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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle rescue the dog: Beagle from the research center

When Keith and Meghan spoke earlier this month, Keith said Meghan said her family felt “settled” in Montecito and wanted to bring another dog into her life. They talked about the family’s two other rescue dogs (Guy, also a beagle, and Pula, a black Labrador retriever) and a flock of chickens, which Meghan rescued from a slaughterhouse. In that first conversation, Keith said, she knew Meghan was “the real deal” and she was “super excited” at the prospect of her adopting from her organization.

“I’ve been doing this for so long that I have a strict process in place for foster homes and adopters,” Keith said. “I work outside [my] good too. When I meet people, I just know. This will work or it won’t work.”

His instincts turned out to be correct when the duke and duchess made a “low-key and informal” visit to Los Angeles on Aug. 11 to meet Mia, Keith said.

“I fell in love with them when they came here,” he said.

There was an immediate connection between Mia and the Sussexes, she said, and within seconds of walking in, the duchess passed one of Keith’s potential adoption “tests” by getting down on the floor to greet the dog.

“Mia just ran over to them, which she’s never done, she’s pretty off, she’s traumatized, and Meghan immediately got down on the floor with her and gave her love,” Keith said.

As Harry sat down on a sofa, he added, “Mia ran over to him, put her paws on his knees and looked him in the eye.” Keith said Harry had done her research and peppered her and her fellow volunteer Malina Shirley, who drove Mia and her pups from the East Coast to California, with questions.

“He asked about the lump on her chin, if she needed a biopsy, her loves, her dislikes,” Keith said. “It was really moving, it was everything you would want [a potential adopter] ask and something else.

Shirley told BuzzFeed News that she knew it was “something special” and was “meant to be” as soon as Harry and Meghan walked into the house. “Mamma Mia was so super excited, so happy.”

The Sussexes spent time in the yard with Mia alone, Keith said, and when Meghan returned to the house, the dog was in her arms. “That was it,” Keith said.

After finalizing the adoption, the couple was about to leave with Mia when Harry stopped because the dog was sniffing around the building in the backyard where the rescue dogs are housed.

“He said, ‘We can’t leave yet, there’s something [in there] that she wants, does she have a favorite toy or something?’” Keith said. “I was so convinced that Mamma Mia [wanted] something in that back house,” Shirley added.

They all entered the building and Mia immediately went to a container full of dog toys. “I turned the toy box upside down and she poked her little nose in it,” Shirley said. She rummaged around until she found a fox toy that Shirley had given her on her trip across the country to California. “She came out and was very proud of herself,” she said.

Harry was delighted, Keith said. “He said, ‘I knew it, I knew she wanted something in this room. Now we can go home because she has the toy of hers.’”

“It was so sensitive and intuitive,” he said. “At that moment, I knew I was going to have the best home.”

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