Elf the Elderly California Shelter Dog Finds His Forever Home: 'A Unique, Funny and Super Sweet Soul'

Cute Dog
Cute Dog

Courtesy Best Friends Elf the dog

A dog with a Santa-inspired name arrived at the Best Friends Animal Society in Los Angeles last June — and his whereabouts before he was welcomed at the shelter are unknown.

Elf arrived covered in ticks and was timid around most people, leading the staff to assume he'd been through some rough times.

But his outlook changed a few weeks after his arrival, when Sabrina Maharaj started volunteering at the shelter and took an immediate liking to the dog.

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"Every time I saw Elf go into a foster home I would get so happy, but then he'd be back in the shelter again," Maharaj told PEOPLE.

"It was obvious what a unique, funny and super sweet soul he was," she continued. "He never barked at the shelter, which is incredibly rare. Despite this, I was afraid he would continue to get overlooked by potential adopters because of his age."

Cute Dog
Cute Dog

Courtesy Best Friends

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Maharaj's adopted boxer, Finn, died from cancer in October and soon, she knew she wanted to rescue Elf.

"We really wanted to help," she said. "I couldn't allow grief to stop my family from getting Elf home for the holidays."

Across the country, shelters are struggling with higher intake, while adoptions, fosters and rescues are not keeping pace.

To help shelter dog and cats find a home this holiday season, Embrace Pet Insurance is covering adoption fees at all Best Friends Animal Society lifesaving centers and programs in Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Northwest Arkansas, Salt Lake City and sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, through Dec. 31.

Pets at Best Friends are fixed, vaccinated, microchipped and ready to go to a loving home.