Ralphie, ‘fire breathing demon’ from viral adoption post, returned to shelter for third time

For weeks, animal lovers across the country have followed the story of Raphie, a French bulldog who first went viral due to an adoption post that colorfully described the dog’s less-than-ideal personality, describing him as a “fire breathing demon.”

Despite warnings about Ralphie’s “jerk” personality and his previous behavioral issues, many people expressed their interest in the dog, and weeks later Ralphie was adopted.

However, Ralphie’s happy ending turned out to be too good to be true: Ralphie’s bad behavior proved to once again be too much for his new family, and Ralphie was returned to the shelter for the third time.

But the shelter isn’t giving up on him — and shared their plans to keep trying to find Ralphie a home.

Ralphie – viral Facebook post

Ralphie first caught the public’s attention thanks to a January 17 Facebook post from his shelter, the Niagara SPCA. Instead of highlighting Ralphie’s good qualities, as most adoption posts do, the SPCA took a different approach.

Ralphie, who has a history of bad behavior, they openly described the French bulldog as a “terror in a somewhat small package” and a “fire-breathing demon.”

“He’s a whole jerk- not even half,” the Niagara SPCA wrote. “Everything belongs to him. If you dare test his ability to possess THE things, wrath will ensue. If you show a moment of weakness, prepare to be exploited. Sounds fun, huh?”

At the time, Ralphie had already been through two homes: the first reportedly took him to board and train, but couldn’t give Ralphie the discipline he needed.

He was then rehomed, but his second family also returned him to the shelter because he “annoyed” their other dog.

Ralphie adopted

Despite the shelter’s warnings and insistence that his best home would be with the “Mother of Dragons,” Ralphie won hearts across the internet and the shelter received many adoption requests.

On February 4, the shelter posted an update, saying that their “favorite devil” Ralphie had been adopted.

A statement from the new owner at the time said she saw “a few things” wrong with his behavior, describing Ralphie as a “nipper,” she said she was “completely in love” with Ralphie and was committed to working out his behavioral issues.

However, Ralphie’s happy ending proved too good to be true.

Returned to the shelter for the third time

On February 14, the Niagara SPCA shared another, sadder update to Ralphie’s story: he had been returned to the shelter for the third time.

It turned out that Ralphie proved to be a bit too much for his new mom. The SPCA accepted Ralphie back without judgement, agreeing that it wasn’t quite the right fit after all.

“While the adopter had the right household dynamic, Ralphie proved to be more than she could handle,” they wrote. “Kudos to her though for making the right decision. There were some bad choices made by both, but they parted ways amicably.”

Writing that it was “back to square one” with Ralphie, the shelter said they were planning to take his behavior problems even more seriously.

They said they were finally able to get in contact with Ralphie’s original owner for insights about his history, and said they were enrolling Ralphie in an intensive six-week board and train program. The program will cost $6,000.

In the meantime, they wrote that they would begin vetting new homes for Ralphie immediately, but after three unsuccessful homing attempts, they are going to be looking for just the right home for Ralphie.

They ask that prospective adopters do not have any kids or other pets in their household, due to Ralphie’s biting problem. They are asking for a letter of interest and a dog experience resume.

They also hope that Ralphie’s next owner will be able to continue working with his new trainer and give him the continued training and discipline he needs.

The shelter’s announcement was not without criticism. Some asked why the SPCA was spending so much money and effort on fixing this dog’s behavior when pets of other breeds (like pit bulls) are often euthanized for the same reason. Others began to question the shelter’s continued joking about what now appears to be serious issues with Ralphie.

In response, the Niagara SPCA wrote that they don’t euthanize for space and often spend as much money helping dogs of all breeds, including pitties. They also defended their humor, writing that describing Ralphie as a “cutesie fun bad boy” has helped raise awareness and money for his training.

After being returned to the shelter for the third time, it’s clear that Ralphie’s behavioral issues are still too much for most owners, and he’ll need more training before he’s ready for his “forever home.”

But it’s clear he still has people not willing to give up on him, and we hope everything works out eventually.

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