Friday, September 30, 2011

Jimi's Adoption Story

Jimi (right) with his friend Fonzie

Pet's name:
Adopted by: Lisa Fricke
From: Oakland Animal Services, Oakland, Calif.

Lisa (who blogs at Fresh Spinach) has two cats: Fonzie, who was abandoned on a doorstep, and Jimi, whose story she tells below:

In the summer of 2010, my fiance and I decided that our cat Fonzie needed a companion. We lived in San Francisco, and we knew that all the shelters in San Francisco were, by law, no-kill shelters. But just across the bay in Oakland, there was a shelter with a relatively high kill rate and an overflow of kittens.

We drove out to Oakland and went to see if we could find a kitten that would fit into our home. Upon walking in, our hearts melted. There were so many beautiful animals who needed homes. I remember seeing one kitten who had been there a while; he was gray and had such loving eyes.

A volunteer at the shelter came over to talk to us and directed us to the back of the shelter where there were cages FULL of kittens. One cage had four sibling kittens in it. They had a hammock in their cage, food and water, and not much else. There were two girl kittens who were tabby colored, and two boys who were tuxedo, once of which was very fluffy.

We asked to see the two boy kittens, and the volunteer took us to a room and put all four of the kittens in there with us. The two girls wanted back in their cage right away. The fluffy boy was playful like any kitten, but the other boy seemed shy and scared. We were both drawn to him though, and wanted him to come see us and interact with us. I understand now that he had been sick at the time and wasn't being taken care of.

Eventually, though, that shy boy kitten came over, climbed into my lap, and started purring and meowing like crazy and was kneading my legs with enthusiasm. It made me cry, and my fiance and I knew that this was the perfect addition to our family.

Jimi in his new home

We named him Jimi (like Jimi Hendrix), and we scheduled to have him neutered (required before taking home a shelter animal) and asked to have his fleas taken care of. The poor little guy was covered in fleas when we saw him.

When we did bring him home, there was the obvious adjusting of the family (and Fonzie had a rough time with this). Worse, though, was the fact that Jimi had a bad upper respiratory infection, which Fonzie then caught from him. So we had two pathetically sick kitties. It was heartbreaking, but they both recovered quickly.

Jimi continues to have health problems. He struggles to breathe sometimes, and we believe it's a sinus issue. He has been through numerous rounds of antibiotics and other medications. Nothing seems to help him, and veterinarians are baffled. We give him saline nasal drops when it gets bad, and that helps a bit, and every day we give him extra lysine to help as well.

We know that a cat like Jimi may not have found a loving home if we hadn't fallen in love with him that day. Because of his health problems, many families may have sent him back to the shelter or not have taken him home in the first place. To us, though, Jimi is a part of our family and we love him very much.

This morning I woke up hours before the alarm went off. I found Fonzie and Jimi snuggled up together on our bed. Fonzie was grooming Jimi, and Jimi was purring so loudly! It made me smile to know how much they love each other.

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

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Americah's Adoption Story

Americah waits for a new home

Pet's name:
Adopted by: Christina Brundzo and family
From: The Enid SPCA, Enid, Okla.

Christina (of The Tattered Tag) sent "before adoption" and "after adoption" photos of her dog Americah. Here is Americah's story:

It can be difficult sometimes to realize life’s blessings when dealing with a loss. Our border collie Sheba had passed away suddenly, and it felt like our hearts would never stop aching. My husband and I would make a “date” a couple Saturdays a month and spend it together volunteering at our local SPCA here in Enid, Okla.

So one Saturday my husband went solo while I stayed home with a sick child. About an hour after he had been gone, he sent me a picture of a timid, four-legged beauty that had just arrived at the SPCA a few days before. She had been found wandering in the country with her pups and had been fostered until she was the only one left for adoption. I didn’t know if I was ready to “replace” my Sheba, but each time I glanced at the photo on my phone, my heart would melt a little more. Then my husband told me she was a border collie/Aussie shepherd named Cheyenne, and I knew then it was fate. Why? Because I am originally from Cheyenne, Wyo., and the coincidence was too much to ignore.

Our family waited until the next day to go visit her, and while she was shy at first, once we put a leash on and led her to the play area she immediately warmed up to us. We knew then that we had a keeper. Being a military family, we decided Americah would be a great name for our newest family member.

It has been a little over a year since Americah joined our family, and while some may think that she was blessed because she has found her forever home, it is our family that is truly blessed. My husband and I believe that by doing our part to assist animals in need, we teach our children compassion for animals and respect of life.

Americah in her new home

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hailey's Adoption Story

Pet's name:
Adopted by:
Lora Palmer and husband Steve
From: The Bucks County SPCA, New Hope, Penn.

Lora (who blogs at A Writer in Bloom) sent the story of Hailey—and just in time, too. It's been several days since I've had a cat story to post!

Hailey came from the Bucks County SPCA. She was about three years old at the time. My husband and I were looking for a young cat that had already been declawed, and our playful, mischievous kitty fit the bill. She had been placed for adoption several times, and so I believe this adoption was the last chance for Hailey. She's a fun and sweet girl, and it has been a pleasure to see her becoming more secure and affectionate as she has bonded with us over the past year and a half since we adopted her.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Phineas' Adoption Story

Pet's name: Phineas
Adopted by: Christa Avampato
From: New York Dachshund Rescue and the Westchester Shore Humane Society in Harrison, N.Y.

Christa (who blogs at Christa in New York) adopted Phineas just about a year ago. Here is his story:

Puppy Love

After months of deliberation, I rescued a dog from the Humane Society. Meet Phineas (Phin for short), a black-and-tan, 14-pound dachshund, part wirehair, part smooth-coat, part mini, part standard-size. About two years ago, we lost our dachshund, Sebastian, and it was a heartbreaking event for my entire family. We really loved that little guy, and for the first time I spent a year without a dog in my life. It took me about a year before I could mention Sebastian’s name without crying and begin a new chapter in my life with canines. And just as I decided I was ready, Phineas appeared through the help of New York Dachshund Rescue and the Westchester Shore Humane Society in Harrison, N.Y.

I woke that morning as if it were Christmas, eager to meet Phineas and see if we were a match. I knew in just a few minutes that this guy was the one for me—now if only dating were so easy (and I suppose it is with the right guy!). My newly retired mom, a great dog lover, met me at the Humane Society and agreed to watch him that weekend while I was out-of-town at a wedding. I had spent months reading Cesar Milan’s books and plowed through many of Temple Grandin’s, too, in an effort to understand how dogs think and how to give them the very best lives possible by giving them what they need, not what we need.

Phineas and I just celebrated his second birthday (given that he was about a year old when I adopted him, we just made his adoption day his birthday) and our first anniversary. In that time he has shown me that waking up ecstatic about life is the only way to live, carving your own path in life is fun, and realizing the gift of this moment requires letting go of the sadness we’ve felt in past moments. He appreciates the sunshine where and when we can get it (he is not a fan of the rain), and he lets the rhythms of nature determine when to eat, play, and sleep. 

The greatest lesson he’s taught me has very much to do with his past. About a year ago, a policeman found Phineas in an abandoned building, lonely, cold, and hungry. He had a tag on, and the policeman picked him up and went to the address on Phin’s tag. He must have anticipated that the little guy lost his way and would be so glad to find his way back home. Instead, the policeman found a boarded-up home in very bad condition, and it looked as if no one had lived there in a very long time. He brought Phin to the Humane Society, and they contacted New York Dachshund Rescue. The rest, as they say, is history.

Christa and Phineas just after they met for the first time

It must have been a terrible feeling to be dropped off on the side of the road, left behind to fend for himself. Or worse, I guess it’s possible that he ran away from a terrible home. I can’t let myself think about this idea too often because I will be a puddle of tears in a matter of seconds with that thought rattling around in my head. Phineas, however, has found, learned, and shared a powerful lesson from his past: love heals.

I’ve often heard it said that time heals all wounds, but I actually think love is a more complete and efficient healer than time. Time is a finite gift; the amount of love we can take in and give away is infinite. The only limit love knows is our desire to give and receive. Phineas can never get enough and can never give enough. He’s a wonderful role model of courage and bravery, for believing that life can always get better no matter how far down in the doldrums we are. Love is what helps us make that journey.

A year ago, he was starving and lonely, abandoned in the woods. Today, he sleeps in a warm, down-filled bed in a (cozy) penthouse apartment on the upper west side of Manhattan, has a bottomless bowl of organic food, and laps up buckets of overflowing love that are showered on him every day by me, his friends (human and canine), and even random strangers on the street who fall in love with him on sight just like I did. He let go of his past and moved on so that he could appreciate all the love available to him in his new life.

We should all be as appreciative as he is of the gift of another day. And we can be. All we have to do is give love, receive love, and revel in the exchange. This is the kind of profound lesson that a shelter dog can teach if only we give him the chance.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Buddy's Adoption Story

Pet's name:
Adopted by: C. Gregory and family
From: Suffolk Animal Control, Suffolk, Va.

This post about Buddy originally appeared on CGregoryRun in July; his introduction took place in this post.

In April, for my daughter's birthday, we adopted a dog I lovingly refer to as "Buddy the pound dog." He's a quirky canine. Unnaturally short legs, full-size body, and tons of character. By character, I mean he pooped in most rooms of the house and even outside on a pair of my son's shoes. Poor dog got pounded by balls and dog toys several times before he realized that we wanted him to do something foreign called "fetch" and "catch." He has also learned that clothing is off-limits for eating and hiding poop-accidents, and humping my daughter's stuffed animals is impolite. He is still attending the "Don't Eat the Kids' Toys" class, but I have a large grading curve since dead toys only need to be cleaned up one last time.

Lately, he has been bonding with my 5- and 3-year-old boys. I noticed him following my 5-year-old around and listening to my son's commands like he had a steak in his pocket. I thought this was very nice, but I have never seen an animal get along with my son this well, so I started to pay closer attention. It turned out that my son was bribing Buddy the pound dog with Goldfish crackers. Awesome—as long as I don't have to clean Goldfish crap out of a bedroom, everyone is cleared to be friendly. But what about my 3-year-old?

Sure, everyone loves my youngest, but Buddy was paying close attention to him. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure my son has tossed him some scraps when I'm not looking, but Buddy really watches him. My son is just learning how to speak because of autism, but does very well when he pets Buddy and says, "This is a dog. A dog says 'woof.' Good dog." He is always very interested in what my son is doing. I didn't know how interested until yesterday, when I was washing my daughter's hair and I heard Buddy barking outside. My son had learned to unlock and open our sliding glass door and walked out onto our deck without my knowledge. Buddy had sounded the alarm.

Buddy can poop wherever he wants to as far as I'm concerned from now on. Buddy the pound dog has been promoted to Buddy the watchdog.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Riley, Felicity, and Zoe's Adoption Stories

Best friends

Pets' names: Riley, Felicity, and Zoe 
Adopted by: Sarah Hamer and family

Sarah (of Pink Cricut) sent the stories of her three pit bulls, Riley, Felicity, and Zoe. They are great examples of how this misunderstood breed can be a wonderful and loving family pet. 

Recently, our family adopted our third pit bull. You heard me correct: we have three love-a-bull dogs who we are blessed to have in our life. Getting to three isn't as simple as just adopting Zoe—it took a WHOLE lotta persuasion.

A couple years ago we bought our first home, and after having lived in it for a couple months we wanted to get our kids a puppy. So we went online and found that the Furry Friends Refuge had puppies. They were listed as "terrier/mix" so we went and saw them. When we got there, we found out that the puppies were pit bulls.

Like many ignorant people we thought instantly that these pups would be terrors, and we were extremely apprehensive about adoption, but I couldn't get the sight of the kids playing with those puppies out of my head. So we adopted our first pit bull, Riley. Upon bringing her home we determined that we would get rid of her at the first sign of aggression. We are talking even a teeny growl ... or bare of teeth.  

Needless to say, we did a TON of research online, and we purchased several books on the breed. Everything we read said these dogs were the most loyal and gentle breed ever owned by many people. Sure, there were horror stories, but it was the actual bite data that opened our eyes. To see that Labs, German shepherds, and other common breeds actually had a higher percentage of biting their owners was alarming and eye-opening.  

So we worked really hard with Riley. She was a SAINT, honestly the best dog I have ever owned. She let our 2 1/2-year-old pull her tail, take treats from her mouth, roughhouse in ways that other dogs would have never allowed. She was so gentle and loving. Her favorite thing to do was to cuddle on the couch; she was quite realistically the biggest lap dog I had ever seen.

Riley (back), Felicity (middle), and Zoe (front)

Well, our lives got really busy, I started a business and the kids started school, and we were noticing that Riley was getting less and less attention. Being the trooper that she was, she never complained, but we noticed that she wanted to be inside more and more. Riley needed a friend, one that she could hang out with on a regular basis. One she could frolic, tackle, argue, and run with in the backyard.

So we went to the ARL (Animal Rescue League) because we heard there was a little girl there named Felicity who was in need of a home. After meeting Felicity we knew instantly that she and Riley would complement each other perfectly. Felicity was a little spunkier by nature, but she was a lover—not an aggressive bone in her body. Riley and Felicity met and instantly wanted to go play. The ARL employee commented that she had never had an intro go so quickly and easily. Both girls behaved, and we made them sisters.

Several months later, pictures were posted of a new litter of pit bull puppies on the Pit Crew Facebook page. We thought we should go visit the puppies, so we did. We met Cloud, Darma, and Zoe (then Tilly). Cloud was a little chunk, and we knew he was going to be a big boy. We decided that since we have two girls already, we should keep the female theme going. Darma was doing a doggie intro, and I had been captivated by "Tilly's" blue eyes. Her scrawny runt frame and those piercing blue eyes had me captivated. After the "Hug" room I was hooked!

It took a little convincing, but once we saw all three playing together, we knew that "Tilly" was to become part of the family. So we packed up "ChinChilly," as my daughter called her, and brought her home to her almost half-acre backyard, toys, and play pals. Zoe has been a wonderful addition to our family. She has showcased how maternal Riley is and how much fun Felicity is as a big sister.

So, yeah, we have three pit bulls, and they are part of our family. It's not about their breed ... it's about their training. Love them and they'll love you, train them and they'll obey you, socialize them and they'll make you proud to be an owner of the most misunderstood breed in the animal kingdom.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

BeeGee's Adoption Story

BeeGee is as colorful as her toys.

Pet's name:
Adopted by: Wendy Morse
From: The Bailey Foundation

The adoption story of BeeGee the macaw originally appeared on Wendy's website, Bags of a Feather

BeeGee came to live with us in August of 2007 after a long trip to Philadelphia to bring her home to start her new life with us. We adopted her from a wonderful rescue outside the city called the Bailey Foundation. Jeff Levine and his wife Pat [who have since retired] have run the rescue as a labor of love since 2004 and have given over their home and their lives to taking in parrots of all kinds and finding them new homes.

We had never taken care of a big parrot before and were both a bit intimidated by that big, black beak! We knew very little of her past life, other than she was thought to be around 30 years old, and had been confiscated in a police raid on a crack house in Philadelphia, and was taken in by a police officer involved in the raid. After a year or so went by, he realized that he could not devote the necessary time to BeeGee, and relinquished her to the Bailey Foundation. She was thought to be a male because of her impressive size. She was a wild-caught bird and had an import band on one foot. She also had a reddish-purple bruised spot on that same foot, which might have been from her capture in the jungle all those years ago.

When she arrived at our home, she went to the vet for a complete work-up and was found to be very healthy—and a female. So BeeGee was nicknamed the "Beautiful Girl." She spent a good part of the first few weeks staring out the window at the woods and trees and stream in front of our house. Her expression was one of astonishment. I wondered if she was thinking of the jungle. After a few days with us, I bent over to pick up something off the floor in front of her cage, and I swear I heard her say “pretty bird” when I bent over and pointed my behind in her direction! I have never heard it again in the three and a half years since.

She has become a very friendly parrot and will come down from the top of her cage every day for "cuddlies." She will step on my arm with one claw and hang onto the cage with the other, and gets lots of scritches and loving. Once every few days, she will be brave enough to let go and step on me with both feet. I do not force her to do anything unless she is in imminent danger or we have to go for a vet visit. She is very happy to hang out all day, chew anything wooden into little toothpicks, and interacts with both Pete and me.

BeeGee started plucking her breast feathers last summer, and she was given a complete check-up and clean bill of health that it was not related to any physical cause. We tried a vest "protector" a few days ago, and it was reduced to a very expensive "rag" within minutes. She did NOT want that thing on her, and chewed off the fringe immediately:

BeeGee is very vocal, but not much of a screamer, unless there is something like a black bear outside. At that point, the windows are in danger of shattering as the decibel level is cranked up to maximum volumes. She mostly says "Hello" in hundreds of different tones of voice, and also "What?" If the "flock" is not within her sight, she will call out "Hello, hello, hello?" until somebody responds.

She loves to eat, and especially loves walnuts and pistachios. She digs into her bean-and-veggie mix with great appetite every evening. She also gets treats left from our dinner, and pasta is her favorite thing of all. She also has developed a taste for steak and filet mignon—spoiled girl!

We have no idea how old BeeGee really is, but I think of every day as a precious  gift. We are extremely lucky to have found her, and she has found her forever home here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Grace's Adoption Story


Pet's name:
Adopted by: Sheryl
From: Lollypop Farm, Humane Society of Greater Rochester, Fairport, N.Y.

Sheryl wrote this tribute to Grace after she said goodbye to her on May 21. Since then, Sheryl has added another adopted dog to her family.

Goodbye to Grace

I first met Grace, a pit bull/greyhound/Lab mix, a little over 10 years ago at Lollypop Farm, a local animal shelter. I was shopping for a new dog about a year after I lost my first husband and my old German shepherd, who followed him shortly after. I almost missed her—she was huddled in a frightened little ball in the corner of her cell. I visited with each dog there, trying to discern compatibility in two-minute visits with each. On my second pass, she uncurled a little and looked up, so I decided to take her for a walk to see how she responded.

I led her outside to the back of the shelter, and she walked with her head down and tail between her legs. She never looked up nor gave any reaction. We went to a room where I could take her off the leash, and she stood in the corner in the same frightened stance. When I called her she came to me slowly, and I could feel how tense she was. I began to wonder if this dog had any life left in her. She was only six years old but acted like an old woman. The shelter volunteer suggested that we take her outside into a courtyard they have there, so we could see her outside off the leash.

When let free, she skulked to the other side of the small enclosed space, then she started sniffing around. Apparently she found something that interested her, because for the first time she lifted her tail up and began a small wag. Seeing that, I said to the volunteer “I’ll take her!” I was smitten already, I guess—I was only waiting for a sign to push me over the edge! The volunteer, knowing the poor show Grace had put on previously, asked me “Are you sure?” Yes.

Filling out the paperwork with Grace lying beside me, several volunteers came up to me and said, “Oh, you’re taking Grace? We love her! She’s our favorite!” Any doubts I might have had in the back of my mind quickly dissipated.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hailey's Adoption Story

Hailey: blue is her color

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

Kristen writes about life with Hailey at The Hailey Chronicles; you can also find her on Twitter. This is Hailey's story:

In spring of 2010 we said goodbye to our beloved Shih Tzu, Loki, after a yearlong battle with immune-mediated hepatitis causing cirrhosis of the liver. (Say that five times fast!) It had been an emotionally draining year, and at the time we thought we would now be a one-dog family. (At the time we had a Lhasa Apso mix, Gemini—she unfortunately died this summer.) However, as the summer wore on and our grief lifted, we decided to start looking for another dog.

We began the long process of reading about different breeds and looking for breeds that were less likely to have serious health issues. We talked to our vet, and one of the breeds he had recommended was the Schipperke. After reading about the breed, we put it on our "maybe" list. As we were searching through purebreds, I also started toying with the idea of a rescue. My husband had a lot of fair concerns about bringing an older dog with a unknown history into our home; however, he remained open to it.

Then one day when looking at Petfinder, I found a dog listed as a Schipperke mix at Catahoula Rescue Ontario. This dog was living just outside our city! Hailey was an eight-month-old "mystery mix"—best guess part Schipperke—who had been rescued with five other pups from a shelter in Ohio. The other pups had found homes, and Hailey was the last one. She was clearly a very energetic dog who didn't know a lot of commands, but we feel in love, and as they say, the rest is history.

Hailey is very different than our other dogs. She is larger and requires more exercise, but that was one of the reasons I had wanted a dog her size. I hate going to the gym and love to walk, but knew without a walking companion this wasn't going to happen. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I look forward to our long morning walks, as does she. I must say I have lost some weight, have more energy, and am coping with stress better since I got her.

Our Gemini suffered from some anxiety, so we had some experience with this, but Hailey's size and strength has put a twist on it. Hailey had been crate-trained but had also been with several other dogs at her foster home. With us, crate-training failed after she somehow managed to destroy two crates. She has also destroyed numerous other things in our house (the list is long), and every time we think we have cleansed the environment so she can't get anything else, she surprises us with her brilliance.

Regular grooming is a challenge. Even though we work on it at home, getting her nails cut remains an embarrassing adventure, with her screaming and trying to escape. Her fear over this sort of thing made it impossible for the vet to get a blood sample from her. We will continue to work on it and hope she gets used to it or at least hope we get less embarrassed by it! We have made progress—we can brush her with a rubber brush and brush her teeth without her screaming—so maybe there is hope for other things.

We use to have an okay backyard, but Hailey has landscaped it for us. She has destroyed our flower beds and has dug several Hailey-sized holes in them. When given the chance, she takes her toys out and buries them in the holes. One of my new chores on the weekend is washing a load of dirty toys she got outside and repairing holes in them.

For all her challenges, we do love Hailey very much. She is brilliant and full of surprises. There really isn't a dull moment with Hailey around. Nothing in the world makes me happier than watching her run at the park (well, when she is running to me and not away), and she is so loving and snuggly and cute. (These are the factors that save her some days!)

While at times I think I was crazy to get her, I can't imagine my life without her. I know in the future when I want another dog, it will also be a rescue. Maybe she has been more work because we didn't get her at six or eight weeks. Maybe another dog will have other issues due to a not so pleasant past. Those are all challenges I am willing to take on, because I know there are thousands and thousands of dogs looking for someone to love them, and the reward for doing the work (the love), is more valuable than anything she could destroy.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Barley's Adoption Story


Pet's name: Barley
Adopted by: Ali and Sean
From: Big Sky Animal Ranch, Kemptville, Ontario, Canada

You can follow Barley's adventures with Ali and Sean at Barley & Ali. Here is his story:

Sean and I (Ali) live in Ottawa, Canada, with our adopted dog, Barley. We write the blog to share our stories, tips, and tricks in dog-ownership and to receive feedback and create a discussion with other dog owners. We found that owning a dog has led to pretty much every conversation relating back to our furry friend Barley, so we thought a blog might help get some of that off our chest so friends wouldn't be hearing about him all the time! We also try to show the realities of owning and training an adopted adult dog, and how rewarding and beneficial it is. Now, enough about us...

In July of 2011, we adopted a Lab/shepherd/mutt mix (who at the time was named "Casper") from Big Sky Animal Ranch in Kemptville, Ontario. He was found tired and hungry on the side of the road by Andy Parent (owner of Big Sky), and wasn't wearing any tags or identification. For two weeks, "Casper" was housed at the Ranch and enjoyed roaming the land and playing with the other animals. Big Sky Ranch rescues horses, potbelly pigs, llamas, goats, and more, so there was lots of sniffing and running around to do!

We made a call to the ranch to inquire about another dog, a border collie mix named Sally, but she had already been adopted... Andy very quickly, though, convinced us to come out to the Ranch and meet "Casper." Hearing all the great things Andy had to say, the next day we drove 30 minutes into the country, with the sun shining and the fresh air on our faces, to meet the dog who was "too awesome not to adopt," and it was all true. Instantly we knew that he was coming home with us. Since adopting him, we have changed his name to Barley, taught him a thing or two about manners, and we couldn't be more happy.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Peanut's Adoption Story

Ashley and Peanut

Pet's name: Peanut
Adopted by: Ashley Dewey
From: Paws and Purrs Rescue, Inc., Scottsville, N.Y.

Ashley, a shelter volunteer who blogs about her dogs and local pet-related events at The Adventures of Peanut and Bailey, shared Peanut's story:

I adopted Peanut from Paws and Purrs Rescue in 2009 when she was six months old. Paws and Purrs is a great rescue group that brings up a lot of dogs from down south from overcrowded shelters. She was a little firecracker! I had no problem housetraining her; she picked up on that right away. I started taking her to puppy training classes at Lollypop Farm as soon as I could. She did well in the classes—we took three different sets of training classes. I felt this was a good way for her to interact with different dogs. One of the trainers mentioned that she might like flyball since she was so fast. We signed up for a training class at Boom Towne, and she was so good, they asked us to join the team! We have been doing flyball for a year now, and Peanut is almost ready to compete.

Peanut made us realize how well behaved our first adopted dog, Bailey, was! The first time we went to work, I put them both in the kitchen, put up the baby gates, and—pop!—she jumped over them like it was nothing! After several attempts at barricading her in, I realized I had to crate her. I was lucky and worked close by, so I came home on lunch and walked the two of them. I soon discovered that wasn't enough to burn off my crazy puppy's energy. One of the trainers at Lollypop Farm recommended interactive toys such as frozen Kongs. That worked great, but she still needed more. That's how Peanut started going to daycare. I found an amazing retired couple to watch her a few days a week while I was at work.

Adopting Peanut has given me the chance to meet other dog lovers and learn about dog training and behavior. She's my sweet little spoiled girl and I wouldn't trade her for anything. You can watch videos of Peanut on my YouTube channel.

Peanut's hobbies:

  • Bothering the cats
  • Flyball
  • Running
  • Laser pointer (her fav)
  • Walking around the farm at Lollypop Farm and sniffing the animals

Peanut strikes a pose

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Smoke, Finnegan, and Molly's Adoption Stories

Finnegan and Molly snuggling

Pets' names: Smoke, Finnegan, and Molly
Adopted by: Mary Ellen and Jeff
From: Animal Rescue League of Boston and PAWS Wakefield in Wakefield, Mass.

Mary Ellen tells the story of a cat she recently said goodbye to and explains how she found her current kitty pair. 

In February 1997, my now ex-husband and I went to the Animal Rescue League in Boston in search of a cat. As I wandered through the room full of cats in cages, my ex called me over to look at a handsome longhaired tomcat. As I walked over, though, a paw darted out from one of the cages and snagged my sweater sleeve. I looked down, and there was a sweet little black cat, with a little white spot under her chin, rubbing against the cage door and purring like mad. She had picked me, I figured, so I took her home.

Smoke was my best buddy for the next 14 years—she was with with me through my divorce from that awful ex, through moves, through happy times and bad ones. She slept next to me every night, usually using my hand as a pillow. She was clumsy, clever, goofy, and beautiful. She was never one to sit on your lap, but she liked to curl up next to me on the couch while I knitted and watched TV. When I met the man I would later marry, she sized him up and decided he was a good catch. She adored Jeff—she'd let him pick her up, dangle her upside-down, tickle her belly—all things that, if I had tried, I'd have lost a hand!


A few months ago, in early March, I noticed a hard lump on her jaw. Jeff and I took her to the vet, who confirmed my fears: she had a squamous cell carcinoma in her jawbone, and it was fairly advanced. The vet gave us two options—do surgery, and remove almost all of Smoke's lower jaw, and then do radiation, or give her antibiotics and pain meds, keep her happy and comfortable until she wasn't able to eat anymore, and then bring her back to be put to sleep. We opted for the latter—I couldn't justify putting her through a major surgery, with all the pain and fear that would entail, when it wouldn't really prolong her life by much.

We ended up having her for a little over a month. On April 21, she let me know that she was ready to go. She wasn't interested in the chicken Jeff was roasting for dinner—and prior to her illness, she'd have been climbing his legs to get at that chicken! She was subdued, and quiet, but happy—I could tell that she was ready. We took her to the vet the next day, and I held her close and told her how much I loved her, and what a good, good cat she's been, and she went to sleep for the last time. It broke my heart, but it was the right decision to make for her.

Jeff and I knew we wanted another cat—or, even better, a pair of cats. Smoke never got along with other cats at all, so she was an only kitty. We started looking on Petfinder and found a listing for a lovely female kitty available through PAWS Wakefield, and sent an email inquiring about her. Alas, she had just been adopted, but the PAWS volunteer mentioned a pair of sibling kitties, a male and female, who needed a good home. We went to the foster home and met them, and fell in love immediately. After doing all the adoption paperwork and paying the fees, we waited for a week or so, biting our nails, until the rescue group decided we could adopt them. That afternoon, we went and picked up Finnegan, a lovely orange tabby, and Molly, a sweet calico.

Molly is a sassy little thing and is QUITE sure that she rules the house. Finnegan is sweet, and a little shy. He's more timid around Jeff—I suspect that whoever had them before the foster home was not especially kind to him. (I know they had been adopted by an older couple who returned them because they were "too rambunctious." They aren't, at all—they get their fits of kitty-crazies in the evenings, and chase each other all over the place, but what cat doesn't do that?) Finnegan sticks to me like Velcro, following me around, snuggling in my lap, sleeping next to me like a teddy bear. Molly diligently grooms Finn, washing his face and ears, and whapping him upside the head with her Paw of Doom when she thinks he needs it. They are a delight, and while they don't replace Smoke, I can't imagine life without them.

Sister and brother

Finnegan smiles

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Maggie and James' Adoption Story

James and Maggie cuddling

Pets' names: Maggie and James
Adopted by: Caitlin and Kristien
From: Animal Friends in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Caitlin (of Healthy Tipping Point) has two canine roommates, Maggie and James. They were adopted separately but are now very close. Here is their story:

"Maggie and James came to us six months apart, five years ago. Maggie was from an independent rescue group, and James was from the shelter. The first time they met, I knew it was love. I get mad when people say they are brother and sister, because they are truly husband and wife—complete lovers to the core. I am really glad we adopted both of them, because it is clear that they are so grateful. James has scars on his neck from where his collar grew into his skin, and Maggie has separation anxiety because her previous owners mistreated her. I know that we're truly the perfect match for them. I'm so glad they are our dogs!"



Tuesday, September 13, 2011

CeCe's Adoption Story


Pet's name: CeCe
Adopted by: Rebecca Sebek
From: The Arizona Humane Society (South Mountain location), Phoenix, Arizona

Rebecca, who writes about animal and environmental advocacy at The Savvy Advocator, contributed stories about her cats, Benny and CeCe. Benny's story was posted yesterday, and this is CeCe's:

"It was August 2009, and I decided that Benny needed a playmate. Everyone I spoke with said, 'It’s best to have two cats because they can use the companionship.' By this time, I was very educated about cats and kittens. Again, I was not going to experience what I did with Salem, my first cat who was feral. I was living in a brand new apartment complex which allowed residents to have a maximum of two pets. The apartment was bigger and perfect for two cats.

"I learned about the Arizona Humane Society and decided to drive to the South Mountain facility, located on W. Dobbins Road in Phoenix, Arizona. I couldn’t believe how packed it was. I was approached by a 'cat' adoptions counselor and told her I wasn’t sure if I wanted to adopt a kitten. I explained that Benny was a year and a few months. She helped me decide that a kitten wasn’t in my or Benny’s best interest.

"I looked at the cats in the kitty 'casitas,' and a female brown tabby named CiCi, whose name is now spelled CeCe, caught my eye. The adoptions counselor took CeCe out of her casita and placed us in one of the adoptions rooms. CeCe was very playful and friendly. She rubbed up against me and purred. I knew she was the cat for me and Benny and adopted her on August 9. I didn’t realize until I got home that CeCe came to AHS on August 4, one day before my birthday, which is August 5. Was this a coincidence? Maybe it was.

"It took CeCe time to adjust. First, she had a home. Then, she’s surrendered to the Arizona Humane Society. Now, CeCe had a new home and owner who had another cat. Two weeks later, she developed URI [upper respiratory infection], which was another learning experience for me. Since August 2009, she’s experienced a 32-hour road trip and an introduction to a dog. She’s come a long way!

"Adopting CeCe made me realize I wanted to help shelter animals. In October 2009, I became a volunteer for the Arizona Humane Society; I loved every minute of it. I began as a dog-walker and transitioned into the Humane Education area, which educates children 7-14 about shelter animals and animals in general. Unfortunately, I had to move away from Arizona in July 2010 but hope to return. Fingers crossed!"

Monday, September 12, 2011

Benny’s Adoption Story

Benny on top of the fridge

Pet's name: Benny
Adopted by: Rebecca Sebek
From: PetSmart in Chandler, Arizona, by way of Mixed Up Mutts and Shepherds Too, which partners with selected PetSmart stores

Rebecca, who writes about animal and environmental advocacy at The Savvy Advocator, contributed stories about her cats, Benny and CeCe. CeCe's story will appear in tomorrow's post, and this is Benny's story:

"Benny’s a dapper black-and-white tuxedo cat. His story begins with Salem, a black feral cat who came into my life in June 2008, but was unprepared to care for. I’d been living in Chandler, Arizona, for nine months and was still adjusting to my new home. One day, as I came down the stairs of my apartment, a fellow tenant walked by and said, 'That kitten has been there for weeks.' I had no idea what she was talking about. I looked to where she was pointing, and lo and behold there was a black kitten sitting on the patio of the 'model' apartment that was below mine. I brought Salem into my apartment but had no idea how to care for a kitten, let alone a feral one.

"I ended up taking Salem to Maricopa County Animal Care and Control in Mesa, Arizona. It was the hardest thing I ever did in my life. I was riddled with guilt and called the next day to see if I could get him back. I was told he was euthanized. I was devastated and cried every day. My mom, who was in Ohio, paid for my sister to fly out to Arizona to be with me; she was worried the guilt would consume my being. I did everything I could for Salem. I even hired a pet behavioral specialist, but she said there was no guarantee that Salem would adapt, since he was feral. One month passed, and I decided to adopt a kitten as a way to memorialize Salem, perhaps even redeem myself. I didn’t realize the healing I would receive from adopting Benny.

"In July 2008, I discovered PetSmart on Chandler Blvd. had adoptable cats; I wasn’t going back to Maricopa County Animal Care and Control. By this time, I educated myself about cats and kittens. I drove to PetSmart and saw three-month-old Benny. Normally, kittens are adopted straight away. But Benny had been there for two weeks. The adoptions counselor couldn’t believe he wasn’t adopted. She said to me, 'Maybe, he was waiting for you.' I spent time with Benny and spoke with his foster mom, whom I asked many questions because I was not going to go through what I went through with Salem. And, I haven’t. Benny’s more than a pet; he’s my fur kid. I couldn’t imagine my life without him."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Maddie's Adoption Story

Maddie posing

Pet's name: Maddie
Adopted by: Kim and Scott Vargo
From: SPCA Cincinnati

Kim and Scott (of Yellow Brick Home) split up the writing duties for their pets' adoption stories. Scott contributed the tales of Libby and Jack, and Kim wrote about Maddie. Here is her story:

"After growing up with pets my whole life (we always had two cats and a dog in my family), I went away to college knowing that I would miss each of my pets back at home. My parents would send me updates and tell me how the four-legged gang was doing, but it only made me miss them more. Of course, living the dorm life meant no pets at all—my attempt at a goldfish was short-lived—but as soon as I moved into an apartment, I was ready to be a kitty mom again. The only problem was that the landlord advised against pets; they were a big no-no on his properties.

"You'd be silly to think that this would stop me. After my roommate agreed that she could certainly stand to have a cat around (she also came from a full-pet household), I called my landlord and pleaded with him. I said, 'I'll maintain the hallway! I'll take out the trash for the building! I'll keep the lawn free of weeds!' and you know what? He agreed. Sure, his life just got a little easier, too. And he knew I was a neat freak, so although it may seem he made out in the deal, I was really the one who won.

"I picked out Miss Maddie from the SPCA in Cincinnati. She was so small, so tiny. She was with her brother, a black-and-white, very excitable little guy, but I was drawn to the sweet face on my soon-to-be kiddo. I was told she was eight weeks old; her first check-up two weeks later proved she was only eight weeks old then (so she was six weeks when I adopted her). She had to be put on a special wet diet, because she was so weak and too young to be away from her mother so soon. But just like any strong-willed woman, she came out strong, healthy, and beautiful.

"Over time, she's become our diva girl, roaming our kitchen counter and putting Jack in his place when he teases Libby. Scott and I like to joke that she's the queen of this home. She rules this roost. And now, I'm back to my two-cat, one-pup household. Funny how history repeats itself."

Friday, September 9, 2011

Libby and Jack's Adoption Stories

Libby lounging

Pets' names:
Libby and Jack
Adopted by: Kim and Scott Vargo
From: A veterinary clinic in rural Ohio (Libby) and City of Chicago Animal Care and Control (Jack)

Kim and Scott (of Yellow Brick Home) split up the writing duties for their pets' adoption stories. Scott contributed the tales of Libby and Jack, which you'll find below, and Kim wrote about Maddie. Check back tomorrow for Maddie's story! 

Libby, our little tail-less wonder of a cat, came into our lives in a very peculiar way. The adoption stories of pets choosing their parents could not be more true than in her case. I was working a job that had me traveling to rural Ohio every week, and one of my favorite customers was the local veterinary clinic. I had known the staff for about a year, and would spend a few minutes each week saying hello to puppies with broken legs, cats wearing surgery lampshades, and the occasional feral raccoon being nursed back to health.

One week, the perky head veterinarian insisted that there was a special new kitty that I absolutely had to meet. Knowing that I was a sucker for a sweet face and a unique appearance, she led me into a sterile room that had been cleaned without bleach or harsh chemicals. "Libby is a special kitty..." she said. "She has terrible allergies, chronic asthma, and has had two emergency surgeries to remove part of her intestines." Expecting the feline equivalent of Frankenstein's Monster, imagine my surprise when this sickeningly sweet, beautiful, charming grey Rumpy Manx came hopping out to meet me.

With full knowledge of her health challenges, I returned a week later on my day off to bring that little grey moonface home. What can I say? I was compelled. The early days with the Libster were a challenge as she adjusted to her new family and environment, but we eventually fell into a routine with her medication and special low-residue diet. Five years later, we're happy to boast that Libby's asthma has gone almost completely away and we've weaned her down to a much healthier, lower dose of her medications. It turned out that she's a pretty sensitive kitty, and her ailments were, in large part, magnified by stress. A happy stable home was just what the doctor ordered.

Jack on his first night with Kim and Scott

Our puppy Jack, on the other hand, has a much more "traditional" adoption story. I'd been bugging Kim to adopt a dog for years. She'd grown up with Australian shepherds, and I'd grown up in a dog-less household. She had largely outgrown the responsibility of caring for a canine, and I was ecstatic at the idea of multiple daily walks around our beautiful Chicago neighborhood with my soon-to-be best friend. Finally, after what seemed like decades of bothering her to allow us to save another life by adopting from the Chicago city pound, she relented. "Okay, okay," she said, "we can go look at dogs tomorrow." After spending hours on and narrowing our choices down to a few virtual candidates, we were off to see the pups in the flesh.

We headed to the pound with a few ground rules for our ideal dog candidate; female, 45-pound adult weight, and preferably a boxer or pit bull mix. We brought a few of our virtual candidates out to the play yard, where we were largely ignored in favor of ropes and chew toys. Of the first few dogs, none were very engaged or excited to see us. A little disheartened, we headed back inside and walked past the cage of "Jimbo" a few times. He was a scraggly, ribby fellow, with a projected adult weight of 55 pounds. Unfortunately, he was the wrong gender, and he was going to be too big (and he smelled a little). He was a pit bull mix, however. But the poor guy just wouldn't stop staring at us. We finally relented to his droopy, red-rimmed eyes and gentle whimpering and took him outside. He immediately licked our faces and was ready to play fetch. We were smitten. We knew we could bring him to handsome maturity with a new name, a few baths, and a healthy diet, so we quickly filled out the paperwork to bring him home. "Jimbo" became "Jackson McDogg," and we quickly became besties. Then came the hard part...

Jack's first vet visit was, well, interesting. We'd had a few days to fall deeper in love with his goofy grin and infectious energy, so we took him to the vet for his checkup. Turns out our boy has a level-5 heart murmur. Yup, 6 is the worst and our boy's a 5. After a visit to a suburban specialist and draining our savings account, we were given two options: Option #1- Travel a few hundred miles for an incredibly expensive, unproven surgery that might kill him, might make things worse, or might help improve his condition from a level 4 to a level 2. Option #2- Do nothing but love him extra and give him the happiest, most fun life that a dog could ever hope for. Our vet recommended option #2. We agreed.

Jack's condition is serious enough that medication won't be effective, but not so serious that it restrains his quality of life. Sure, his heartbeat sounds like the equivalent of chucking a basketball down a long spiral staircase, but he certainly doesn't seem to notice. Jack is happy, healthy, and loves every person and animal he's ever met. He currently weighs around 60 pounds, and he's still a boy. It just goes to show once again, that the you don't choose the pet, the pet chooses you.

Happy Jack

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wally's Adoption Story

Wally on the day he was adopted by Angel and Ben

Pet's name:
Adopted by: Angel and Ben Carlson
From: Carrie’s Canine Rescue (New Hampshire) by way of Tennessee

You can read about the adventures of Wally and his pal LuLu at Life With LuLu. This is his adoption story:

We found our Boston Terrier, Wally, listed on in September 2010. His adoption was arranged through Carrie’s Canine Rescue of New Hampshire. His original Petfinder listing is still available on

Originally named "Paulie," he and his five littermates had been turned over to a Tennessee rescue with their mother. Little did the rescue know, the puppies all had parvovirus—a virus that attacks the lining of the digestive system and causes dogs to be unable to absorb nutrients or liquids. Even though their foster mother gave them incredible intensive care, two of the six puppies did not make it. The remaining four puppies, Paulie (now our Wally), Lincoln, Bobble, Prudence, and their mother, Penny, were all spayed and neutered and placed for adoption on Petfinder.

On September 25, 2010, Wally hitched a ride on the Last Chance Highway and made the long journey from Tennessee to his new home with us in Massachusetts. It was a match made in heaven!

Wally is everything that his foster mother promised—a true lovebug, VERY loving and playful, just a really good boy! :) He's been with us almost a year now, and we couldn't imagine our lives without him. He makes every day just a little bit brighter and never fails to bring a smile to my face.

Wally at one year old

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Shelter Dog Calms Cheetahs at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Here's a job for shelter dogs that you probably haven't heard of: cheetah companion. A recent news story shows Hopper, a dog adopted from a shelter, paired up with Amara, a 3-year-old cheetah at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. They've been friends since Amara was just a few months old. They often go for walks together, and Hopper's calm nature rubs off on Amara. The story says, "Trainers found that combining the calm nature of a dog with a naturally reactive cheetah made for better training."

I've never heard of a program like this before. Have you? I checked out the San Diego Zoo's website to see if I could find any more information, and I found a bit.

This blog post talks a little about the program, and explains it with this caption:
Timber wolf Akela sits patiently waiting for her trainer to give her the next command. Most carnivores at the Zoo are paired with a canine companion. One benefit of this unique relationship is that the wild animals mimic the behavior of the domesticated dogs, reducing stage fright and allowing them to feel more comfortable in front of an audience.
And this blog post, which introduces Kiburi, a new cheetah cub at the Safari Park, mentions Hopper, the same dog who pals around with Amara: "[Kiburi] has even been introduced to Hopper, one of the canine companions used by the Behavior Department."

I'd love to learn more about this program--as well as the details of Hopper's story--and whether any other zoos use dogs (including adopted ones) for this purpose!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Shelter Dogs Become Search-and-Rescue Heroes

Shelter dogs make wonderful companions, as millions of people have already discovered (and more, I hope, soon will). But canines with certain skills, intelligence, and temperaments can take on roles that some might find surprising. Dogs from the humane society where I work have gone on to excel in agility competitions, assist arson investigators by sniffing out accelerants, and participate in animal-assisted therapy.

Today I read a wonderful story on called "To the Rescue--Finding a Purpose for Rejected Shelter Dogs." An organization called the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, created by Wilma Melville in 1996, trains dogs-and-handler pairs to become search-and-rescue teams that will save lives after a disaster. The group has trained 131 teams who have been deployed to Japan (after this year's earthquake), Joplin, Missouri (after the deadly tornado there), and other areas coping with disasters.

My favorite part of the story is the fact that 90 percent of the dogs come from shelters. In the video interview of Melville, she says, "We like to use shelter dogs; it's a humane thing to do."

Here's some information about one of the dogs, Riley:
Eric Gray's dog, Riley, was a former shelter dog rejected by two foster homes because he was deemed too hyper to be a pet. But his search-and-rescue training "gave him a purpose," Gray said, adding that Riley has become an important partner in his efforts as a firefighter.
"(Riley) was able to focus the incessant drive ... that he had, and (he was given) an opportunity to really blossom as a dog rather than just being handed from home to home," Gray said. The two recently helped with search-and-rescue efforts in Haiti and Japan. 
You can donate to Melville's organization on their website.