Two golden retrievers from Istanbul, Turkey embarked on the journey of a lifetime Monday to find their forever homes in East Tennessee.
Alongside its normal operations, Knoxville nonprofit Adopt a Golden partners with animal shelters in Istanbul to give abandoned dogs a second chance. They have now completed four missions to Turkey and relocated 15 Turkish dogs to foster and adoptive homes across the area.
Adopt a Golden President Dallis Howard decided to make them feel more at home in Tennessee with names inspired by Lady Vol legends.
The female dog was named "Candace" after recent WNBA Champion Candace Parker and the male dog, "Catchings" after WNBA Star and Olympian, Tamika Catchings.
"We're excited for the Lady Vols, they are a motivating team around here and we thought it was appropriate to honor them by naming one of our missions after them," said Howard.
The dogs flew to Atlanta on a cargo plane where they were picked up by Adopt a Golden volunteers and brought back to Knoxville. After this long adventure, they were welcomed with open arms by the Maryville community and the Maryville Small Animal Medical Hospital.
Both Candace and Catchings went home with their foster families just hours after arriving in East Tennessee.
"People are so excited about this. It's an international mission that works in conformity with what we already do, so we are just thrilled that we are able to do this, the community support has been great," Howard said.
Foster parent Megan Aselton will take care of Catchings until he finds his permanent home.
"By fostering you get to know these dogs better than anyone else has probably ever known them and you get to help select a family that's gonna be perfect for them," said Aselton.
If you would like more information on how you can welcome these dogs into your own family, you can apply to adopt them online.