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My Dearest Friend is Gone

I was working on a mural in the Salvation Army. I had to arrive early in the morning, hours before they opened but just as the employee's day started. That morning, though had a very sad & special donation waiting out front.

She wasn't a puppy anymore, but she was young. And terrified. When I approached her she jumped into my arms, urinating on herself, licking me crazily.

“Yeah, I know the guy who left her,” The store manager told me as the dog tried desperately to crawl inside my body. “He's moving after this terrible divorce. They had two little blonde daughters, as cute as can be. But I guess he didn't choose them for the dog.”

He'd left her with her papers, food, a big dog igloo and stuffed toys. Her collar said her name was Gypsy, which I later changed to Jip-C, after she showed incredible talent for catching frisbees high in the air and loving music so much she did a doggie butt wag dance. She deserved a fresh take on her name, as she was the coolest person I'd ever met.

That was over 14 years ago. Jip-C and I traveled the country together. She didn't need a leash, she understood whatever you said to her. For many years she'd cry out if she saw little tow-headed children. I knew she missed her little girls. When I settled down and had my daughters she was the best big sister a dog can be. When a spinal cord injury stole much of my life from me, Jip-C was there to open doors and help me get around. I'd not had a dog before Jip-C and when she died in 2014 I was destroyed. Even now, two years later, I wake every day knowing there is a giant hole in our lives, a loss that cannot be described, only endured.

Alexandria Heather
Montpelier, VT

My best friend has four legs

My family adopted our first rescue pet when I was 9 years old. That first dog, Bridget, lived until she was 19 years old; she spent 17 wonderful years with us. Not long after she died, my parents adopted a new dog, Dasha. It was then I knew I wanted a pet of my own. Several months later I moved into an apartment that allowed pets and I started looking for a dog.I visited countless shelters, read several listings online, and asked all over the city. In October of 2010, a friend directed me to a posting on Petfinder of a terrier mix, also named Bridget, at a shelter in upstate New York that needed a home. I contacted the shelter immediately and asked to meet her. Unfortunately, they said, she was probably going to be adopted that weekend. But they wanted me to come up anyway and meet the other dogs that needed homes. So my mom and I packed Dasha in the car (Dasha would need to get along with this dog) and we drove up. I met three dogs that day and was certain that a little brown one would come home with me. But once out in the run, Dasha became fast friends with a little black spaniel/dachshund mix named Molly. That's was it. Molly came home with me.

It's been 5 amazing years and despite serious health crises (she has an auto-immune disease), she is a happy, spunky little dog. She is my shadow, my best friend, and my fierce protector. I honestly can't imagine life without her. She loves the beach, running wild in the woods, and visiting my parents' house in New Jersey. There is no better feeling than coming home after a long day at work to her excited little face.

Johanna Dickson
New York, NY

Rough First Year

Diesel came from a home where he was kept in yard most of the time. He had to jump the fence to get enough exercise and was outside most of the day. He ran away to play with other dogs. His owners did not want him back, which we don’t understand. He was not house-broken and afraid to trust. He did not know what a hot dog was and was afraid to jump up on the bed. Now he is very loving and active. We are blessed with him! His other owners missed out and we got lucky.

Lake in the Hills, IL

Puppies at one year old

OB was a stray. She had puppies at one year old. She got along famously with our other dog, Hannah. She was very sweet at the shelter and very rowdy at home. She understood her commands in Spanish and like tequila (just a taste, mind you). She now plays very rough with her new brother and as a result as lost weight, which she needed to do. She is a hunter and likes to “dispatch” small animals that come in our yard. She has had baths because of her 1 skunk encounter. She cuddles in the crook of my left arm every night before bedtime.

Lake in the Hills, IL

My Princess

It was early July, me & my twin had just turned 11. One evening, we get home from school & our dad calls us into the bedroom. There, in a box, were two tiny female kittens, who had only just opened their eyes. My dad explained to us that their mom had been eaten by a dog at his work the night before, and no one wanted to save the kittens! So of course, my dad took them in.

We each "claimed" our own. I chose the Tabby & white one with a curly tail, and my sister chose the grey & white one. We raised them, weened them off cat formula onto wet food (which our older male cat liked to steal) then to dry. We litterbox trained them and socialized them as best we could since we lived in the country where there's no one to socialize with.

I wanted to name mine Princess, but I didn't want her to be spoiled so instead I named her Stripey.

I should have stuck with Princess.

Today, almost 9 years later she follows me everywhere. The moment I wake up she is at my bedroom door wanting to come in and cuddle. The second I get home she's waiting for me to let her in my room so we can cuddle some more! At night, I have to physically pick her up and get her out of my room so I can sleep in peace. She's curled up against my leg as I type this!

I'm so glad my dad brought those kittens home. And I'm glad I get to spend so much time with my spoiled little princess.

Sand Springs, OK

Jackson's Tough First Months

My mom got a call from my little brother's daycare asking her if she would like to take in a stray kitten. We already had a few cats and didn't think we could take in another. Once we found out that this kitten had been neglected and tortured by kids around the neighborhood, we knew immediately that the kitten should come live with us. We thought that we would nurse him back to health and see if another family would want to take him.

I was in high school at the time and after school I went to pick up my little brother and the new kitten. I saw him and loved him instantly. His nose was scratched up, his whiskers were burned off, his ear had a rip in the top and he was severely malnourished. He was scared and shaking when I put him in my car and on the ride home, I was trying to think of a name that would suit him. Jackson Theo.

That first night he sat by the food bowl and ate so much, he fell asleep next to it. One of our older cats, Carl, took care of Jackson and showed him the "ropes" of the fat lazy house cat. After a vet visit, we found out that Jackson was probably born in the middle of August 2008, which was the same time my little brother was born. He and Jackson share birthdays.

Since then, we decided to keep Jackson and he has become the mentor for any other kitten we've taken in and he has taught them the "ropes" of the house cat and how to cause trouble without actually getting in trouble. He is now a happy cat who loves his kittens and his people.

Stillwater, OK

Baby The Pothole Kitten

One day my husband swerved to avoid running over a pothole. As we passed over it, I realized that the pothole was filled-- with a tiny kitten! I was almost out of the car before we pulled over. Thankfully it wasn't a busy street. The tiny kitten staggered out of the pothole and tried to escape from me, but he was so small he couldn't climb up over the curb. Back in the car, I realized that the little guy's eyes were barely open. There was no sign of his momma anywhere. He was unhappy and scared, so I dumped everything out of my soft cloth purse and dropped him in. The warm darkness calmed him down and in no time he was purring.

He was too young even for soft mash. My daughter and I fed him every couple of hours with a big syringe and wiped his tummy with a warm rag. The vet said that he was only about four weeks old, and complimented us on our care of him, as kittens that young don't usually do well without their mom. At first he spent most of his time hiding in a bookcase, but eventually our other three cats took him in and he joined our furry family.

His mouth is slightly malformed, which makes eating a bit of a challenge (probably why his mom left him). He grew up into our strongest, most muscle-bound cat. He lives with his three adopted sibling cats and the dog, who he only sort of accepts as family. While he doesn't rule the roost, he's definitely second in command. He's full of love and snuggles and purrs for his people. I'm thankful every day that we missed that pothole. Even though he's all grown up now, he's forever our Baby cat.

Corpus Christi, TX

Kitty With A Troubled Past

I had lost my beloved Holstein-cat Rocky in December of 2012 to heart failure. He was only ten years old. Our remaining cat, Paddy, had never been an only cat before and was lonely. I wanted a playmate for him and another cat in my life, soin February of 2013 I went to the local shelter's nearest office. A beautiful, jet-black teenage boy kitty caught my eye, but I worried about introducing a teenager to my sedate, middle-aged Paddy. Besides, I thought he might like a girl for a playmate. (I might have been wrong there.) So the staff introduced me to Mary, a rotund 2-year-old tabby.

Mary didn't reject my advances, but she didn't welcome them either. She just sat there, hunched up, and accepted gentle petting. Her body language was that of one who had endured too much, and expected life to never get any better. As someone who has suffered from depression in the past, I connected. She needed a home and some love. She would come home with me. Because we had a human Mary in our lives, her name eventually morphed into Maria.

It soon was apparent that she had a very troubled past. She was terrified of being picked up, or of anyone sitting or laying too close. The only petting that felt safe was on her cheeks, and a bit on her back. She mostly hid for a few days, but then came out and started following me around... and what has happened since has been a long, slow turnaround. She learned that food was consistent and reliable, that attention would happen when she wanted it, that no one would hit her for any reason. She's almost figured out that it is safe to be held. She is now a lively, outgoing cat who bosses Paddy, teases us, and is very loving, though she'll never be a cuddler. But she has a home where she can be free from the trauma of her early life.

Santa Clara, CA

Me and My Shadow

The lady who lived next door to my former office always had lots of outdoor cats, but they tended to be skittish and didn't like being petted. I was surprised but delighted when one of them -- a giant of a cat -- ran up to me as I was walking home from work one day. I petted her, then continued on my way. She was having none of that. She followed me all the way to my door, rubbing against my legs and meowing the whole time, but I assumed she'd leave when I went inside.

She didn't. She stayed for two weeks, in fact, while I convinced my husband she needed to stay if we found no owner. No one else claimed her, so we did. We named her Shadow, for her black fur and her tendency to follow us everywhere we went.

And so she remained. Seven years later, my sweet baby Shadow-kitty, my black beauty, is laying on my feet as I type. This cat has become an integral part of our family. She's a very large cat (she reaches my waist if she stands on her back feet) and has some digestive issues and very definite opinions about litter options, so she isn't exactly an inexpensive cat, but she's worth it. She still follows us everywhere, cries like her world is ending if we leave her for more than 2 minutes and watches us with an eagle eye if she thinks we're trying to sneak away. She's a sneaky beast; she's been known to hide under the bed in the mornings when she sees us getting dressed because she knows she isn't allowed in the bedroom when we're not home. (And when I say she hides, I mean she waits and watches until we aren't looking and races to get under before we see her.) And most importantly, she gives us all the love and joy we didn't even really know we were missing in our lives. Thank God for my Shadow.

Central City, KY

Luna and Eclipse

On May of 2014, our local veterinarian posted about two Siamese mamas who were left on their doorstep with their babies. The kittens were about ten days old. I talked to my children about them and we agreed we would adopt a boy and a girl. We called the vet and told them we wanted to adopt two of them. The next day we went to pick out our new babies. The girls decided to name them Luna and Eclipse.

Two weeks before we were to bring them home, I received a call from the veterinarian’s office. Luna had developed Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH) and she was going blind in one eye. CH is a disorder that causes jerky movement, wobbly uncoordinated walking, and head bobbing. The vet wanted me to be aware of this and if we didn’t want to take Luna they would understand. I asked if I could come by and see her. Before going to the vet’s office, I watched videos of cats with CH and read more on the illness. CH can be mild or severe. I didn’t know how severe her case was or if it was just mild. I went by the vet on my way home and they brought her out to me. Luna was so tiny and she trembled in my hands. My heart broke for her. I knew I didn’t want to give her up but I wasn’t sure if my children would be up for the task of taking care of a special needs kitten.

I picked my girls up and explained them the situation but before I could finish, my girls told me they didn’t care. They still wanted her. I was so proud of my girls. We called the vet the next morning and told them we still wanted to adopt her and her brother.

It has been over a year since Luna and Eclipse became part of our family. I can’t explain how much joy Luna and Eclipse has brought to us. We are so blessed to have them both.

Fort Smith, AR
Beware of Dog Kisses Indoor/Outdoor Mat
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