At the ASPCA, we love when adopters tell us that “it was meant to be.” Whether or not fate is truly involved in animal adoption, it’s so comforting to know that our dogs and cats are so perfectly matched to their new homes—and it inspires us to keep doing what we do. So when we heard the story of Lucy and her new cat, Keenu, we just had to share it. Here is their Happy Tail.
Lucy recently moved to New York from the UK. Having grown up with cats, she thought a furry friend would be the perfect addition to her new home in the Big Apple. But after visiting a number of adoption centers, she was struggling to find the right pet.
Lucy’s boyfriend, who was still in the UK at the time, offered to help by searching for cats online. That’s when he saw Keenu. “He said he loved her and she was perfect,” recalls Lucy. “I wasn’t so convinced and said, ‘Oh, I’m not sure, I don’t think she’s the one.” But later that same night, Lucy left her apartment to run an errand and spotted a sign. “I saw a flyer that said the ASPCA Mobile Adoption Van would be in the neighborhood that weekend, so I thought I would pop along to see if there were any potential cats.”
True to her plan, she visited the adoption vehicle that weekend. “As soon as I walked into the van, I spotted the most beautiful cat with huge green eyes,” says Lucy. “I put my hand out and she started licking me and rubbing her head against my hands—it was honestly love at first sight.” Then came the revelation: “I read her name: Keenu, the one my boyfriend had seen online! What are the odds? I actually could not believe it,” she laughs.
Keenu, a three-year-old Siberian mix, had been surrendered to the ASPCA by her previous owner due to financial issues. She seemed eager to settle into a new home, and Lucy decided then and then and there that that new home would be hers. “Keenu is by far the most charming cat I have ever met,” she tells us. “At first she was quiet, but now she’s quite chatty and makes this cute little chirp-meow in the morning when she’s seen that I have woken up.”
Lucy now fully agrees that she and Keenu are the perfect match. “Baby Keens, KiKi, Keenypie, Keenypaws…My family say I’m obsessed with her and I quite literally am! When I pick her up, she purrs and purrs.”
Looking back, Lucy admits, “It was fate that Keenu was on the van that day,” and we couldn’t agree more. We hope that their story serves as a reminder to all readers that your very own “Happy Tail” may be nearby, even when you least expect it!
Victims of animal cruelty are often the hardest animals to place into a home. Shyness, fear and anxiety regularly plague these pets—and not all adopters feel up to the task.But those who do often discover that underneath the pain, there’s an animal that is eager to love and be loved. Such was the case with Escher, a 55-lb. Shepherd/Collie mix with a mysterious past who proved that sometimes, the greatest hardship leads to the greatest reward. Here is his Happy Tail.
As a photographer for the ASPCA, Stacey Axelrod spends most days meeting with and photographing dogs and cats at the ASPCA Adoption Center. Though she has worked with hundreds of animals, she knew from her very first encounter with Escher that he was special. In February, Escher and five other dogs were rescued from an abandoned van in Brooklyn, New York. Hungry and freezing, all six dogs were suffering from some form of vision impairment, ranging from Entropion (an eyelid disease) to total blindness. They were all incredibly shy and fearful, and though we were unsure of how long they had been in the van, it was clear that it would take a lot of work to restore their faith in humans.
After meeting Escher, Stacey began visiting him at the Adoption Center every day. “I knew I wanted a dog who might have some trouble finding a home,” she says, so she invited her fiancé Jon to come meet him, too. “At first, Escher would shy away when we tried to pet him,” says Stacey. “He was scared of everything and I could tell he just needed someone to give him confidence.” After spending some time with the timid pooch, she and Jon were sold. “I have no idea what he went through earlier in his life, but I just felt like he deserved the life I could give him.”
At home, Stacey and Jon discovered the full extent of Escher’s issues. “He was terrified of stairs and there are lots of stairs to get into my apartment building,” she says. “I spent hours with him just sitting there and trying to coax him one step further.” In addition to the stairs, Escher also exhibited an extreme fear of strangers, other dogs, and being left alone. Stacey did research on dog behavior and Positive Reinforcement Training, and slowly but surely, helped Escher become more comfortable.
“I remember the first time he laid down and rolled over next to me,” Stacey recalls. “It was the first of many milestones and the first time I saw him truly relax. I never really wanted to nap on my kitchen floor, but I couldn’t resist it that day. He allowed me to snuggle up next to him and everything changed after that. It was love at first belly rub.”
As time went on, Escher continued to show signs of improvement. He tackled his fear of stairs, and he even mastered some tricks like sit, down, paw, and high five. “He’s still learning typical dog behaviors,” says Stacey, “but at some point, he realized that he could trust us and that he was here to stay. It was like something clicked. We celebrated the tiniest of changes, and now I can’t believe how far he has come.”
Though working with Escher has been a roller coaster of emotions, Stacey never once doubted her decision. “When I get discouraged, I just play some games with him and remember how amazing and goofy he is despite his fears,” she says. “He’s the perfect dog.” And though she has spent a lot of time working with Escher, he has given her so much in return. “He has taught me so much about commitment, living in the present, and celebrating the small things. I never knew I could have such a strong mutual relationship with a dog until I got Escher.”
Admittedly, the timid Escher is still gaining confidence, but his progress is undeniable. And from the cold February morning in an abandoned van to the warmth and love of Stacey and Jon’s home, he has already come so far.
Three of the dogs rescued with Escher, Caitlyn, Dermott, and Brona, are still waiting for their forever homes. For more information about adopting these sweet dogs, please contact the ASPCA Adoption Center at (212) 876-7700 ext. 4120
We all know that physical abuse and extreme neglect constitute cruelty to animals—but one little-discussed form of cruelty is abandonment. Though it seems less dramatic than other violations, abandonment is indeed cruelty—and its consequences can be just as dire. For proof, look no further than Hal the cat, an animal whose health was profoundly compromised due to abandonment—and who ultimately found his happiness in a new forever home. Here is Hal’s Happy Tail.
Hal came to the ASPCA in July 2013 after being found abandoned in a carrier on the street. Left without care or provisions, his teeth were badly decayed and his mouth was bleeding. Because of significant oral pain, he was unable to groom himself and was so severely matted that his entire body needed to be shaved. Already emaciated, Hal’s teeth had to be removed, which forced him onto a special soft-food diet. And that wasn’t even the worst of it. During his time on the streets, he contracted persistent Giardia (an intestinal parasite) that likely came from drinking dirty puddle water. The poor cat had been through so much hardship, all because someone chose to abandon him on the street.
After a year in our care, Hal was stronger and healthier. Despite all he had been through, he was a social and affectionate boy, though slightly shy with new people. He was ready for his forever home, and we were eager to find him an adopter. Fortunately, it was around this time that Isabella R. made the decision to adopt a cat.
“I had been checking the ASPCA blog frequently and reading stories about all of these exceptional animals looking for their forever homes,” says Isabella. “Eventually, toward the end of June, I decided it was time to adopt.” At the ASPCA Adoption Center, Isabella spent two days meeting almost every available kitty, but she was having trouble choosing just one to be her new furry friend. When Hal started meowing suddenly, she asked an ASPCA volunteer about his history. “She told me Hal’s heartbreaking story, and afterwards I asked if I could offer him some treats,” she recalls. “As I opened his door, he started eagerly meowing again, and I knew that my home was now his home, too.”
Isabella adopted Hal that day, and he settled right into her apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. “I felt instantly connected and devoted to Hal,” says Isabella. “There is nothing I appreciate more than having him curled up on the side of my bed each night, or having him greet me at the door when I come home.” In fact, Isabella was so taken with her new buddy that she went back to the ASPCA two weeks later and adopted Hal’s new brother, Ari!
After his rough experience on the streets, Hal now spends his days happy, loved, well-fed and cared for. Never again will he experience the insidious pain of abandonment, and never again will he want for anything. Isabella says, “I cannot imagine my home without Hal in it,” but we’re pretty positive that Hal cannot imagine a better life than the one she has given him.
It’s hard not to be amazed by the resilience of animals. Every day, we meet dogs and cats who have been rescued from terrible situations—abandonment, hoarding, cruelty and even fighting—but more often than not they welcome us with wagging tails and open hearts. When we met Seymour, a 70-lb. Catahoula Leopard mix, we knew he was one of those special animals. Rescued from the home of a hoarder, this gentle giant consistently amazed us with his kind and loving demeanor. Here is his Happy Tail.
Seymour arrived at the ASPCA in February after being rescued from the home of a hoarder. We could tell he had been through a lot—his face was covered in scars from dog bites—and he timidly kept his tail between his legs. In fact, he was so shy that he could only be coaxed into the assessment room with the aid of a stuffed dog. Once settled, though, we saw what a truly sweet and loving boy Seymour could be, and we hoped to find a perfect adopter who would appreciate his sensitive soul. Fortunately, that perfect adopter walked through our door four months later.
Susan S. had been to the ASPCA before. In 2006, she adopted a 6-year-old dog named Ben, who passed away last June at the age of 14. When the timing felt right, she returned to our Adoption Center to find a new companion. “I never dreamed that I would adopt a dog as big as Seymour,” recalls Susan. She was at the shelter to meet our more petite pups, but Seymour was the very first dog she saw upon entering the facility. “He is an unusual mix, so I noticed him right away—and his size, of course,” she says. “He was standing on his hind legs licking the glass and, well, he noticed me, too.” After taking the full tour and meeting all available small dogs, Susan had a revelation. “I said, ‘I need to go back and see that spotted dog.’ And that was it. Once I was in his enclosure with him and he rubbed me with his enormous head, I knew he was mine.”
Susan adopted Seymour and he moved into her apartment on the Upper West Side. She tells us, “He’s a celebrity in the neighborhood. People know his name better than mine. In fact, people I don’t even know, know Seymour!” He’s so popular that people often stop to take his photo, and despite his history of being bitten, he plays happily with all the dogs in Central Park in the morning and evening. Susan adds, “He is a perfect gentleman. He never, ever barks or acts aggressively. He has been wonderful from the start.”
When Susan tells us, “Seymour just drew me into his orbit with his soulful eyes,” we know exactly what she means. He is living proof that the past doesn’t define the dog, and we are so grateful that this 70-lb. teddy bear has found an adopter as sweet and as loving as he is.
Bonded animals—pets who must stay together—can offer adopters twice the love. Unfortunately, they can also be twice as hard to place into a permanent home. Such was the case with Lucca and Zoe, two bonded kitties who were adopted and returned to the ASPCA three times. But these pals stuck together through thick and thin, and now they’re living a doubly good life because of it. Here is their Happy Tail.
Lucca and Zoe first came to the ASPCA in November, 2012. They were left at the door of our Adoption Center in New York City, and at the time they were less than 6 months old. The two tiny kitties were adopted four days later, and we were pleased that they had found a home so quickly. But then a pattern emerged: Zoe and Lucca were returned in July 2013, then adopted again, and then returned a third time in March 2014. Though the cats were cute, we learned that little Lucca had a tendency toward accidents that was proving more than adopters could handle. In each home, he had urinated repeatedly on couches, beds, and rugs.
We set out to find the cause of Lucca’s problem, and that’s when we discovered the blood in his urine. As it turns out, this fussy feline wasn’t behaviorally challenged—he had a massive amount of bladder crystals. At our Animal Hospital, he received surgery (a cystotomy), and was given a life-long prescription for urinary-friendly food. Though we had solved his health problem, we were back to square one in terms of adopters.
Because of all they had been through together, Lucca and Zoe were listed once again as a bonded pair. We were worried about their prospects, until we remembered that one of our volunteers, Michelle D., had expressed interest in adopting bonded kitties. Michelle was introduced to Zoe and Lucca, and it was love at first sight. “When I first saw them, they were snuggled together with their paws wrapped around each other,” she says. “I called my husband Will and he was able to come see the two cats right away, and he fell in love as well.”
Before rushing into a fourth adoption for the pair, though, we made sure that Michelle and Will learned everything about their health and history. “We found out that these two year old cats had been through some tough experiences from the time they were kittens, and that made us even more determined to give them a happy home,” Michelle says. “At the ASPCA, people work so hard to give each animal the medical, nutritional, and behavioral care he or she needs. Everyone is rooting for them to find the right match, and we really wanted to adopt cats who were in need of a home.”
Fortunately, the fourth time proved to be the charm, as Lucca and Zoe are now thriving in Michelle’s home. She tells us, “They bonded solidly with us. Lucca loves to be picked up and held, Zoe loves to sleep with us, and they often follow us as we move from one room to another.” The kitties now spend their days playing with toys, snoozing around the house (Lucca loves the armchair; Zoe the ottoman), and sitting on the windowsill watching birds.
Michelle adds, “At some point each day, we’ll find them nestled together, cuddled up and bathing one another. We love these cats and feel lucky to be loved in return. We’re so grateful to the ASPCA for their commitment to find a home not only for Lucca and Zoe, but for all the other cats who come through their doors.”
With such a long history of bad luck, Lucca and Zoe are finally getting the love they deserve. We’re so glad this bonded duo found their forever home—and that they found it together.
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