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The Utah Humane Society has shared this bittersweet story about a dog who had two “forever” families. Animals usually are adopted from the shelter and then have a happy ending, spending their entire lives with their new families. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened to Rhino Lightning — but he got a happy ending all thanks to a note left around his collar.

15. Rhino Lightning

Image: Today

When his family took him to the shelter, the shelter staff were shocked to discover what came with him. A very special note from his first owner. That owner was a small child and she didn’t want to say goodbye to Rhino.

14. His First Home

Image: Humane Society of Utah

Rhino Lightning was originally adopted by a family with four small children. The boxer brindle mix is adorable, with a cute face and short, stubby legs. The family couldn’t wait to bring him home. But things took a surprising turn.

13. A Happy Home

Image: Dogs Rescued YouTube

The kids adored their new dog, so that made the parents very happy. They named him Rhino Lightning, perhaps in an an homage to the movie Bolt, where one character is named Rhino and the other is named Bolt (as in lightning bolt). However, the fairy tale ending wasn’t meant to be. After a few months, the family decided to send him back to the pound.

12. Too Rough with Kids


Image: Humane Society of Utah YouTube

Apparently, the little dog was a little too aggressive to be around children. Although the family loved Rhino, they felt like they couldn’t leave him alone with the kids. The parents feared that he would act up and injure one of their children.

11. Back to the Shelter

Image: Dogs Rescued YouTube

So, reluctantly, the family sent him back to the Utah Humane Society. The kids found the break-up heart wrenching. They did not want to send their new puppy back to the shelter because they had fallen in love with the dog. It was also the second time he’d been sent to the shelter.

10. Heartbroken Former Owner

Image: Dogs Rescued YouTube

The family’s youngest child was especially sad about losing Rhino Lightning. She fought and fought but her parents still made her give up the dog. So, the little girl took matters into her own hands. She used the power of the plan to make her instructions clear.

9. Careful Instructions

Image: Goodfullness

When the family brought Rhino back to the shelter, they had a special notebook with him. The little girl had written very special directions about Rhino’s care. She wrote the messages herself in her child’s handwriting. Deanne Shepherd, who works at the Humane Society, said this was the first time such a note had been left with a dog. She described it as “pretty heartbreaking to see that perspective.”

8.  What She Said

Image: Goodfullness

The girl told the shelter she already missed her dog and wished she could communicate with him about how pretty he was. The girl is very proud by how smart Rhino is and says that whoever adopts him needs to be very careful about how they care for him. 

7.  Keep His Name

Image: Goodfullness

The little girl really pulled out all the stops. She even asks that the new family keep his name – Rhino Lightning – which fits his personality perfectly. The girl’s note went with the dog to his new home.

6. His Story Goes Wide

Image: Dogs Rescued YouTube

Thankfully, Rhino wasn’t in the shelter for long. The dog’s plight had been shared on social media and even on the news. The shelter even shared video of what a smart and happy dog he was, demonstrating how he knew commands like “sit.” One woman was immediately taken by the dog’s story.

5. Melanie Hill

Image: Dogs Rescued YouTube

The woman saw Rhino and knew he would be hers. Her name was Melanie Hill. She had been abandoned at three years old, and she could relate to what he was going through. The woman went to the Humane Society to put in her application.

4. Adopted

Image: Dogs Rescued YouTube

Hill said she watched the news report repeatedly. “That just broke my heart. I just kept replaying it on the DVR over and over again and I was like I want this dog. Instantly I fell in love with him.” She was approved and got to be Rhino’s new mom.

3. Taking the Notebook Home

Image: Dogs Rescued YouTube

Hill got to take the 15-page note home, too. It said “Hi if you are reading this you must be rhino’s new owner. He was my puppy. I really hope he is in a good environment. I miss him.” She tearfully read it on the news on the day she picked up Rhino.

2. Making a Promise

Image: Dogs Rescued YouTube

Hill had a message for the little girl. “I will take care of your puppy and love him just like you did,” Hill said. “He’ll be able to run and play and be spoiled rotten but mostly he’ll be loved.”

1. Rhino’s New Home

Image: Dogs Rescued YouTube

After the woman was approved, a very happy Rhino went home. He had found his Forever Family at last. And the Utah Humane Society did a good deed.

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