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Goodbye, old man.

He was 3 lbs when I first saw him and fell in love. He had no hair, only 2 teeth, and was starving - he should have been 8 lbs. The shelter let me take him home right away and we had three years together. I do not know how hard his life was before me, but I do know that someone loved him before he was a stray because he knew how to give kisses, and then wipe your face dry with his cheek. He has shown such strength and gentleness as he went through several illnesses while with me, finally losing the fight with Lymphoma after 2 years of chemo on October 25. He will be missed by everyone who knew him. I will hold his paws in my dreams for the rest of my life, and I will meet him again where he is no longer suffering. Goodbye Lassie. You changed my life. I love you, old man.

Elaine O'Neill Kimberley
Houston, TX

Tinkerbell, the dog that found us

It was a very windy Monday, we had strong storms in the area the night before. Having been recently laid off, I was at home.

One of my dogs started barking at the window, a normal exercise with all of the squirrels running around. I told her to be quiet and dismissed it. The other dog joined in the barking about then. I looked up just in time to see a flash of white run by the window - it was surely no squirrel!

I opened the back door and was greeted by a big grinning wiggly fur ball.

I sat down and she immediately curled up on my lap, head tucked under my chin. She was covered in mud and shaking, no tag on her collar. After a quick bath and some food, we went to the vet to see if she was chipped, no such luck. The vet said she was young, about 8 months old, and very healthy.

I thought surely someone is missing this sweet girl, after all, there were fences down all over the area. My husband and I took her on walks and asked everyone we saw if they knew this dog, no one did. We put "found dog" signs up, postings on several on line lost and found sites, and signs at the local vets and pet stores. I called the shelters daily, no one was looking for her.

After two weeks of looking, we finally stopped. We took the signs and posts down, she had FOUND her home.

In two weeks time, Tinkerbell ("Tink") learned how to walk on a leash, sit, down, wait, was house broken and crate trained. Her two fur sisters have welcomed her into the pack nicely, and she's great with the kids. This eager little dog just wanted to find a furever family that she could be a part of!

Denton, TX

boo,boo, from wrong side of town

a friend stopped one evening to show us his new puppy, my 16 year old daughter had a fit. she wanted one so come to find out he had bought his from the bad side of town. she cost 100.00 (full blood Maltese).. now the fellow I bought her from said she was 6 weeks, and she would drink from a bowl. however I checked a few days later and she had no teeth as yet (in my mind that put her at around 3 weeks.).. anyway that was 8 years ago daughter is grown and gone from the house and left boo,boo with dad. that leaves just the two of us, she ask to go outside and will tell me when I need to eat.. ask to go outside but go only to her bowl, grab a bite look up at me while chewing and walk back to my desk. she wakes me in the morning playful growls and wines until I get up and let her out (4am) more or less , and then I will go back to bed around 6:30 she starts a very low wine and it never gets any louder till I get up .. and she loves to ride to the post office to check the mail .. one morning I heard her barking , she had a different bark so I grabbed a flashlight (4am) and she had a possum (as big as she is) backed in a corner of the yard (they have some bad looking snarls) . I looked down at her and said conversationally "ok, now go back into the house" . she just turned and went.. an hour later the possum was gone ..now every morning she runs around the yard making sure nothing else has made its way into the yard...this is her house!!

henryetta, OK

My Baby Kitten

I've always wanted a cat but my mom said I wasn't old enough to care for it. On my thirteen birthday, I went to vist my Granny for a couple weeks, who lived in a really cat populated area. I remember being little and trying to sneak a cat home with me.

One day, I was playing in the yard and I heard a little kitten crying. I looked around for awhile but couldn't find it so I just thought it was a street cat with her kittens. Well, later that day my cousin and I were going for a walk around the block and we found two kittens crying near their presumed mother's body. She had been hit and left her kittens on their own.

My cousin and I being the smart children we were, brought the kittens home without telling anybody and made a little home for them, went to the store and got special milk for them, and decide to raise them. We of course got caught, but my mum realized if I was old enough to raise two baby kittens for a week without help, maybe I was old enough to own a cat so she let me keep them. My cousin took one and I took the other when we all went home.

To this day Marco (Mine) and Daisy (Hers) live happily in their homes and have new mummys to love them. They still see each other as much as me and my cousin can get together.

Ali Reid
Carmi, IL

Our Sweet Boys

We had finally moved into our own home. My sons decided they wanted a dog. So, we went from shelter to shelter looking for the "right" one. We found him at the SPCA. He'd been abandoned, was so skinny and so timid. He had big ears that reminded the boys of "Yoda", so Yoda he became. We've had him for 9 years now, he's moved across the country with us. A few years later, I went to the pet place to get dog food for Yoda. The store was having an adoption event. There was a litter of pups in a corral. 5 were sleeping, one was just running around trying to wake up his litter mates. I walked by, he jumped up on the pen, I picked him up, he snuggled in like a baby and that was that...he went home with me. Keeping with the theme, his name is Anakin. He's 5 now, still as hyper and goofy and snuggly as ever. I'm adopting 2 kittens from a friend in California, they were hand raised...they are Luke and Leia. I can't wait to get them home. My boyos (as they are known) are the sweetest things! When my grandson was born, Yoda sniffed him from head to toe and then laid down as if to say "this is MY baby". Anakin and my grandson are best buddies. They hang out in Ani's crate together, Ez feeds him by hand (Imagine 20lb toddler and 60lb dog), and can do anything he wants to Ani...I can't imagine life without the boyos...they bring so much sunshine to our lives!

Las Vegas, NV

Ivan - Rescued from a Hoarder When Fire Broke Out

Ivan is a Miniature Poodle who came out of a hoarding situation in Chicago. There were around 20 poodles in the house when the fire broke out, and despite the best efforts of the firemen and neighbors, some lost their lives. Fortunately, Ivan survived. He was placed with a rescue organization, and they estimated he was between 2 and 5 years old.

We were introduced to Ivan when we decided to try fostering in February of 2013. We had lost our 17 year old Beagle mix a month earlier, and our 16 year old Bichon had never been an only dog. He needed a companion.

A little over a month later, we learned that some folks had inquired about him. We talked about it. He clearly liked his new home, and we had gotten attached to him as well. With all that he had been through, we decided to go ahead and adopt him. A few months later, we lost our Bichon when the cancer came back. While Ivan was good company for our Bichon, he seems happy to be an only dog.

Ivan is a real cuddler, and loves attention. When I come home and take him out in the yard, he wants a hug first and then he runs around in circles. By establishing a routine, something he probably never had in the hoarding situation, he’s gotten very good on the housebreaking. He is still very timid and startles easily. We will never know what life in that hoarding situation was like for him. We can only do our best to try to make sure that he now feels loved and secure.

Chicago, IL

Pippen rescued my mom

When dad died unexpectedly my mom and I were crushed. She was inconsolable and depressed and there wasn't much I could do to help her. Enter Pippen, a dog my girlfriend and I rescued from a high kill shelter a day before he was slated to be put down. Pippen, a five year old lab/hound mix, was grossly underweight and very afraid of almost everything, but over the course of three months of good meals, lots of TLC, and a safe home, he was happy and healthy. I had an idea that they would be perfect for each other, so I arranged for mom to meet Pippen at my cigar shop.

Mom really liked Pippen and I suggested he would be a great companion for her. She was hesitant because he's not a small dog, but agreed to spend a weekend with him. Five days later she adopted him and they've been constant companions ever since. Since adopting Pippen Mom has been happier and said her house and heart don't feel empty anymore. She spoils Pippen and has given him a loving home. He's given my mom friendship, companionship and love in the way only a dog can.

Pippen's been good for me, too. We go for long walks twice a week and he likes to spend a couple of days a week at the cigar shop with me either curling up in one of the leather chairs or greeting customers. We play fetch and tug of war and he likes to wrestle with me.

It's been 6 months since mom adopted Pippen and he's finally settled in and we can tell he knows that's he's found his forever home and his forever humans.

Lebanon, PA

They Rescued Me.

Growing up, I had a fear of dog after being bitten twice. that was until these two dogs came into my life most unexpectedly. It was my birthday, and my friend had called me up to tell me to go and grab my gift from her house. I arrived over there an hour later only to be greeted by this little pit bull puppy. He was badly beaten up, my friend's brother pulled the pup from a yard where he had just witnessed them throwing the puppy at older, more aggressive pit bulls. He was cut up and everything. There was no doubt he was coming home with me.

Here I was, scared of dogs. Here was this puppy scared of people and other dogs. A month later, that is when the rottweiler mix came into my life. She was laying at the end of my driveway. Lethargic. This tiny little puppy just laying so helpless. I took her in, hoping maybe Sampson would calm down with another dog around. The next day she started yelping, and crying out. We took her to the vets. She had plastic plates, bones, foil, trash all into her stomach. She developed Frog Leg syndrome.

In the eight years I had them, they were my saviors. They taught me not to fear dogs anymore, and brought to the surface that I wanted to be a Vet. However, dreams just take a bit longer than others. But, they are growing old with another family, because life took a horrible turn for myself. I miss them daily, and think about them often. They were the best dogs anyone could ask for.

Evansville, IN

She called me

I had moved into my building six months before and, one day, I started hearing a very little meow, almost every day. I was not working, so I was home all day, and that "call" kept me thinking "what is going on with that kitten?" Next to my home, there's an abandoned lot with a burned house, so feral cats live and reproduce there, all the time. Neighbors usually feed those cats, so they linger there, since there's shelter in the burned structure. And from one of my windows, I could see the kittens. Four or five, I wasn't sure.

The meowing went on for about a month, so I asked my fiancée to go over the wall and get the kitten, because I thought it was hungry. He came back 30 minutes later with a 450-gr white female, scared as they will ever be, very skinny and covered in skin scabs. For two days I thought we couldn't make her panic go away, we even tried to get one of her brothers to keep her company, but they were in much better shape than she was and we couldn't catch any of them. We believe she was the weakest of the pack and wasn't eating enough. Little by little though, she came closer, and about a week later jumped into my lap and purred. I almost cried!

I always loved cats, but have never had one because my father, who I loved very much but lost two years ago at the age of 58, didn’t like them much. With daddy gone, I thought it was time to make place in my life for one of this amazing creatures.

Eleanor "Ellie" Rigby follow us everywhere now, she keeps me company even when I shower, laying on top of the clothes I just took off and placed for her on the toilet seat cover. She sleeps with us, plays like a baby (she's one and a half now) and it’s a very healthy member of our family. She is also very funny, but all cats are, aren’t they? :D

Curitiba, Brazil

Just Call Him Al

He looked tired and dusty as he sat on the porch after filling his belly. He had eaten from the bowl filled with dry kibble a few moments before, He moved off the porch on to the walkway as I emerged from the house. I squatted down and holding out the can so he could smell the wet food. He hissed at me, as I scooped some out and put it in the bowl. He sniffed the air in my direction, but didn't move till I was inside

He learned that if he came at 6:30, he'd get "good stuff". Some nights he wouldn't show, and I'd worry about the old cat I had started calling Al. Then I noticed that when he was eating, he'd hiss at the dish and run away - I knew he HAD to go to the vet soon because he had a bad tooth.

I put a cat dome on the porch. The first night he went in, I picked it up, opening against my belly as I moved in the house. We put him in our spare bathroom because we didn't want him near our indoor cats until he was tested for FLV and FIV.

He went to the vet, was neutered, had 2 teeth pulled, etc. Unfortunately, the test for FIV was positive - the vet explained that it can only be passed from heavy fighting/deep penetrating bites. I kept him in the bathroom, using 2 baby gates, stacked on top of each other. He had to get the rest of his teeth pulled because of severe infection, it was 4 weeks of recuperation before I started letting him out.

He made friends with one of my cats and ignored the rest. He is clean and happy. He covertly follows me around the house, seeks affection, and plays frequently with his friend.

Update: He had a name, a warm, loving home, a friend, a person to call his own, and someone to shed tears because he's not here anymore. RIP Al (2/25/2013). I'm glad I could make your last few years comfortable.

Elaine Thomas
Ware, MA
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