Love at first pictureCourtesy Helaina Hovitz
Wiley is a special case because we are his fourth home. He was found as a stray by Friends with Four Paws Rescue in Oklahoma, was fostered there until he was sent to Brooklyn, where he was fostered again. Then, he was adopted out to a family in Yonkers, who, after a year, had to give him up because of “allergies.” (This dog’s journey is one of the sad realities that pets in animal shelters wish you knew.) We had filled in applications for other pooches, and a Chi Mix was not one of the breeds I was falling in love with through their photos. After I met with one of the rescue’s other adoptable pets and wrote an email about how I didn’t feel the connection but would love to keep trying, the animal rescue’s president, Leah, gave me a call, and we struck up an instant bond. The next day, she texted me and told me they had a rare, emergency situation: They had a “return.” She sent me Wiley’s picture, and I just had that feeling. I took it as a sign. So, we went to pick him up from his old home and bring him to ours without meeting him first. He was nervous in the car and left a little present outside the building after the car ride, but he adjusted phenomenally, like he was still a puppy and we were his first set of parents. It was like he instantly imprinted on me. We signed the adoption papers two days later. I believe Wiley and I understand each other in a special way because we both had it pretty rough during our early, formative years, and we are both very resilient. We came together at a time when we both finally felt safe in the world. He knows we’re a family and that I’m not going anywhere. Writing about him in my memoir, After 9/11, helped me realize just how similar rescue dogs and rescued humans really are…and made me a stronger-than-ever advocate for the rescue community as a whole. Keep reading for a glimpse into more amazing stories of dogs who were rescued from tough lives and brought to a new beginning by humans who cared enough to say, “Your little life matters just as much as mine.”
From unwanted to unbelievable: Terrier visits seniors in needCourtesy Danielle Maley Caregiver Canines
Bonnie Derhay of Jackson, New Jersey, first encountered Pogo, a nine-year old scrappy terrier mix, at a dog park. His owner at the time was with him, a woman who told Derhay that her husband “did not like him” and she planned on abandoning Pogo at the dog park if no one wanted him. Derhay just couldn’t let that happen. Derhay believes that Pogo was abused by the husband because he was very skittish and frightened when she took him home. Derhay welcomed Pogo to her family, cleaned him up, and showed him a lot of love. Because Pogo was so friendly, she took him to classes to become a certified therapy dog. Pogo is now a wonderful volunteer for Caregiver Canines of New Jersey. As part of the program, he visited with senior citizens Fran and Doug in their homes weekly for one year after Doug suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side. They couldn’t own their own dog, but Pogo brought them such joy and brightened up their lives. This spry terrier had a rough start in life, but holds no grudges. He makes people smile wherever he goes. Check out all of the other health benefits of owning a dog.