AUSTIN (KXAN) — The partnership between Austin FC and a local animal shelter is paying off.

Candy, a 2-year-old Anatolian shepherd from Austin Pets Alive!, is the first “honorary mascot” from the shelter to be adopted as part of the program with the Major League Soccer club.

At every Austin FC home match, a shelter dog gets named the team’s mascot and is featured before the match. It’s a partnership that raises awareness for APA! animals with the end goal of finding them homes. For Candy, Kati and Luke Brandon came to the rescue.

“When I first saw Candy’s iconic photo in the bluebonnets, something just felt different. Even after looking at other dogs, we kept going back to Candy. When we met her at the park, we knew that she was special,” Kati said. “She has persevered through so much and is still the sweetest most welcoming pup, no matter who you are or where you come from.”

Candy has lingering health problems, but the Brandons knew that going in. When they saw her at Q2 Stadium, they “melted into a puddle.”

“We also knew that with her medical needs, people may overlook her or see her as damaged and not worth the time,” Kati said. “But we’re also pretty damaged too and the world hasn’t given up on us yet, so we didn’t want to give up on Candy.”

APA! says other honorary mascots, Oso and Geraldine, are also up for adoption.