Tiel, a greyhound from Roanoke, Virginia.
Our winner, Laura White, writes, "Tiel was my first dog ever. We adopted her through our local greyhound rescue. She was a mess when we brought her home, but she was already the light of our lives. She helped me overcome my shyness by taking me to adoption events where we tell everyone about the magic of greyhounds. Because of her I am forever changed for the better."
Laura's screen name is greytkidsmom.
Bowden, a dog from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
We adopted Bowden from a shelter about two years ago. He was picked up as a stray, and the owners did not come forward. After a lot of research, my husband and I decided a Boston terrier was the perfect match for us. We saw Bowden and read his story on a pet-adoption website. After a few interviews and reference checks, I drove four-plus hours to Ocala to pick up this little man. He'd had a rough life, was heartworm positive due to lack of easy preventative care and needed a lot of training. Now he is everyone's darling at the local dog park. We visit almost every day each week, and Bowden is famous for his bark, which sounds just like "Hubba! Hubba!" He has a clean bill of health and is such a joy. We are so happy he found his forever home with us.
Contributed by elizjanereed.
Lucy, a dog from Cedar Falls, Alabama.
If I only had one sentence in which to say something about our girl, Lucy, I would simply say, "She is a good dog." We adopted Lucy through Save Our Setters, which is a nonprofit organization that helps displaced Irish setters find forever homes across the country. Lucy was placed in SOS's care when her owners realized after 8 months of age that she would not meet "show standards." They could not find a new home for her, so they relinquished her to SOS. What Lucy's previous owners failed to recognize is that while her beauty may not meet breed standards, she far exceeds companionship standards. She was a diamond in the rough. Lucy's beauty and spirit are the true essence of what makes having a relationship with a dog so special. She is an outgoing soul. We run together, play together, sleep together, love together, and stick together. Oh, the miles we have traveled and the memories we share!
Contributed by cedarshake.
Sampson and Ryder, dogs from Washington, D.C.
We adopted Sampson and Ryder within a few months of each other, and although Sampson liked ruling the roost, he quickly bonded with his new "brother." Sampson was adopted as a puppy but was surrendered after only a few short months. Ryder was a stray, and his background is a mystery, but he is the most loving dog imaginable. Different as can be, the two have quickly become a part of our household and our hearts. Although the two of them had difficult beginnings, they are now the happiest of pups in the nation's capital!
Contributed by jenniferlbauman.
Mishka, a cat from Boise, Idaho.
Mishka was rescued from one of the last remaining shelters to use gas chambers, where, despite being a kitten, her time was nearly up. When I got her, she was a ragged, terribly sick little thing. She is thriving now, save for being mute due to damage caused by an unchecked upper respiratory infection she caught while at the shelter. She tries to meow, and nothing but the sound of escaping air comes out. She can still purr, though, and she does so with zest. Most people might think that having a mute animal would be great, but we have to take extra care since she can't call for help if she is ever stuck, lost, or hurt. Her adoptive brother (our older Siamese) warmed up to her more than I ever could have imagined, and he now makes sufficient noise for the both of them, crying when he cannot find her. I still can hardly believe that this wonderful, big-hearted little cat was nearly lost to the world forever. Adopting is a truly rewarding experience. I have five adopted animals, and all have turned out to be diamonds in the rough.
Contributed by SiamsnSibes.
Stanley, a dog from Seattle.
We rescued Stanley this past summer from a local shelter. We knew that at 10 years old he was a senior and that he was overweight. What we didn't know was that this medium-size elkhound was tipping the scales at 123 pounds! This picture was taken about 2 1/2 months into his journey as the biggest-losing elkhound, then at about 104 pounds. Now he's on the brink of breaking into double digits and should be under 100 pounds any day now!
Contributed by loeb.
Julian, a cat from Watchung, New Jersey.
I've never considered myself a "cat person," but when I saw Julian sitting sullenly in a cage at Petsmart, where the People for Animals Pet Rescue held weekly adoptions, it was love at first sight. We initially fostered him to see if he would get along with our two existing cats. They, of course, didn't like our little newcomer, and Julian seemed to want to rule the roost. After a few weeks of kitty chaos, we made the heartbreaking decision to take him back to Petsmart for their annual adoption weekend. He was miserable in his cage (I visited him every day), and when I saw that he didn't get adopted, I knew we had to take him back. On Mother's Day, I presented him as a gift to my mother, which is hysterical given that my mother has never been fond of cats. Julian now rules the roost at my parents' house. My mother dotes on him with food and kitty treats, my father has litter and brushing duties, and my sister and parents all enjoy walking him in his kitty stroller or in his harness.
Contributed by JuJuBene.
Sheriff, a dog from Silver City, New Mexico.
Sheriff was adopted from a shelter in New Hampshire. He had been abused and starved, and he had frequent "panic attacks." He had a hard time trusting people and other dogs. I did my best to spend every possible minute with him, introducing him to new friends of all ages (and species!). We traveled cross-country twice together, visiting people and places nationwide. Slowly he began to trust more, love more, and show his endless affection, even to strangers. He became the sweetest dog I've ever been lucky enough to know. Unfortunately, Sheriff was struck by a vehicle in August and passed away. Not a day goes by when I don't think about him. He is very sorely missed by everyone who knew him!
Contributed by emmakluge.
Rowan Eleanor, a dog from Lafayette, Indiana.
September 2009 -- Rowan and I had just concluded picking flowers in the garden. The flowers were going to my mom, who wound up in the hospital this fall with complications from mono. We had just finished picking flowers when a squirrel caught her eye. Rowan loves being outside and wandering around the garden. She is a pure-breed West Highland white terrier who was dumped off with her sister in a box outside our local humane society. It was a random trip to an extension of the local humane society that landed Rowan in our home. Luckily for the two of them, Peaches (Rowan's sister) was adopted by our cousin.
Contributed by amhall27.
Gracie, a dog from Fairhaven, Massachusetts.
This is Gracie lounging on her big, comfy, cozy snoozie, which is her favorite place to be. We found Gracie through a cairn rescue website. She had a terrible start in life as a breeder dog at a puppy mill. The only problem was she was located in Nova Scotia, Canada! After passing the adoption process, we drove from Massachusetts to Maine, slept over night in our car in the "CAT" high-speed ferry parking lot in order to board the early boat to Nova Scotia. We picked up Gracie from her foster parents and had only a half hour in which to turn right around to finally make it home with her at 1 a.m. to meet her brother Willy, who she now loves and gets along with famously! She is a sweet little angel we now cant imagine life without!
Contributed by frenchbaker.
Max, a dog from Dana Point, California.
Max was returned to the Mission Viejo animal shelter twice before for snapping at his adoptive families. The director at the shelter told us that if he was returned a third time, he would have to be put down. My son, Ian, fell in love with him and decided that he only snapped at them because he was supposed to come home with us. He made a ramp for Max to use when he got in the car, so he could jump in without being lifted. He has never snapped at the boys, neighbors, or anyone and is the best dog any family could hope for!
Contributed by cyndiwright.
Trudi, a dog from Princeton, New Jersey.
Trudi, ever the beagle, always enjoys being included in family activities. Here she sits patiently waiting for the Fourth of July parade to pass by her front yard. Trudi has a new lease on life ever since being rescued from a puppy mill in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where she was used for breeding. She was cared for by a rescue organization in New Jersey and by Kathy W. before being adopted by her forever parents, who found her on Petfinder.com. Trudi's other favorite activities include: scent-filled walks, tummy massages, rides in the car, attending BBQs, all meal times, helping mommy in the kitchen, and playing tag.
Contributed by teagirl30.
Al, a dog from Madison, New Jersey.
My name is Al, and I came from Alabama. My dad calls me Albert. I think I am a foxhound mix. I am a very lucky dog who was rescued by an organization in New Jersey, and my adoptive parents found me on Petfinder.com. I summer each August in Camden, Maine, on Lake Megunticook.
Contributed by JanetLC.
Dexter, a dog from Memphis.
A rare moment of rest....Little Dexter was a stray roaming the harsh streets of Memphis, Tennessee, until he was picked up and delivered to a local animal hospital. I'm a high school biology teacher, but I work summers at a local no-kill shelter. He came to our shelter, and I fell in love! He now lives with me, my husband, and our two other furry children, Ernie and Gunner. My husband and I often just look at each other and say, "What were we thinking?" and laugh. Dexter is SO full of energy, but we wouldn't trade him for anything!
Contributed by cmgillespie.
Lucien, a cat from Biddeford, Maine.
Lucien's cat mother belonged to an elderly man who didn't know what to do with kittens. He left them closed in a room with food. It was several months before they were given to a shelter -- and Lucien was pet and had toys for the first time in his life. It took him a while to adjust to my home. Finally, he realized that he was there to stay and made himself very comfortable!
Contributed by Watherine.
Lil Sis, a cat from West Branch, Michigan.
My sister Lulu and I were living at the Clare County Animal Shelter with three family members when we met Mom and Dad. Dad was sad when we met him because his kitty Bugg had passed away. Lulu knew he could love her too and decided to adopt him. I adopted Mom because she said, "You don't split up sisters." We have the run of the house, a warm bed, and plenty of food.
Contributed by lostcity.
Festus, the Three-Legged Therapy Dog from Collegeville, Pennsylvania.
Festus is a very special three-legged therapy dog. I first saw a picture of him on petswithdisabilities.org, and then I adopted him from a shelter in Newark, New Jersey. He had been trapped under some debris while still a stray puppy of just 3 months and injured his leg trying to free himself. Today, he is 4 years old, and he is a trained therapy dog. We volunteer at several hospitals every week to inspire and cheer patients. He is big favorite at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)! Festus is a hero -- proving that we all can survive adversity and that we must make the most of what we have.
Contributed by domenick.
Bruno, a dog from Sykesville, Maryland.
I have been a dog lover all my life. I recently had to experience putting our first dog, Shiloh (yellow lab of 13 years), down. It was a miserable experience and felt like we had lost a member of our family. There was no one there to great you with a wagging tail anymore. I wanted to adopt a puppy to fill the void of Shiloh's absence and bring that happiness back into the house. I searched local pet rescues and petfinder.com daily! I finally came across Bruno. His face had "SAVE ME" written all over it! He was 3 months old and days away from being put down. I drove three hours to pick him up, and since then we have become inseparable! He's a fun-loving, mischievous bundle of joy! He's my running partner, my napping pal, and my right-hand man!
Contributed by lyndsayg424.
Chemo, a dog from Nevada City, California.
A rescued foster dog, she selected us to go home with! A month after my husband's cancer diagnosis, we were brought together, and she was appropriately named on the drive home. She wasn't perfect, but he wasn't either. On both good and bad days through his journey, she was his companion. And on his last day, he smiled and said, "You can always return the dog." But that will never happen! She's the best thing that has happened to me since I lost my first best friend.
Contributed by msbug.
Confetti, a dog from Houston.
My mom used to volunteer at the local animal shelter, and every weekend for a couple months this 5-year-old, extremely terrified and timid Dalmatian would light up when she came to visit. One day, while letting the poor baby sniff around outside, this sweet thing hid behind my mom's legs from the shelter manager. My mom adopted her right on the spot! She has taken a while to get used to people and other dogs, but now she is lively, and the sweetest dog you could ever wish for....Here she is enjoying her daily hours outside, patiently waiting for squirrels in the backyard!
Contributed by lbain17.
Penne and Ziti, cats from Richmond, Virginia.
I rescued these two little guys from the shelter in downtown Richmond. A friend of mine who was an animal-control officer helped send me to this shelter where I found my two Pastacats, Penne and Ziti (as I like to call them!) I knew from the moment I first saw Penne and Ziti together that they had to come home with me as soon as possible. I am so thankful for the help of such a great staff at that shelter -- they helped me rescue my two adorable cats. I am so thankful to have found them.
Contributed by dena519.
Lady, a dog from St. Cloud, Florida.
I rescued Lady from a shelter after Hurricane Andrew. I went to make a donation of a cage and some food. She was a tiny little puppy only 6 weeks old. A breeder in Miami, Florida, had lost her home and did not want to take care of her dogs or their puppies. I saw this filthy little puppy who survived one the most devastating hurricanes in Florida history. That was 17 years ago, and Lady has brought our family so much joy. We love her so much!
Contributed by BeeRose.
Ziggy, a dog from San Diego.
When my daughter begged to get a dog, I said let's go to the shelter, and lo and behold we first met Ziggy. Crazy as it may sound, Ziggy says "hello" to us when we come home! He helps other dog owners by herding their dogs, and he always has a smile. Ziggy is amazingly fast, and loves to fetch his mini tennis ball. Being a sports fan, he also loves his stuffed football toy. Ziggy brings much joy and love to our family!
Contributed by alazerus.
Eddie and Bella Bean Dickson, dogs from Portland, Oregon.
Eddie was lonely and longed for a playmate he could chase. That is what cattle dogs like to do. We finally found Bella Bean at the Humane Society. Here they are resting in the backseat after a "bonding" trip to the beach.
Contributed by Edster.
Otto, a dog from Beavercreek, Ohio.
I flew from Ohio down to South Carolina to pick up Otto when he was 4 months old. He was dropped off at a vet's office by a breeder who was not making any money off of him and his brothers. The vet contacted a rescue in South Carolina who took in Otto and his two brothers. He was so sick when we got him that our vet called him a walking pharmacy. He is just over a year old now and a very happy and healthy boy!
Contributed by w103kcg.
Curi, a cat from New Hope, Pennsylvania.
Curi was adopted from Tabby's Place Cat Sanctuary five years ago at the age of 6. She came with many medical problems but carries on each day enjoying life and giving love to us and her other animal buddies (five other rescue cats, a parrot, two peacocks, and two rabbits) in the house!
Contributed by LoriStag.
Freckles, a dog from Wausau, Wisconsin.
He had placed a personal ad in the local paper. He was handsome, and it was love at first sight. Although I had never responded to a personal ad before, I couldn't help immediately going to visit him to see if we had a connection. Not only was he truly handsome and adorable, but he was charming, and his eyes longed for me to take him home. I couldn't resist and didn't hesitate to fill out the application, hoping to be a perfect match -- at my local Humane Society! I was told there were several applications for him, but our family would be the ultimate match. Freckles is his name, and he is now a wonderful addition to our family. Freckles is a Catahoula Leopard mix. Catahoulas are known to be intelligent and energetic. They make great farm and hunting dogs. The breed is protective of its family yet gentle with children. This has definitely proven to be the case. I live on a farm with my husband and 5-year-old son. Freckles is a constant companion and guardian, not only to our family but to our dairy herd. He protects the young calves from the dangers and taunting of roaming coyotes. I couldn't ask for a better security system. Even though Freckles has a protective side when necessary, we mostly enjoy his loving side. Freckles is with us wherever we go. I've neither had such a beautiful dog, nor loved one so much!
Contributed by TamaraWinter.
Gonzo Napier, a dog from Atlanta.
This is a picture of Gonzo, the three-legged wonder dog, at the local dog park meeting a new friend that is almost as nonthreatening as himself. I chose this picture because it shows his friendly nature and unyielding curiosity. Gonzo had a rough and wild life before I met him. He was found in an East Texas shelter after being hit by a car. His left hip was out of its socket and his front elbow also had extensive joint damage. My parents fostered Gonzo through GRRH (Golden Retriever Rescue Foundation of Houston) and after one surgery of trying to save his front leg and a bad adoption that left him infested with fleas, Gonzo returned to my parents. The doctors said the nerve damage was too extensive, and they had to remove his front leg. Gonzo hopped out of the surgery with a smile on his face and nothing but love and excitement. After his surgery, Gonzo and I met and we fell in love. Three months after Gonzo lost his front leg, he was in Atlanta hopping around the dog park like he owned the place. His favorite activities include: chasing squirrels, eating ice cubes, and playing with his best friend, Emerson.
Contributed by brookenapier.
Blue, a dog from West Palm Beach, Florida.
Blue is my sweetie boy that I rescued this past July (2009). As he got older, his eyesight got worse and his "owners" no longer wanted him. When I saw this pug's mug on the rescue site, I knew I had found my dog! Not only has he captured my heart, but also the hearts of my family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors....Need I say more? How could you not love this face?!
Contributed by vjg3207.
Bandit, a dog from Rockford, Michigan.
We adopted Bandit from a local shelter about a month ago. He is almost 2 years old now. We were told he had been in shelters most of his life, and spent the last few months recovering from heartworm. I have to be honest -- I wasn't sure about this adoption at first, but my husband fell in love with him the first day he saw him. He was a favorite of the shelter staff as well, so I was convinced. I couldn't be happier that we were able to provide Bandit with a good home. He is the most loving, loyal dog. This is a picture of him relaxing in the car on one of our first trips to the park.
Contributed by dana82881.
Petey is a deaf Italian greyhound who we adopted. We were to foster him, but after meeting him for the first 15 minutes, we decided to adopt him. His eyes are always full of expression and love. He has learned sign language and is a certified therapy dog. He has touched many people's lives who he has come in contact with doing this type of work. He's even been an inspiration for deaf students that he has worked with in a mainstream school. He's our inspiration and love.
Contributed by Bettyshounds.
Molly, a dog from Ohio.
We went down to our local shelter on a warm October day. My wife fell instantly in love with a brown and black fur ball named Molly. There was something between them from the start. Looking back, I see it might just have been divine intervention. My wife was an unprecedented number four on a list of people interested in adopting Molly. And even though each person on the list had two days to decide to go through with the adoption or not, my wife went to the shelter and sat with Molly every day for hours. Together they played and waited for either the new owners to come or the shelter to close. After six days, my wife got to bring Molly home to become a part of our family. My wife suffered a debilitating brain aneurysm two years ago, and our life has changed dramatically. It is Molly who is by her side 24-7, showing friendship and love that helps more than any doctor or therapist can. To put it in my wife's words, "Molly keeps me focused on getting better. I can't give up because I know she never will. We keep moving forward together."
Contributed by Javanuts.
Crash, a cat from Pflugerville, Texas.
Crash was born with cerebellar hypoplasia. This causes him to be unbalanced and a little "off." At just a couple months old he was scheduled to be put to sleep at the local shelter because they could not diagnose and/or cure him. I offered to adopt him and work with him. He is now a little over 1 year old and doing great. He still falls down sometimes but is the most affectionate cat in the world.
Contributed by luckysvn.
Patience, a dog from Jacksonville, Florida.
Whenever I feel bitter or hopeless or frustrated, I have an example of Patience. Patience is full of joy in the simple and mundane. A nap? Heaven. A meal? A feast! A walk? An adventure! A return home? Ecstasy! Patience was rescued last year after spending four years in a cage at a breeder. Another cage, stacked above, rained down waste on her, on her food, and on her young. Her adoption was delayed as she recovered from an eye infection that has left her impaired. I hesitated to introduce her to my lively grandchildren, but she amazed us all with her gentleness and playful nature. She has earned her name and a place in our family.
Contributed by bgaines.
Zoi Michelle Van Bendegom, a dog from Cottleville, Missouri.
I met Zoi at the Humane Society of Missouri last summer when I was volunteering. Her shelter name was Michelle, and she was about 2.5 pounds, predominately hairless, missing teeth, and her adoption tag stated "senior." I was in on a Sunday unfolding newspapers in the small-dog room, and one of the adoption counselors introduced me to her, telling me that she needed to be held and loved at some point. She also warned me that she would make an alarming noise if something was happening that she didn't appreciate. I got her out of her kennel and put her on my lap. She stretched out and looked over her shoulder at me. I started to pet her and she buried her nose in her paws and started wagging her tail. I held her for a long while, then put her back, finished my job and left. She stayed on my mind for a week. When I went back, she was still there. I began unfolding papers, and she screamed at me! She was shaking and staring at me. I held her and committed to adopting her. She has overcome her past, which was full of neglect. She has so much love within her. She loves cats, dogs, kids, and has taught me so much. She is my inspiration to get over what has happened in the past and move forward. I stand firm that she saved me from a deep depression and has cured my anxiety
Contributed by Zotosyro.
Quasi, a cat from Bowie, Maryland.
When I first met Quasi, an "adorkable" kitty with a cleft lip, it was love at first "snarf." I immediately brought her home, where she spent two weeks under my bed. She eventually came out of her shell and is now spokes-cat for the UglyKitty Fund, which raises money for her former shelter, the Cool Cats Rescue in Annapolis, Maryland. Even though stardom has gone to her head a bit, she's always there to cuddle up and sneeze on me when I'm just about to fall asleep...and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Contributed by UglyKitty.