It’s no coincidence that many of our Happy Tails begin with a magical moment. Adopters often describe the first encounter with their pet as, “meant to be” or, “love at first sight.” But not everyone believes in kismet and fairy dust, and Stephen L. was one such person. Assuming that dog adoption would be as simple as “picking a pet,” he never expected to have his heart stolen by a pit bull named Clipper. Here is their Happy Tail.
The first thing people notice about Clipper is his smile. It’s famous at the ASPCA, and it’s one of the sweetest things about him. The second thing people notice, however, is his scars. Clipper was rescued from an abusive situation in April 2014, and when he arrived at the ASPCA Animal Hospital he was covered in multiple bite wounds on his front legs and face. The wounds—both new and old—would leave him with permanent marks.
In June, Clipper was adopted for two weeks before being returned for being “too noisy” and “frightened of loud noises.” We knew he would need someone special, and, fortunately, Stephen showed up a few weeks later.
"I grew up with dogs and remember them being some of the best parts of my childhood,” Stephen says. “I decided to adopt because I knew that there are so many good dogs that need a home. This applies especially to pit bulls.” At the ASPCA Adoption Center, Stephen set out to find a pit mix between 30 – 40 lbs., or as he calls it, “the perfect apartment-size dog.” He thought having a sense of weight and breed would be enough to guide the process, stating, “People told me, ‘Don’t worry about finding a dog, the dog will find you.’ I was just going to pick something cute and call it a day.”
Stephen met two pit mixes before being introduced to Clipper. “Since he fit my size requirements, I decided to meet him,” he recalls. “Before Clipper arrived, I was told that he was kind and sweet but very shy from being abused in his past, so not to worry if he didn’t approach me.” Not expecting anything miraculous, Stephen was taken aback by what happened next. “The elevator opened and out came Clipper. As soon as they brought him into the meeting area, my heart broke when I noticed his scarred face. Then he walked right up to me and gave me a big sloppy kiss on the cheek.”
Stephen finished his scheduled meetings with other dogs, but from that moment on, he couldn’t stop thinking about Clipper. “His big smile and his playful spirit, despite his rocky past—I knew then and there I had to make him my family.” He came back the next day for a “second date,” took Clipper for a walk, and then promptly took him home—after changing his name to Mr. Bingley, of course.
In the weeks that followed, Stephen and Mr. Bingley became inseparable friends. “It must be really difficult to uproot your life and, on top of that, to trust a complete stranger,” Stephen says of Mr. Bingley’s adjustment. “But he does not carry any of his past life in his personality.” The sweet dog now spends his days rolling in the grass, playing with his toys, and starring in his own Instagram account, @TheAdventuresOfMrBingley. Stephen says, “I know our relationship is still new, but I can’t imagine my life without him. He is the perfect thing to come home to, a bundle of sweet energy and puppy kisses!”
And though he had been skeptical of “love at first sight,” Stephen admits that he has learned so much from Mr. Bingley. “To say he had me at hello is a bit of an understatement.”
One of the realities of animal adoption is that not every animal fits in to every family. Every now and then, despite our best efforts, an animal will be returned after adoption. Such was the case with Leroy, a sweet gray kitty who spent nine months with a family before being brought back to our Adoption Center. But we never give up on an animal, and luckily for Leroy, the perfect couple came along and proved that sometimes, it takes two chances to find your one forever home. Here is Leroy’s Happy Tail.
Leroy first came to the ASPCA in October 2013. He was brought in from our city shelter—Animal Care & Control of NYC—with a stubby tail of unknown origins. He was adopted quickly, and we were thrilled to see him find a family. Knowing that he was taken care of, we returned our focus to the many animals still waiting for homes of their own.
Nine months later, however, Leroy was back at our door. The family could no longer care for him, stating that he had behavioral issues like crying and overeating. We took him back and recommitted ourselves to finding Leroy the forever family he deserved. Fortunately, Kristen and James arrived just in time.
Kristen and James moved to New York in August 2013—around the same time Leroy headed to his first home. The couple had both grown up with cats, and their move marked the first time either one had lived without one. But when dealing with a new city, new jobs, and new routines, cat adoption isn’t always in the immediate cards. “We wanted a cat from the get-go, but it didn’t really seem feasible with our schedules,” Kristen recalls. “But our apartment felt so empty.”
As the months went on, the couple found themselves missing feline companionship more and more. Kristen says, “About two weeks before we adopted, a friend visited with her cat and he was with us all weekend. It was fantastic, but after he left it just felt so lonely. We decided it was time.” They headed to the ASPCA Adoption Center, where Leroy, having just been returned, was waiting patiently for a new family.
Kristen and James met many kitties at the Adoption Center, but none seemed the right fit. Not ready to give up, they decided to visit one last group of cats. That’s when they saw Leroy. “He was laying down on an elevated platform, and when I walked over he looked up and snuggled my face,” says Kristen. “James came over and he did the same. We immediately fell in love” They adopted Leroy that same day, stating, “We couldn’t leave without him.”
Back at home, Leroy settled into his new life with ease. The couple renamed him Apollo, and he couldn’t be happier. “He loves to explore and watch pigeons out the window,” says Kristen. “He’s incredibly affectionate and playful—and his favorite toy is the Millennium Falcon!” In fact, Apollo is so content in his new home, he can’t help but brag about it! He keeps his own Facebook page that he updates himself, just to make sure everyone can see how much fun he is having.
While it’s always regretful to see an animal returned, we believe this is one instance where everything happened as it should. It may have taken two tries, but Apollo ended up in the best possible home—and in that end, that’s all that really matters.
Help us make more Happy Tails like these by making a gift to the ASPCA today.
For a first-time pet owner, animal adoption can be a daunting experience. New routines, new supplies, and a whole new lifestyle often come with a pet, and for someone like Aidan B., it can be a big adjustment. Fortunately, this first-time dog-dad had two things going for him: a girlfriend who grew up with dogs, and a new three-legged companion to show him just how fantastic pets can be. Here is the Happy Tail of Aidan, Julie, and a beagle named Finch.
Julie S. grew up with dogs and couldn’t wait to adopt one of her own. Her boyfriend, Aidan, wasn’t so sure. Many of Aidan’s relatives have pet allergies, so he hadn’t spent much time around dogs as a kid. Because he was hesitant to jump into adoption, the couple came up with a perfect solution: dog fostering. In August, they signed up for the ASPCA Foster Care Program, and Julie began looking for the perfect first dog to ease Aidan in to the pet-parenting lifestyle. That’s when she found Finch.
A seven-year-old beagle mix, Finch first came to the ASPCA in June. He was rescued from an abusive situation by the NYPD, and he arrived at the ASPCA Animal Hospital with an injured leg that needed to be amputated. Doctors at the hospital performed the surgery and Finch spent the next couple of months recovering in our care. In August—around the same time Julie and Aidan joined our foster program—Finch was ready to move in to a new home.
“I was browsing the ASPCA website and saw Finch’s face,” Julie recalls. “It was love at first sight, and can you blame me?” She sent Aidan a picture of Finch, but admits that it never even crossed her mind that they would be adopting a dog that day. “To my surprise, we both found ourselves leaving work early to go meet Finch,” she says. “Though we weren’t planning on adopting right then, we had prepared to foster.”
At the ASPCA Adoption Center, Julie and Aidan learned more about sweet Finch. Despite his injuries and difficult past, Finch was loving, playful, and curious—and perfect for the couple. “Finch is pretty adorable and I think anyone who saw his picture would want to adopt him,” says Julie. “But on a more practical note, it was really important to us that he could socialize with people and children. Also, we wanted an older dog.” Finch fit the bill, and—contrary to all plans—Julie and Aidan skipped the foster phase and adopted him that very same day. “It was just a feeling I got when I saw a picture of him, and then a feeling we both got when we met him,” she says.
In his new home, Finch seemed to forget all about his painful past. He now spends his days going for walks around his neighborhood and meeting neighbor dogs and dog owners. “I don’t think Finch has ever met a person he didn’t like!” laughs Julie. He is also learning commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “go to your bed.” Julie adds, “Finch just really fit with our personality and lifestyle.”
And for those wondering how the hesitant adopter, Aidan, is handling all of this, Julie says, “Finch has turned him into a dog person.” In fact, on their fourth night with Finch, Aidan looked at Julie and said, “I can’t even imagine our life without him.”
At the ASPCA, we believe that fostering a bond between children and animals is of the utmost importance (in fact, we have a whole website about it!). After all, in a few short years those kids will be the strongest voice for animals that we have. That’s why we were so excited to hear from ASPCA adopter Barbara H. and her nine-year-old son, Tobias, about their new feline family member. Here is the Happy Tail of a cat named Devito.
When two-year-old Devito arrived at the ASPCA in June, his back and belly were covered in burns. We didn’t know where the wounds had come from, but we were certain that the sweet cat would fare better in a foster home. So, after receiving medical treatment for his sores and scars, Devito moved into Barbara’s home to begin his healing process.
“We brought Devito home as a foster cat without any idea that we’d end up adopting him,” says Barbara. Barbara grew up with cats, but she developed a terrible feline allergy later in life. Not wanting to deprive her son of the joys of pet-parenting, she thought fostering would be a perfect solution. “I figured I could handle taking a lot of antihistamines for two weeks at a time,” says Barbara. “It was the perfect way to do some good and give Tobias at least a part-time pet.”
Though they had fostered many kitties before, nine-year-old Tobias wasn’t quite as sold on the concept: “Saying goodbye to cats at the end of the foster was good and it was bad,” he says. “It was kind of a relief because I didn’t get woken up at night anymore, but sad because I missed the way kittens would chase my toes under the covers and chew my hair while I was sleeping.”
Tobias knew from the start that there was something special about Devito. “He licked us and always wanted to cuddle up next to us and rest at least one paw on our arms and knees,” he says. “Devito followed us everywhere, including lying on the rim of the tub while I took a bath!”
There was something else special about Devito, too: Because of his skin condition, he didn’t trigger Barbara’s allergies the way other cats had. She laughs, “I knew it was serious when we started talking about naming him and inviting friends over to meet him as though he was already a member of the family. It just felt like he was our cat.” So on August 14, one week after taking Devito in as a foster, Barbara and Tobias made him an official member of the family.
Once his foster home became his forever home, Devito’s life got even better. Barbara and Tobias renamed him “Zenith,” because, as she says, “he’s black and white like an old TV.” After his wounds healed, they bought a leash and harness so they could walk him through the community garden near their house. “Zenith loves to slink through the grass stalking butterflies and birds,” says Barbara. “Walking that cat at the end of the day in the tranquil garden is a nice way for Tobias and me to spend time together, too,” she adds.
Though the adoption was unplanned, Zenith, Barbara and Tobias turned out to be a perfect match. When asked why they made the decision to adopt, Tobias put it best: “Because we wanted an extra friend.”
While overweight animals might have “more to love,” the truth is that obesity in pets is a serious cause for concern. Animal obesity can lead to a variety of health problems including difficulty breathing, pancreatitis, orthopedic issues, diabetes, and a compromised immune system. So when an overweight pug named Bubba arrived at the ASPCA in July, we knew he would need an active adopter willing to help him work toward a healthier weight. Fortunately, Carolyn O. saw the pug beneath the pudge, and Bubba is now thriving in her home. Here is their Happy Tail.
The ideal weight for an adult male pug is between 13 and 20 pounds. When Bubba came to the ASPCA, he weighed 33. Surrendered by an owner who could no longer care for him, Bubba’s health was in serious jeopardy: In addition to obesity, he was suffering from classic brachycephalic syndrome—an anatomical abnormality bred into dogs with the “pushed-in” face conformation—that makes it difficult to breathe. Even worse, Bubba’s immune system was weak from obesity and he contracted an ear infection and a terrible case of pneumonia. He needed to get into a loving home as soon as possible.
Fortunately for Bubba, Carolyn and her boyfriend Ryan were searching for a small dog to adopt. “A pug was what we both really wanted,” says Carolyn, “but rescuing was ultimately more important to us.” At the ASPCA Adoption Center, she and Ryan met a number of dogs, but most were bigger than what their apartment allowed. They went home empty-handed.
A week later, Ryan convinced Carolyn to return to the ASPCA and take one more look around. “We went back to the Adoption Center exactly one week after our initial trip to discover that there was one ‘small’ dog available that day,” she says. “They mentioned that the one dog happened to be a pug, and when we came down the hall and saw him it seemed absolutely perfect!”
After taking one look at Bubba, the couple was smitten. “We knew we’d hit the jackpot. Between his great personality, adorable face wrinkles, and infectious smile, there was no way we weren’t going to adopt Bubba,” Carolyn says. But back at home, the reality of his condition set in.
“The first two weeks were really difficult,” says Carolyn. Due to his obesity and the resulting pneumonia, Bubba was unable to even climb the stairs to Carolyn’s apartment. On walks, he couldn’t even make it around one block before becoming too tired to continue. Carolyn and Ryan implemented a strict prescription diet and weight-loss regime to help Bubba shed some pounds and overcome his illness, and slowly but surely, the precious pooch showed signs of improvement.
It has now been two months since Bubba’s adoption, and he has turned into a whole new dog. After shedding some weight, Carolyn says, “He has recovered marvelously! He makes it up the stairs no problem (often quicker than me) and loves his walks to Central Park.” Bubba now spends his days snoozing, chewing on his alligator plush toy and snuggling with his new parents. “He has a really happy and positive disposition,” says Carolyn. “He smiles constantly and brings us nothing but joy!”
Thanks to Carolyn and Ryan’s patience and persistence, Bubba is finally at a healthy weight and can look forward to a long and love-filled life in his new forever home.