After being adopted and returned four different times, it seemed as though Bandit would be at the Gwinnett Jail Dogs Program in Georgia for the rest of his life. The wheelchair-bound dog is so sweet and friendly, but his special needs require a lot of care and have scared off many potential adopters over the years. Though everyone in the program has always adored him, they also desperately wanted him to know how it feels to have a loving family and a forever home.
It seemed the right family would never come along — until finally, a couple saw a Facebook post about Bandit, and knew they could give him the love and care he needed.
As soon as Darrell and Sue Rider learned about Bandit, they were hooked. They weren’t scared of Bandit’s special needs at all — because Darrell happens to be in a wheelchair, too.
“The most intriguing part of Bandit is that he and I share the same type of paralysis and use a wheelchair to get around,” Darrell Rider, Bandit’s new dad, told The Dodo. “Because Sue and I know what it’s like for life in a wheelchair, we knew what was needed for Bandit. We also felt a much deeper connection.”
The couple carefully considered what it would mean to add Bandit to their family, and reached out to the Gwinnett Jail Dogs Program to discuss with them everything they needed to know about Bandit’s care. The talks lasted an entire month before everyone decided that this was absolutely the right fit, and the couple made arrangements to finally go and meet Bandit for the first time.
“Darrell stated that Bandit was ‘just like him’ and they wanted to provide him with a life where he would be understood and well cared for,” Lori Cronin, a volunteer with the Gwinnett Jail Dogs Program, told The Dodo.
After meeting Bandit, there was no longer any doubt in anyone’s mind. Darrell and Sue Rider were meant to be Bandit’s parents, and after talking to his handlers and his veterinarian and making sure their house was ready for him, it was finally time to take him home. Saying goodbye to Bandit was bittersweet for everyone in the program. He’d been there for so long and was so loved, but while his handlers and all the volunteers would miss him, they were also so thrilled that he was finally getting the happy ending he deserved.
“He meant so much to all of us at the detention center that it is now very strange to walk into the unit he was in and not see him running up to you for a treat,” Cronin said. “His raspy bark is missed and that ‘smile’ he always seemed to have on that furry face of his. His handler has since received another dog to work with, but he and the rest of the handlers in the unit miss him. We are all adjusting to his absence and are thrilled that Bandit has a home of his very own.”
Since arriving at his new home, Bandit has settled in so well and it’s already as if he’s been there for years. He’s already been on so many adventures with his new family and loves them as if he’s known them forever. It was a long wait, but Bandit is finally exactly where he belongs — side by side with someone who gets it.
“Bandit is doing great, and has settled in better than we could have imagined with his new family and surroundings,” Rider said. “We as his family couldn’t be happier to have Bandit in our lives.”