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I didn't want a dog. Until...

I started volunteering at the local dog shelter with no idea I'd become a proud dog mom. I just happened to have some spare time and thought it'd be a good idea to spend it surrounded by animals in need, trying to "give forward", as they say.

Shelter dogs don't bark, they scream. They cry so loud you can hear them from far away, as I recall driving away from the shelter with that horrible sound still clear in my ears.

Then one day I met him. He didn't bark nor cried. He was giving up. A four-year old pit mix with no hope. He was well educated, could sit and give his paw but his eyes were so sad, they broke my heart. I couldn't understand how such a well behaved dog was homeless and, to add to my concerns, he had already spent 21 months in the shelter as "people don't like pit bulls and stuff..."

I went back home that night and cried out loud, my then-fiancé trying to comfort me, still unaware of the plan unfolding in my mind... I knew I'd take Chopin - now Gancio - home. No matter what...

We have two cats and my biggest fear was his incompatibility with them as he wasn't a pup anymore and definitely mixed with a hunting dog. Not the ideal scenario! However, they tested his cat-friendliness at the shelter and he passed it with flying colours.

It didn't take me long to convince my fiancé to join me at the shelter and meet Gancio and we took him home straight away. His eyes looking out of the car window and wondering what was going to be of him, after almost 2 years in a cage.

Once home, he showed a level of maturity beyond my comprehension and never once had a fight with my senior cats, who still look at him suspiciously but don't mind stealing his bed from time to time.

Adopting was one of the best moves of my life and I'd do it again, a million time...

Ari N.
Rome, Italy

He found his forever home

Over a year ago, my boyfriend and I had a very sick 18 year old cat named Garf (Garfield). My boyfriend had him since he was 11 years old and after we moved in together, I fell in love with his cat instantly. Sadly, 6 years later, Garf grew ill and we were worried about how our other cat would handle the loss of her beloved friend. We could see her already starting to change her behavior when she started noticing that Garf wasn't the same anymore. He was going blind, losing his hearing and was just always distancing himself, even from her.

One day, my boyfriend and I were at our local pet store when we saw this adorable cat for adoption. He was a full grown cat and I guess because he wasn't a kitten, no one seemed to want him. It wasn't until Garf started getting really ill when we began to discuss our options for what we could do for our cat Alley once Garf passed away. Although it was hard talking about losing our pet and getting a new one, we had agreed that when Garf was to pass away and our other cat, Alley got lonely, we'd rescue this cat if he was still there.

About a month after Garf passed away, we couldn't handle the late night meowing and seeing Alley depressed so we decided to check out the pet store to see if our little friend was still there. Sure enough, Loki was still waiting for adoption (for 3 months) and so we took him on the spot. He was a difficult cat to deal with at first, with chewing wires and getting into things, but with patience and extra love, he came out of his shell and he couldn't be any happier.

Not only did Loki become best friends with our cat Alley,but he's learning to befriend our Rotti/hound mix and has become a very lovable, affectionate cat and we couldn't be happier with our decision to rescue the little fur ball.

Jessica
Wasaga Beach, ON, Canada

Earl E. Pennyworth IV

My husband had started working at a doggie day care and we decided we wanted a dog of our own. Earl was brought to the day care so he could be taken to nearby adoption events. He had been in foster care since being rescued from a high-kill shelter at the last minute. At first, my husband didn't really pay him any mind; he had a lot of dogs to attend to! But over the next few weeks he started hanging out with the sad dog with the mask, and he watched him come back to life. My husband fell in love with him and knew this was the dog for us. I was trepidatious; he was over 60 pounds! The more time I spent with him, the more I saw how loving and sweet he was, and how he lit up when he saw us.

We told everyone that we were adopting Earl as soon as we moved into our new place. Imagine our surprise when Earl wasn't in his kennel one day! The rescue group had taken him out to meet potential adopters but no one knew exactly where he was. After about a week of frantic calls, he was brought back to my husband's work, much to our relief.

We've had him a year now, and he is the best decision we ever made. Earl gives us such joy with his laid-back attitude and his big smiles. He loves to run and howl and has never met a stranger, whether canine or human. (Cats are a different story, though.) He is smart and sticks to our side wherever we go. He loves bananas and has the waggiest tail in the world. He makes us complete.

Shannon
Atlanta, GA

Patch

Patch was left behind by his original owners at their neighbors with a bag of food saying "feed our cat". He started coming over to my house. He was charming. I took him to his home and after talking with the mom, she said keep him if you want. So I did! Right from the start Patch & I had a special bond. I tell people I had a better relationship with him than most people. He was so intelligent! We'd even have fights & makeup. He'd see me standing in our front yard & his eyes would get big and he'd come running down the street crying to me. All mothers of cats know how wonderful if is to have your "child" run to you with love & joy at seeing you. He was 13 years old when cancer took his life. It was fast. Good for him, hard for me. I miss him terribly. It's been 1 year today 7-30-14. Patch, I still miss you. You were my special boy.

Joanie Anderson
Burbank, CA

My Light

Growing up I never had pets, so when the time came for me to get my own place, I knew it was time to get one. Most would have thought that I would want a cat, but boyfriend at the time, now ex, found a pup through a rescue that he was determined that I meet. At first, I was hesitant because I knew dogs were a lot of work. The next day I met him, and all it took was one lick of my nose for me to fall in love with the cutest 4 month old Boxer Mix. I named him G and 7 months later G would pick his furever brother, O, coincidentally, a Boxer Mix too. Little did I know at the time that I was writing each of their checks what life saving investment I had just made.

A few months after adopting O, the relationship I was in took a toll for the worst and became both physically and verbally abusive. It was then that G and O would prove to be my life savers. You see there were times where both of them would jump in front of me just to try and distract him, so that he wouldn’t hurt me or say something that would have me in tears. It’s like they knew my ex wouldn’t put his hands on them or say something as a bad, if they were literally right in front of me. The abuse lasted a few months before I decided it was time to save myself and allow them a chance at knowing what life was like not having to have to protect me. I owe G and O everything because in my darkest hours they were my light. When I thought I was alone and couldn’t talk to anyone, they made sure I knew, I wasn’t.

Needless to say, it’s been over a year since that chapter in our lives closed, but when I look at their smiles I’m reminded of how much happier we are now than we’ve ever been.

Anonymous
Chicago, IL

From Ruby to Gracie

I was not in the market for another dog, I already had 3. But when I came across a man who was trying to give away this beautiful little Blue/ Brindle Pit Bull puppy, named Ruby, outside of my local grocery store, I just couldnt resist bringing her home. He had rescued her from a bad situation and couldn't keep her. As much as I have always loved Pit Bulls, in the back of my head have always been the horror stories. I was worried all of the dogs might not get along, and eventually she would be so much stronger than them. Even with the 'what ifs' running in my head, I brought her home and renamed her Gracie. Poor thing was full of ticks, but just sat patiently while we got them off of her. She has been the most amazing addition to my family. She is a constant joy to be around, so funny, entertaining and loveable. Every night she cuddles under the covers with me. She craves contact and affection and I have no problem giving it to her. I call her my little cuddlebug! She gets along with the other dogs perfectly, and loves every person that she meets. When my 3 year old niece spent the week with me, they were the best of friends. Grace knew that she had to be gentle with Kyleigh, in a way that she wasnt gentle with everyone else! Now I couldn't imagine my life without her. There is no dog like a rescue, and none like a rescued Pit Bull!

Randi Jaworski
Surprise, AZ

Findly finding peace...

I have a rescue dog, Susie that has spent almost her entire life in a kennel of some kind and has serious trust issues. She was terrified of everything so I took her home to work with her. I knew she needed extra attention in order for her to have a chance at being adopted. I slowly exposed her to new things, places, and people.

Susie went from only letting me pet her to going up to other people to get petted. I had to be very patient with her and she still has a way to go. She is slowly trusting people again and now runs around with my pack wagging her tail. She is the sweetest dog and I want her to have every chance to find a loving forever home.

Debbie
Peachtree City, GA

Lorenzo the hugger

This is Lorenzo, my gf found him wandering the streets 4 years ago in a high traffic avenue in Mexico city. He instantly followed her and even went into a mall after her. He looked well taken care of so she picked him up and sat there while her parents picked her up. She gave him to me to keep in my house for a couple days until we found a permanent home, but he won me over so I adopted him. He was in bad shape, victim of abuse by previous owners, barely had teeth even though he was 6 years old or so, this is why I decided to never look them up, didn't want to send him back to abuse.

It was hard to get him out of his fear of being hit, but once he came out of his shell and realized he was loved he has been the best. He is friends with our 5 cats, all younger than him and who he has known for their whole lives. He is like their big bully-ish brother who happens to love them. My gf always hugs him like me in the picture but for some reason he only lets me hug him and he even rests his head on my neck, which is one of the best feelings of my day when I come home and he jumps at me and I kneel down to hug him as he wags his tail.

I had forgotten how important pets are until we found him, he simply opened the way for us to end up adopting our 5 cats (all street pick ups) until he came into my life always ready to receive a hug and let us dress him up as a lamb or pirate.

Manuel
Mexico City, Mexico

4 out of 5 of my Rescues

Here is 1 of the few pictures of all 4 of my Rescues in 1 room. That's Angel (Sheltie) on the floor, Tigger is up in the window, & Midnight is on the bed with Yogi (Chocolate Lab). I always felt great joy when all 4 of them were in the same room, even if they were taking up my whole bed! Getting them all in the same room was hard because Angel would always try to "herd" the cats and of course they would not be pushed around. Angel would also chase them on occasion. Yogi was 8 weeks old when she came to me and discovered she could fit through the cat door and go downstairs to find cats. I think the cats accepted her because she was small and so non-threatening. Even though they all came to me at different times, and in very different ways, they all joined to become a family. It's hard to think of having 4 animals in 1 house, but when you add them 1 at a time it doesn't seem to be too much. I had to put each 1 down at different times too and that was the hardest thing I ever did (all 4 times). I know I have a family of beautiful and loving fur babies waiting for me when I get to the Rainbow Bridge. I have another dog now, he's also a Rescue and I just got a new kitten. So we have 2 more heart beats in the house with myself and my husband (who would prefer less fur in the house but can't say no when he knows how much they mean to me and how much joy we both get from them).

I watch the ASPCA commercials and I want to cry because I can’t help them all. I tell myself that I had 4 rescues and now have 2 more, so I’m doing what I can. Others need to help by spaying and neutering all their animals. Rescue and open your heart and home and allow the love to wash over you.

Debbie
Huntington, NY

Rescuing Binx

As someone who lives in a small neighbourhood, it's no surprise to come across familiar cats belonging to neighbours. As a proud owner of two cats (orange & white, and full black), I certainly wasn't planning on getting another just yet. This didn't stop me from putting out food for the strays who had no home to go to. The action of putting out food, however, would in turn come back to bite me. I noticed a black cat coming around, however he would run away as soon as anyone came outside, even if he was across the street. I never imagined I'd be able to get close enough to pet him. Over time, though, I lured him closer, only to get bitten. Frustrated, but not giving up, I kept trying to befriend him every time he came around. Each time I'd be greeted with purring, followed by a bite. I decided to name him Binx, and he sure learned his name fast. You could stand on the porch and call it, and you could hear his loud meows before you could see him trot towards you. I knew chances were there was no turning back. He began to sit in the windows, meowing as loud as he possibly could, until we got fed up and decided it was time to bring him in and give him his forever home. Binx has become my best friend and my cuddle buddy, and while he meows louder than anything I've ever encountered, he's become someone so important to me. And besides, who wouldn't love a cat that likes to stand on two legs and shake his paws at the door? What a cool cat!

Kylie Gough
Hamilton, ON, Canada
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