State - INACTIVE

It's official: Bigfoot's got himself a home

Bigfoot, the 10-year-old Great Dane-German shepherd mix who needed a new home after his master died, has one.

The 120-pound canine moved into his new digs Sunday in west Modesto. He's living the life of a top dog with a 62-year-old widower as his new master and a pudgy Chihuahua named Killer as his new companion.

Bigfoot has a huge fenced yard in which to roam with lots of shade trees in the country.

"I didn't want him put to sleep or anything," said Brad Ellis, Bigfoot's new owner. "I go outside and pet him and he follows me around. I think he's gonna be just fine. It might take him a little while to get used to his new home."

Modestans Jeannie and Alonzo Castillo and their three adult daughters had tried for a year to find a home for Bigfoot and were running out of time and options.

They had placed an ad on Craigslist, contacted animal rescue groups, handed out fliers and asked everyone they knew if they knew someone who could take Bigfoot.

But they had no takers for the large, older dog until a Friday story in The Bee.

Bigfoot had been Jeannie Castillo's brother's dog for nine years. But Bigfoot was more than a pet. Jule "Junior" Rombout was disabled, reclusive and never married. Bigfoot was Rombout's constant companion.

As Rombout was dying of cancer last year, he asked his sister to find a good home for Bigfoot after he was gone.

"When my brother passed away, I told him he (Bigfoot) was going to someone who loved him," Castillo said. "And now I know he is."

She said the family received more than 100 phone calls from people wanting to take Bigfoot after The Bee story.

The calls came from throughout the Northern San Joaquin Valley and foothills. One call came from a rancher in Wyoming with two big old dogs looking for a third one.

"One lady offered to send a check for food for Bigfoot until he was placed," Jeannie Castillo said. "I was amazed by the community, by how many people called, their support. There were people who had ranches.

"It was amazing. It was such a blessing. I could hardly believe it. People are so generous."

Ellis was the first one to call, but the Castillos knew Ellis and Bigfoot would be a good match. Killer even met Bigfoot before Bigfoot moved to his new home Sunday.

The Castillos had to tell the other callers that Bigfoot had a home, but Jeannie Castillo said many of the callers said that if Ellis had any second thoughts to let them know and they'd take the dog.

"We have a long list," she said.

Former digs a bachelor's pad

The Castillos and other family members couldn't take Bigfoot. Some family members have health problems, others have pets and no room for another dog.

Bigfoot had been living by himself in his former master's home in Salida. The Castillos and their daughters took turns visiting him daily, spending 60 to 90 minutes with the dog. They kept the power on last summer so they could run indoor fans to keep Bigfoot cool.

The family had planned to look for a no-kill shelter for Bigfoot if they could not find a home for him by the end of the month.

Jeannie Castillo said it was hard to give up her brother's dog, and it hurt a little that Bigfoot took so well to his new home.

"I told my husband I was kind of put off," Castillo said, laughing. "He didn't act like he was going to miss me. I'm going to miss him. I thought he was going to howl for me."

Ellis said the Castillos are always welcome to visit.

"I just told them any time they want to come over, they can come on over," he said. "If I'm not home, they can just open the gate and come into the yard."

Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at kvaline@modbee.com or 578-2316.

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