BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — When Steve and Brenda Hanners went to the Bloomington Animal Shelter last week to adopt Basil, they wasted no time with the paperwork, answering every question on the form — except one.

The question read, “What would be a reason why you might ever bring him back?”

“They asked, ‘Why didn’t you fill this out?'” Steve told The Herald-Times (http://bit.ly/2br3NjL ). “We both said the same thing: ‘He’s not coming back. He’s staying with us.'”

The Hannerses first learned about Basil, a neglected cocker spaniel, when their daughter-in-law saw last week’s story in The Herald-Times.

“She called us up and said, ‘This baby needs you,'” Steve said.

Adopted in February and then re-homed but abandoned, Basil had returned to the shelter earlier this month. Monroe County Humane Association veterinarians shaved his matted fur and treated maggot-infested wounds.

Immediately, the Hannerses knew they needed to meet him. Their second cocker spaniel, Charlie, had passed away almost two years ago. At the time, Steve said he told Brenda, “Well, we’ve had a buff and chocolate. Just a black one left.”

They’d been thinking about buying one but had held out.

“Basil’s story came up, and he was black, so I think it was meant to be,” he said.

“I thought, there’s our answer,” Brenda said. “He needs us just about as much as we need him.”

The Hannerses went to the shelter last Monday and signed his papers on the spot.

“As soon as I saw him, I knew I wanted him,” Steve said.

Shelter staff said they’d notify the couple as soon as Basil was ready to come home, in about six to eight weeks.

Then, three days later, Steve got a call. It was the shelter.

“They told us they thought it would be better if he was in a loving home,” Steve said. “That was at 10 a.m. I said, ‘Well, we’ll be right down.’ She said, ‘We don’t open ’til noon.'”

So they were there at noon.

After a trip to PetSmart for new toys, a quick buzz at the groomer’s and a visit to the vet, the Hannerses brought Basil to his new home: a cheerful yellow house where the sign on the door reads, “Please wipe your paws.” A portrait of a cat adorns the living room wall, and two small cocker spaniel sculptures guard a corner of the carpeted floor, where Basil now plays. He’s befriended the family cat, met two of five Hanners grandchildren and already caught a mole in the backyard.

“We’ve got Basil, 1, mole, 0,” Steve said.

The Hannerses are treating his lingering ear infection with medicine and have updated his vaccines.

“He got all fixed up,” Steve said. “We’re just waiting on him to mend.”

The 4-year-old spaniel already looks better. His fur is shiny and soft, except in places where it has yet to, and may never, grow back. On a recent afternoon, he throttled his favorite blue stuffed toy with gusto, then curled up happily on Brenda’s chair.

Director of Animal Care and Control Virgil Sauder said Basil recovered quickly after his initial treatment.

“At that point, he was pretty much good to go,” he said.

With cases such as Basil’s, Sauder said, the shelter looks for adopters who understand the animal’s needs and are able to meet them.

“Our hope is always to find a lifetime home for the animal,” he said. “If it doesn’t work, we would like to be a resource to help that animal find a new home.”

Brenda and Steve said they’re definitely in this for life.

“I look at him as our gift from God,” Brenda said.

Both Brenda and Steve retired in June; she had spent 42 years in the Indiana University bursar’s office, and he was with residential programs and services for 27 years. They had planned to celebrate with a four-week road trip “out West,” Brenda said — Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, the Golden Gate Bridge.

Before Basil, this trip was just for the two of them. Now, they’ve pushed back the date and started searching for pet-friendly hotels.

“We can’t leave him that soon,” Brenda said. “We don’t want him to feel like he’s being abandoned.”

“Just gotta get him housebroke, and then he’s going out West,” Steve said. “It’s another adventure.”

After this one, though, he’s coming home.

This is an AP Member Exchange provided by The Herald-Times

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