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Shedding Her Fear

A thin, terrified two-year-old blue heeler was found wandering the streets of Phoenix, Arizona, one extremely hot summer day in 2014. She ended up in a local animal shelter, where she was soon put on the euthanasia list due to her "unfriendly" personality. No one came to claim her.

But then some nice people with a local dog fostering nonprofit decided to take her out of the shelter and saved her from the euthanasia list.

I had a 6-year-old border collie at the time (still have him), and he was home alone regularly, which tore me up with dog-mom guilt. I decided he needed a pal, so I started searching online. I came across this blue heeler and was immediately struck by how sweet she looked.

I brought her home and quickly discovered whoever had "owned" her previously had abused her. When I'd lift my arm up to take something out of a kitchen cabinet, she'd shrivel in fear onto the floor and wet herself. She'd cry and hide in the closet from even the slightest noise or quick movement. It broke my heart to see her so afraid.

This went on for a couple of weeks, when I decided she and I needed to have a heart-to-heart. One night we sat down on the floor together, I gently stroked her head, and I told her, "Abby, (the name I chose for her), you will never be hurt again. You will never be starved, neglected, yelled at or struck. I will love you forever. You are part of this family now. I want you to be Happy Abby."

She looked at me I swear, she understood. Ever since that talk, she's become a completely different dog. She plays, chases her Border Collie brother around the house, sits by my side, and best of all, when we go to bed, she puts her head by mine, stretches her arm out across my chest, and snores in my ear.

Abby is a great, brilliant, delightful dog who will always have a happy, safe home. I'm so glad she decided to adopt me.

Elizabeth Baker
Mesa, AZ

EB and the Dude

My family and I have always rescued animals...all animals. I have always had a closeness with cats and after watching several shows about them, I wanted a Sphynx. I was contacted by a friend, who was contacted by another, that there was a domestic violence situation and a woman who ran a rescue needed emergency fosters. My friend took the Scottish fold and I took in the two Sphynx! So excited! Not so exciting was the shape these cats were in. EB was missing an eye, has partial blindness in the other eye, been declawed on all four paws had such severe anxiety and collitis, she was having bloody stool accidents all over our home. The Dude had HCM and a severe upper respiratory infection and could barely breath. Unfortunately, the Scottish Fold wasn't so lucky and my friend had to pay to euthanize the poor cat. Her vet told her he had all the signs of being in a hoarding situation. I later found out the woman who had the cats also placed two Sphynx's at another home that she was supposedly sending to the Bahamas. Whomever took these cats in, put them in a spare bathroom and they starved to death. Since I had EB and the Dude (original names Athena and Osiris), I got them both to the vet and back to health. I would go for months without hearing from this woman and then she would call and say how are my cats? I stopped returning her calls at this point because the cats were doing really well and my husband and I decided they would live the rest of their lives comfortable and loved. The Dude became a mama's boy and EB is definitely a daddy's girl! Unfortunately, the Dude developed cancer and passed in November 2014 and I was crushed. EB is still giving us unconditional love and following her daddy like a shadow. I am just happy they were/are able to be loved and happy considering where they started. I love my naked kids! Furry ones too :-)

Shannon Post
Las Vegas, NV

Growing up with my best friend

When I was nine years old I was playing outside on a very cold day. Huddled, freezing underneath a neighbor's AC unit was a very frail, very beaten up, all white cat. Instantly I picked her up and put her inside of my coat. I fell in love with her right away and we bonded at once. By the next day I had convinced my parents to allow me to keep her. We took her to the vet. She was fully declawed, which meant she had been owned at one point and was six years old. Meaning she had been born sometime in 1988. She made a full recovery and though was scared of people she didn't know and mostly stayed in my room she was the most loving cat I had ever known. I named her Creamy. For the next fourteen years she was my best friend. Always with me to cuddle and comfort me when I was sad. When I had gotten my own (first) apartment and would come home at the end of the day she would be waiting for me right at the door. I'd pick her up and hold her against my ear listing to her purr. I'd carry her around for while I went about doing my coming home activities with one hand. Then one morning in late November 2008, this usually very healthy cat took a turn. I found her shaking when I woke up and she wouldn't eat her breakfast. I took her to the vet where they kept her overnight. Sadly the next morning I got a call that she had passed away in the night. When I first got her, as a little girl I would sing Madonna's "Angel" to her. Because she did come when I wished for her. Even though she's been gone almost eight years I still get emotional whenever I happen to hear the song. I will never, ever forget her or stop missing her.

Doreen
Bloomington, IL

The story of the Three Legged Pike that Could

Upon visiting our vet for some hairball treatment, the tech came out with this tiny kitten on her shoulder. Apparently, when they opened the office that day, a plastic grocery bag was found on the front door knob with a teeny, injured kitten inside. How he survived the bag, we'll never know, but they found him to be under 2lbs and one of his front legs was broken. This sad, struggling cat looked at me and gave the most pathetic 'mew' I've ever heard. I took my husband back that evening to meet him, and it was agreed that once he was medically cleared, we could adopt him; once he was a bit bigger, they would be able to remove the broken leg. For a few weeks, Pike ran around our living room, dragging this broken paw behind him, but still showing all the energy and curiosity of a typical kitten. The arm removal gave him additional freedom; he never had any problems running or playing or climbing like his siblings. Given his rough start in life, he was always our "scaredy cat" but gave nothing but unconditional love to my husband and I. Over the years, he had a host of different health issues, but came through them like a champ, returning home after a vet or hospital visit with purrs and headbutts. Sadly, after 13 years together, Pike developed intestinal cancer and it took him over very quickly. We had to say goodbye in July 2015, after he stopped eating and was showing signs of a lot of pain. He was my baby and my shadow for so long, and I still miss him every day. As we approach the 1 year mark of his passing, I hope this story shows others that rescues and 'imperfect' kitties can be the best of friends with you for many, many years.

Anonymous
Columbus, OH

Pussy Willow

Pussy Willow left us today. We’re very sad, yet not. In the spring of 1996, I was on my deck drinking coffee when a cat appeared out of the woods behind the house. I knew nothing about cats, but this one came up to me and jumped up on my lap. I was sold immediately. We started feeding her, and although at that point she lived outside and in the garage, she became our cat. I gradually figured out that she was pregnant, and in the summer she gave birth to 5 kittens in a box of my husband’s engineering books.

She moved inside, along with two of the kittens. Pussy Willow became the fearsome protector of the house, all 6 or 7 pounds of her. She decimated the rodents, and walked my daughters to the school bus. She fought anything and often came home worse for wear and had to spend a few nights at the vet’s. She always did come home, though and she was always fiercely loyal to us.

Over time, we adopted or rescued 15 more cats (not all at the same time). Pussy Willow remained the touchstone, the constant, the first and eternal cat. Even though we knew she was getting older, she remained so lively and so spry that it was hard to believe.

Over the last few months she began to slowly decline and truly show her 20 years. The last week was the worst, and today she crossed the Rainbow Bridge. But because of her, 15 more cats have had homes and others have been inspired to rescue cats as well. Here’s to Pussy Willow—a lioness at heart!

Anonymous
Ellington, CT

In memory of my Baby Joey

I found Joey's picture on-line at an animal shelter site. I had just lost my dog Tanner Joe suddenly of uncertain circumstances and my heart was broken. Tanner found me when he was lost without a home and I took him in. He was only four when he died. Needing to mend my broken heart, we drove over an hour to the animal shelter where Joey was.

We took him into the "get acquainted room" and he was full of energy and loved to give kisses, he was thought to be about six months old. I had to have him he was adorable, a yellow lab mix, some shepherd in him because he had the fanned tail.

I have a chronic, sometimes debilitating illness, but even as a puppy Joey was content to snuggle next to me in bed and take care of me. He went through so many sad life events with me, divorce, losing my house, moving four times, but he was always there for me. He loved his Daddy, even after the divorce, and adored our daughter and recently my grand daughter. We were all His. He loved to rub his forehead on us, as if to say "you are mine" and when my daughter was young we started to show our affection to him the same way rubbing our face in his fur saying "mine, mine, mine". That usually made him playful too.

He had awful allergies, and was taking 5 anti-histamines and a steroid. The steroids made him gain weight and as he grew older his hips grew weaker and eventually he was taking pain pills as well. Even through this, he was always the care giver. We loved and spoiled him every day.

I had to help him across the rainbow bridge this week, it was the hardest decision I have ever had to make. I could not let my baby boy suffer in pain though because I know what that is like. We miss him so much, he was a gift from God and we will always love him, forever in our hearts.

Suellen
Englewood, OH

A Moment That Has Changed Our Lives Forever

In December 2015, we had been hearing whines and cries from under the house but were never able to find out where exactly and could never figure out what it was but I knew it had to be a cat and sounded like a very small kitten.

On the morning of December 20, 2015, we stepped out of the house at about 7am and here was a little female light gray striped kitty who was just adorable. It broke my heart to think of how long she had been surviving outside in the horrible weather with no food and no one to show her love and attention. Well that all changed in an instant. I ran to the store to grab some kitten food. She was starved to death. It was very chilly so we of course let her come in the house. She was never skiddish of us so we knew she was destined to be with us! We immediately formed a bond with her and she became our spoiled princess!

A few days later we took her to the vet to get her shots and a check up. We received a good bill of health as well as found out that she was 4 months old and probably would not have lived much longer in the cold weather.

She is now 8 months old and is the queen of our house. We needed her as much as she needed us!. We love her to pieces and are so glad that she came out that day as our lives completely changed forever!

Christie
Piedmont, MO

One for the Road

My boyfriend and I lived in an apartment complex with numerous feral cats. We started trapping them and taking them to a clinic a few miles away. We gave them all names so we could identify who came and got food and water that day. The last cat we trapped, walked into the trap and much to our surprise did not trip the trap. My boyfriend went outside and tripped it for her. She was a beautiful black and white tuxedo cat. We named her Oreo.

The next morning Oreo was off to the clinic to get fixed. When we got her home she was scared and needed to be cleaned up. So we did our best to clean her up and we let her go that night due to how stressed she was. We figured she was long gone and would probably not see her again for weeks. Much to our surprise she was back at the break of dawn for breakfast. She pretty much decided to stay close to our patio for the next few months. She would sleep there all day and roam at night. After a few weeks of working with her I could pet her a little bit. I guess it’s true, cat’s choose their owners.

Then I decided to buy a house. What to do with Oreo? I guess we are taking her with us. We already had three cats. One more for the road. Each night I would tell her that if she stayed with me, in a few weeks I would give her a permanent home. One week before we moved we took her to the vet and had her checked out, $500.00 later she no longer had worms, ear mites or fleas. She was ready to go home with us forever.

Since becoming a house cat Oreo has turned out to be one very sweet cat. Oreo purrs as loud as a Harley and when you pet her, her tail curls like a little pig.Oreo is starting to come out and socialize more, and she loves playing with my other cats.

Liz C.
San Antonio, TX

Tinkerbell

It was the very end of the summer and I'd just gone through a tough break-up. I had moved into my first apartment living solo and, having gone from living with my parents to living with my now-ex, now living by myself was tough to get used to - it was too quiet, even with the TV always on. Two weeks in, I decided I needed company. I headed to the local SPCA where my eyes spotted a 6 yr old Tuxedo cat named "Tinkerbell." She had been returned twice to the shelter: once after 5 yrs due to a family member becoming allergic and once after 6 months for fighting with other cats. They opened her cage for and warned me that she was known as a "diva." She slowly creeped toward my hand and nuzzled against it. "I'll take her." I told them... Our first night together was rocky. She hissed and swatted but still insisted on being on the bed with me. (Diva was right!) ;-) ... By morning I woke up to find her snuggled up in my arms. It was true love from then on. Where I was, she was, and she always had to be touching me in some way, even if it was just a paw on my leg while we watched TV. Every night when it was time for sleep she would creep over from the far side of the bed and put both her paws on top of my hand and we fell asleep like that each night. Three blissful years went by and then one morning she was gone. Silently and peacefully curled up on the dining room carpet - her spirit had slipped away in the night. If an animal can be your soulmate, she was mine. Our connection was amazing. ...Both rejected from previous situations, we found healing through each other. I may have rescued her from a shelter, but in truth, she rescued me.

Anonymous
Fall River, MA

Charlie, A Dog That Grew Too Big!

In March 2004, I found myself looking for another dog since my one had passed away. While looking on line, I found one that said 6 month old Collie-Beagle mix but since he was too new, there was no photo of the dog. I called up the rescue group and they had the foster, a guy named Joe call me. Since my office was near where he lived, Joe offered to bring the dog over. Well, I always said it was love at first lick and the next day I met with the great volunteers of Paws and Prayers rescue group at Petsmart and came home with Charlie. Charlie was found wandering in a state park and a volunteer from Paws and Prayers took 2 weeks to get him. Two weeks later he was in his forever home - my home. I was told he probably had a bit of growing to do but would top off at around 45-50 lbs. which was the size dog I was looking for. My vet agreed with that assessment but they were only half right. Charlie grew into a tall, leggy dog who topped off at 90 lbs.

I always had a feeling that he was dumped in the park when he was getting bigger than expected. While Charlie loved car rides, he was always a bit nervous in the car until he heard the magic words - lets go home. Then he would calm down and enjoy the ride home. Whoever dumped him lost a wonderful dog that I had the pleasure of having in my life for 12 years. This March, 2016 brought sad news. My beautiful Charlie was diagnosed with nasal cancer. That monstrous disease spread like wildfire in him and on April 25, 2016, I let him go. I along with my other dog, Tobey miss him dearly but know Charlie is now happy, playing over the Rainbow Bridge.

Mary Kay Gerrets
Copley, OH
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