He was a particularly sensitive, loving, playful companion and we miss him terribly. He was our prince and shall live forever in our hearts and minds. We still have another rescue (Sam) who was distraught at losing his buddy so we adopted another guy who at 4 is still a wild guy (Alfie), but quite adorable and learning quickly. He passed obedience training with flying colors and will soon start agility school as a means of helping him burn off some energy. I am confident that we will always have at least one dog, but understand there will never be another Willie: He will always own a big part of Susan’s, Sam’s and my heart.–Carol Ashley
Posts By: Emily Fromm
Looking for a heartwarming holiday story that celebrates the power of pets to change our lives? Check out Home for Christmas: A Golden Christmas 3. Donate $50 or more and we’ll send you a DVD copy of this heartwarming story about love, loss, hope … and how a puppy can turn even the most unlikely Scrooge into a true believer. (You can also buy the movie here.)
The DVD’s distributor, Gaiam, is a proud supporter of the Petfinder Foundation’s work on behalf of homeless pets across North America. We are so grateful to Gaiam for their generosity.
Betsy was a collie mix; she looked like she was part collie, part golden retriever with other breeds mixed in. She was born in March 2005 in North Carolina and she and her brother were rescued from a shelter when they were very young.
I started looking for a dog about that time; I’d had cats for over 20 years but had not had a dog as an adult. I wanted a puppy whom I could raise and be with for many years, through her adulthood and old age. I was kind of looking for a collie-type dog since that is what we had growing up, a mutt who needed a home. A friend at work told me about Petfinder.com, where I found Chicklet, soon to be named Betsy.
When Betsy was three months old, the rescue group brought her and a bunch of other dogs up to a rest stop in Carlisle, PA, just south of Harrisburg, and I made the three-hour drive to get her. After I paid the balance of her adoption fee, the rescue person put little Betsy into my arms and I had a dog, a little ball of fluff who just wanted to sit on my lap. I drove the whole way home with her on my lap, then sat on the porch and carried her around the house. She must have been tired and stressed out from the long ride. She slept a lot, then started looking around. Later in the day she helped me plant flowers by digging a hole and she found some sticks to chew and pull. I had prepared a place for her with a bed, toys and water, but she was only interested in following me around.
She grew. I’d had in mind a medium-sized dog, but Betsy had big paws and grew into them, to be about 50 lbs. She was light brown, with some white on her chest, paws and rump and some black on her tail. She was very energetic and a very picky eater and was always thin. But she loved treats and the bones I made for her once a week. She had long fur with curly tendrils around her ears, a long collie nose, and one of her ears sometimes flopped over.
I took her most places with me: to the grocery store, visiting friends and relatives, for ice cream, to dog classes at Petco. She liked to sit in the front seat and look out the window. In the grocery store parking lot, people would laugh at seeing her sitting in the driver’s seat staring straight ahead, as if she were driving. She liked to walk in her wading pool and would swim or walk in the water in ponds and streams. She liked to walk and sometimes sit in the mud; once she almost got stuck in quicksand. I tried to train her to sit in the canoe with me, but she kept jumping in the water and swimming alongside.
She liked to sleep on the couch and on the bed. She got along well with the cats and liked to play with their toys sometimes. She loved their laser toy and would go crazy chasing it. And she really liked their cat food.
She liked to play with sticks and balls, especially fetch, and she liked to tear her toys apart and find the squeaker. But her favorite toy was a Frisbee. She was obsessed; she would play for hours and hours, bringing the Frisbee back and dropping it at someone’s feet; if they didn’t respond, she would nudge it with her nose and stare at it fixedly. She brought Frisbees to anyone who was around and took them for walks and in the car. I kept buying new ones as they were chewed up or disappeared and found a few Frisbees in the yard or field after she died.
We went for walks every day in the field and pasture behind my house. She wasn’t interested in the horses but did get sprayed by skunks a few times. Sometimes we would go for longer hikes in local parks; longer hikes tired her out and she slept a lot the next day, giving me a rest from being continually bumped with a Frisbee. We went camping and hiking in the Adirondack Park in New York; she seemed to enjoy seeing new places and things. Of course she always brought her Frisbee. She was a sweet dog, never ran off anywhere, and everybody always liked her.–Teresa
This holiday season, order custom cards and gifts AND help save the lives of homeless pets, thanks to our partnership with Shutterfly.com. Just visit our new Shutterfly homepage and start shopping — 10% of your purchase price will be donated to the Petfinder Foundation to help us help pets in need.
You can customize any card or gift with photos that feature your pets, but Shutterfly also has some designs that highlight the special role our furry family members play in our lives. Here are our favorites (click on any of the photos below and, if you order prints, 10% of your purchase price will be donated to the Petfinder Foundation).
Our One Picture Saves a Life program, which includes photography training and camera and photo-editing software grants, is helping shelter pets find homes, one photo at a time. A great example is Shelby, a senior gal who found herself at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona in Tucson.
The shelter’s public relations coordinator (and One Picture Saves a Life workshop attendee), Sara Gromley, tells us Shelby’s story:
“Shelby is just one of the hundreds of pets you’ve helped at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, thanks to the One Picture Saves a Life program. As a 10-year-old stray Shepherd mix with age-related ailments (including a heart murmur and worn teeth) as well as slight separation anxiety, Shelby had a very difficult time finding a home.
“She waited at the shelter for a month without any interest from potential adopters. Then I took a photo capturing her sweet demeanor and warm personality. The photo received more than 7,000 views on Facebook, was sent to our media partners, and captured the attention of a very nice lady who came in to meet Shelby. It was love at first sight! Now Shelby is enjoying the cozy retirement she’s always deserved — all thanks to a single picture.
“We’re so grateful for the One Picture Saves a Life program. I never considered myself a photographer, but I receive weekly compliments from adopters who came in specifically because of photos they came across. The impact this program is making for shelters across the country is nothing short of astounding!”
Learn more about our One Picture Saves a Life program, which is made possible thanks to our partners The Animal Rescue Site, GreaterGood.org, John Paul: Pet and Underwater Dogs photographer Seth Casteel.
The Humane Society of Independence County in Batesville, Ark., snagged a $1,000 as a regional winner in last year’s Animal Rescue Site Shelter+ Challenge. The shelter’s Sue Augustus sends us this report:
“Thank you so very much for all that you do to help those of us in animal rescue try to make a difference. A special thanks to The Animal Rescue Site for their generous support of these contests over the past several years! What a great way to increase support from all our communities, AND make a difference in so many pet’s lives!
I am attaching a couple of pictures of some of our more recent challenging and successful adoptions. Both stories are so very heartwarming and truly let us know that we can make a difference!
Arbor came to our shelter in June 2011 along with her three sisters, Zinfandel, Fluff and Miller. They had been found abandoned way out in the country and were quite wild and unsocialized. It took many volunteers many months to get these sweet girls to a point where they were adoptable. All found wonderful loving homes except for Arbor.
Arbor continued to flourish in our shelter, but just never find her forever family. Then, in December, Zinfandel’s family (they had renamed her Blanche) contacted us and said they were wanting to adopt Arbor and reunite her with her sister. Oh what a happy day for everyone at our shelter, and for the two sisters! Arbor is seen in this picture, snuggled up with her sister Blanche.
The comments from their family: “The sisters are happy to be together! They love running and playing in the backyard. They snuggle when they sleep. Arbor (who will remain Arbor because she knows her name and that’s what we’ve called her for the last eight months!) is so very different from Blanche. Much more people-oriented, braver, and sillier! She loves to play! Thank you for allowing us to bring these two beautiful girls into our lives!”
We just LOVED this Happy Tail!
Shades came to us in June 2009 with his sister, Flicker. They had been fostered for a short period of time before we could get them into our shelter. They were about four months old. Flicker found her home after living at our shelter for almost a year and a half, but Shades had to wait. He was one of our longest residents, but in November of 2012 a miracle walked in. David and Tina took their time in deciding on their new best friend and trucking companion. Shades ultimately was adopted by David and Tina, and he immediately took to the highways with them in their 18-wheeler, traveling back and forth from Arkansas to California!
For the next several weeks, pictures were posted of Shades on his “Excellent Adventure” on our Facebook page. What a most wonderful and heartwarming story for all our staff, volunteers and supporters!
This is Bree. A beautiful dilute Calico. She was playful and mischievous. As a kitten, she stole my socks out of the hamper and would walk around the house carrying them in her mouth. She loved Christmas tree ornaments and would sometimes be seen halfway up the tree sleeping amongst the branches. Once I found two ornaments left as “presents” in my bed. I will miss her playful running around sounding like a herd of elephants. I’ll really miss the quiet way she purred that required me to put my ear on her belly to hear it.–Leona Livingston
When a schoolbus crashed into Wright-Way Rescue in Niles, Ill. on Oct. 2, dozens of adoptable pets — and the shelter itself — were left homeless. We’re giving Wright-Way a $10,000 grant to purchase a mobile adoption trailer so it can continue to save lives as it recovers from this disaster.
No people or animals were harmed by the crash, but Wright-Way was forced to vacate its adoption center, where it finds homes for 5,000 pets each year. Wright-Way pulls about 75 dogs and cats a week from rural, open-admission shelters, and without a means to find them homes while the organization searches for a new, permanent facility, many animals throughout the Midwest would be euthanized.
We reached out to Wright-Way and offered to help. Founder Christy Anderson told us a grant would be used to purchase a trailer to serve as a mobile adoption center for now, and after Wright-Way finds a permanent location for its adoption center, the trailer will be used for off-site adoptions and pick up for spay/neuter surgeries.
Anderson was delighted to hear that the Petfinder Foundation would fund the $10,000 trailer. “Wright-Way Rescue and myself are incredibly thankful for the amazing support of the Petfinder Foundation,” she tells us. “Your generosity is so greatly appreciated during this time of need. We are so looking forward to having a mobile adoption center and are confident it will help us continue our mission of saving homeless pets. Thank you!!!”
It has taken me a few years to get to this, but I am hopeful that by sharing Sweet Pete’s story, I’ll offer my memory of him some rest. It would be an gross injustice to say that Sweet Pete haunts me, but “what could have been” still causes my heart to ache on a fairly regular basis.
My family was kayaking on Easter and we found him near the river. Covered with ticks and fleas, his teeth were worn to nubs from flea biting his entire life. He was emaciated at about 40 lbs. — way too thin for a German Shepherd. He was an oldster, probably well older than 10, my weakness, and he had the kindest eyes. We all fell in love.
When we took him to the doctor to find out why he was listing to one side, we discovered he had a brain tumor. It was tough to see in detail, because the buckshot in his head and neck obscured the view on the radiographs. On day two with Sweet Pete (named after the Easter Bunny) we knew he needed radiation treatment, which the docs said might buy him six months of health.
Determined to give Sweet Pete six months of what he always deserved, we decided to treat him like family and give him a fighting chance. Through 12 weeks of treatment he gave us back these gifts:
He snuggled all night with my teenage daughter.
He protectively shepherded my 2-year-old granddaughter, keeping nefarious characters (our other dogs and a gang of roving chickens) far away from her.
He let us see him learn to play.
He let Charlie-cat boss him around.
He always appreciated my cooking.
He defined, for our whole family, what the “perfect” dog is.
On the twelfth week of treatment, right before his final radiation visit, he started to have severe seizures from the radiation (a known risk) and we had to euthanize him during a trip to the emergency clinic.
Was it worth it? Can 12 weeks of eating buffalo burgers, getting to sleep in a little girl’s bed, running on the farm, and being flea-free make up for a decade of suffering (plus 12 weeks of radiation treatments)? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that he was a good guest in our life and would have loved us and shepherded us with dignity and gratitude as long as he could have.
Now, two years later, my biggest problem is that Sweet Pete unveiled the truth lurking in the rural woods surrounding our affluent community. And that, not Sweet Pete, is what haunts me.–Betsy Banks Saul
Sadie was one of those dogs who was friendly to anyone and everyone. She had a very energetic personality that would brighten up anyone’s day. Sadie, a Brittany Spaniel and a hunting dog by nature, loved to run around the back yard and playfully bark and point at all the birds and animals that would walk or fly by. She was always very alert and aware of her surroundings, which made her a perfectly family dog.
At such a young age, I never felt unsafe while I was around her. Sadie was my partner in crime, always by my side. She even helped me eat my ice cream cones! I remember clear as day, on a hot summer afternoon when I was in my back yard playing on my wooden play set, minding my own business eating my vanilla ice cream cone … Sadie came over
and helped herself to the rest of my ice cream cone. I was really angry at first, but then later realized she was probably just trying to help me when she noticed that more of the ice cream was dripping on me than ending up in my mouth.
After that day, Sadie eating my ice cream cones became a weekly thing, but I didn’t mind.
To this day I still miss Sadie. She was the first dog that I remember from when I was growing up. And I was definitely her favorite out of everyone in my family, which clearly explains why she only liked to eat my ice cream.
Though Sadie is no longer with me today, she lived a long, wonderful life, and passed at the age of 15. I cannot wait for the day that I have a dog of my own just like Sadie, to share experiences with and enjoy the friendship that comes along with having a companion just as energetic and fun-loving as Sadie. It has been many years since Sadie’s passing, but to this day, she always holds a special place in my heart.–Allison Michelle Vergara