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Our Layla Belle

My husband and I lost our beloved dog Chapito (Chip for short) due to cancer, and as he had been mine since he was a puppy, when I was single and lived alone, I was especially devastated. It took a couple of years but I was finally ready for another canine companion, so off to the local SPCA we went.

We specified we wanted a dog who got along with cats, and one who was older, as they are less likely to be adopted, and preferably one who was darker colored and large, as they are also less likely to be adopted. They introduced us to Layla.

She had been in the shelter for four months and had stopped eating so she was skinny but she was a Doberman mix, black and brown, and four years old. She was scared silly, panting, and hid behind the shelter employee's legs. They told us that she had lived with one family her whole life but when the family moved to Pennsylvania, they decided they did not want her, and dumped her at the shelter. One shelter employee said sarcastically, "You know, as you cross into Pennsylviania there must be a big sign that says No Dogs Allowed."

We took Layla home and introduced her to our cats, one of whom, Mr. Poe, promptly chased her under the dining room table. That was the only glitch; within a week, they were all getting along swimmingly. We christened her Layla Bellestein Belkowitz Davidson, she eventually returned to a healthy weight of sixty pounds, and she loves going for walks and on her monthly play dates with the nearby doggie daycare. She is well loved by her human mom and dad and her feline siblings. She is now 14 years old, and our adored dog. She found her forever home. We love our Layla Belle!

Theresa Leone Davidson
Middletown, NJ

Our friendly feral

I work at a restaurant that is built into the side of a mountain and one day when I came to work there was a frail tuxedo cat walking along the mountainside. Well, we started to see him everyday and we all decided to call him Oreo. He was there everyday roaming and sleeping in the dirt. I started feeding him and even got in trouble from my managers for it, but I didn't care something drew me to this cat. I live in a desert area and knew this kitty wasn't going to make it through the 120 degree weather of the summer. I had no idea how to get this cat because he wouldn't let anyone near him. I setup my cat carrier with food, hid behind chairs and tables for hours trying to lock him into the carrier. Knowing what I know now about TNR, this might seem funny to picture, but it happened.To no avail, I called Animal Samaritans and found out I could rent a trap. Within minutes of setting up, this hungry boy was caught and I took him to be neutered and brought him home. I was determined to make him love me and gave him all the space he needed until one day, about a month after I rescued him, he came and layed on my pillow next to me, I think I teared up with excitement. I know every feral cat is different, but he was the most loving cat in the whole world once he trusted humans. I truly feel he knew we saved his life. After only 8 short months of being in our family he got very ill and we discovered his FIV was taking over and he passed away. I feel we were there to give him the best ending he could've had, and he enjoyed every minute of being a house cat. I since have become apart of TNR and fostering. I am a full blown cat lady now and I love it! He taught me so much and his love gets paid forward everyday.

Theresa McBride
La Quinta, CA

Finding Batman

One day my husband called me and asked me to come with him to see some cats he found. We drove 30 minutes to the location where there was a colony of feral cats living behind a Hardy's and a car wash. A woman there was trying to find good homes for these cats and so she captured a tiny black kitten and handed the kitten off to us... apparently my husband told her we would take one home before I got there, this was news to me. Completely unprepared, and very nervous at the commitment of having a cat, I found a cardboard box to take the kitten home in. The kitten meowed the entire way back to our house and we quickly put him in a large bathroom to keep him isolated until we could determine what kind of condition he was in. We gave him a little bowl of water and ran off to the pet store to get all the supplies a cat needs. Upon taking him to the vet a few days later, we found out that he was about 5 weeks old, less than a pound, had coccidia, and fleas. Needless to say, it took some work to get him healthy. We settled on the name Batman, because the white spot on his tummy reminded us of the bat symbol. Besides his less than ideal health, Batman was terrified of humans. He stayed in the same corner of the bathroom for about a week straight. Determined to win him over, everyday I would go in there and sit with him. Eventually he warmed up to me and became less and less frightened of people. Today he is a beautiful, healthy, loving and vibrant cat. Batman is the best thing that ever happened to us.

Saint Louis, MO

Just a "look"

This was supposed to be the best year of our lives. My husband and I were married in October and we were looking forward to what the future would bring. Neither of us expected to lose both our furbabies in the same year. In early January, my nearly 15 year old beloved cat Chloe passed away from a heart murmur complication. Then in the middle of June we lost our senior dog, Sumo.

After grieving I was ready for a new friend. My husband finally caved and let me drag him to a local no-kill shelter where we went just to "look". Initially I was looking for the exact OPPOSITE of my Chloe - I wanted a boy with long fur. As I was looking to a DLH a tiny black paw batted at me from a cage. I gave the little kitten an ear scritch and went back to looking at the DLH. The little black paw waved more franticly and a tiny meow accompanied it. A pair of amber eyes looked up at me and I asked if I could hold her. From the moment me and my husband held her we knew we found the new fur baby for us. Little Cecilia - named after the slain lion Cecil- wrapped us both around her little paw and came home with us as soon as our application was cleared. Little Kitty CeCe, as I call her, is a delight. Shelters have an abundance of black kitties....push aside superstitions and give them a chance. She brought sunshine into our hearts and home, and in her I see a little bit of my other two fur babies.

Amy Guerette
Tiverton, RI

My buddy Jack

16 years ago a woman I was dating begged me to take a young puppy from the shelter where she worked. She told the story of how he was to be euthanized because no one would take him.

They couldn't find a home for him because he ran from everyone, he would not let anyone close, and he was terrified of people.

The rest of story was that someone had hurt him, badly.

I thought I was doing him favor, I believed I was being of service. I bestowed the honor of naming him Jack, after a great man in my life who had passed on a few years earlier.

Jack was allowed to be who he was, desperately wanting love and attention, crippled by fear. It took 2 solid years before he trusted me enough to allow his belly to be rubbed.

Throughout his life he never lost his fear, he did grow to trust that he was safe with me, and that I was not going to hurt him.

Every single interaction we had through his life, I would patiently let him go through his ritual of shaking with fear, and barking until he felt comfortable enough for me to touch him.

I thought it was I who was being of service to him

Today I am 10 years sober.

The math points out Jack was with me 6 years before my current sobriety date. The darkest period of my life. Jack loved me unconditionally when I wasn't very lovable.

My faithful companion throughout.

I now have a better idea of who was being of service to whom.

Today perhaps I was of service.

Jack was tired, life had become hard, and painful for the old man.

When the vet administered the sedative, Jack relaxed. Maybe truly relaxed, without fear, for the only time in his long life.

Rest in Peace my sweet companion.

There is a very special place waiting for you.

Colin James
Plano, TX

A wedding present!

I remember very well that year ... 2012 ... Me and my wife were planning our wedding ... what a rush ... so many things and my man's mind almost blowing trying to get used to so many details. My wife was loving it.

I used to go to swim every saturday, in a sportive complex near to my house. I have many friends there, and the two receptionists were lovely womans.

We always talk a little before I go to the pool. In some of these conversations, their found out that I'm a cat lover! They also know that I was about to get married. So, the destiny acted!

One of the girls found a pregnant cat who needs assistance because she was hungry and tired. For sure, she gave her shelter and food, and kept her as a pet and to offer what every moms deserve ... a safe place to give birth and love her babies.

In the middle of this history I got married and went in a honey moon. As soon as I came back home and to my swimming classes I receive the news. There was babies!!! But the girl (Mayra) needed to guarantee that people were adopt the little ones otherwise she'll have to send them to a shelter.

I said, gimme one of them ... she gave me, not one, but a couple! I was just married and trying to adapt to my new life ... wow, 2 kids so soon!

My wife said, let's give them names to remember our wedding ... so Bisnaga ("Squirt", the dog's name of the guy who made our wedding gifts) and Sininho ("Tinker bell", the nickname I gave to our wedding's bartender, who was short, skinny and blond, like the Peter Pan little friend).

Rogério Vacari Júnior
Caxias do Sul, Brazil

The story about my dream come true

One day a close friend of mine sent me a message on Whatsapp with a picture of a kitten that needed a home. Turns out that a friend of hers has a neighbor whose cat she lets out, and this was the second time that her cat came back pregnant. The first time she had 7 kittens and her neighbor put them in a plastic bag and threw them out on the street because she didn’t know what to do with them, so this second time my friend’s friend offered to help her get a home for the newborn kittens. Mine was the last one to be adopted.

I had wanted a cat for a very very long time but my parents don’t exactly like pets. Although I was almost sure that they would say no, I managed to convince them to let me take him home for a few days while I found him a home, hoping that they would learn to love him in the process. I named him Severus and he had fleas and severe anemia when I got him, so I was scared that he wasn’t going to make it. I did everything that was necessary and he started to recover gradually which made me very happy. At first my parents didn’t pay much attention to him but they decided to let me keep him because they saw how happy my brother and I were, but then over time they started getting more involved and now they love him very much too.

Then, I knew that Severus had found his forever home. He managed to open my parents’ hearts and they learned to love him which I never thought could happen. He is the sweetest, most loving and spoiled cat…certainly the love of my life!

Bogota, Colombia

Alexandre's cat

The story of Jules is also the story of my Maine Coon, Alexandre Dumas. The day before Christmas in 2013, I was driving and my eye caught this pathetic little creature on the pavement. I went around the corner and stopped, calling out to him. He immediately came over. He was all skin and bones. I picked him up and he was calm, so I took him home. Once home I fed him and started to clean him up. He was covered in ticks.

Since I already had a cat, I was not looking to add to the household. I had two cats before and they were constantly fighting. Alex came by and gave him a look, but I told him: don't worry I will find a home for him.

Alex would come to the door of the room I kept Jules and talked to him. Jules was very nervous and would hiss and back up under furniture. I again told Alex that this is his home and we will only keep the cat if he wants him to stay.

It took Alex only three days to make friends with Jules! He also decided that the cat is his cat and not mine.

We named him Jules Verne (because when I wanted to see his sex, he had his jewels). In the beginning Jules would not leave the house even if the door was open. After six months he started following Alex like a little brother around the garden. They would play games of tag or wrestling in the house. Half the time Jules is the one jumping on Alex to start a play fight. Jules had some trust issues but slowly he would come and climb on our laps. To this day I cannot carry him at all, so the day I picked him up he must have been so low, that he just gave over.

Pretoria, South Africa

The Day Bailey Helped Heal My Broken Heart

It was April 2004 and I had just broken off an engagement. I was very depressed and was feeling very lonely, so I decided to look for a new furry friend on a website for rescued animals. I stumbled upon some pictures of beautiful cats in one particular shelter. I went to see them and was introduced to a few. One particular cat caught my eye because he was just so timid. He stuffed himself inside a little cat condo and didn't seem to want to come out As I was speaking to one of the ladies at the shelter, my hand was near his little head and he kept rubbing his face up against it and purring over and over again. She looked at me and said "I think we have a connection here." I still wasn't sure because I was concerned about socializing such a timid cat so I wanted a day to think about it. She called the next day and told me that someone else was going to adopt him if I didn't get there right away and I raced over because I just knew that he was my boy! I got him into the carrier and he just moaned all the way home. He was just so afraid all of the time. At first, Bailey hid from me. He slept in the closet and I even put his food and litter box in there until he was comfortable with me. I kept my distance and eventually he began to trust me. I knew that he needed me as much as I needed him. Bailey and I spent 10 beautiful years together. Out of nowhere he developed an abscess in his mouth and before I knew it I had to send him over the Rainbow Bridge; the worst day of my life. Bailey was my little love. He helped heal my heart when it was completely broken and I will never forget the joy that little angel brought to my life. Rest in peace, my love.

Nyack, NY

My Boo

I lost my scottie to cushings, and never felt right again. I went to the county humane society's website and saw "Bambi." She looked like a lab. But sleeker. Beautiful! I HAD to go see her. I called everything off the next morning, and I was there over an hour before the shelter opened to make sure I was first to get to her. She was brought in the room with me, and wanted nothing to do with me. She was so shy, scared, timid...she was so hurt from her past. She wouldn't take treats unless I extended my arm all the way out. She walked up to me, got right in my face, and gave me a big kiss on the nose. I HAD to have her now!! I brought her home, and the first couple weeks were really rough with her. She was so scared of me. She never barked. She was just content laying in a room by herself. I decided to name her "Boo" instead of "Bambi." Felt fitting, at the time. Also learned that she was a Plott Hound, a very unknown breed of dog. We went to bed one night and I was putting her in the crate right next to my bed, and she gave me a look. I let her out, and she slept with me in my bed that night. After that night, she really opened up. She realized she was SAFE. I took her everywhere, to show her she was safe with me now, and that she would be happy with me. She is the BIGGEST goober. Today, she barks, throws temper tantrums, huffs and whines, she's just like me! I absolutely adore her! You just don't mess with her dinner time now, ya hear? She's my spoiled, pretty pretty princess and I wouldn't change anything! My fiance and I have three dogs, including her, and I really don't know what I'd do without my Boo.

Michelle Bastian
Greeley, CO
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