This shelter puppy’s funny habit of cracking a smile has won him hearts, headlines and a new home.
Burreaux the black Labrador pup and his two siblings, Joe and O, were picked up by Humane Society of Northwest Louisiana volunteer Sarrah Walton after the organisation’s director, Courtney Wingate, spotted the three pups at a kill shelter.
The three dogs had tested positive for parvovirus, a life-threatening gastrointestinal virus mainly affecting young dogs, so they were taken straight to the vet before being brought to the adoption shelter.
Burreaux was very ill, but when he got better, he quickly began to win over Humane Society shelter volunteers with his charming grin.
The three pups ― named after Louisiana State University quarterback Joe Burrow and coach Ed Orgeron, known as Coach O ― were soon split up when Joe got adopted, leaving Burreaux and O to wait for families.
“Nobody was really showing interest in them,” Walton said. “But then Burreaux started smiling. ... The rest is history.”
In a video published to the organisation’s Facebook page, Burreaux can be seen wagging his tail and smiling as shelter workers coo over him. After that, Walton said, the attention just kept coming.
Burreaux finally found a “happy ending,” Walton said, when he was taken home by a local family last weekend.
Elliot Mason, a dog behaviorist with Dog Behavior Solutions, said Burreaux’s smile is likely what’s known as a “submissive grin,” which dogs sometimes do to show they’re not a threat.
He said the behavior is totally normal, but uncommon. “There are dogs out there that just naturally are more prone to that kind of expression when they feel a certain way,” he said, adding that it’s likely the dog was conditioned to keep smiling because people responded so positively to it.
“The pup is reacting accordingly when people speak in a certain voice,” he said. “When they greet their dog, typically what happens is the dog is going to respond accordingly with more excitement.”
Wingate, the shelter’s director, has a Chesapeake Bay retriever. Walton said the director’s dog is also a smiler, hence the “funny voice” she can be heard making in the video ― the same voice her own dog responds to with a grin.
Burreaux’s sister O is still up for adoption. She might not be a grinner ― but just look at this face!