Pennsylvania animal shelter worker Kayla Filoon was not planning to adopt a pit bull, but the first time she locked eyes with Russ, she knew there was something special about him.
Now, he can't stop snuggling with her and even reads over her shoulder when she's doing homework (video below).
"He's such a love bug..." Filoon told The Dodo. "I'll be lying there, and he'll put his head under my arm, or his paw over my chest. And he'll even lay on my chest."
Russ came into the shelter as a stray in bad shape. At 40 pounds, he was severely underweight for his size, he was missing patches of fur on his tail and ears and he had kennel cough.
But there was something special about the 4-year-old pit bull, and Filoon had an instant connection with him.
"He was just sitting there calmly, staring at me," the 20-year-old Temple University student said of the first time they met. "And I thought, 'He is adorable! I need to take him now.'"
The next time she saw Russ, Filoon said he stared at her with those puppy eyes, "being quiet while the other dogs were barking and causing commotion."
"He was really cuddly with me, even when we went into the yard," Filoon said, adding that the pup knew basic commands like sit and stay. "He seemed like such a sweet dog, and he didn't bark at any of the other dogs."
She walked him for around 45 minutes that day, but it was love at first sight.
But there was a problem. The shelter was overcrowded, and it needed to put down around 15 dogs. Russ's numerous health problems, combined with the stigma of being a male pit bull, put him at the top of the list of dogs most likely to be put down.
Indeed, "pit bull" type dogs are put down in shelters far more often than any other breed of dog and are among the hardest to find homes for, according to Bark Post. Every year, an estimated 40 percent of the 1.2 million dogs euthanized in shelters -- almost always due to overcrowding -- are pit bulls.
So Filoon did something she wasn't expecting; she adopted Russ as soon as she could. She said he acted like "the perfect dog" during the car ride home, notes The Dodo.
He is adjusting well to living with his new mom, and he "always has to be close" to her, Filoon said.
"One night I'm sitting there on the chair, doing my homework, and he's trying to find ways to cuddle with me," Filoon said. "There was a whole other sofa open, and we had his bed on the floor, but he didn't want to lie anywhere else. So he ends up positioning himself, and I look down, and I think, 'Oh my gosh, look at him.'"