Wanda has a story to tell.
Her jet-black coat, peppered with gray around her snout, provides only a glimpse into who this dog is as she lies in her kennel at the Carbon County Animal Shelter in Nesquehoning.
The 9- or 10-year-old black Lab/shepherd mix is docile and friendly, looking up with sad but hopeful brown eyes as Tom Connors, director of the shelter, readies to take her for a walk.
She has lost some of her hearing and her hips are sore from arthritis, taking most of the pep out of her step, but she wags her tail and gets up slowly as he smiles and calls her name.
Together, Wanda and Connors go for a walk, one of the enjoyable moments of her day, as she sniffs the ground and takes in the warmth of the morning sun.
Wanda loves the time she spends with Connors, but what she really wishes for is a family to call her own as she goes through the senior years of her life.
Wanda was found wandering near a farm in Mahoning Valley and brought to the animal shelter on Oct. 28, 2013.
She was friendly and well-trained, which showed she was once a family dog; but no one ever came to claim her.
Wanda's is just one of the many stories of animals currently being cared for in shelters as they wait to be adopted.
Carbon County Friends of Animals
The Carbon County Friends of Animals, at 900 Walnut Ave., Jim Thorpe, is a feline's best friend.
Currently, over 200 cats and kittens, ranging from a few months to 12 years old, call it home.
Shelter employee Dana Dunbar said many get adopted within a reasonable amount of time, but four felines are long-term residents who are still waiting for "furever" homes. They include Rosemary, who has been at CCFOA since September 2011; Baby, November 2011; Abby, December 2011; and Lucy, April 2012.
She doesn't know why these four haven't found homes, but staff continually work with them to keep them adoptable.
"We always are giving them encouragement to come out of their cages," Dunbar said, noting that some, like Lucy, become cage attached.
She urged people to never look over an animal just because they have been there awhile or are older.
"The ones who have been here the longest usually make the best pets once they are adjusted," Dunbar said. "Don't pass them up because of their personality or markings."
The K-9 Shelter
The Carbon County Animal Shelter, at 63 Broad St., Nesquehoning, just off Route 93 on the Broad Mountain, is home to over a dozen dogs.
Some, like Wanda, have been there for months, while others are adopted quickly.
Connors said there are different reasons why a dog may be at the shelter for extended periods of time, including behavior, age and special needs.
But, the main thing is that it all comes down to "the connection."
"A dog could walk through the door and you think that it is the most adoptable dog, but it stays here for months," Connors said. "Or you could have a dog here for a long time and then a family walks in and makes a connection with that particular dog. It's all about the connection between the family and the dog."
Ranger, a 3-year-old red-nosed pit bull, has been at the shelter since last August after he was found tied to a tree in Hickory Run.
Connors sad he is still there because of his intimidating personality.
"He is a beautiful dog," he said. "We're not giving up on him."
Connors is currently working to find someone to work with Ranger to help him become yet another perfect pet.
Connors said no dog is "not adoptable," and will not even consider euthanizing any unless they are extremely ill and the quality of life is gone.
"If there is room for the dog, we will care for that dog until we find it a home," he said. "The fact that Wanda is here for so long, tomorrow may be her day. It's all about the right person walking in and connecting with the dog."
Wanda, Ranger, Rosemary, Baby, Lucy and Abby hope their stories don't end here, never finding the love of a real family.
Will you help them by opening your heart and home?
To find out more information about the animals currently available for adoption, call Carbon County Animal Shelter at 570-325-4828 for dogs and CCFOA at 570-325-9400 for cats.