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Delco SPCA's longtime resident Abby Rose gets a home

Abby Rose got her Christmas wish.

Abby Rose got her Christmas wish.

The 3-year-old female terrier/pit bull mix - the Delaware County SPCA's longest-tenured resident - left the Media shelter Tuesday wagging her tail as she headed out the door with her new family.

"This is what she deserves - years of joy," said Justina Calgiano, spokeswoman for the SPCA. It was a bittersweet moment for the shelter staff as one of their favorite charges left after 357 days.

Abby Rose, for her part, stopped and asked to be petted, or rubbed the legs of the volunteers and shelter staff who came to see her off.

By Thursday afternoon, the video of Abby Rose leaving the shelter, posted on the Delaware County SPCA Facebook page, had been viewed 25,000 times, there were more than 3,600 likes, and about 500 comments were posted wishing her well.

On Jan. 7, 2015, Abby Rose was found by humane officer Ron Riggle living with four other dogs in the basement of a Chester home. The family, dealing with a domestic violence situation, had to leave for a safe home, and the dogs were in the basement for several days.

The family eventually signed the dogs over to the shelter. The other dogs were adopted.

Abby Rose did not easily adapt to shelter life.

"She was the one who took it the hardest," said Calgiano. At times they were worried the dog might be depressed.

The shelter staff put all their creative juices into finding Abby Rose a home.

There was the usual portrait and biography on their website. A "photo booth" session showed the pretty brown-and-white pup gobbling up treats and playing with bubbles. Then the Abby Rose Challenge asked participants to visit the shelter and post or tweet a selfie with Abby Rose using #FindAbbyRoseaHome.

In the end, it was just luck.

On Sunday night, Brian Rizzo, 41, of Coatesville, was looking over the shelter's website when he spotted Abby Rose's photo.

"I fell in love with her picture," he said. He called his wife Nicole, 37, who was at work, and told her about Abby Rose. The family was looking for a pit bull, he said. They had experience dog-sitting a friend's pit bull and had fallen in love with the breed.

"It is not the breed, it is the dog," said Nicole Rizzo, noting that what is important is how the dog is trained.

And it was important to adopt a rescue, she said. "We wanted to give a dog who needs a home a home," she said.

By Tuesday, the family - the couple have two children, ages 5 and 4 - and Buffy, their 14-year-old Jack Russell/Bichon Frise mix, were on the way to see about adopting Abby Rose.

Shelter officials originally through Abby Rose would be better in a home with no other dogs and only older children. But the meeting was a hit.

"She proved to us she was comfortable with this home," Calgiano said.

By Thursday morning, Abby Rose was on the couch and curled up in a Pittsburgh Steelers blanket.

"She doesn't have a choice," said Brian Rizzo. The entire family - even the pets - supports the team, he said.

"This is an adjustment for her as much as for us," Rizzo said. They plan to keep activities low-key and calm to help with the transition. The children are excited about their new companion. Buffy and Abby Rose have even cuddled together on the couch, he said.

"This is her home now," Rizzo said.