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Recently, the Wolves hosted University of Iowa journalism students. One of the students, Joel Kellar, presented a project to his professor that detailed the Wolves’ Adopt-A-Dog Night program. Here’s is a reprint of that presentation:


This is Rafaela at the Chicago Wolves’ Adopt-A-Dog Night. Rafaela loved the attention she was getting and was full of energy.

By Joel Kellar
University of Iowa

ROSEMONT, Ill.—Walking the concourse before the Chicago Wolves game on Jan. 6, 2024, you never would have guessed ice hockey was the main attraction.

Prancing around at the South End of Allstate Arena were some 30 rescue dogs hoping to be adopted. Fifty feet down the concourse, local country artists Carleton Koldyke and Joe Fascetta strummed a few hits as part of the Wolves’ Country Music Night celebration. There were Girl Scouts everywhere you turned along with the normal trappings of concessions, vendors, take-a-chance hockey games and the Wolves’ popular mascot, Skates, throwing high-fives to anyone interested.

But on this night, it was the actual canines who stole the show. An hour before the puck dropped, fans stood shoulder-to-shoulder trying to catch a glimpse of the pooches. It was nothing new for Wolves die-hards—for 18 seasons, the Wolves have hosted a monthly Adopt-A-Dog Night, working with three local shelters to find homes for needy pups. It is the pet project of team owner Don Levin and more than 1,600 dogs have found forever homes over the years.

This is Rafaela at her new forever home. She enjoys getting belly rubs and playing with her new family.

“This year has been our most successful year,” Wolves President of Operations Courtney Mahoney said. “People literally come to games and leave with a dog, it’s bananas.”

The dogs seemed to love everything about it: New people giving tons of attention and the smells of popcorn and hot dogs in the air.

On this night, one dog specifically caught my eye: Rafaela. She is a 1-year-old medium-sized dog with short brown and white hair. She was full of energy and eager to meet anyone who walked by. Strangers or not, she submissively rolled over and welcomed an endless number of belly rubs. Rafaela knew she was the center of attention and could not get enough.

Rafaela came to Border Tails Rescue from Chicago Animal Care and Control. She was diagnosed with non-contagious Demodex Mange, a skin condition in dogs that is caused by mites. This condition caused Rafaela to lose most of her hair and made her skin crusty and bumpy. Through months of care from the Border Tails Rescue team and a foster home, Rafaela was healed. She grew her fur back and was ready to find her forever home.

At the Wolves’ December Adopt-A-Dog Night, the Montain family spotted Rafaela and while they loved her demeanor, were not quite ready to adopt. But throughout the holidays, they could not get Rafaela off their minds. The Montains were not only drawn to Rafaela’s cuteness, but also her chill demeanor with strangers—especially on a chaotic arena concourse.

This is Rafaela when she first arrived at Border Tails Rescue. She has since been cured of her Demodex Mange because of the care of Border Tails Rescue.

“No matter how many people walked by, she was respectful to everyone,” Crystal Montain said.

The Montains never imagined going to a hockey game would result in adding a new member to their family. They spent a month thinking about such a decision and if they could make it work. When they spotted Rafaela in the South Concourse a month after they first saw her, they believed it was meant to be. That night, they signed the papers and officially adopted the 1-year-old pup. She has been loving life at her new home ever since.

“She has adjusted extremely well,” Crystal said. “She has loved on everyone that has come into her life.”