It was love at first sight. When I went to my local animal shelter more than six years ago, I thought of it as a first step -- I was planning on researching carefully all of my options, visiting several shelters and rescues, and taking my time to find my new canine companion. Ten minutes later, I was on the phone with my husband, explaining why we had to bring home a 7-year-old Beagle-German Shepherdish-looking mutt with advanced cataracts named Charlie. He was found as a stray, so I had to wait a week until he was available for adoption in case his owner came to claim him. I visited him every day, leading up to the day he was available. I was super nervous and couldn't sleep the night before, worried that other people would want to adopt him, too. I had already become so attached!
When we went to the shelter the next morning (a half an hour before they opened, just in case), I remember worrying that everyone else at the shelter was also there to adopt Charlie. After all, he was the cutest dog ever.
Boy, was I naïve! Like so many things in life, you don't know until you know. It didn't really occur to me that older dogs at shelters are often the last ones to be adopted, if at all. I also didn't know that most animals don't make it out of shelters alive.
It turned out that nobody else had come to adopt Charlie, so he was mine (for all of $28.00, including a microchip and shots, and he was already neutered). That same morning, my husband fell in love with an 8-year-old adorable Beagle-Bassett named Simba. We left that shelter that day with two dogs, and it has been a love affair ever since!
The decision to be a pet guardian is an enormous one. There are many factors to consider when deciding what kind of pet to bring home -- large or small, young or old, dog, cat, or tortoise -- and especially where to find your new animal companion.
According to the ASPCA, there are between 5 and 7 million animals in shelters across the country. And of those, 3-4 million will be euthanized -- that's 60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats. Most of those animals are euthanized simply because there is no one to adopt them. And yet, despite this overwhelming need, 15-20 percent of new pets are purchased from breeders, while only around 10 percent are adopted from shelters.
And it's not just mutts who suffer. On Valentine's Day of 2012, a Pekingese was named Best in Show at Westminster -- which, sadly, will likely mean pain and suffering for thousands of Pekingese in years to come. Each year, Westminster contributes to Americans' desire for purebred puppies -- often bred in inhumane puppy mills. Then, sadder still, millions of these dogs end up housed in shelters after their novelty wears off, and are eventually put to sleep. Over a quarter of dogs euthanized in shelters are purebred.
This tremendous need may be the best reason to bring a rescue pet into your home -- but it's far from the only one. There have been literally hundreds of studies showing that pet companionship is good for humans -- from a physical level to a spiritual one. Recent studies have shown that pet owners have lower levels of risk factors for cardiovascular disease, spend less on health care, and have stronger immune systems. Beyond that, pet ownership contributes to physical fitness, sociability (so easy to talk to a stranger who is walking a dog), self-esteem -- and pure joy and bliss.
On a wider, societal level, rescued pets have been the catalyst of some profound healing of the hearts of those often marginalized. A great example is K9 Connection, a California-based group that came up with an innovative way to tackle two problems at once -- alongside the millions of dogs and cats euthanized each year, there are thousands of teenagers who take their lives each year. At K9 connection, at-risk teens train homeless shelter dogs. Dogs who were doomed for death are adopted into loving homes. The impact on the teens is profound as the healing power of the human-animal bond does its work.
The healing that takes place at prisons across the country which have programs pairing rescue dogs with inmates is extraordinary. Shelter dogs are saved from euthanasia and given training, and the prisoners benefit from the companionship, responsibility, and the satisfaction that they are helping to save the life of such a beautiful, vulnerable creature. Some prisoners report that they had never had the experience of unconditional love until they started training a rescue dog.
Some groups that facilitate these amazing programs include Project POOCH, Prison Tails, and Paws in Prison.
Nationally, rescued pets are becoming increasingly visible. Since the world's first viral video of a kitten doing something adorable was posted on YouTube, it's been well recognized that watching cute animal antics is perhaps second to none among our favorite activities. This year at the Super Bowl, Budweiser capitalized on that love, running a commercial with a tiny dog named Weego, trained to fetch beer. However, their interests were in more than just selling six-packs: Weego was a rescue dog, and the commercial raised more than a quarter of a million dollars for the Tony La Russa Animal Rescue Foundation. Moreover, it's done a great job drawing attention to how great rescue pets can be; Bud Light's Facebook page tells the story of Weego, and has gotten amazing engagement from tens of thousands of people, sharing stories about rescue pets.
To help increase that visibility, the HuffPost community of writers, editors, and bloggers shared their stories of rescue pet adoption:
Meet Charlie and Simba -- two stray mutts that we adopted as seniors several years ago. Being around seniors who were abandoned but who never lost their amazing joyful spirit constantly reminds my family of resilience, forgiveness and living each moment to the fullest. --Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald, Wellness Editor, The Huffington Post Healthy Living
This is Walter, my 2-and-a-half-year-old terrier mix. He was born in a Los Angeles shelter and taken in by a woman who runs an independent rescue from her house. By way of Petfinder, I found him, fell in love with his photo and immediately adopted him when he was 3 months old. We have since moved to NYC, where he is a fixture at the Union Square dog park. Walter has been an amazing, playful and affectionate companion, making friends wherever he goes! --Lori Fishkin, Account Manager, AOL
This is Derrick, our rescue kitteh who a friend of a friend found by the side of the road. Derrick's about 3-and-a-half years old. -Arin Greenwood, Associate Editor, The Huffington Post DC
And this is Murray, our rescue pointer mix, who we got from a DC group called Rescue Angels. Murray is about 3. We spoil them rotten. -Arin Greenwood, Associate Editor, The Huffington Post DC
Astro was adopted as a kitten from the Detroit Humane Society. He was the only boy in a litter with four sisters. --Simone Landon, Editor, The Huffington Post Detroit
Earl is still a baby (about six months old). We found him when he was a tiny kitten on Spencer Place in Brooklyn at around 4 a.m. and made the impulsive decision to bring him home. He and Astro are best buds. --Simone Landon, Editor, The Huffington Post Detroit
Doozer Monkey, left, and his siblings were found in a ditch near a house on Long Island five years ago, shortly after they had been born. The mother cat had just been hit by a car. Doozer was the runt of the litter and had a horrible infection in his right eye that left a scar -- one of the reasons my husband and I think he was overlooked by others looking to adopt. He's extremely affectionate and playful -- and sneaky. He steals things and hides his toys all over the house, thus the "Monkey" part of his name. We adopted Figgy Monster seven years ago at an upstate animal shelter when he was just 2 months old. He was also the last of his brothers and sisters to be adopted. He has a stubby little tail, a birth defect that might explain why we found him all alone in his cage at the shelter. Figgy can be lovable one minute and then lash out the next -- part of the reason we tacked "Monster" onto his name -- but he can also be a little cuddle monster who loves to sit with us on the couch and nap with us. --Jennifer Spugnardi, Editing and Quality Manager, Seed Team, AOL Huffington Post Media Group
My pooch Daisy. She's two-and-a-half. Rescued from a high-kill shelter in West Virginia by a group in Alexandria, Virginia called A Forever Home. She's mostly Australian Cattle Dog, though I'm pretty sure there's Beagle and some sort of pointer in there, too. Sweetest, most affectionate dog I've ever owned. --Radley Balko, Senior Writer, The Huffington Post
This is Artie, the lovable 10-month-old, red-nosed pit bull. My partner, David, had decided to volunteer at Animal Haven, the shelter in Soho, after our 14-year-old pit bull, Gina, had passed on. Not a good idea, considering that we were supposedly not going to get a another dog any time soon. Well, after two weeks of volunteering at the shelter, Artie, then three months old, was brought in, and we soon had a new doggie. He'd come from the New York City shelter. We were told that when pit bulls turn up at the city shelter at that age they're often brought in by the police, picked up in a drug arrest. So now, instead of guarding a drug den, he is playing at Puppy Loft with lots of other pups and sitting in our laps because he thinks he's a Yorkie (and please don't tell him otherwise!). --Michelangelo Signorile, Editor-at-Large, The Huffington Post Gay Voices
My first job was at an animal shelter. It was a job that I loved so much I stayed for almost 10 years. Ecru was brought in by a lady who said he belonged to her neighbor who had been in a tragic accident the week before. She assumed someone had taken care of Ecru, but she found him in his back yard pen, and it was obvious he had not eaten in quite some time. He was so happy to be around people again he jumped up and bounced around the lobby, and then he came at me. By the picture you can tell he was as big as I am, but he raised up and put his paws on my shoulders. I knew immediately he belonged with me. The vet checked him out and told me to take him home, that he was too malnourished to be neutered at that time. He was full of energy. Anyone who tried to walk him on a leash found themselves running to try and keep up with him. He never had any training of any kind, however when he was with me he stayed right by my side. He never pulled the leash, he never walked one step in front or one step behind -- he stayed by my side. This picture was taken on one of our happiest days. There was a dog show to benefit the shelter. This picture was taken as I walked Ecru to the front of the line to accept his Best in Show Award. He has recently passed, but out of the many rescues I have had over the years he holds a special place in my heart. --Carla Lohr
Here are Bing and Nellie. Bing (beagle and whippet?) was rescued with the rest of his litter on a roadside after their mother was killed by a car. He is now about four years old. Nellie (border collie and black lab) was picked up on the streets of Trenton, NJ, and is now about eight years old. --Brad Hill, VP, Audience Development, AOL
Meet Roscoe, a dapper cat who always wears his "tuxedo" when it's after 6 (other cats: what are you, farmers?). I adopted him three years ago from the Burlington County Animal Shelter in New Jersey when I was looking for another buddy for my other cat, Cookie. It was actually the second shelter that he had been too -- even though he has a sweet personality, many people have a heart-breaking bias against black cats. Even tuxedo-wearing ones. Roscoe patiently lets Cookie jump over him, welcomes all guests into my apartment and tolerates the Cosby sweater he occasional dons when it gets chilly in our apartment. --Brie Dyas, Editor, Styleist Home
I adopted Cooper, a Sharpei-mutt, about two years ago from Sean Casey Animal Rescue in Brooklyn. He's probably six to eight years old now. Sweetest, kindest and laziest dog ever. --Liena Zagare, Editor, The Huffington Post
Pepper FTW! Adopted her this month and she completely rules. --Zach Carter, Senior Political Economy Reporter, The Huffington Post
This is Rocky, an American Staffordshire Terrier I adopted in 2008. He was raised as a bait dog by a fighting ring and still bears the scars -- but only physically! He wasn't much of a fighter, so eventually he was just tied with wire to a tree outside an apparent drug house, where he couldn't reach drinking water. The wire grew into the skin around his neck, and he ate his own feces to survive while starving down to skin and bones. Today he is a happy, handsome, immaculately behaved boy who is patient and loving with children and even obeys silent hand commands. He is a living reminder that pit bull breeds deserve love, too. --Janie Campbell, Editor, The Huffington Post Miami
Henry the Greyhound was a retired racer from Orlando, Florida. He was not very successful on the track and was brought up to northern Virginia by a local rescue group. Henry is a true couch potato; he loves the life of leisure! Rusty the Norwich Terrier was found at the local animal control shelter one morning by a worker. Rusty was in a crate left by the front door with no explanation or information. We had just lost a little dog due to old age and were looking for a new little dog to keep Henry company. Rusty fit the bill and is a highly-energetic bundle of joy. Alan Zlotky, Photo Manager, AOL
This is Congressman CatFace (D-Under The Covers), whose constituents know him affectionately as CatFacedCat. We met in '08 at the Manassas, Va. County animal shelter, where the congressman was facing tough reelection prospects: For one, he had kennel cough and parasites, he wasn't neutered and, as an adult black cat, his odds of being adopted were slim. But we turned things around, and even recently got redistricted into a bigger apartment. More room to kiss babies and ride on parade floats, naturally. Vote CatFace 2012! --Christina Wilkie, The Huffington Post
This is Charlie. We adopted him from the animal shelter where he was born in Providence, RI. His original name was "Leatherface" (he and his brothers were born around Halloween, and all named after horror movie characters) but we went for Charlie because of his little mustache. Hey, it's better than Adolf. --Andrew Losowsky, Books Editor, The Huffington Post
Oogie was rescued during the worst time of my life, months after my best friend had passed away. I was concerned I wouldn't have enough "puppy energy" for him, but he has been the ultimate cure for depression. His has the typical pug expressions and silliness that make me laugh and smile every single day. Talk about a blessing! --Renee Pirie, Patch
This is Ruca, our 3-year-old Bengal mix. We rescued her from the Petco in Union Square in New York City over two years ago. She is a very rambunctious girl with an unhealthy obsession for boxes. --Jordan Schultz, Sports Columnist, The Huffington Post
The big orange Main Coon is our favorite lug, Felix. We rescued him nearly five years ago when he was trapped inside a car engine as a baby in L.A. We think he was somehow separated from his mother because he was very malnourished and obviously very greasy from the car. Now, he has become an incredible addition, sleeping extraordinaire and lover of all people and animals. Lexi, whom he has become fast friends with, is a wonderful English Coonhound, Akita and spaniel mix whom we rescued about four months ago. She comes from South Carolina, and we think she very well might have been displaced from her family after Hurricane Irene. Even still, she was never properly socialized or trained. Now, after a short time, she is the perfect family dog, though who loves to play with all cats and dogs alike! --Jordan Schultz, Sports Columnist, The Huffington Post
Meet Rusty. He's a 4-year-old Australian shepherd/Greater Swiss mountain dog mix adopted from the Dumb Friends League in Denver seven months ago. He's a belly-rub fiend that -- inexplicably -- prefers to sit with his front legs crossed. Loves eating snow, exercising in the mountains and wears his sunglasses at night (see inset). --Ryan Grenoble, Associate Editor, The Huffington Post Denver
We got our now 14-year-old Golden Retriever Buddy from a rescue group when he was 6. Plenty of life still left in the old guy, shown here fetching tennis balls in the lake. --Ann Brenoff, Senior Writer, The Huffington Post
We are a two-dog household and only acquire our dogs from rescue groups or shelters, which is where our pretty little Dolce girl came from. A Bichon-Poodle mix (a Bichadoodle?), everything she does, including sleep, is adorable. --Ann Brenoff, Senior Writer, The Huffington Post
This is Daxter Bailey, or as I lovingly call him, Dax. About eight years ago, I was feeling pretty down, and decided to go volunteer some time on a rainy October afternoon at my local Humane Society. I was cleaning out the cat and kitten cages and had one kitten left to put back. I sat down on the bench in the little room where he'd been out and about playing while I cleaned his cage, and as soon as I sat down, he walked over, used his little claws to climb from the floor up my leg, and then walked up my body to curl up under my chin, where he promptly fell fast asleep, somehow managing to snore <em>and</em> purr at the same time. It was almost like I had no choice. I adopted him that night, and he has been with me ever since, living all over the country, from Colorado to Florida to Arizona. --Paige Harmes, Lead Moderator, The Huffington Post Media Group
And this is Rylie, my parent's adopted "teenager." She's a 2- to 3-year-old mutt! They adopted her just this January, from The Animal House in Ft. Collins, CO. The story my parents were told was that she was lost/abandoned somewhere near Ft. Riley, Kansas, which also happened to be where my brother has been stationed the last several years (when not deployed), while he was in the Army. She was found there, and for some reason, was sent to the shelter in Ft. Collins, where my parents took one look at her and fell in love. So in honor of the army base where my brother had been, and of where she was found, they named her Rylie. She's a sweet little thing, and my parents are glad every day that they brought her into their family. --Paige Harmes, Lead Moderator, The Huffington Post Media Group
This is Scrabble. He found us on a trip to the North Shore Animal League when we went to find out about volunteering -- and came home with a furry child instead. He was just a 2-month-old Boxer/Greyhound mix when he entered our lives. Now we've had him for almost six years, and he spends every night lying on our laps with this exact face. --Annemarie Dooling, Community Editor, The Huffington Post
Izzy has been with me for three years. She is the light in my life. Izzy adopted <em>me</em> after she was found roaming the streets of Brooklyn and was brought to Mighty Mutts</a>, the rescue organization I volunteer for. She looked so lost and was indifferent to all people. I took her in as a foster and everything changed for both of us. A week later, I went to show her at Union Square (Mighty Mutts shows dogs there Saturdays all year long). She was completely attached to me and would sit with no other volunteers but me. She even started whining for me when I would walk away. When potential adopters came and asked me about Izzy, I talked her down to everyone after realizing quickly I wanted her myself. Contrary to what most people believe about rescue dogs, a lot are trained sweethearts, but abandoned for monetary or other reasons. Izzy was already fully-trained when she came home with me. --Vanessa Stasco, Recruiter, AOL
Mr. Ted E. Bear (left) was rescued from a well-meaning hoarder, who had more than 40 dogs in her home. At 8 years old, he sat at the shelter for four months until I decided to give him a try. Now, "everyone" wants to keep Ted when meeting him, yet he sat their for four months with no one wanting him. Yogi Bear (right) stopped by with a neighbor who was fostering him. The neighbor asked if we knew anyone looking to adopt, and Ted E. darted out the door and the two started playing. So, we decided to keep Yogi as Ted's friend. At 10 months old, Yogi had never been inside a house, having lived on the streets of Bakersfield. In the middle of the night, he used to let himself outside the dog door and sleep on the cement in the back yard, as it's all he knew. Now, he sleeps through the night on a king-sized bed. --Beverly Atkins, Account Director, AOL
Meet Zoe, Lola and Neena. Zoe was left on the railroad tracks, Lola was taken to a shelter to be killed to teach some children a lesson and Neena was dumped on the streets of a big city. They now have their "forever" home and are the biggest love bugs at 10, 9 and 2. --Debra Mattson
I met Natalie with her foster mom on the street in Saratoga. I was dining outside with friends in preparation for a Dixie Chicks concert. Ironically I had seen Natalie and her caretaker an hour earlier in Los Gatos but did not have time to engage them. Well, after 30 minutes of holding her and asking numerous questions, I knew she was the perfect addition to our family. Here is the clincher: She was found abandoned on a farm with her two sisters, Emily and Marty. The foster group had named them for the Dixie Chicks and there I was off to see my favorite girl group, knowing that in a few days my Natalie would be coming home. --Kimberly Kennedy Walsh
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Haveissues"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/2590871-tiny.png?20120204071122" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Haveissues">Haveissues</a>:<br />Leo was a 2x rescue dog (rescued by my son and his girlfriend, then by us from them). He is about a year and a half old, very energetic and a clown. We have had purebreds and mutts over the years and I still like mustts the best.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mother305"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/aol_profile_img/2863245.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mother305">mother305</a>:<br />Daisy came first just needed a home with attention, 2 years ago she lost her best friend to old age so along came Millie. Millie is from a shelter in Kankakee whos picture showed up on facebook. My husband I drive down and back with Daisy to see if they would be good together. Now we have the two most wonderful girls and happy girls too
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/whisperer"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/whisperer">whisperer</a>:<br />One of all my rescues.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/m00ns4mmy"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/m00ns4mmy">m00ns4mmy</a>:<br />we rescued Jude from S.T.A.R.T. (save the animals rescue team) 12 years ago in a new jersey petco. form her foster family we learned that they "liberated" her from a very cold and lonely life outside of a local dive bar. she was about 1 year old when we got her. she still bears some of the emotional scars...afraid if we move too quickly and is never seen by strangers. but she loves us so very much and we would be lost without her.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/edeyoun2"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/edeyoun2">edeyoun2</a>:<br />Penny was adopted 5 years ago from the Champaign County Humane Society in Illinois. I was looking for a kitten, but after spending just a couple minutes with her I fell in love.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/palmqfam"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/palmqfam">palmqfam</a>:<br />Chloe, a purebred Cardigan Welsh Corgi, was rescued at 8 weeks old by Midwest Bloodhound Rescue from a kill shelter in Alabama. I saw her on Pet Finders online and fell in absolute love with her. My little bull terrier and I drove to see if we would get along and ended up all driving home together. She is now 2 years old and is the dominant poochie in my house. The cats aren't that impressed, though. Smart, cute, fun, adorable, sassy, and I couldn't live without my little Cloezone.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Anne_Siperek"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/644653-tiny.png?20110805232211" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Anne_Siperek">Anne Siperek</a>:<br />I was found running down a freeway in NJ, so the shelter my owner rescued me from decided to name me Freeway. Boy, am I a lucky dog! Now I live in Florida!
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/edeyoun2"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/edeyoun2">edeyoun2</a>:<br />Matty was rescued at 10 months from a kill shelter in Georgia by Mobile Mutts Rescue Transports. Mobile Mutts drives dogs from kill shelters in the south to rescues and non-kill shelters up north. Champaign, IL is where these pups spend the night. One night is all I needed to fall in love with Matty, whose name was A444497 at the time. I was so heartbroken when I had to give her back to be taken to MUSHR, a Minnesota Husky rescue, that the next weekend I drove 9 hours to get her back. Best decision I ever made!
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Brittany_Rae_Barry"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Brittany_Rae_Barry">Brittany Rae Barry</a>:<br />Cici was found by a friend of a friend in her shed when she was only 3 weeks old. My husband and I were looking to adopt a kitty and it was perfect timing. She was the cutest kitten I'd ever seen, and now she's a beautiful 2 year old cat. Since she's a calico, she's definitely sassy, and she lets you know when she expects snuggle time. We love her!
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/redhand1"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/redhand1">redhand1</a>:<br />Lady was adopted from Greyhound Rescue, Inc. from West Virginia. She never raced at the track, just disposed of. I fell in love with her from her picture online (online relationships can work out!) when I was recovering from radiation treatments for cancer. She is the love of my life and I can't imagine my life without her. If you must, for some reason, have a purebred dog, there are lots of breed rescue groups out there. Use the internet! And consider a greyhound: the sweetest, gentlest, prettiest dogs I know.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/klwolff"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/klwolff">klwolff</a>:<br />Shelby came into my life almost 2 years ago. she was cared for in shelter in TN and now is part of my family in CT. She is the latest in a long line of shelter dogs and cats I have loved. I wish more people would consider shelters for their next companion
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/HelenKGarber"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/twitter_profile_img/1809125.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/HelenKGarber">HelenKGarber</a>:<br />We saw Oliver at the animal set up at Gold's Gym Venice. The director said that he was a Xmas present gone wrong for a little boy in Orange County. Although purchased for a large sum of money in a pet store (meaning puppy mill spaniel), he was dumped off like trash at the rescue center 4 months before. He was 1 1/2 years old. We quickly went home to get our 13 year old rescue, Dudley to see if they would get along. It looked good, so we brought him home. Although sweet and adorable looking, he had some major trust issues and was a snapper and biter. It was obvious that he had been struck by adult males by the way he reacted to most. Once he learned to relax and trust us, he became a marvelous dog. As sweet and adorable as he looks here. We can now trust him as much as he can trust us. Oliver is a wonderful companion to our 14.5 year old, Dudley. He brought our competitive alpha male, Dudley back to life who races up and down the stairs with him as if he was only 5 years old
Oliver, a Spaniel Mix that was rescued by the Garber family, enjoys his first outing at the beach. Stuart H. Garber and Springer Spaniel big brother, Dudley, join him and introduce him to the ocean and the sand. Oliver, a Spaniel mix, the newest rescued member of the Garber Pack joins them for a romp. Good Dog rescue said that Oliver was owner relinquished. Purchased from a pet store about a year before (which means puppy mill spaniel), given up after the man's son didn't want to play with him anymore.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Pandymariee"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Pandymariee">Pandymariee</a>:<br />This is Lucky. The sweetest, most loving, and snuggly mutt you'll ever meet. She has short stumpy legs like a Corgi, big ears like a german shephard and a cute body like a Beagle. She was found as a 7 or 8 week old puppy under a wheelchair ramp of a trailer in rural South Carolina. She was covered in fleas and had a belly full of worms. She is very timid if she doesn't know you and will hide from you due to the possible abuse she suffered from by the people who had her from birth. She is now 2 and a half years old and couldn't be happier. She loves being outside and is spoiled rotten!
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/HelenKGarber"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/twitter_profile_img/1809125.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/HelenKGarber">HelenKGarber</a>:<br />When our first springer rescue Benchley became fragile, I found out how difficult it was to manage a weak 70 lb dog. 6 months after he passed I searched the English Springer Spaniel Rescue website for a dog that looked like Benchley, but weighed no more than 50 lbs. I wanted another owner relinquished dog as well as another middle aged male. Dudley matched the bill and his name sealed the deal. I had just rented on studio on Venice Beach and passed Dudley Ave on the way to the studio. We drove 5 1/2 hours each way to pick him up and he has been with us ever since. At 14.5 he still has a great deal of energy, can still join us for our walks to the Santa Monica Pier and back and is totally obsessed by food...Hence sharing his favorite LA Times section with his forever Dad, Dr. Stuart H. Garber circa 2004
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/groovyjc"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/groovyjc">groovyjc</a>:<br />We got Shadow from the local animal shelter when he was about 3 months old. He'd been left in a carrier on the side of the road. My husband loved shepherds, so we decided to adopt him even though we were a bit wary of a pure bred dog. He is quite sensitive compared to our other mutt, but we love him. He's really just a big baby who loves to play with our other dog and his two-legged family too!
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/pkgdiva"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/pkgdiva">pkgdiva</a>:<br />Lola was born to a feral colony, and spent four years in a shelter before I adopted her in 2001. If she's not on my lap, she's in her bed on my desk.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/groovyjc"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/groovyjc">groovyjc</a>:<br />Lucy is a sweet German Shepherd, Lab, Pitbull mix. She was kept in a kennel outside with her brothers and sisters until she was taken to our local animal shelter at 4 months of age. Poor thing had never been walked, been exposed to people and had never walked on a floor before she went to the shelter. She was so scared when we got her, afraid of people walking down the street, wind, paper bags, you name it! But she's slowly come out of her shell and if you just quietly let her approach you and hang out near you, she'll be your best friend. She's a love and funny too!
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Vixenroo"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/yahoo_profile_img/2863971.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Vixenroo">Vixenroo</a>:<br />I met Cleo when I first unwittingly stumbled onto the front lines of Rescue. I thought I was simply being a good neighbor, helping a kind older lady catch the wild kittens that had been born in her yard and were now frustratingly out of reach under her deck. Little did I know that this would be the catalyst to change my status from compassionate social do-gooder to the Crazy Cat Lady down the street. Virginia had been feeding “strays” and giving them a safe haven in her yard without realizing that is only half the equation to end the cycle of suffering. This was my first big lesson too, so eyes wide open I naively jumped into the fray. I got some good advice and set about trapping the kittens and what I had been told were three or four adult cats (the number actually being thirteen). The kittens were still young enough to tame and place in new homes. The adults were returned to the yard sans their reproductive parts and the tip of their right ear to forevermore identify them as “feral” cats. Over the next several years Virginia continued to feed and keep a watchful eye on her semi-wild friends. Sometimes I’d have to trap a cat that was obviously ill, sometimes they would just stop coming to the dishes and we’d be left sadly wondering what happened to them. Slowly their numbers decreased until there were only three cats left from the original colony. When Virginia’s dementia finally forced her from her home, my husband and I relocated Gigi, (the majestic, truly-feral Russian Blue), Barbie, (the black beauty who turned out to be a lap cat) and the shy, gentle tabby girl, Cleo. We built them a habitat on the back of our house to help them adjust to their change in territory and when released they did quite well. Barbie insisted she was now a house cat and refused to venture fourth into the big bad world again. Gigi took up leadership in our yard, but Cleo was just too timid to hold her ground with the other animals here and after a while we rarely saw her even on the fringes. Weeks would tick by without a sighting and right at the moment I’d be losing all hope, she’d allow me to catch a glimpse of her and relieve the tightness in my chest. On the south side of our house we have a protected narrow alleyway. In it we placed a shelter converted from an old stereo cabinet, my plan being to trap and enclose Cleo there for her own protection. I hesitated to intercede. For the sake of my peace of mind, I would be robbing her of her freedom. My friend Gretchen, who is an animal communicator, asked Cleo to consider it. Now here’s the amazing part... Cleo must have thought it was a good idea because shortly after the “conversation” Cleo took up residence there! These days Cleo can be seen lounging lazily in the afternoon sun and when I call her for dinner she’s never late. Gratefully I see her sweet face peek around the corner and she greets me with an adorable half meow, half hiss. It melts my heart to know in her geriatric years she has chosen trust over fear, come off the mean streets, and is finally home at last.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/pkgdiva"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/pkgdiva">pkgdiva</a>:<br />Sherman was surrendered to a shelter at 11 after a vet refused to euthanize this healthy cat. He's a very sweet and cuddly boy with a HUGE purr! I adopted him in 2009.
Do you have a rescued pet? Submit your story and photo!
Note: If you are inspired to add an animal companion to your life, please make your decision carefully. Being a pet guardian is a long-term commitment. Please visit your local shelter or rescue group for assistance in choosing the right pet for your lifestyle. If you are interested in having an animal companion, but aren't sure you are ready for the commitment, please consider fostering or volunteering at your local animal shelter. Petfinder.com is a great website to find pets available for adoption.
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