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One Fierce Flower

A few hours after a routine injection, Lily fell into a coma. A vet said the medication was typically benign, but in this case “somehow crossed the blood-brain barrier and turned out all the lights. Lily couldn’t even blink, that’s how paralyzed she was.”

A local veterinarian suggested euthanizing. Lily had been hospitalized for five days without response, and her prognosis was grim. Still, Cindi Clum-Oppenheimer, founder of Cozy Cat Cottage, refused to give up on Lily. Instead, she took the cat back to CCC where she was tube fed, diapered, and massaged for three weeks. Additionally, staff played music for Lily around the clock. “Sometimes we even sang to her.” Cindi said.

Three weeks passed and on New Year’s Eve, Cindi found that Lily had jumped out of the box were she had been previously resting!

After a few days and a little therapy, she began to walk and play. There were concerns about brain damage, but the kitten appeared to have suffered no permanent damage at all and was soon eligible for adoption.

Tiger Lily, draped in her many-colored coat and her new name, deemed a miracle and a media star, garnished over thirty application toward her wonderful and forever home. Whether Lily or Sleeping Beauty or Tiger Lily, by any name, her story ends as sweet.

Cozy Cat Cottage Adoption Center

Powell, Ohio

Sophia Kartsonis
Powell, OH

No, not big head!

In June 2000, I decided to adopt a dog from Animal Welfare League in Chicago Ridge, IL because they are a no-kill shelter.

My landlord said he would let us get a small dog. All I saw were large dogs. One medium sized dog pressed himself against his cage door and quietly wagged his tail. I said, “Sorry guy, you’re too big.” Heartbroken, I left. This happened seven more times. I apologized to the medium sized dog each time.

I finally found a small mix but then found he was already being adopted by someone. I felt so let down. I had been searching for weeks.

Convinced I WAS going home with a dog, I walked the kennel again. The medium sized dog was still there. He still pressed himself up against his door and swished his tail. Okay, I thought, he wasn’t THAT big. My children screamed, “No! Not the big head ugly one, Mom!” His coat was shaved and his head was fluffy giving him the appearance of a big head. He was thin and ugly. Every time I visited the shelter, I stopped to say hello. Every time I passed him up looking for a better dog. I asked my landlord if a medium dog was okay and he said yes. Barley was at AWL for 3 months and was a yr old.

Once home, Barley gained weight. I guess he didn’t have much of an appetite in the shelter. His coat grew in as I had hoped and it became beautiful. My children adored him. He found his forever home.

Barley is still with us. He’s thirteen now and very loved. I’d like to thank the people who adopted that first little dog back then. Because of them, I chose Barley. Maybe he chose me?

Joann Pool
Wheaton, IL

Lizzie-Long Journey Home

Lizzie came into my life in 2004, while I was working at the Humane Society of Independence County (HSIC) in Batesville, Arkansas as a volunteer. She had been abandoned, and obviously abused, down at the river with her 4 tiny puppies. Some kind soul brought the family to our shelter. Lizzie was very sweet, and raised 4 lovely pups that were adopted quickly. Lizzie had an adoption pending, but when tested positive for heartworms, the family no longer wanted her. HSIC paid for the expensive treatment, and I volunteered to keep her at my home while she recovered. When I took her back, within a week or two she started acting very withdrawn, sullen and eventually aggressive to shelter visitors standing at her pen. The shelter staff was concerned about adopting her out with her newly displayed bad habits, not sure how she would be with people, especially children. I decided to foster her to see if she would once again become the happy-go-lucky dog I had first observed. She did wonderfully at my home, with my dogs, but when I tried to take her back to the shelter, she reverted into her old ways. To make a long story short, Lizzie became dog number five in my household pack. She does great with me, my husband and our dogs, but is very cautious with anyone else that comes to visit. She enjoys our 55 acre walks, loves wading in the pond, and lets us know when the UPS guy is bringing us something. She will never be a dog for all people, but every day when I see her happy and devoted face looking at me with pure love, I am glad I was able to make a difference in her life.

Sue Augustus
Batesville, AR

I am special and happy

I’m Einstein and am a happy and very smart puppy. My coat is pure white and I run thru the yard with my ears streaming in the wind.

But this wasn't always so. When I was a baby, I was very sick and my parents couldn't afford to help me. I went to the hospital and was real scared; my tummy hurt bad. Then everything went dark.

When I woke up the doctor said "Hi” and scratched under my chin. I tried to say "hi" but couldn't because there were tubes in my mouth. So instead, I thumped my little tail.

It was very strange; I had a tube in my tummy and that's how they fed me. I could not get up, so every day I would thump my little tail just to let them know I was okay.

A lady came and said I could go home with her. I liked that, and so I thumped my tail and picked my head up to lick her hand. She was my foster mom from Mid-Atlantic German Shepherd Rescue that helped me get the life-saving surgery.

Each day I got stronger, and one day they took out the feeding tube and said I could eat real food. I danced around, wagging my tail and yelping with joy! I told my foster mom to take me home right away!

My operation was a success. I am a special-needs puppy with mega-esophagus, and MAGSR had a chair built just for me. I eat upright, and gravity pushes the food down to my tummy! Cool, huh?!

They say it's time to start looking for that special family that will love me and let me give them all the love a special puppy like me has to give! Everyone wants a special puppy, right?

Ae Hanigan
Annapolis, MD

Bow the Cat Bounces Back

Bow was a no-name feral cat that had a reputation in his neighborhood; everyone knew him and many cared for him in their own ways. Bow never wanted to go inside and wasn't very interested in people though he would approach on occasion, so they let him live his life where he was happy and still being taken care of. He had a schedule that you could almost set your watch to, so when he disappeared abruptly for several days, many of his caretakers grew alarmed.

Bow was finally found, but his condition was unbelievable. Someone had shot Bow through the face with an arrow and the arrow was still there, going through one cheek, down his neck, and out his back. Carol's Ferals, a local TNR group, rushed to his aid and started a fundraising campaign to raise funds for his emergency surgery. Carol's Ferals also offered reward money to anyone with information. Bow garnered attention by the local news, by other rescue groups, and also on facebook; he had his own page 'Justice for Bow' where it was hoped that networking would help find the person responsible. Unfortunately, the shooter was never discovered.

Bow recovered from his injuries, something that took more time than usual because Bow was FIV+. While on the mend, Carol Manos (founder of Carol's Ferals) took Bow into her home to try and help mend his broken spirit and to show him that people were good. It took a long time to gain his trust, but now Bow will make appearances around people again and even join in a rousing game of 'Da Bird'. He enjoys belly rubs and the comfort of his indoor-only home with Carol (who couldn't see giving him up), where he will be protected for the rest of his life.

Raychelle Noel
Grand Rapids, MI

"Purr-fect Radar"

About ten years ago, we attended the grand opening of the Kiski Valley Cat and Kitten Rescue, Inc. Renee Gazarik's dream finally came true. There was no intention of adopting another cat or kitten. We attended for moral support, for Renee, and to drop off a few donations. Through the course of touring the shelter, I noticed a black cat sitting on top of two stacked pet carriers. He would put out his paw, people would look and pass him by. Curious, I had to see this adorable kitten. When I arrived at the carriers, he put out his paw...I looked at him, picked him up, and snuggled him to my face and he started to purr...and I started to cry. You see, he was less than "purr-fect" He was blind in both eyes. Born on the streets, to a stray mother cat, he had encountered an eye infection at birth and lost his sight. Renee asked if we would foster him to see if he could adapt. His name was Radar. We brought him home and introduced him to our 4 furry children, and everyone seemed to take it rather well, almost like our cats knew he was different. My husband took Radar to the basement to show him where the food dishes and litter box were.. From that moment on, he never ceased to amaze us. He would go up and down the stairs, he would chase and play with the other cats, and he could take down a butterfly, in a second. We called Renee, and told her we weren't going to foster him. We told her we wanted to pay for surgery to remove his eyes, and that Radar had found his "forever home" and here is where he will stay.

Mitzie Harvatin
Verona, PA

Every dog deserves a home no matter how old they are.

Westside German Shepherd Rescue of LA needed a foster home for five days for a 10 year old dog. Luna’s owners lost their house and asked an elderly gentleman to care for Luna and they would came back to get her. They never came. I met the volunteer at the shelter. As the shelter worker brought Luna out, we noticed green stuff coming out of her nose and eyes. The day before, she was “spayed”; but, when they did the surgery, she was already spayed. She spent the next two days lying on a dog bed at my house sick. I took her to the vet and Luna was diagnosed with pneumonia and an upper respiratory infection. She spent ten days at the hospital. Once she was well, she came back to my house as she missed the planned trip due to her illness. She was adopted a few weeks later; but, through no fault of her own, she was returned after seven days. I got a phone call asking if I would foster Luna again. She arrived back at my house, ran into the house, out the doggy door, peed in her favorite spot in the backyard, back through the doggy door to her bed in the living room where she plopped down. She looked up at me with her tongue hanging out with a look that said “I’m home”. Luna became a member of our family that day. She spends most of her day on her bed but loves to go for walks, car rides and playing with her squeaky ball. I had never adopted an older dog but Luna has shown me that they should not be overlooked. She is an amazing addition to our family. Every dog deserves a home no matter how old they are.

Sara Schmoldt
Oxnard, CA

MILLION MILE GUS

Miss Mew was feral: tiny, starving, mangy and completely terrified. We tried to get her indoors before something bad happened. We began putting out food and water for her, mixing in antibiotics, vitamins, de-wormer and even some pain medication. “Miss Mew” as we called her then, loved the food but would have nothing to do with us until it was too late - something bad DID happen - she was hit by a car. Somehow, she managed to crawl her way back home to die. She had been missing a week before my husband heard her meowing, and followed the noise until he found her in a scrape under our hedge. He carefully lifted her into a carrier and took her straight to the vet who had to remove her leg at the hip. Five days later we took “Gus” to his forever home with us. You’d never know he only had three legs today – he zips and zooms around with the other cats, climbs the indoor tree and has come a million miles since we first saw the skinny, half-starved, sun-burned mess that was “Miss Mew”. Oh, and he never goes out!

And why “Gus”? “Gus” is short for “Asparagus” in Cats: “Gus is the cat by the theatre door/his name as I ought to have told you before/is really Asparagus/but that’s such a fuss/to pronounce that we usually call him/just Gus. He’s really quite shabby/he’s thin as a rake/and he suffers from palsy/that makes his paws shake.”) This perfectly describes how he used to look, but no more, as you can see.

ARK - Animal Rescue Krew, PETERBOROUGH, ON CANADA

Sharon Dunford
PETERBOROUGH, ON, Canada

Loving Coco

While volunteering at a Street Fair, a caravan arrived late with dogs up for adoption. It was Sparky and the Gang Animal Rescue from Long Beach, Ca. and they’d gotten lost. I alerted security and we escorted them through the busy streets to their location. Later in the day, I noticed a pen with a dozen dogs, all excited and jumping and wanting to be picked up…all except for one. She was lying in the middle with her head on the ground, her huge eyes looking up at me. I was told she had three pups the day she was rescued and that they had just separated them. She looked so sad .I came back later and asked if I could hold her. She looked up at me and licked my nose. Later in the day, she was still there. At the end of the day, I asked to hold her again and couldn't put her back down.

I believe we rescued each other that day. I've been caring for elderly parents with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and it has taken its toll. Now Coco comes along and everyone at the facility looks forward to seeing her and visiting. The love she receives from me is now being passed along to others. Everyone’s eyes just light up when they see Coco.

With Christmas upon us, I put up a tree in the living room, a new experience for her I’m sure. Coco loves her toys so much and now brings me ornaments from the tree during the day, toys for me I’m guessing.

Her favorite activity is walking in the evenings at the Marina. It’s a magical time. She gets me out for some exercise and we both make new friends. Rescuing Coco was wonderfully life altering.... for us both.

Susan Moy
San Pedro, CA

Feral to Fabulous

Vincent VanGough:

When I first saw Vincent he was on my porch eating food that I put out for my cats. He seemed to have an upper respiratory problem so I got some antibiotic powder and put it in can food to help him. After seeing him around for 2 or 3 months I trapped him and had him neutered and got his shots then released him. For 2 ½ years he came and ate but if I went out he would hiss and run. Then one day he started letting me get closer and when I finally got a good look at him he was bone thin and missing big patches of fur. I put the trap out that night and thankfully he went in it. Turns out he was on death’s door, it was suggested that he be put down (he tested FIV positive) but I said “No lets try and save him”. He had to have what was left of his teeth pulled and lots of antibiotics and Vet visits. I kept him in the house while he recovered, first in a big cage and then he had the whole room (and eventually the whole house). He hid under the dresser a lot but I showed him that he could trust people and that being in the house was good. After 2 ½ months he went outside, I was nervous he wouldn’t come back but that night he came walking in the back door like he had lived there forever and now he comes in and out the cat door whenever he wants. He is the most loving cat now and likes to put his paws up around my neck and give me head bumps.

Four Paws Pet Adoption

119 South 4th West

Rexburg ID 83440 (U.S.)

Ilene Davis
Idaho Falls, ID
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