When twenty-year-old Kayla Filoon, a volunteer dog walker at an animal shelter in Philadelphia, saw Russ the pit bull for the first time, she knew there was something special.
"He came in as a stray, and he was really beat up," Filoon said. "He was missing fur on his tail and ears. He was also terribly skinny. They told me he was about forty pounds when he came into the shelter."
"He was just sitting there calmly, staring at me," Filoon added. "And I thought, he is adorable! I need to take him now."
When Filoon came back later to check on Russ, the dog had barely moved.
"He was sitting in the same position that he was before, just being quiet while the other dogs were barking and causing commotion," Filoon said.
She set out on a walk with him, and it only took about five minutes for her to fall in love.
She also discovered that Russ knew basic commands like sit, down, and stay, which made her think he used to belong to someone.
After the walk, Filoon reluctantly put Russ back into his kennel and then went to call her mom.
"I told her, 'I think I need to adopt a dog tomorrow,'" Filoon said. "My mom thought I was kidding, because I always fall in love with the dogs that I take out — it's hard not to. So she didn't really believe me, but there was something about Russ."
The shelter was overcrowded at the time, and it recently had to euthanize about fifteen dogs, which made the situation urgent for Filoon — and Russ.
"Any dog had a chance of being put down, especially the ones who were sicker, and Russ was definitely one of them," Filoon said. "He had kennel cough."
Filoon had class the next day, but as soon as she finished, she rushed back to the shelter and took Russ out for a car ride.
"He just sat in my passenger seat," she said. "I thought, 'He's the perfect dog.'"
When they returned to the shelter, Filoon knew she wasn't going home without him, and shelter staff quickly organized his adoption papers.
She took him home that night and introduced him to her six roommates, who immediately fell for him, as well.
It did take a little while for Russ to his new environment, and he needed to sleep a lot because he was still getting over his kennel cough.
But Russ quickly fell in love with his new life, especially with his new mom, Filoon.
"He always has to be close to me," she said. "One night I'm sitting there on the chair, doing my homework, and he's trying to find ways to cuddle with me."
"There was a whole other sofa open, and we had his bed on the floor, but he didn't want to lie anywhere else," she continued. "So he ends up positioning himself, and I look down, and I think, 'Oh my gosh, look at him.'"
Filoon's friend snapped a photo and put it on Facebook where it immediately went viral with more than 53,800 shares and counting.
More than 4,900 people have left comments, and even shared their own stories.
"He's such a love bug, honestly," Filoon said. "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."
Filoon hopes the photo will inspire others to adopt shelter dogs.
"I was worried that when I brought him home, his attitude might change," she said. "But he's still the same relaxed, I'll-lay-down-and-cuddle-with-you kind of dog. He's probably one of the most grateful dogs I've ever seen."