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In June, my neighbor volunteered to foster a beautiful, timid, rescued Australian Cattle Dog named Matilda. One year old Matilda came from the Animal House Shelter, Huntley, IL, USA, and was estimated to be about a year old.

Every time I saw Matilda, I fell more and more in love with her. The pull to adopt her became stronger and stronger. It was magnetic! One day, she came with Tammee into the yard. When I saw her, I yelled her name and the timid little dog came running to me, wagging her tail. Once there, I cupped her little head in my hands and kissed the white spot on the middle of her forehead. I believe it was then that I had made the connection that I could not break away from. I had to have her and I certainly could not imagine leaving her to a life of uncertainty. I just could not allow anything other than to adopt her and give her the very best that I could provide. This beautiful little creature with the sweet little soul- I had to have her.

She’s VERY intelligent and very funny! She will lie on the ground, draw her paws together, and place her little face upon her “hands” and just stare at me for what seems like hours on end without so much as blinking. And if I then tell her “I love you”, she will SNAP her head to the side and not look at me as if to say: I am mad at you! You are not doing what I want! And with this, I generally drop what I’m doing and take her to the park!

She’s changed my life and I love her so!

Leslie Edstrom
Carpentersville, IL

Anniemall and Galita

It was last year, on a hot August night, when my soot-covered husband brought two pitiful, soot-covered kittens home with him. Their mother had abandoned them at 4 weeks old under my father-in-law's rental house and the tenants complained of the mewing late at night. After two hours of careful digging and a small hole in the flooring, the two scared, crying kittens were finally out in the open.

Being only four weeks old and abandoned for several days, they weighed in at 7 and 6 ounces, respectively. We knew they needed some food in their little bellies right away, so we made an emergency formula/bottle/canned food shopping trip. The boy wouldn't take the bottle at first so we had to try plan B. As soon as we presented him with some baby food turkey, he began devouring it like an "an-i-mal," and we decided that should be his name -- Anniemall. The girl was even more puny than her brother and was obviously the runt. We believe that sometimes the best gifts come in small packages, and thus we named her Galita, a play on the Spanish for "little gift."

There were many bottle-feeding-every-few-hours nights and tiptoe-so-not-to-wake-the-sleeping-kittens days, as well as lots of emails to Kitten Rescue of Los Angeles, California (incredible organization for whom I am submitting my story), about how to care for abandoned kittens. I am happy to report that Anniemall and Galita are happy, healthy, and, at this very moment, galloping through my house. They have brought new life to our older cats and entertained us with their antics. Taking in a rescued animal is no easy task and not to be taken lightly, but it can be also one of the most rewarding decisions. We certainly have not regretted it!

Kate Mason
Evington, VA


Sugar was brought to The Animal Orphanage of Voorhees NJ as a stray. When our shelter director saw her, she instantly fell in love with this emaciated Pit-bull with big brown eyes, who was full of love. True to her personality she was named Sugar. It was a day before Christmas in 2011 when Sugar had a prolapsed rectum. When I saw Sugar for the first time, she was just out of surgery but still she looked straight into my eyes and managed to give me a tail wag. Over the next few months Sugar recovered under the loving care of the shelter staff. At the shelter she spent time in the Directors office, on weekends she came home with me. She put on weight, was selected to attend a training class and learnt all her basic commands. In the class, she was always the teachers’ favorite and why not, she was the most obedient student! Sugar was very reactive to other dogs but eventually she was introduced to play groups at the shelter. Sheldon and Kane were her shelter buddies. When I saw Kane and Sugar together, I always thought they supported each other in ways we humans could never understand. Finally the day came when she found her forever family and everyone at the shelter said their goodbye’s in the midst of tears of joy! Her parents love their ‘daughter’ to pieces! She has 2 big brothers who watch over her like a hawk. From an emaciated stray to a shelter favorite and finally a loving family member Sugar has came a long way. Her passion is to please her human companion and she continues to spread her love! She taught me about courage, love, hope and forgiveness. Sugar is an example that second chances can save lives!

Bharati Manjeshwar
Voorhees, NJ

Chloe, the Blind Therapy Dog, Ready to Serve

Chloe was found on the side of the road by a shelter volunteer in 2009 who contacted Weimaraner Rescue of the South (WRS), even though she thought Chloe might not survive. Chloe’s eyes were so badly infected that she was blind, her body was covered with open sores, and she was heartbreakingly thin. WRS rushed her to the vet and was told she probably would not make it through the night. Chloe hung in there though, and the vet diagnosed a rare fungal infection, blastomycosis, as the cause of Chloe’s condition. With treatment underway, WRS contacted a foster home with experience caring for special needs dogs. They agreed to take Chloe in. Today, they tell the story that when Chloe arrived, they thought WRS had brought her to them so she could die in a home. Despite how bad she looked and how sick she still was, Chloe knew she WAS home. She immediately attached herself to her new Daddy and would not leave his side. Since she was blind, she would touch his feet and follow him everywhere. A month later, Chloe’s eyes were removed, as they could not be saved. But she started healing and looking more like a Weimaraner. Her foster parents fell in love with her and soon adopted her. Now, she gets around just fine—even running up and down the stairs. When Daddy is home, though, she likes to let him “help” her onto the bed to snuggle. Chloe loves to carry around “babies”—stuffed toys that she has to have in her mouth most of the time. Chloe’s daddy serves our country in the Navy, and now Chloe is ready to serve as well. She recently became a certified therapy dog and looks forward to working with Daddy when he returns from deployment.

Larissa Thomas
Lilburn, GA

I Saved Her, Then They Saved Me.

My rescue story may read differently than the other submissions to this contest. Like everyone else, I (and a friend) rescued "the best dog in the world" from a local shelter. An older cocker spaniel, we named her "Moxie" for all her spunk and determination. Moxie and I became best friends, almost inseperable and always happy for many years. But as Moxie grew older, she developed a heart condition. On December 1, 2009 we tearfully said our goodbyes. I could have sworn it was my heart that was broken.

You may ask where the heartwarming and inspirational part of this story is?

Well, in the spring of 2010 I discovered another local rescue group called "Camp Cocker Rescue" in nearby Sherman Oaks, CA. I emailed them and offered to volunteer. I really had no idea of what to expect.

What I got was : RESCUED!

They rescued me from my lonlieness and loss and got me involved in rescuing dogs from LA high-kill shelters. I started visiting dogs at vet's offices and walking them. I drove lucky dogs to their new homes. I babysat for puppies and fell in love over and over again with quirky spaniels. I met many wonderful people and made some good friends. Best of all, I felt good about myself for doing something so positive and I knew it was making me a better person.

I can't adopt a dog where I live now, but being part of Camp Cocker Rescue has filled my life with dogs and has re-kindled Moxie's magic spark in me. I'm thankful Camp Cocker came to my rescue.

Sally Wolk
Los Angeles, CA

Rusty: Ambassador for Peace

He was left in a Florida, U.S. park to fend for himself. Day after day, the little red bunny sat calmly in the grass, not moving from the spot as curious people walked by. One morning a passerby saw some boys playing soccer. And then she noticed their ball was…the bunny.

She intervened; the boys fled. She took him to her warm, safe home. Two weeks later, she found HouseRabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. – HARE. We asked her to bring him right over.

Radiographs revealed severe, congenital hip dysplasia making his hind legs splay uselessly out to the sides. A broken femur had healed a bit crookedly. The veterinarian thought surgery would be too hard on the little red rabbit who had already been through so much.

Instead, Rusty was fitted with leg braces that pulled his feet into normal position, allowing him to stand. His feet were cushioned with sponges of shed fur donated by other rescued rabbits, then braced together with sports tape.

When we first set him down to try out his new legs, Rusty stood a moment, puzzled. He took a hop. Then another. Then he was racing up and down the rugs, overjoyed with his new mobility! (His lolloping gait has earned him the nickname “Mr. Bippity.”)

The real miracle is his personality. Despite his harsh start, Rusty is a gentle soul. He’s become Ambassador for warren peace at H.A.R.E., befriending territorial rabbits in adjacent clans and inspiring them to make peace. He has more friends than any rabbit we’ve ever known, and he links them together with his cheerful spirit, gentle bossiness, and kisses. He’ll break up bunny spats by pushing himself between the perpetrators, growling as if to say, “Break it up, Guys! Life’s too short for grumpiness! Believe me…I know.”

Dana Krempels
Miami, FL

Pippi from Mississippi

Pippi was transported from Miss. to Md SPCA by the Miss. health department. Pippi was found in a home hoarding dogs let loose on the streets due to the Gulf Oil crisis. I searched for pets and found our local SPCA with photos. Pippi is a senior and looked like a drowned rat, which stole our hearts right away. Pippi is my heart! Barbara and Luc in Annapolis.

Barbara DeMasters
Annapolis, MD

Rescuing Desi

Eight years ago in August, I went to the shelter to walk dogs. I was asked by the staff to look out for a cat that had gotten away as it was being brought in to be surrendered. As I walked the first dog, I heard a bird-like cry. I brought the dog back and told them I may have heard the cat they were looking for. It took me a few attempts of going down the path and into the ferns before I came upon a small orange and white circle. I wasn't even sure it was alive. I picked up a tiny little kitten whose eyes were not even open. By the time I carried the kitten back to the shelter, I had named it Destiny, for I had thought it was destined to live. As it turned out, this was not the kitten the staff was looking for, and not evens a girl. I quickly nicknamed him Desi. We decided he must have been in the box with the other kittens left outside the shelter the night before. How he ended up in the woods no one knows. For the next couple of months, he was fostered with the other kittens by a shelter staff member, who called him Lucky Charm. It seemed ages before I saw him again and could finally take him home. Now, wherever I am, this little cat (not so little anymore) always quietly shows up and lies down beside me. Eight years later, Desi is lucky and happy to be alive. The staff said I saved his life.

Wendy Bruso
Jamaica, VT

Brianna Gets a Second Chance

Brianna came to Animal House Shelter of Huntley, IL from an animal control facility in Alabama where she was dumped off by a puppy mill to be euthanized. She and her companions had become to old to be useful any longer for breeding and were disposed of as garbage. She had never known a kind word or a gentle touch from a human for the first 8 years of her life and she was terrified. The slightest noise or sudden movement around her made her scurry to a corner, cowering, shaking, and soiling herself. Animal House Shelter did everything they could to comfort her and gradually she began to allow people to touch her. Before too long she was having the time of her life playing with other dogs and getting belly rubs! Brianna was soon adopted by a wonderful woman who sent the following update:

"I (Brianna's new mom) am confined to the couch for a couple of weeks after surgery. My little snugglebug Alice (formerly Brianna) has been my constant companion and has made the time so much more enjoyable. Who rescued whom? :)"

We at Animal House Shelter couldn't be happier for this brave little girl!

Animal House Shelter
Huntley, IL

The Journey Home

Our kitty’s story begins in Cairo, a city whose people once revered and worshipped cats in ancient times. Ironically, today millions of stray cats roam the troubled streets of Cairo—starving, neglected and abused. A true Egyptian Mau with bright green eyes, our kitty was born not only homeless, but with both back legs severely deformed and useless, void of joints. It would seem a hopeless situation to most. And for most, it would be.

We can only imagine how our kitty was able to survive his first few months. Dirty, scraggly, bone-thin and dragging his dangling legs behind, he must have been a pitiful sight. Through the Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals (ESMA), our kitty was given a chance at life—a plane ride to Chicago, where he was met by ESMA partner, Specialty Purebred Cat Rescue (SPCR) of Kenosha, WI, USA and whisked to his foster home for love, nourishment and medical care.

When our kitty's picture appeared on the SPCR website, Miki, a vet tech, instinctively knew she was meant to adopt him. But after meeting him for the first time, it was only then Miki understood how extraordinary he is. “He has such a huge personality. He’s very self-confident and always on top of things. He brings such joy to our lives,” she said. Miki named our kitty Chenzira—Egyptian for “born on a journey.”

Chenzira now happily lives with Miki and her husband, two dogs and four kitties. But don’t tell him he’s handicapped. Chenzira doesn’t know it. Miki says he’s the fastest of their cats and even faster than the dogs, racing up and down the stairs at will. From the troubled streets of Cairo to the safety of his forever family—a journey indeed. And just one more happily-ever-after ending made possible by SPCR

Carolyn Tobin
Morton, IL
Twilight Solar Light
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