BROOKSVILLE — As executive director of the Humane Society of the Nature Coast, Joanne Schoch is always thrilled to be able to relate a happy ending to an otherwise sad story.
And in the case of Peanut, the half-starved chihuahua puppy found abandoned inside a mall restroom earlier this month, finding a forever home almost by happenstance was perfect kismet.
Tiny and frail, 6-month-old Peanut was adopted last week by a Spring Hill couple who knew nothing of the publicity surrounding the dog's traumatic ordeal and subsequent rehabilitation after security guards discovered him Aug. 11 hanging in a cloth bag in a toilet stall at Gulf View Square mall in Port Richey.
Schoch said she met the couple in the waiting room of her doctor's office during a visit last week and learned they were still reeling with grief from the loss of their aged cat.
The woman asked if it would be okay to hold Peanut, whom Schoch had brought with her, while Schoch was in the exam room.
Although Peanut was docile with people, Schoch described him as "nervous and anxious" whenever he felt abandoned. When she returned to the waiting room, however, she found Peanut asleep in the woman's arms.
"I couldn't believe how calm he was," Schoch said. "Ever since he came to us, he had been a nervous wreck. That dog picked her, and she picked that dog."
The couple, who did not wish to be identified because of possible custody concerns over Peanut, told Schoch this week that the puppy is doing well and is playful.
And he is slowly gaining back the weight lost from the malnourishment he encountered at the hands of his previous owner.
"I can't think of a better success story for us to tell," Schoch said. "Things turned out about as perfect as we could ever ask for."
Schoch said the mystery of how Peanut ended up in the mall restroom will likely remain unsolved. Owners of Gulf View Square told her that there were no video cameras near the restroom where the dog was found.
Meanwhile, Peanut's new owners said they plan to enter him in the Humane Society's 2014 pet calendar contest, which is open to all Hernando County pets.
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.