooga, TN, saw an ad on Craigslist for a “free dog”, her warning lights went off.
Erin was worried, both for what may happen to him and because of his current situation.
No reputable breeder would give a puppy away to a stranger for free.
Listing a puppy for free online can put a dog in great danger.
She was working late when she saw the post, but that didn’t stop her.
A transporter company drove the puppy straight to the PT clinic where she worked.
Naturally, she worried about the condition he would be in when he arrived, but the puppy was in great shape: clean and flea-free.
“He was just a 7-pound, little black fur-ball!” Erin recalled.
Erin had fostered 2 different litters of puppies before him, but only from her garage.
This foster would present a new challenge: her first solo puppy to be fostered inside of her home with her 2 adopted dogs.
Erin had 2 female dogs at the time: a sweet, motherly chocolate lab and an older, more nervous chihuahua/dachshund mix.
“She hated all other dogs except for Adele, my chocolate lab,” Erin said.
But, the new foster puppy fit in with her household in no time.
He especially loved to chase the chihuahua mix. “He knew exactly how to push her buttons,” Erin said.
Erin named her new foster Flynn after Disney’s Tangled, a fitting name for such a charming puppy.
But, the little charmer could also be a troublemaker.
What’s All The Ruckus About?
Erin used a baby gate to block off the bathroom doorway, so Flynn had the whole space to himself.
He would sleep in there frequently.
One night, Erin heard a ruckus coming from the bathroom.
She rushed to check on him, only to find that this tiny, 8-week-old puppy had flipped over his dog bed and bowl and made a mess of his puppy pads all over the room.
“After that, he just slept in the bed with us,” Erinn laughed.
Not only had Flynn found a spot in her bed, but he was quickly filling a spot in her heart as well.
Flynn’s Surprising Fur-Ever Home
Flynn had been up for adoption in New England, and shortly after coming to live with Erin, an adopter was found.
While it was wonderful news that someone wanted to adopt Flynn, something didn’t feel right to Erin.
“He was a 24-year-old kid, and I wasn’t super excited about it,” Erinn said.
Erin’s intuition was right, and the potential adopter pulled out.
A part of Erin felt relieved that she wouldn’t have to part with Flynn so soon.
It had been about 3 weeks, and Flynn was meshing so well with her household.
He was an easy puppy and got along great with her two dogs.
When another potential adopter set up a call to discuss Flynn, Erin couldn’t help but feel a little sad.
That’s when Erin knew…she couldn’t let him go.
Flynnigan’s Hostel for Wayward Souls
In February of 2017, Erin officially adopted Flynn, and he welcomed the first set of foster dogs into their home shortly after: a litter of Miniature Pinscher/Chihuahua mix puppies.
Fast-forward almost five years, and Flynn has helped with 175 different foster dogs.
It’s as if he remembers what it felt like to be scared and alone and wants to make sure no dog ever feels lonely.
Now that he’s safe, he’s paying it forward to other rescue pups!
“He’s my right-hand man,” Erin said. Nicknamed “Flynnigan,” he and the other dogs have helped turn their home into a welcoming hostel for wayward dogs.
Flynn is the perfect therapy dog for new fosters and he helps them to establish a routine.
For many pups, this is their first experience in a home.
It’s common for them to be scared and timid, but Flynn helps them feel safe in their new environment.
He’s there to show each and every rescue pup that they have a friend!
Flynn loves to make new friends, especially the big friends that play with him in the backyard.
“He loves loves loves when the dogs chase him outside. That’s his favorite game!” Erin said.
This sweet boy is always ready to show new rescue pups the love and patience they need to thrive.
After a long day of playing with foster friends, he leads them to the couch and shows them his favorite toys and snuggle spots.
Thanks to Erin at ETAA, Flynn not only found his perfect forever home, but he’s helping hundreds of other foster dogs get that chance as well – and he’s having fun doing it!
Be sure to follow Flynnigan’s Hostel on Instagram to keep up with all the great work Flynn and Erin do!
If you’d like learn more about how to help ETAA, click here!