Saturday, November 3, 2012

Zaphod's Story

Pet's name: Zaphod
Adopted by: Kristen and Drew
From: Catahoula Rescue Ontario, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Kristen and Drew's dog Hailey appeared on From Alone to Home in September 2011, and they recently found their new family member, Zaphod, after deciding that Hailey would benefit from a companion. You can read more about Hailey and Zaphod at Kristen's blog, The Hailey Chronicles.

After nearly a year of being a one-dog family after the tragic death of a beloved pet, I began to think about adding a second. Our lives were about to profoundly change as we moved from a small house in the city to a large house on two acres in the country. Hailey, the current canine pack member, suffers from anxiety and we thought a companion may help. Also, we knew being in the country would not offer the same daily canine contact that the city did.

I started by putting feelers to Catahoula Rescue, from whom we had rescued Hailey. I started with the disclaimer that while we adored Hailey with all her energy, anxiety, and craziness, we were looking for the opposite, someone calm, cool and collected. Gloria, the head of the organization, gave it some thought and suggested we meet Zaphod, whom she described as a gem of a dog. He had been picked up as a stray (which made his foster mom think of hitchhiking, which made her think of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which made her pick the name Zaphod) and had been in a local pound, severely underweight. Gloria had removed him from the pound and put him into foster care.

I admit to being slightly nervous about meeting a German shepherd mix. As a child I knew one who was aggressive and possessive. I didn't want to paint the whole breed like that, and I knew that at the dog parks, shepherds were Hailey's favs. We went and met him. Our first meeting was a little disappointing. Hailey was completely not interested, likely because we were in a new place trying to force her to play with this strange dog. Zaphod was very quiet and calm. We left thinking maybe, but knowing even if it had been a yes, we were moving in a week so it would have to wait.

Day 4 in our new house, Zaphod was brought by his foster mom, Jenn, and Gloria for a second play date. This one went much better, and at the end we knew he was going to stay with us. We have never looked back; in fact, although it hasn't been three months yet, it feels like he has always been with us.

He truly is a gem and the best dog we have ever had. He is quiet, calm, and obedient. He tries so hard to make us happy. He loves to play fetch and swim in the lake. He can generally be trusted off leash (as long as the deer or foxes aren't in the yard), and if he does run out of sight usually runs back within one minute. He respects the cats and loves to play with Hailey. He is a very gentle soul despite a clear history of abuse (if you raise your voice to him or scold, he becomes unnecessarily nervous).

We believe after a few weeks of being with us, he did help Hailey either be less nervous, or so tired from all the playing she is less destructive.

We are truly grateful to have him as part of our pack and grateful to Catahoula Rescue who not only saved his life, but recognized he would be the perfect dog for us.

If you adopted a pet from a shelter or rescue group and you'd like to share his or her story, please email me. I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Jay Boogie's Story

Pet's name: Jay Boogie
Adopted by: Josh and Kristin
From: Lollypop Farm, Humane Society of Greater Rochester, Fairport, N.Y.

When Kristin and her boyfriend (now husband) adopted their first dog, they named him after a dear friend of Kristin's whom she had lost.

2006 was a year of unplanned, life-changing events for me, a rollercoaster of emotions and relationships. In May that year, I lost my best friend to suicide, leaving me empty, angry, and feeling utterly alone. When I met Jason six years earlier, there was that instant spark where two souls connect instantly, creating a bond of a lifetime, or so I had thought. He was my voice of reason, the expert on relationships, and one of the few people who truly understood who I was. He was the very definition of a best friend who was always looking out for me.

And that's why it hit me so hard that morning in May right before the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The phone call with the unexpected news brought a surge of emotions, questions, and some soul-searching. I had lost one of the closest people to me and suddenly had a huge void in my life. Ultimately, I found the strength inside to be positive every day, to try to enjoy the beauty of life that my friend had refused to see, and to promise that I would not let a tragedy direct my path in life.

So I hit the reset button and focused on moving forward. A few months later I started dating a guy I had met online and we were instantly inseparable. Our relationship progressed and one night, the talk about owning a dog came up.

To be honest, I didn't take the conversation seriously as we were celebrating at a friend's wedding, and as my head hit the pillow that evening I murmured to my boyfriend, "Sure, we can go to the animal shelter tomorrow morning to look at dogs." The next morning, I woke up to the excitement similar to a child on Christmas morning waiting to go downstairs to open presents. Only that morning it was my boyfriend reminding me of my promise I had made a few hours earlier and informing me when the shelter opened. I'm one to stick to my word and I thought I would at least humor him by going to look.

We were some of the first to arrive at Lollypop that Sunday morning in October. We walked together up and down the kennels, silently making mental notes of what dog seemed to suit us best. At the end of the hallway of kennels, we turned to each other and asked which of the dogs we were most interested in. We both had fallen in love with the same rottweiler mix puppy called Bam-Bam. Looking behind the wire cage, we had felt the same bond with this then-tiny ball of fur. It was his first day available for adoption and at eight weeks old he was a red-haired brindle puppy with floppy ears and monster paws. “You know he's going to get big, right?” my boyfriend said as we filled out the paperwork to visit with the puppy. Having grown up with a bichon frise, I thought, "What's big—50 pounds? No problem!"

"We can call him Jay—after your best friend," said my boyfriend, who had never met him, but knew what his friendship had meant. The tears welled up in my eyes and I knew that while I had lost a best friend earlier in the year, I was gaining a canine best friend that day (and that my boyfriend was a keeper).

A lot of people ask where Boogie came along in his name. That's his personality—he just boogies all over. I once caught him tap dancing in the bathtub. One day I came home early for lunch, and as soon as I walked into the bathroom, his red head poked out from behind the shower curtain, eyes large as if I caught him eating a piece of cake, with a look of panic that I had just witnessed an embarrassing moment for him. He has so much zest for life and pleasing people that you can't help but love him, all 98 pounds that he's grown into. I remember the first time we took him to the park during winter and he discovered ice. Jay would run and slide across patches of ice, seemingly delighted with this new-found pleasure.

One of the things I love most about him is that he loves educational programming on TV—seriously. Obviously he loves anything dog-related (even dog cartoons like Scooby-Doo), but he'll glue himself in front of the screen when the Travel Channel is on as if he's daydreaming about running along the beaches chasing the surf.

Turns out that he's a Rhodesian ridgeback mix (with a bit of pit bull), but don't tell him because he's convinced he can fit on your lap and be your couch potato partner. He may look intimidating with his tall stature, large head, and powerful (wagging) tail, but inside is a personality that reminds me so much of his namesake.

Animals can have such a profound impact on our lives, filling places in our hearts with such joy. Jay Boogie brings a smile to my face every day with his goofy persona and the loyalty that drives him to stay attached to our sides, reminding us that he loves us just as much as we love him.  And that I have a best friend again at my side.

If you adopted a pet from a shelter or rescue group and you'd like to share his or her story, please email me. I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Brady's Story

Pet's name: Brady
Adopted by: Erin
From: Desoto County Animal Shelter, Nesbit, Miss.

Erin, who blogs at The Spiffy Cookie, sent the story of Brady, whom she adopted as a kitten.  

Growing up, my family had all kinds of pets: dwarf bunnies, cats, a ferret, a cockatoo, fish, guinea pigs, and even mice. But the cats were always my favorite. They would cuddle up with you while you read or when you went to bed and seemed much more appreciative of your existence than a fish. But when I went away for college, obviously I couldn't have cats in my tiny dorm room. Even when I finally moved off-campus I couldn't have one because the apartment complex wouldn't allow pets. Therefore when I moved into my first pet-friendly apartment in graduate school, I began to feel the itch for a pet.

I had heard of a website called and decided to take a dive into their database of cats up for adoption in my area, and ended up with more than just a few windows open on my computer screen. Somehow I managed to narrow it down to one kitten, which required filling out a very long adoption survey. I had no qualms about completing the survey because they just wanted to make sure the kitten would be going to a good home and that I understood what it meant to take care of it. However, when I began the two-week-long wait to find out if they would accept my request, I found myself back on, searching just in case I didn't get approved. (I did get approved but had already adopted Brady.)

It should come as no surprise that I found another kitten. But when I contacted the Desoto County Animal Shelter where the little one resided, I was informed that he had already been adopted. BUT! They had just received a new litter of kittens and attached a photo:

Brady (left) as a kitten

I died from cuteness overload and told them I would come there directly after work. Once I arrived, I spent at least 30 minutes letting them crawl all over me. I wanted to take all three home but knew I couldn't. (My apartment had a two-pet rule and my roommate at the time already had a toy fox terrier.) After a very difficult decision I decided on the gray tuxedo, because he spent the most time in my lap. And it was no fluke! He was the cuddliest kitten I have ever known. Frequently while studying he would crawl up and perch on my shoulder, inevitably falling asleep. Much to his dismay he is too big for that now, but he has retained his desire to cuddle into adulthood. He also got along great with the toy fox terrier and they would play all the time. Unfortunately we no longer live with his playmate's owner. Maybe one day I will find myself back on

If you adopted a pet from a shelter or rescue group and you'd like to share his or her story, please email me. I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Gabbie's Story

Pet's name: Gabbie
Adopted by: Lee Ann
From: Nevada Humane Society, Reno, Nev.

Lee Ann, who blogs at Lee Ann's Road to Reno, shared Gabbie's story: 

The photo of Gabbie is at three months, the day that I adopted her. She has been healing my heart since I adopted her in November. The story goes like this:  In November I moved from Wisconsin to Reno, Nevada. Many traumatic events occurred prior to my move. My husband passed away very suddenly of cancer, my beloved dog Peaches died, I closed my massage therapy business after 10 years, I sold my home and was offered an opportunity in Reno for a new position of working as a color, light, and sound therapist.

One day I received "a message" to go to the Reno Humane Society to simply get a feel for a cat. I walked into the lobby, and there was a man sitting there with a cardboard box on his lap and he said "Hi, are you looking for a cat by any chance?" I said "possibly." I sat down next to him and he told me the story about he and his wife adopting two cats right away and the two weren't getting along, so they decided to bring one of them back. This nice man was really upset about bringing Gabbie back as he had already formed an attachment to her. He opened the box and out popped a little grey head and a "mew," and the rest is history.

An interesting adjunct to this story is that I sent my sister a photo and an email about my new family member and she couldn't believe what she was reading. Her grandson (my great nephew), who is three years old, had been walking around for two weeks saying "Gabbie, Gabbie, Gabbie" and no one could figure out why he was repeating this. Well, children are very perceptive aren't they? He knew, somehow, at some level, that there was going to be a Gabbie in the family. I love to tell this story because it tells of our connection to each other.

So Gabbie is now eight months old and is an awesome companion. She is waiting at the door when I get home from work and loves to lie in my lap. She is very talkative and expressive and is a joy in my life.

If you adopted a pet from a shelter or rescue group and you'd like to share his or her story, please email me. I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Boo and Sophia's Stories

Pets' names: Boo and Sophia
Adopted by: Lindsey
From: Sumter Humane Society, Americus, Ga.

Lindsey, who blogs at Cardio Pizza, sent the story of her two dogs, Boo and Sophia. They came into her life separately but are now best friends.

For as long as I can remember I've been an animal lover. I've always been an extremely sensitive person, but I'm especially sensitive to animals. I believe it's in my nature to love animals, but I also grew up around them. We always had a family dog and I don't know what it's like to not live with one! When our first dog Perry died, it was only a few months before we got Alex. It's just so lonely without an animal. While no animal can replace another, they love they share is like nothing else in this world, and I believe that they live such short lives because they come into this world with more love and compassion than any human is capable of. They don't need as much time as most of us do to learn the lessons we need to here!

In 2009 I moved from Ohio to Georgia for a job. I moved completely by myself so I knew that I needed a roommate. And I knew my roommate would come in the form of a dog! After just a few short days of living in the small town of Americus, Ga., I headed to the local Sumter Humane Society to pick out a dog. There were so many dogs and cats that it was overwhelming. As much as I wish I could adopt every single animal in that place, I realistically knew that I could only adopt one. The dogs were so excited to see me, just as I was excited to see them. But one dog looked calm and caught my attention with his one blue eye and one brown eye. I knew this was my dog.

Boo, who was named by the staff, was estimated to be about two years old. He was picked up by someone who saw him on a country road. He was at the humane society for about two weeks before I adopted him. When I took him home he was scared, but he soon warmed up. His personality came out as well. Gone was the calm dog and out was the wild and energetic dog that I know today.  

Boo and I were just getting used to one another when Sophia joined the family. I never planned to have two dogs, but sometimes life isn't how we plan. One morning before work I went to the gas station to fill my car up. Roaming around the station was a cute black-and-white dog. I had cereal in my purse in a baggie and offered some to the pup to see if she would come to me. She did and gobbled the food right up! Her tail was wagging and I could sense she was friendly. I asked the gas station attendant if this was anyone’s dog and she said no and that she had seen the dog here the past couple of days. I then asked the attendant that worked there to help me put the dog in my car and I offered to take her to the vet, where they could keep her for a few days. 

After a few days I checked in to see if anyone had claimed her and they hadn’t. The vet asked if I'd take her to the humane society, so I did. I came up with a name for her and called her Sophia after my favorite character on "The Golden Girls." I had a feeling since I had named her that she would ultimately be mine, but I wanted to make sure she wasn't someone's dog who was lost. Well, after three weeks no one claimed her. I went right to the shelter and picked her up and took her home. Sophia officially joined the family! 

Boo and Sophia became fast buddies. Now, they are inseparable and enjoy playing day-in and day-out. They both are obsessed with chasing squirrels and bunnies, going for walks, and eating treats. They are happy dogs and they have no idea how happy they make me! I feel so blessed to have these two pups in my life.

Adopting my dogs was one of the best decisions I have made. There are so many animals in need of homes and I encourage anyone who is looking to become a pet owner to adopt one. The love and joy they bring into a home is like nothing else imaginable. 

If you adopted a pet from a shelter or rescue group and you'd like to share his or her story, please email me. I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lilly's Story

Pet's name: Lilly
Adopted by: Kelsie Fennell
From: Oktibehha County Humane Society, Starkville, Miss.

Kelsie, who blogs at The Overflow, shared this story of her cat Lilly.

As a little girl growing up in the country, I have been the mommy to a wide variety of pets. We've had several dogs that were very dear to my heart, cats, rabbits, an abandoned baby deer, ducks, and for a short period of time—a baby raccoon. I don't remember a time that I didn't open the back door to the warm greeting of puppy paws or a cat's affection. And then ... I went to college. *sigh* Obviously I didn't have the space or time to provide for a pet. For five years I browsed the "Our Animals" section of the Oktibehha County Humane Society webpage, admiring their little angels and dreaming of the day I could make one of them mine. This fall, I moved into a one-bedroom apartment and the time was right to finally bring home the perfect pet. I went to visit the shelter one afternoon in October, and immediately fell in love with an 8-week old black-and-white Maine Coon kitten.

She has been home with me since that day, and what a joy it has been to watch her grow. She has been a great companion over the past six months, and it is just a treat to come home to her excitement and fun every afternoon. She's full of energy, and has some funny little quirks. If the sink is running anywhere in the house, she's in it. If the bathtub is draining, she's perched on the side of tub watching it. She plays in her water bowl. She plays in the fish bowl (but doesn't bother the fish). She "talks" about 95% of the hours that she is awake. If you aren't quite sure what I am talking about, check out a few YouTube videos and you'll understand.

Adopting sweet Lilly was one of the best decisions that I have made in years. She has brought so much to my life and my little home, and knowing that I can provide her with love and care each day is so rewarding. She's my companion. She's my friend. She loves me every day, no matter what. She is sitting on my pillow each and every morning to tell me the sun is up. Please, consider adopting your next pet. Knowing you made a difference is so worthwhile. And Lilly will thank you.

If you adopted a pet from a shelter or rescue group and you'd like to share his or her story, please email me. I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tallulah's Story

Pet's name: Tallulah
Adopted by: Andrew Vail
From: Toronto Humane Society, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Andrew's tribute to his cat Tallulah, who recently passed away, originally appeared on his blog, Unvailed

My cat died today. She was my companion for 16 years. She lived with me through some of the best moments of my life and some of the worst. Family came and went. Friends and came and went. Partners came and went; yet through it all, there she was, loyal, loving and at my side; purring, playing and napping—as cats do. She was my little furry touchstone as I went from one stage of my life to the next. When the dust settled it was she and me.

Her name was Tallulah (named for a lyric in a Tori Amos song, in case you were wondering). I adopted her from the Toronto Humane Society in 1996. She was a bit of an anomalous adoption because she was an adult and typically people go for the cute and cuddly kittens when on the prowl for a pet. I could say that I chose her, but anyone who has adopted an animal knows that they choose you.

I remember spending two days at the THS looking for just the right cat. It was mind-boggling as there are typically hundreds of cats and kittens looking for a home. Sadly, many won't find one. Tallulah happened to me on the second day of my search. She sidled up to the front of the cage and just locked eyes with me. She purred so loud I thought she could be heard over every other creature there. I'd never heard a purr so loud. Maybe it was just loud to me because she decided I was her new human.

And so began an odyssey between man and feline that would last over 16 years: There were plenty of funny—and bizarre—times like when she went on one of her morning sojourns around the apartment and at top speed, bouncing off walls and furniture—as cats do. This time she miscalculated the contents of my claw-toed bathtub and nose-dived into four feet of water. She launched back out like a guided missile and tore under the bed. Cowed for a cat, she glared at me with a mix of peevishness and humiliation as I laughed hysterically at her soaked self.

Then there was the time—not long after I brought her home from the THS—that she went into heat. I didn't realize that she'd gone "seasonal" as I hadn't had a cat since I was a wee child and didn't know the signs. I was soon to learn. I awoke from a deep sleep in the middle of one hot summer night to the demonic yowl of a voice calling my name, sort of. "Meeeaaannddrrooooo" was being caterwauled through the apartment. I sat up in bed, half awake, listening to this nocturnal sonata thinking to myself, "Wow, how cool, my cat can talk and she knows my name."

Tallulah used to love to climb on my back and stretch out from shoulder to shank while I lie on the floor watching TV. She had a sonorous purr that would make me fight to stay awake. Her purr was so soothing and familiar. In times of stress or strife, I'd pull her up on my chest and pet her as she purred, her vibrations giving me a sense of calm and peace. That was one of the incredible things about this little "hollow kitty" as she was called: she had a purr that could register on the Richter scale.

In the last year of her life, Tallulah became very tiny and frail. She struggled to eat and keep food down from time to time, but she was not to be taken by death just yet. When it seemed like she was about to give in, she would rally and show vestiges of the girl I knew for 16 years. Finally, she just couldn't win her battle against the inevitable; she was, after all, 19 years old.

As anyone who has lived with an animal companion knows, making the decision to euthanize him or her is incredibly heart wrenching. You don't know if you're doing it too soon or too late. You are racked with thoughts of "too soon," "am I making the right decision" and all of the other ambiguities that go along with the responsibility of ending another creature's life. As much as it broke my heart, I knew that Tallulah was ready. She was not enjoying her life, she was struggling. I did not want my friend to suffer. I had to hold her and send her on her way.

Here's to you, the feisty bundle of fur that brought so much laughter, comfort, and companionship to my life. Tallulah, I hope I gave you as much as you gave me.

If you adopted a pet from a shelter or rescue group and you'd like to share his or her story, please email me. I'd love to hear from you!