by: Teri Errico
Happily-ever-afters do exist in the real world. For humans. For dogs. Even for neglected Pit bulls many would be scared to step in and save. Two local pups, aptly named King and Queen, found their happy ending and a safe new home thanks to the tireless efforts of two animal advocates, and all around “Fairy Godmothers,” Emelia Adkins and Heather Beem.
King and Queen’s story begins in the middle, on a February afternoon, when Adkins and her boyfriend went for a walk in downtown Charleston and met Queen, a spritely five-month old Pit bull puppy bounding toward them. “She was so sweet and so cute, and I’m a huge dog person so I had to know more about her!” Adkins recalled with a smile.
Beem introduced herself as Queen’s caretaker and the two struck up a conversation. “Heather told me that Queenie belonged to her neighbors. They had adopted two Pit bull puppies in the hopes of breeding them, but instead the dogs were being neglected and possibly abused,” Adkins shared. “It wasn’t good at all and Heather was trying to find a way to get them out.” In fact, when Beem was told the landlord wasn’t going to let the owners keep the puppies—and that they might be shipped up north—she swooped in and asked if she could re-home them herself. She started with Queen.
“I barely knew Queenie but I was heartbroken by this,” Adkins said. But she rose to the challenge—and knew just where to start. She went back to her office and posted a photo of Queen on her company’s Facebook page, along with the dog’s story, asking if anyone might be able to take her in. Adkin’s company, a vibrant, growing tech company in downtown Charleston called BoomTown, is made up of some of the most kind-hearted, good people who love to help others and solve problems daily. A dog-friendly company, the office is often filled with furry friends of all sizes. Even if no one could take in Queen, Adkins knew her co-workers would be the ones to figure something out.
In a matter of days there was a waiting line to take in Queen. The top two? Allison and Will Tinney, newlyweds who worked at BoomTown and were already fur-parents to Lucy, a 6-year-old Pit bull rescue. “I had a feeling they would be the ones to adopt Queenie,” Adkins smiled. “They had wanted another Pit bull and rescuing was important to them.”
The couple met Queen and took a night to think things through, but when they returned the following day with a decision, the owners suddenly sang a different tune—one to the sound of $500. “I didn’t know what to do. I hate asking for money, but we had all fallen so in love with Queenie and I couldn’t leave her,” Adkins said. She set up a GoFundMe page, emailed her office, and crossed her fingers. Within a day, her co-workers rallied together to raise more than enough.
With the money, Beem was able to take Queen—and even convinced the owners to let her re-home the other puppy, five-month-old King. No one knew anything about this second pup who had been left on a chain in the backyard, but unlike doubting Thomas in the Bible, Adkin’s co-worker Thomas Szymanski stepped forward with blind faith. “I didn’t know if I wanted a dog just yet, but I had a house with a big yard and was willing to take King just to get him out of such a terrible situation,” Szymanski said.
Though he only intended to foster, Szymanski and the dog bonded so quickly that within a week his co-workers proudly touted him a “foster failure.” “He was so sweet, but I couldn’t believe he was a puppy!” Szymanski said of first meeting King. At almost six months, he is already 60-lbs. “You have these ideas in your head of what Pit bulls or an abused dog could be like, but he was so calm and smart. This office is full of dogs, but every time one would come near and nip at him, he would take it or gently play with his mouth closed. He isn’t aggressive at all.”
For that reason, Szymanski decided to rename his new friend. “He’s going to be huge and intimidating enough someday, so I tried to think of the gentlest name possible,” the dog owner noted. Already taking to saying, “Come here, buddy!” and “Hey, buddy!” the name “Buddy” just stuck.
Today, both dogs are adjusted in their forever homes and are the most popular pups at the water cooler. Both Szymanski and the Tinneys take their dogs to work daily, and everyone’s face lights up when they see these thriving dogs that together they all rescued. Queen is often either happily playing with her toys or exploring her new spaces at BoomTown and Buddy can usually be found curled up under Thomas’ desk when he’s not nuzzling passerby for affection.
They are the opposite of every stereotype you read about Pit bulls, especially ones who have been maltreated and neglected. They were like Cinderella, kind souls treated unkindly, and thanks to the devoted acts of Adkins and Beem, they are now adored, healthy and safe in homes fit for a Queen and a King—or a really special Buddy.