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The Force Is Strong With These Two!

My fiancé Amanda and I had just moved into our dream home—a city apartment that was a 15-minute walk from the subway just outside of Boston. We had been looking at apartments for a month or two, and the first question we asked every landlord was whether or not cats were allowed—we were both pretty adamant about getting one as soon as we could.

Before long, I saw a Craigslist ad that absolutely melted my heart—two beautiful black kittens, a brother and sister, needed a new home. I frantically texted Amanda, who instantly fell in love. I then reached out to arrange a meeting time. Later that night, we were driving back towards Boston with Luke and Leia.

Soon, though, something seemed wrong. Luke was a lot smaller than Leia—he was apparently the runt of the litter, but he was so emaciated that you could feel his ribs when holding him. He didn't run or jump, but walked very deliberately from room to room. He was so weak that he was unable to clean himself (we had to bathe him for the first few weeks). We started to grow skeptical of the care they had received in their previous home.

We brought them to the vet, but they weren't optimistic—Amanda called me at work crying because they said they didn't think Luke would make it. But after months of medication, testing, prescription food, a minor surgery, and lots of love and care, Luke started to come into his own—I nearly broke down in tears the first time I saw him run across the living room and jump over a cardboard tube on the floor. He's grown into a strong, smart, energetic, playful, and curious teenager, and he and his sister have brought so much joy to our lives.

Jamie
Somerville, MA

My frat dog

Four years ago while we were in college my sister came home with this skinny, obnoxious 10 month old pitbull with no manners at all. Being a huge animal lover I was super excited and so were my other room mates as our house now totaled 4 dogs, 2 cats, and 4 rabbits.

My sister got her from the frat that her boyfriend was in, apparently they all hated the dog and told her "owner" that he had to get rid of the dog or move out of the frat (even though she came in as the house dog and everyone at first was all for it). My guess is that once this dog was out of the cute puppy phase they realized that she had zero training and nobody wanted to put in any work. My sister said she was always in the crate they had for her when she went over there.

As she was unloading everything that they gave her when she took the dog I saw the crate... it was WAY too small for her, she could not stand up in it and multiple bars were bent or broken from her trying to get out. As the night went on we noticed that she would not let anyone touch her head, she would duck and run away. Obviously someone abused her. It took me over a year to be able to pet her head, and just a few months ago I finally was able to touch her stomach. She hates going to the vet, it wary of new people at first (but then a total lover), and is scared of young children because we caught our old neighbors kids on our fence throwing rocks at her and squirting her with a water gun.

We have since moved and now live on an acre of land in a small town with our two other dogs. I can tell she is happy and relaxed with a quiet lifestyle my Lucy Lou JuJu Bear finally has the life she deserves, spoiled rotten with all the squirrels to chase.

Jackie Beatty
Eatonville, WA

Ninja, my bush baby.

I work in South Korea and have two cats at my parents' home in South Africa. I absolutely adore them and never thought of getting a cat over here. That all changed a little more than a month ago. A typhoon was about to hit and I quickly left my apartment with chicken to put out for cats, when a little black shadow ran into an alley next to my building. I went to have a closer look only to see two shiny eyes. He ate the chicken but kept hissing at me so I let him be. I went back to find him but no luck. I looked for him everyday until one night he was casually sitting next to a bush. He ran under a car and I did my best to get him out but still no luck. I knew more rain would come so I prayed for him to be alright. After a day or so the sun came out and I was right back out there searching for him, talking softly and calling for him. He came out form under a bush and ate but wouldn't let me touch him. We did this for a few days, me calling him out from under the bush and him meowing loudly when he heard me, him eating and me trying to touch him. Finally i could! He didn't mind it that much. I could even pick him up real fast and saw that he was a boy. One day I decided, it's now or never. I took a towel, wrapped him up, ran up the stairs and took him to the vet. The vet said he's a healthy boy of about 4-5 months. I was scared that he will be too feral to live with me but as soon as I held him close, he tried to suckle my neck and made little baby noises. He still loves his kisses and cuddles.

I love this little boy so much and his name, Ninja, suits him perfectly. He can disappear in two seconds.

Herlien
Suncheon, Korea, Republic of

Blue laughing

This is Blue. He came home on October 4, 2009 when he was just 4 months old. He had been surrendered by his previous owner to a rescue facility in Toronto after just one week, their loss entirely. Blue is 6 and a mix of a Rottweiler and Beagle, an odd combination but he has the best of both breeds. He's energetic and playful and loves to jump up to kiss, bouncing right off your face if you aren't careful. He has a great basset hound brother Otis and they are great friends. Blue loves to explore and make new friends at any time and he does it well. He also loves to cuddle and snuggle under the covers especially in the winter, keeping me very warm. I refer to him as my little sausage as he put weight on at one time, fattening him up to become my sausage. He has brought my so much joy, words can't describe. Unfortunately, our happiness is coming to an end. Blue was just diagnosed with lymphoma and there is no cure. He's losing weight now and his energy is not what it used to be but he's being kept comfortable. There isn't much time left but I'll cherish every second and when he needs me the most, I will be there for him. I love you Blue, I will always, always love you my little sausage.

Mayrienne
Beeton, ON, Canada

Never Too Late to Start Forever

Our sweet Pearl. Such a gentle, loving soul. I belong to a group on facebook that is often posts dogs in need and typically what I do is crosspost them so others might see them and give them a chance. However, in the middle of an unremarkable day, I saw a plea come across for this dog "living" in a parking lot. The store owners had been seeing her for weeks, and initially has assumed she was dumped and would move on. But she did not move on. She begged every passer-by for food, she took shelter from the Texas summer sun by laying under cars, and slept between them when too tired to move. A store owner had taken a couple pictures of her, and this poor, sad, weathered face spoke to me. I immediately shared the information with my husband, told him I didn't know what to do, but I just couldn't ignore her like so many others had been. He promptly left work to go with me to find her. When we got to her, she was so calm, so tired. You could tell she had given up. We asked her if she wanted to come with us and she did. We figured we could at least take care of her until a rescue had room.

At the vet, we found Pearl was around 10. Her front teeth were ground down to nubs from eating off the ground. Her right ear was nothing but scar tissue from too many infections. She had been shot with BBs and pellets. She was missing so much of her hair and her skin was quite infected. She was so itchy. Lots of medicines, lots of love. Days later a woman called and asked if we could keep her longer as finding as rescue that wanted her was proving tough. That's ok, we told her. We wanted her. After 10 long years of wandering and being ignored. Being invisible. Pearl was home. 4 months later, she is part of our hearts and souls and will be forever. And she is ALWAYS smiling.

Joy Rohrs
Houston, TX

Keno Bandeno and the Most Thankful Thanksgiving

It was Thanksgiving eve, 2010. We were driving home from dinner shopping and I heard my roommate say, "There's a dog over there". I told her she is seeing things; we already had four rescues and I knew another would be "over budget". We stopped, of course, and found the man of our dreams. He looked HORRIBLE! He was emaciated, weighing in at 7 lbs, he was supposed to be around 14 lbs. It looked as if his neck was calloused from a collar that was once embedded into him. His worms and fleas were reproducing like rabbits while we wrapped him up to take him home. Seven baths later, he finally became bug free and looked like our little prince. We liked the "temporary" name Keno as we told our vet it was a "temporary" placement. He was not microchipped (even if he were, I doubt we'd let him return to the hell from which he came). Fortunately, he tested heartworm negative. We asked the vet to inoculate him but he encouraged us to wait to see where "Keno" ends up because we were determined to find him a home. A week later, we called our vet and said, "Let's schedule a neuter and shots". Our vet chuckled and said he'd been awaiting the call because he knew that dog already found his home. He isn't perfect; there is pee on the floor periodically and his screeching yelp would awaken a 50 year corpse. This amazing dog has the heart of an elephant and reminds us daily of what true love is. I would love to write children's books about him to teach children about prejudice and acceptance. His exterior was one that only a mother could love but his personality is beyond any I have seen in a dog. When he was first discovered, I pushed to find him another home because we simply had too many dogs. Our Little Keno Bandeno, the scraggly emaciated mutt turned handsome prince, made me realize that he is what home is all about and he completed our "home".

Debbie Burroughs
Wilmington, IL

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.

Justine
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
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