Sunday, October 30, 2011

Rudy's Story

Pet's name: Rudy
Adopted by: Corinne Humphrey
From: Friends of Animals Utah, Park City, Utah

Corinne Humphrey, author of The Tao of Rudy and Shoot for the Moon, Lessons on Life from a Dog Named Rudy, sent the story of Rudy, the inspiration for her books. Visit her website to learn more.

Rudy & Corinne: Who Rescued Whom?

In 2005, I left a 25-year career as an international flight attendant to seek a more creative, balanced life. The best thing about "coming in for a final landing" was that I could finally take those painting classes I'd talked about, and I could get a dog.

I made numerous visits to Utah Friends of Animals' "Furburbia" adoption center, looking for a four-legged companion that "spoke" to me. Rudy (a three-year old English Pointer mix formerly known as Bob) was skinny, scarred, and starting to become aggressive. He had been abused, then rescued, only to bounce in and out of shelters and foster homes for three years. He was not my first, second, or third choice, but the knowledgeable staff at "Furburbia" knew Rudy’s inner qualities and convinced me to "just take him outside, just give him a chance—he’s our favorite."

We walked out the door, away from the noise of the kennels, and made our way to a nearby park bench. When I sat down, Rudy sighed, and leaned his whole body against my leg. He turned his head and fixed me with a deep, soulful gaze that seemed filled with both hope and despair at the same time. I was hooked.

Any relationship takes work and lots of love, and with the help of trainers, neighbors, and dog-loving friends, we've overcome many past issues and injuries. I was training him, but at the same time, he was teaching me … to dig deeper, to take a closer look before making judgments.

Rudy is a gem, a diamond in the "ruff." He inspires me, makes me laugh, stretches my patience, and brings me much joy! And he’s also fun to draw—when I first started painting, I'd often find myself giggling while sitting at the easel, and I slowly gained more confidence with my art. Now if I'm wasting time lounging on the couch, a cold nose will nudge me and lead the way into the studio. Most of my paintings evolved from life lessons that I learned from Rudy, and his positive messages have connected with people of all ages.

Corinne with Rudy and the book he inspired

The Tao of Rudy was originally self-published in 2007. It earned a 2008 Independent Publisher's Bronze Medal for "Most Outstanding Book Design" and was also awarded "Honorable Mention" in ForeWord magazine's "Book of the Year" at BookExpo in New York City in May 2009. It was then introduced to the editors at Chronicle Books in San Francisco, and our new book, Shoot for the Moon, Lessons on Life from a Dog Named Rudy was released in May 2011.

Rudy hasn’t forgotten what it’s like to be on the streets. He donates 10% of net proceeds back to Utah Friends of Animals so more dogs can find good homes too.

Corinne with Rudy in her studio

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, October 27, 2011

Kiva's Story

Pet's name: Kiva
Adopted by: Jessica Swaim

Jessica Swaim, author of the children's book, The Hound from the Pound, tells the story of Kiva, her border collie. Visit her website for some great videos of Kiva in action. 

Once upon a time—in the summer of 2009—I was looking for a dog. My friend Cindy and my golden retriever Sprocket came with me to visit a one-year-old border collie named Sadye. Sadye was an "owner surrender" living in a foster home in nearby Ft. Collins, Colo. As we watched this dog-shaped missle blast around the yard after her ball, our conversation went something like this:

CINDY:  Wow, what a beautiful dog! Smart. Athletic. Eager to please. She's exactly what you're looking  for.

ME:  Are you kidding? You saw how she barked and lunged at those cyclists when we walked her to the park! And remember how her foster dad described her? "Energizer bunny." "Go-Go girl." "A lot of dog."  Translation:  nut case! Her eyes spin like pinballs! She snaps at flies!    

CINDY:  So? You want a high-energy dog, right? One that'll make you a better handler?    

ME:  Yeah, but border collies need a minimum of two hours of exercise a day, including flat-out running. TWO HOURS! If they don’t get it, they chew holes in your drywall!

CINDY:  Well, haven't you been wanting to remodel?

ME:  Border collies are the smartest breed, you know. This dog has a higher I.Q. than I do.

CINDY:  Great! Maybe she can balance your checkbook.

ME:  I'm too old for this dog.  

CINDY:  Argggh. Do you or do you not walk Sprocket miles every day? You live on five acres. You’ve got agility equipment. Clickers in every room of your house. You've got a neighbor with sheep, who even teaches herding, for pete's sake! Get a shepherd's crook. Make like Bo Peep. It'll be fun!

ME:  Fun, my fanny! I don’t need another dog sport! I can't play with dogs all day, you know. I've got a life. I've got a lot of important stuff to do.

CINDY:  You know what? You’re absolutely right. You're too important for this dog. Too old. And too dumb. Let's go.

ME:  Shhh! Look. She finally laid down. She's staring right at me. Aw, did you ever see such a sweet face? Look at the hope in her eyes.  

CINDY:  That's not hope. She's plotting to destroy your drywall.

ME:  She needs me! I need her! We’re perfect for each other.

CINDY:  Duh. Ya think so?

ME:  I know so. C'mon, Sadye. Let’s go home.

CINDY:  Yay.

Soon afterwards, Sadye became Kiva. Kiva plunged headlong into agility, tricks, musical freestyle, and herding. In her spare time, she continued to chase flies. Cindy remained a close friend and earned a Ph.D. in Reverse Psychology. Sprocket shared his toys and modeled good canine citizenship. And me? I gobbled multivitamins, learned to throw a Frisbee, and embraced my inner Bo Peep. And we all lived hyperly ever after, with the drywall intact.

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!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Stewie's Story

Pet's name: Stewie
Adopted by: Erica
From: Hillside SPCA, Pottsville, Pa.

Erica (who blogs at For the Sake of Cake) sent the story of Stewie, who is a great example of the purebred dogs who can be found at shelters!

I had always grown up around dogs. My family was what I would consider "big dog people," who had a soft-spot for boxers.

I moved out of my parents' house in July of 2009, and it wasn't long before I started yearning for the companionship of a pooch of my own. Having always grown up with dogs, not having one just didn't feel right. However, since I was living in a one-bedroom apartment, I knew a "big dog" wouldn’t be the smartest choice.

I started looking online at several local shelters, and even visited a few with my mom, but I couldn't find a dog that was the perfect fit for me.

Then, late one night as I was completing my "daily rounds" of various shelter websites, I stumbled upon Stewie’s "advertisement" on the Hillside SPCA website. Hillside was about an hour drive from me, but I couldn't believe my luck—a pug was one of my "top choice" breeds, and he was black, too, which I thought made him extra special.

First thing the following morning, I called the shelter to inquire about Stewie. The woman on the phone asked if I could pick him up the following day. The shelter was crowded, so they wanted to move dogs out as quickly as possible. I happily obliged and agreed to pick up my new pug, "sight unseen."

My then-boyfriend (now husband), parents, and I all made the hour drive to go pick Stewie up the following day. To our surprise, we were greeted by a timid, sad-looking dog (nothing like how he appeared in the pictures online). He had a significant amount of hair missing from his back, which the shelter attributed to a flea infection they had just treated him for. He was also complete skin and bones; you could see each and every one of his ribs. I remember looking at my parents and my mom asking me if I was sure I wanted to take him. To be honest, I wasn't sure, but I felt like I had no choice but to rescue this dog.

As we were leaving the shelter, one of the women who worked there told us we were getting a sweet dog, and I vividly remember him wanting to follow the worker back into the shelter; it was clear he wanted to be with someone who was "familiar."

Happily, he's never looked back! He's wiggled his way into each and every one of my family members' hearts. We were able to improve his health quickly, and now he frequently gets complimented on his "beautiful coat." He is such a good dog and is perfectly content to cuddle on the couch, or play with one of his many toys.

My family and I often talk about how hard it is to believe that Stewie ended up at a shelter. He's a purebred pug and has always been well-behaved (no training necessary with this guy). Whatever the reason though, we are happy to have given him a nice home and feel so lucky to have him, and all the joy he brings, in our lives!

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, October 23, 2011

Beamer's Story

Pet's name:
Adopted by: Lindsay Stordahl and Josh Whitford
From: F-M Humane Society, Fargo, N.D.

Lindsay, who blogs at, shares her home with a dog and two cats. This is Beamer's story:

Beamer has been a part of our lives for about eight years, and he is quite the cat!

The reason I say this is because he will eat anything! Beamer has a food obsession, and that's putting it lightly.

I’ve found "the real-life Garfield" chowing down on pure butter from a container he opened. He has been brave enough to steal steaks and bacon and whole sandwiches off our counters. We have to keep all our cupboards and closets locked with child locks, and we have to keep our garbage containers behind closed doors.

Normal people are able to keep apples and bananas on the counters. Not us. Our cat has even eaten whole avocados and raw potatoes.

A sleeping Beamer tries to look innocent.

When we leave the house, it is not the dogs we have to worry about, it is our cat! Beamer has to stay in the laundry room when we are not home so we know he will be safe and out of trouble. This isn't as bad as it sounds, though, because he has his own kitty apartment set up there—his water bowl, cozy cat beds, and his litter box.

We used to try leaving certain foods out. We'd ask ourselves, "He won’t really eat oranges, will he?"

Of course he will. This is Beamer we are talking about.

Beamer was a year old when his original owner dropped him and his brother off at the Fargo-Moorhead Humane Society. We don't know why they were surrendered, but it was probably because they were past that cute, kitten stage.

It was my boyfriend Josh who was picking out a new pet at the time, and he chose Beamer because out of all the cats, he seemed to be the most affectionate. Beamer is just one of those cats that is constantly bumping his (large) head into you for attention. If you are on the couch, just assume you will have Beamer in your lap!

Beamer is a very laid-back, confident guy. We foster dogs at our house, and he is the perfect cat to find out if a dog is "cat friendly."

The reason for this is because it takes a lot to get a reaction from Beamer. Our other cat will freak out over the most insignificant change, but nothing really fazes Beamer. He knows that most barking dogs are just bluffing, and they are not worth his time or energy. Nine times out of ten, Beamer will literally yawn, walk right into the dog, and claim that space. But if Beamer is at all stressed, then I know the dog can't be trusted around cats and needs some serious structure.

This 15-pounder is a unique guy. Although he tests our patience often, we love our "Big Orange One."

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, October 22, 2011

Haley's Story

Pet's name: Haley
Adopted by: Faith F.
From: SPCA, Inc., Lakeland, Fla.

Faith (who blogs at For the Health of It) sent this adoption story of her dog, Haleyher bigger-than-a-lap lap dog.

In January of 2011, I was offered my dream job as a writer. I was beyond excited about the opportunity … but it required moving to a new city, away from everything—and everyone—that I knew. I spent two months commuting and planning my new life in Orlando. As soon as I found an apartment, I started looking for a furry companion to share my new house with me.

I knew right away that I wanted to bring my future puppy home from the pound. Several friends sent me links to breeders and pet stores in our area, but I didn’t even want to look at the advertisements. I knew there was a dog at one of the local shelters who needed a home just as much as I needed a new companion.

The day that I adopted Haley, I asked my boyfriend to come to the shelters with me to keep me from bringing home six dogs. (Trust me—if I could have, I would have!) We visited three different pounds, and although I fell in love with every dog who tipped their head up to get my attention, a gangly, lovable Catahoula/Sheepdog mix from the first shelter had burned a place in my mind. I had vowed not to make any decisions until I'd met all of the dogs, but it barely took any time at all to realize that Haley was the puppy that was supposed to come home with me.

I know that potential adoptees are afraid that pound puppies will have behavioral issues or attitude problems, but Haley has to have the sweetest, cuddliest demeanor of any dog I've ever met. She's literally 65 pounds of lap dog—the second I sit down, she's curled up right on top of me. I couldn't imagine how empty my house would feel without her!

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!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Emmett, Lucas, and Cooper's Stories

Lucas, Cooper, and Emmett

Pets' names:
Emmett, Lucas, and Cooper
Adopted by: Maggie and John Marton
From: Friends of Homeless AnimalsWashington Animal Rescue League, and Mended Hearts Indy

Maggie, who sent this story of her three dogs, blogs at Oh My Dog!, where you can read more about Emmett, Lucas, and Cooper's adventures.

In 2006, after my husband and I bought our condo in Washington, D.C., we knew we wanted to adopt a dog. We researched different breeds, combed through adoptable-dog profiles, and drove out to Friends of Homeless Animals as fast as we could. We met a couple dogs, but none seemed to fit. We described our "perfect" dog to the shelter volunteer. "You have to meet Emmett," she said. That one little sentence changed our lives.

Emmett is a (nearly) perfect dog. He has been since day one. We knew nothing about training, behavior, feeding, health, anything! Yet Emmett’s personality—calm, confident, sturdy, sometimes silly—helped us navigate the challenges of new-dog parenthood. His one problem? He hated being alone, even for one second. If I closed the bathroom door to take a shower, he would bash his bully head into the door to come in. He'd curl up on the bathmat and wait for me to finish. Whenever we left for work or for the store, he would smoosh his nose under the door and cry and cry and cry until we got home.


After nine months of little improvement, we decided to adopt Emmett a buddy. This time we went to Washington Animal Rescue League. We were less diligent about our research because we knew exactly which dog we wanted. We met Darby and played with her in the little side room, and as the volunteer went to get the adoption paperwork, we squealed with excitement. Moments later, the volunteer came back with news: Darby had been adopted already. They just forgot to hang up the sign.

Distraught, we wandered the aisles of the shelter. I paused in front of one of the crates, and a skinny yellow dog with humongous Dumbo ears raised his head and looked me right in the eyes. After a few seconds, he put his head back down and sighed. My heart broke. I called John over, who wasn't super excited about this mangy guy. I persevered and won (of course), and when the volunteer looked over our adoption form she said, "Lucas doesn’t do well with other dogs." We countered, "He’ll be fine with Emmett."

They had us bring Emmett to the shelter. Lucas behaved inappropriately for about five seconds before Emmett corrected him. Lucas fell right in line behind Emmett … and has been there ever since. The volunteer was right, though; Lucas was terrible with other dogs. But he has had Emmett as a role model over the last four years, and he's improved tremendously.


All was great. We went for long walks and took the boys hiking on weekends. We did training classes, learned everything we could about nutrition and health, got Emmett certified as a therapy dog, and Lucas passed his Canine Good Citizen test. We poured all our time, effort, and energy into Emmett and Lucas.

Then, something came over us last Halloween. I agreed to foster a tiny little American pit bull mix named Scooter. He came to us from Mended Hearts Indy at 6 pounds, 2 ounces. The big boys adopted him immediately. They tolerated his puppy shenanigans and snuggled with the little bean when they thought we weren't looking. His presence brought out new sides of the "big boys." After a few short weeks, we renamed him Cooper and submitted our adoption application.


Cooper has been with us for nearly a year now, and the three guys have had a lot of adventures already. They snuggle and play well together, and though it hasn't been an entirely bump-free adjustment, they are 100% committed to each other—and 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!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Charlotte's Story

Pet's name:
Adopted by: Heather Dalton
From: A shelter in Columbia, Md.

I first saw Charlotte on a Thursday night in April 2008. I was regularly volunteering at a local shelter, and I was there to photograph the new dogs for It was cold, it was raining, and although I didn't know it at the time, Charlotte had just been surrendered by her owner several hours earlier. It wasn't the best first impression—she was soaking wet and seemingly unimpressed with everyone, as she didn't beg for attention or have as much personality as most dogs did. She wasn't even my favorite new dog of the night, so I had no idea yet that she was meant to be mine!

Two days later I was back at the shelter to help out at Saturday's open house adoption day, and I wanted to get a better photo of Charlotte for her Petfinder profile. I went into her kennel and sat near her. She didn't jump on me or run away from me; instead, she just came close to me and stood near me as if she were seeking protection. I realized she wasn't an uninteresting dog—she was an incredibly sensitive, intelligent, and frightened dog! I knew right then I wasn't going to let just ANYBODY take her home. At the end of the day no one had filled out an application to adopt Charlotte, so I offered to take her home until the next adoption day so that she wouldn't have to sleep in the noisy, smelly shelter.

The first thing Charlotte did when she got past my front door was to turn on her back and do a happy dance right there in the foyer. I guess she was already sold on me! Meanwhile, I found out that although she had less than NO leash manners, she was an incredible houseguest (and continues to be). She never touched a single thing in the house that wasn't meant for her, stayed off the furniture, and was already crate-trained. Score! Not everything that first week was easy, but before I knew it, I wasn't willing to give Charlotte back. She never set foot inside of the shelter again: she stayed home the following week while I went in to fill out her adoption paperwork.

Since then, she has been by my side at every step—she’s my shadow, and I couldn’t lose her if I tried. She’s a heck of a swimmer, a lightning-fast sprinter, and can turn on a dime. She loves riding in the car but makes for an absolutely terrible passenger. She sits six inches from the fireplace all winter, sleeps all the way under the covers at night, and loves to eat apples, kale, and broccoli. She protects me against absolutely everyone whether I want her to or not (including my very own parents, much to their dismay). She can learn a new trick in a weekend or less, will chase anything else that has fur, and peeks in all the shop windows when I take her on walks. She reminds me when it's time to feed her if I haven't already, and she knows she always gets one last treat every night before bed. She's smarter than I ever would've guessed, and much snugglier, too. She's everything to me, and I love her to pieces. I couldn't have picked—or, depending on how you look at it, simply happened upon—a better dog.

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!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Teddy, Sherlock, and Boo's Stories

Pets' names: Teddy, Sherlock, and Boo
Adopted by: Bobbie Pyron
From: Sheltie Rescue of Utah and Wasatch Humane (now the Utah Animal Adoption Center)

Bobbie Pyron, author of A Dog's Way Home, shared this story of her three dogs. Visit her website to learn more about her books. 

The most common question writers are asked is "What inspired you to write your book?" For my new book, A Dog's Way Home, the answer is wonderfully simple: my dogs!

I am fortunate to share my life with three rescued dogs; two—Teddy and Sherlock—are Shetland Sheepdogs adopted from Sheltie Rescue of Utah. My third dog is my "wild child," Boo. My vet's best guess is she's a coyote mixed with some sort of herding dog.

A Dog's Way Home is a contemporary mash-up of Lassie Come-Home and The Incredible Journey featuring a lost Sheltie rather than a collie. I like to say the book is my personal love letter to the breed. I first fell in love with Shelties when I fell in love with Teddy. We met when he was four years old. He and his sister had been given up to Sheltie Rescue when their family fell on hard times and had to sell their house and move in with family—family who would not let them bring the dogs.


Teddy’s sister got adopted right away. Teddy waited for me. When we met, it was clear from the beginning we were meant to be together. I have never been loved as deeply by any dog as I have been by him. He would be perfectly happy if he could somehow be surgically implanted in my side! He was my muse for Tam, the devoted Sheltie in my book. Now that he is nearing 13, he no longer hears me call his name, and those gorgeous chocolate almond eyes are fading. But if possible, we love each other more than ever.

Sherlock spent the first three years of his life in a tiny cage in a puppy mill. When the puppy mill was busted, he and the other Shelties were lucky enough to land at Sheltie Rescue of Utah. They were all in terrible shape—underweight, terribly malnourished, and cowering. When I first adopted Sherlock, he was terrified of stairs, had no idea what grass was, bumped into furniture, and had to have several teeth extracted. Now, three years later, he loves, loves, loves to run, play ball, wrestle with his "big sister," Boo, and cuddle as close as he can with me. He is truly a testament to the resilience of dogs.


Boo was the first of my rescued pack. A friend of mine who ran Wasatch Humane [now the Utah Animal Adoption Center] said she’d pulled a feral street dog from a "kill shelter" who needed an experienced dog lover. She warned me that the dog was fairly wild and aloof, but would I be willing to meet her anyway? My husband and I drove north to meet her. What I saw was a scrawny, scrappy blue merle coyote. What she saw when she was brought into the room to meet us was my husband’s waiting lap. She threw herself into it and gazed up at him adoringly. Needless to say, she came home with us. My vet confirmed that she probably was a coyote mix of some sort. "She’ll be one of the smartest and most challenging dogs you'll ever own," he said. And he was right. In my book, the Sheltie, Tam, is befriended by a young coyote, a character inspired by Boo.

All dogs inspire us, I think. They inspire to be better than we are, to live in the moment, and to play. But there's something extra inspiring about a rescued dog. They inspire a kind of compassion, love, and open-heartedness not found elsewhere. They rescue 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!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pearl's Story

Pet's name:
Adopted by: Katherine
From: Zeus' Place, New Orleans, La.

Katherine, who blogs at Katherine Swims, sent the story of Pearl, whom she found after a long search for a dog:    

I think the thing I hear most when telling people about my dog is how dogs seemingly rescue you just when you need it most. They're right.

I'd been pining for a dog for months, and had scoured the websites of breeders within 500 miles, looking for the perfect puppy. I'd also spent a considerable amount of time browsing through dogs on Petfinder, wishing I could save each one, but knowing that the time wasn't quite right. Further complicating matters is the fact that I'm very allergic to dogs—if I were to adopt a puppy, or rescue a dog, it'd have to be one of the dogs touted as a hypoallergenic breed. I thought a lot about saving half a billion dollars for a designer puppy, one that would be more likely to get along with my allergies, but had a difficult time stomaching the thought of it when I knew there were so many dogs out there needing homes.

One evening, I came across a listing on Petfinder for a small poodle mix, nicknamed I-10. Her story goes like this: her previous owner had thrown her out of a moving vehicle on I-10 in New Orleans near the Superdome. Luckily, traffic stopped in both directions, and several people attempted to catch her as she darted across the interstate. A man was finally able to catch her (which I now know must have been close to impossible), and knowing he wasn't ready for a dog of his own, handed her over to Zeus' Place, a local animal shelter and boarding/grooming shop. It was a miracle that she survived an incomprehensibly cruel act, and that she did not sustain any injuries.

For some reason, I kept coming back to the Petfinder listing of this sweet little dog, which included a video of her doing a little dance for a treat. You can see in the video how thin she was from malnourishment. In fact, her prior owners neglected her in almost every way possible. Her fur was completely matted, she hadn't been spayed, she had roundworms, and she had heartworms. She was starving for affection and attention. I felt as if something inside me was screaming to adopt this dog, to save her, to take her in.

Not more than a week later, I went through a very difficult breakup. During a phone call with my mom a couple days later, she suggested what I had been thinking for weeks: to go check out the dog at the shelter and see if she might be a good fit for adoption. My brother and parents had rescued a dog about four years ago, and I knew how much positive change that their dog, Misty, brought to their lives. And I thought to myself, the timing's finally right. If not now, when? I was incredibly excited to meet this dog, and once they brought her out to meet me, I knew there was no turning back.

The sweet maltipoo (I'm pretty sure she is, at least), now named Pearl, is a completely different dog. She has been a joy, despite the sometimes rocky state of her acclimation to the life she deserves. Now that she's here, I can't imagine being without her. Where would I be without Pearl's 90-mile-per-hour walks, Pearl's kisses on my face to wake me up in the morning, Pearl following my every move and never leaving my side? She makes me laugh—really, really laugh out loud—each day with something she does. I can't imagine my life without her bright little personality.

Little did I know how quickly I'd become attached to this incredible dog. Sure, she's had her share of complications, and has required a lot of discipline and structure, but she is a completely different dog than she was when I rescued her in June. As I write this, she's sleeping peacefully at my feet, and I wonder what would’ve happened to her, had she not had the unfortunate fate of being abandoned.

It may be true that I saved Pearl's life and saved her from an uncertain fate or a bleak future, but I can't help but think of the many ways she's rescued 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! (By the way, you can now get From Alone to Home updates on Facebook and Twitter.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Henry's Story

Pet's name: Henry
Adopted by: Katie
From: A rescue group in the Dallas area (via PetSmart)

The story of Henry, who was adopted eight years ago, originally appeared on Katie's blog, Chocolate-Covered Katie

Let me introduce you to the best birthday present I ever received: Hello Mr. Henry!

As an avid animal-lover, I always loved to go into PetSmart on Saturdays. Well, loved and hated it at the same time. You see, Saturdays are adoption days at PetSmart, which means that the store is filled with adorable little critters in desperate need of a loving home. Visits to the store would play out like this:

CCK: Mommy, can we please adopt a dog? Pleeeease?
Mom: Katie, we have a dog. Molly would not be happy if we forced her to share the limelight with another dog.
CCK: But Mo-om, otherwise they’ll go back to the shelter, and many of them will be put to sleep.
Mom: Don’t think about it; it’s too sad, and we really can’t adopt another dog. Your dad wouldn’t allow it.

About a week before my 18th birthday, Molly needed dog food. A trip to PetSmart was in order. And it just so happened to be a Saturday. By now, I knew not to even ask anymore if we could adopt one of the wide-eyed, tail-wagging pups at the store. Resigned to my one-dog life, I silently cuddled with an especially-spunky puppy. So my jaw almost fell through the floor when:

Mom: Would you like to take him home?
CCK: That’s really mean. You know how much I want to save one; why would you joke about something like that?
Mom: What if I’m not joking? It’s almost your birthday.
CCK: (Still not letting herself believe it.) You said Dad wouldn’t go for it. Nor Molly.
Mom: I don’t know, Katie. He’s really cute. Your dad couldn’t stay mad at a face like that for long. And I bet Molly would at least tolerate him, if not learn to love him.

And so…

It always makes me sad to see all the dogs for sale in pet shops (mostly from puppy mills). Why buy a puppy when you can rescue one as cute as Henry? It’s cheaper and you’re saving a life! I shudder to think of what would’ve happened to Mr. Henry had we not adopted him. He came from an abusive home, so at first, he was terrified of people, animals, and especially feet. In fact, it was months before we even knew he could bark. But the poor (well, not anymore) guy has come a loooooong way. Nowadays, he is the ultimate lap dog, and you can’t stop him from giving you kisses!

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, October 16, 2011

Amy's Story

Pet's name: Amy
Adopted by: Chelsea Champagne
From: Ottawa Humane Society, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Chelsea sent this story of Amy, who passed away recently, to honor her life and their time together: 

There’s nothing more reliable in this world than the connection you can have with your pet. My cat Amy was ALWAYS genuinely happy to see me. This cat slept on the corner of my bed every night for fourteen years. It was a part of our ritual; I'd scoop her up when it was time for bed and she would nuzzle right into the sheets. She had a weird habit of sucking on her smallest toe, and after a while this sound became the only thing that would allow me to drift off into sleep.

Amy was a loud cat from the beginning. She liked to make her presence known and was very vocal about expressing her moods. She absolutely loved food and was even known to purr while she ate! If you were on the couch, she would walk right up and meow her head off until you made enough space for her to cuddle. She also loved to sit right in front of the fireplace and soak up all the heat.

We adopted Amy from the Ottawa Humane Society in Ontario. From the moment my parents brought her home, I knew she was mine. Over the years, this cat came to know all of my secrets. She spent countless hours staying up late watching TV, comforting me when I was going through heartache, and never left my side throughout every cold and flu. When it came time for me to move out for university, I wasn’t able to take her with me. By that time, she was almost 14, and a university apartment was not an ideal setting for a "senior" cat. It broke my heart the day I moved out and tried to fall asleep alone in my new bedroom without my cat.

Sadly, this past summer we learned that Amy had a tumour on her spine. Because of this, she was progressively losing control over her back legs and eventually her bladder. After consultation with our vet, we were informed that our beloved pet was in great distress. My Amy, the cat that grew up with me every single step of the way, died in my arms.

I know that we often say that we "rescue" animals, but the reality is we are not the ones doing the rescuing. Pets give us so much more than I think humans will ever be able to give back. They teach us responsibility, they truly enjoy our company, and they show us this constant and unwavering love that you can only get from a pet. All of my pets hold a special place in my heart from the moment we bring them home. And although it kills me to see her pillow lying in front of the fireplace without her, I am thankful to have had such an amazing companion in Amy.

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, October 15, 2011

Angel's Adoption Story

Best friends

Pet's name:
Adopted by: Karen and Jennifer Kali
From: Maryland Pug Rescue (now merged with Mid-Atlantic Pug Rescue)

A divorce in Angel's previous family brought her to a rescue group when she was a young dog. She recently celebrated her seventh birthday in her new home.

Before adopting our pug, we swore we would rename any dog that came to us as a “Pugsly” or a “Buster” or any other cutesy name. And while “Angel” is not our preference, it most definitely suits our sweet 7-year-old female pug. Angel came into our lives when she was 2.5 years old. We adopted her in May 2007. Even then she was more of an old lady than a young adult, content to sit and nap on our laps instead of run and play with other dogs. We immediately fell in love with Angel’s sweet, cuddly personality after meeting her briefly at an adoption event in Wheaton, Md. We submitted our paperwork and knew she would be ours, but that didn’t stop us from telling others at the adoption event, who openly talked about adopting her, that Angel was taken.

Angel was put up for adoption because the couple she called her family was getting a divorce. Angel went to live with one-half of the couple. (We never knew if she ended up with the husband or wife.) The expense of a dog for someone on a limited income proved to be too much, and Angel’s owner specifically cited the cost of having to pay for an apartment with a pet fee as a limitation to his/her finances. Thus, Angel was put up for adoption.

She was originally going to go to a shelter, but a friend of the owner suggested Angel go to Maryland Pug Rescue (now merged with Mid-Atlantic Pug Rescue) instead. Shelters are great places in terms of giving animals another chance, but they can also be terrifying places for some dogs. Knowing Angel and how anxious she can get, she would have been extremely upset in such an environment.

Luckily, she went to live with a Mid-Atlantic Pug Rescue foster family in Ellicott City, Md., that included two adults, three kids, three dogs, and one other foster pug awaiting his turn to be adopted. We were told that pugs typically stayed in a foster family for about a month to assess any behavior and health issues before being listed for adoption.

Overall, the adoption process—from submitting our first application to finally adopting Angel—took about three months. Before Angel, we were denied by various rescue groups along the east coast for various reasons. We found a pug at a shelter in Prince George's, Md., and rushed to adopted her, even leaving work in the middle of the day, but just as we were about to pay our adoption fee, her family came in looking for their lost pug. Because we found the process so frustrating, we reached out to the Maryland Pug Rescue for some advice. The president was very helpful, and over our conversations, she told us about Angel.

When we picked up Angel at her foster home in May 2007, she had no qualms about us. She rubbed up on us, happily jumped in our laps, and bolted into our car for the ride home. Her foster mom said that she could tell that Angel was meant to be ours by how happy she was to go home with us. With all our adoption misadventures, we feel the same way. Angel was meant to be ours.

When we brought Angel home there was a period of time that we had to work on housebreaking, walking on a leash, and even playing with toys. Apparently her family never walked her, because she would constantly wrap the leash around us, as if she had no experience with it. And she just couldn’t quite figure out what toys were—which seemed really sad to us. We also discovered that prior to joining our family, Angel probably had a broken bone in one of her paws that was left untreated.

The only regret we have with the adoption process is that we weren’t able to get any photos of Angel as a puppy. Having some photos would give us some idea of what she was like as a puppy and make us feel like we hadn’t missed out too much on those first two years. Still, it was our preference to adopt an adult dog that was already housetrained over those cute puppies.

Four and half years after bringing Angel home, she is still everything we could want. She’s cuddly, sweet, and extremely nice to our toddler. We just celebrated Angel’s seventh birthday. Our daughter specifically asked to have a birthday party for Angel, so that’s just what we did. Angel is such an important member of our family; we can’t possibly imagine what it would be without her.

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!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Windigo's Adoption Story

Pet's name: Windigo
Adopted by: Sonia Colterman and family
From: SPCA of Western Quebec, Gatineau, Quebec, Canada

Sonia and her family went to the shelter to adopt a cat or kitten, but that didn't quite happen, as you can see by looking at Windigo's photo! Here is his story:

I come from a family who seems to attract animals in need. My mother and grandmother have always taken in the weary, unwanted, and sometimes sick animals that cross their paths, so I come by my animals the same way. Trust me, they find me....

Our latest addition is our dog Windigo. We went to the SPCA in Aylmer, Quebec, Canada, to first adopt a cat or kitten. On the way there, my daughter, who had memorized every pet available from their website (future animal adopter), started talking about the dogs. "Hmm," I was thinking. "She has ulterior motives here...." When we arrived we all looked at the cats and kittens, but my daughter wandered off with one of the staff to the dogs, and I could hear her naming off all the dogs and their descriptions to the employee, who was duly impressed. The rest of the family followed. After some family huddle time we decided we would get a dog.

The first dog my daughter was eyeing up was not suitable for our family, as the staff pointed out he had issues like eating fingers of children. OK then, next! We all gathered round the Lab puppies. "Hmm, I'm not sure if I'm up for the puppy challenge," I thought. I was holding out.

Then my husband called us over to a Lab-pittie mix that was a year and half old. I could tell he was smitten. The wonderful lady that was so patient with us immediately was gushing about Windigo. She told us he had a kind soul and just needed a chance. He was suffering from what I call kennel depression and did not show well. Also, he was a black pittie mix—another strike against him. The staff liked him so much they routinely took him out and let him lie down with them in the office during the day to help ease his depression.

So at this point, I was falling for him. His eyes spoke volumes about him, so we decided to take him for a walk. Ohhh boy, disaster! This poor boy had never been on a leash, and with the fact we were paying attention to him, he was beside himself. He was pulling, jumping, and all over us—basically the crazy dog. The kids were not sure now, and I was wondering myself.... But my husband stood strong—this was the one. We came back in and described his behaviour, so the staff said just wait and see what he's really like; he will calm down. So after about 45 minutes of petting and showering him with affection, he laid down on his mat and let the kids love him to bits very calmly.

So after an hour-and-a-half visit and the help of the wonderful and understanding staff at the SPCA, we came home with Windigo. We have never regretted it. He still needed some manners but he's almost there. I recently became ill and have been off work for awhile, and this bundle of activity has become my cuddle-bug when I have bad days and need lots of bed rest. Being true to his two breeds, he loves his people and shows no aggression towards people or other animals. I will be enrolling him in some training and perhaps in time I would like to see if he can be a therapy dog; he certainly has the temperament for it.

So the next generation of caring for animals in need has started; my daughter scans the adoption sites regularly, and she bakes homemade dog biscuits all year round to raise money for various animal charities. She's happy, and her clients are happy, as well as Windigo—he gets the scraps and misshaped cookies. And best of all, she is helping make things better in her small way.

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! Also, you can now follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lucy's Adoption Story

Pet's name: Lucy
Adopted by: Katherine Burns-Christenson and family
From: Minnesota Boxer Rescue

Lucy's story originally appeared on (DOG)SPIRED, a blog dedicated to dogs and the people who love them. 

I was rescued by a rescue dog. Actually, our entire family was rescued by a rescue dog. My husband and I had lost our beloved lab mix, Miller, after 10 years together. We grieved deeply. Months later we decided we were ready to add another dog to our family. We researched breeds. We fell in love with the Boxer. We learned their various colors: brindle, fawn, white, reverse brindle, flashy fawn, and so on. We learned about their breed-specific medical challenges, their fun-loving personality, and their clever and crafty wit. We chatted with strangers and neighbors whenever we saw them with a Boxer. We looked at rescue groups, humane societies, and Petfinder.

Then we saw him. Pendleton. A beautiful 2-year-old fawn Boxer boy. We completed the lengthy and thorough application process through Minnesota Boxer Rescue. Neighbors were called. Vet references were checked. We were approved. We waited like anxious parents for Pendleton’s transport from Kentucky to Minnesota to be finalized. Then the call. The shelter had euthanized Pendleton. He was a "“messy eater," the shelter told the rescue group. What? He had an adoptive home! We were stunned. We lied to our children. Pendleton, we told them, was adopted by another family and it wasn’t meant to be. We wondered if there was a reason Pendleton wasn’t chosen to be with us. We leaned on our faith trying to make sense of it all.

Then another call came from Minnesota Boxer Rescue. Would we be interested in a 10-month-old female, white Boxer from Missouri? She was an "owner surrender," we were told. Her family was moving and couldn’t take her with them. She wasn’t completely house-trained, had some basic obedience training, was “hearing,” which we knew from our research was unusual. White Boxers have a higher incidence of deafness. Photos were emailed. She was beautiful. I was smitten. We were smitten.

However, life had changed significantly for our family in the last month. My husband had been laid off work. Money was tight. Time, however, was plentiful. Did it make sense to adopt a pet? Could we really justify the expense and adoption fee? In this economy? With so much uncertainty? We decided yes. There must be a reason Lucy came to us.

We anxiously waited for Lucy at the transport location. She was traveling from Missouri to Minnesota. I knew to be calm. Give her a chance to warm up to us. Ease in. Blew it. I totally blew it. I rushed to her with squeals of glee and gratitude. The children laughed and Lucy bounced.

On the ride home, I watched Lucy chase reflections in the van. She flew from reflection to reflection. Mesmerized by all that flashed and flickered. Those flashes seemed so exciting to her! She ignored our calls. She accepted our touch, licked our faces, and then flew in a flash at a new reflection. The children giggled at her antics. I smiled. I knew now why Lucy had come to us. I’d seen this before, but in human form.

Our oldest daughter is deaf. When my daughter was an infant, I watched her visually chase reflections and be mesmerized by light and colors. We later learned that Lucy had chased the reflections from the aquarium at her foster home. They thought it was adorable. It is! Lucy never consistently responded to her name. Playful and distracted? Typical puppy behavior, or so everyone thought. We knew better. Our daughter had done the same thing. Sometimes responding. Sometimes not. Our daughter, we learned, wasn’t responding to our voice, but our shadow on the floor or wall when we entered a room. Lucy, like my daughter, was using her strongest sense to communicate with the world; her eyes. While Lucy is not deaf, she does have a significant hearing loss.

My daughter was absolutely thrilled to have another person in the family “like her.” Other families might be overwhelmed by such a gift. We weren’t. Lucy fit right in. We started immediately using visual communication with Lucy. She was a fast learner! It’s a lot easier to learn what those humans want you to do when you can crack the communication code with your eyes!

Lucy was my husband’s constant companion during the day while he searched for employment. Her presence buoyed him and I’m so grateful. Lucy played with the children, snuggled next to me while I knit, and made herself right at home, claiming her own chair. Our hearts swelled. She was and is a constant ray of hopeful sunshine and joy. My husband found work. We found unconditional love. Without a doubt, we were rescued by a rescue dog.

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!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Murphy's Adoption Story

Pet's name: Murphy
Adopted by: Lee and Jason Becknell
From: Adopt a Golden Atlanta

Lee sent the story of Murphy, who, as you can see, has a great doggie smile!

I had a golden retriever growing up, and I knew that I wanted another as an adult. At the same time, I wanted to help a dog that was in need of a home. Fortunately, I discovered that there are rescues for pretty much any breed out there. I contacted AGA and had to apply. It was actually quite a lengthy process. Not only did I have to fill out an online application, but they had people come to our house and make sure we were suitable dog parents.

It turns out that we were, so after about two months of waiting, we met Murphy (whose former name was Ricardo). He was a 2-year old golden (maybe a mix; we're not sure) who was about 10-15 pounds underweight. We don't know his full backstory, but were told that his previous family just couldn't afford him, so they gave him up. We've had Murphy for almost three years now, and he's pretty much the best dog ever.

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!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Casey and Gus's Adoption Stories

Pets' names: Casey and Gus
Adopted by: Kara
From: Sonoma Humane Society, Santa Rosa, Calif.

Casey and Gus, whom Kara often writes about on her blog, Well, One of My Blogs..., each came into her life at a time when she didn't expect to be adopting a pet. Here are their stories:

I had been casually browsing the listings for several months looking for a Catahoula-Lab mix, but I had no intention of actually getting a dog until I had dealt with my partially-fenced backyard situation: first a fence, then a dog.

However, one night about a year and a half ago, I saw Casey (then "Katie") online, and I can't actually explain it, but some irrational gut response took over, and I felt like she HAD to be my dog. She was at the Sonoma Humane Society, and I made sure to get there right at 12 p.m. when the doors opened for adoption, because I was totally worried that someone else would swoop in and adopt her before I could. Looking back, I could have taken my sweet time, because Casey was an ill-manered, huge, high-energy ball of mayhem who had already been returned to the humane society. Twice. I adopted her on the spot.

It has not been an easy road with Casey-Dog. Shortly after she came home with me, I had a consultation with a dog trainer who pretty much told me she was hopeless. We quickly enrolled in dog training classes, and in my first session, Casey was so excited she would literally jump straight up in the air with all four feet off the ground and do a flip. Repeatedly. For the entire class. It was both exhausting and mortifying to be the worst student in class, but we stuck it out.

At this point, we have taken the "Companion Dog Level One" course three times, and, well, will probably be back for another round soon. As willful and high-energy as she is, she is also crazy smart. We've tried "scenting" courses where the dogs learn to sniff out a special box hidden in a room, and she was the star of the class. She's by no means perfect, but has come a loooong way.

This spring, I decided to start volunteering for the humane society. Somehow, I ended up agreeing to foster two two-week-old kittens. They were the cutest things in the entire world, but I swore up and down that I would not keep them. I was certain that my home would remain cat-free.

I had the kittens (Boy Kitty and Girl Kitty) for six weeks, and then returned them to the humane society once they were big enough to find their forever homes. Each week when I went in to volunteer for my shift walking the dogs, I would check in on "my" kittens. The girl kitty was adopted quickly, but week after week, Boy Kitty was still there. It was breaking my heart. Finally, I snapped. One afternoon, I decided that if Boy Kitty was still at the shelter, he was coming home with me. And he was. So he did. And now he is Gus.

Since then, he and Casey-Dog have become best friends.  They play together, which is hysterical, and cozy up together whenever they have the chance.

Every now and then, when the cat is chasing the dog around the house, and they have knocked over and broken yet another table/lamp/picture frame/chair/shelf/etc., I wonder what in the world I was thinking ... but I certainly wouldn't trade either one!

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!