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My pet stole my HEART

True confessions from people who weren’t looking for a pet – until a pet found them

My boyfriend had been running a six-month campaign to get a dog. This included multiple trips to local shelters to pet the puppies and cloyingly sweet email forwards involving adorable dogs. I thought they were cute, but my answer was absolutely not. We did not have the time or money for a dog, and with his band going on month-long tours, I knew that an animal would become my responsibility.

Then came a chance meeting. It was a typical cold Sunday in February. After a failed attempt to make it to a local thrift store before closing time, we spotted a little dog without a collar wandering the parking lot. We knelt down and picked up the shaking dog, deciding immediately to take her in for the night and to find her people the next day. We thought she was a puppy, but a quick trip to the vet revealed that she was at least 10 years old, a Pomeranian, in desperate need of a full teeth extraction, and riddled with mammary tumors. She had also never been spayed.

The next day, the dog and I wandered the whole neighborhood looking for her home and putting up “Found Dog” posters. She was way more energetic than her supposed 10 years, and we were quickly bonding. That night, sitting on the floor with her in my lap, I tearily proclaimed that I wanted to keep her, despite her bad health—and breath.

It has been almost three years now, and I can’t imagine my life without her. Her tongue permanently hangs out the side of her mouth since her tooth removal. But she is happy, healthy, loves us so much, and is the sweetest street dog around. Oh, and we named her Kedzie after the street we found her on.

––Martha Williams, Chicago, Illinois

Due to our hectic lives and unfenced yard, my husband and I felt we could never have a dog. However, as avid dog lovers we decided to volunteer at our local shelter. On our first day of volunteering, we met an extremely sweet, yet timid, large black dog. We knew he would never be adopted. Despite our full-time schedules, we immediately decided to adopt him. We excitedly purchased bowls, food, and a crate. However, the next day we feared we were making a rash decision, and returned all the supplies. We couldn’t bear to enter the shelter again, knowing we weren’t taking him home.

After three weeks, I dreamt we did return to the shelter … and adopted this dog. I woke up the next morning feeling horribly—we had made a mistake! Afraid the dog had already been euthanized, we called the shelter with bated breath. To our surprise, he was still there! We hurried to adopt him, only to find out he was slated to be euthanized for kennel cough.

Whether through divine intervention or sheer luck, the three of us now enjoy a wonderful life together. Although it’s been difficult at times accommodating Otis, we’ve never regretted our decision.

––Stephanie Steele, Swartz Creek, Michigan

It started with a call from my husband, Josh. My side of the conversation went like this: “What? No! We can’t have a puppy! We just had the floors done! After 16 years of marriage, you know I’m not an animal person!” When I got home, Josh announced, “I named him Chance since I took a chance we could keep him.” I responded with, “No chance that dog is staying here!”

The next few weeks were filled with arguments, pouting, and a puppy with a cold. We compromised: Chance would be a downstairs dog. This evolved to, “He can be upstairs on a leash,” to “He can sleep in our room in the travel crate,” to “He can have the run of the hallway and our bedroom,” to where we are today: Chance is king of the castle.

The real turning point was when I got the flu. Chance saw me in bed and nudged me to see if I was OK, and then he got in bed with me all day and never whined to go out. Chance is a 65-pound Shepherd mix with an adorable floppy left ear. I don’t know how we managed without him!

––Karen and Josh Bowling, Louisville, Kentucky

Although I live in Phoenix, Christmas 2007 turned out to be white. Shortly before the holiday, a woman at work found a young white cat and asked me if I’d foster her—just for a week. It had been six years since my Calico cat, Squiggy, passed on, and even though I wasn’t looking to have another cat, I reluctantly agreed.

I never thought I’d like a white cat, but during that week I began to notice something rather strange—many of my possessions had white cat motifs. It was almost as if it were meant to be. The second day of fostering, the cat disappeared, and I worried sick about her. Hours later, I found her snuggled between towels in the linen closet and felt so relieved and happy that I knew I must keep her. Then it was time to get to work on my husband, Lloy, who claimed he didn’t like cats, but eventually agreed and even built a cat door. Now I catch him every morning playing with her.

I named our cat Sneaky because slowly she ventured out of the laundry room into her new territory. She’s very affectionate, plays with fuzzy jingly balls, bats pinecones around the house, catches birds, and climbs palm trees. She’s a happy cat, and we are just as happy that Sneaky snuck into our hearts.

—Kim Shira, Phoenix, Arizona

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