For a mini dachshund named Aaron, the road to a “forever home” was anything but smooth. Surrendered to the ASPCA in July 2013, the three-year-old pup was suffering from a whole host of medical problems—including a broken leg—and displayed behavioral issues like aggression and anxiety. We knew that he would need a patient adopter willing to earn his trust, and fortunately, a lifelong dachshund-lover named Marissa was up for the challenge. Here is their Happy Tail.
“Dogs are my passion in life,” says Marissa. She and her then-fiancé, Pete, already had a six-year-old dachshund when they decided they wanted another dog. But with a wedding on the way, Pete thought it would be best to wait until after their honeymoon to adopt a new furry friend. “I agreed, but the second we were home from the honeymoon I started looking for another dachshund,” says Marissa. On that very first night, she found Aaron on the ASPCA website.
“I particularly love dachshunds for all their great traits and endearing quirks, and I figured there was no way a dog as cute as Aaron would still be available,” she says. Sure enough, she called the ASPCA Adoption line at 10:59 A.M. the next day (it opens at 11), to inquire about little Aaron. We invited her to come in for a meeting.
At the meeting, Marissa learned a bit more about Aaron’s history. His previous owner surrendered him to the ASPCA when his myriad medical and emotional needs became more than she could handle. In addition to the leg—which had been broken by another dog before being treated at the ASPCA Animal Hospital—Aaron has a swallowing condition called cricopharyngeal dysfunction that requires twice-daily medication. On top of all that, he was a nervous dog who displayed aggressive behavior toward strangers and other animals. It was a lot of information to receive at one time, but Marissa was unphased. “That sounds like most dachshunds!” she laughed.
To make absolutely sure that Aaron was the right fit, Marissa asked Pete to come see him right away. “He had a meeting, but knew if he didn’t come to the ASPCA I would probably divorce him,” she jokes. He left work immediately and came to the ASPCA Adoption Center, where Aaron had surprised everyone by becoming friends with Marissa’s other dachshund, Oscar. Watching the two dogs play, we had all the confirmation we needed—this family was a perfect match.
After his adoption, Aaron relaxed happily into his new life. Marissa says, “He fit into our household very easily. He’s an absolute sweetheart and the adjustment went a lot smoother and quicker than we could have imagined.” Aaron seemed to forget his past trauma, and though his condition makes it hard to eat and drink water, the family does everything possible to make his life easier. “I think the love and compassion Aaron received at the ASPCA prepared him for his new life and a permanent home,” says Marissa. “We are so thankful for everything you’ve done for him.”
When Hunan and Adore came to the ASPCA at the height of kitten season, they were less than 4 weeks old. The tiny kitties had been found together as strays, and both were suffering from untreated infections that left them with serious eye damage. Though we hoped to keep them together, we were struggling to find one family willing to take both babies home. Fortunately, two roommates from Brooklyn came along and adopted Hunan and Adore—proving that in the end, family is whatever you make of it. Here is their doubly-happy Happy Tail.
Sam and Kaylie have been sharing an apartment in Brooklyn since January, when Kaylie moved to New York from California. After a few months together, the lifelong cat-lovers realized that their apartment was missing something very important: a feline! Not content to share a cat, the roomies decided that they each wanted a furry friend of their own, and in May, they headed to the ASPCA Adoption Center.
“Kaylie and I both wanted to adopt,” Sam recalls. “We thought it would be great to adopt a pair so that when we have to leave the apartment, it will be a bit more bearable.” After meeting many cats, though, the roommates hadn’t found any that felt like the perfect fit. They were nearly ready to leave when they spotted two tiny tuxedo kittens, Hunan and Adore.
At just a few months old, Hunan and Adore were far from the adult cats that Sam and Kaylie had envisioned before their visit. But they were drawn to pair and asked to meet them. “We took them out and immediately they started running around and playing with each other and falling all over themselves,” laughs Kaylie. It didn’t take long before one duo was sold on the other. “When Hunan looked at me with her one eye in a perpetual wink, I found her so heart-meltingly charming that I knew she was the one for me,” Kaylie says. Sam felt the same way about Adore: “With the distinguishing white-dipped tail, I knew my kitten was a star.” The new foursome headed home together that very same day.
Back at home, Sam and Kaylie’s new four-legged roommates settled in easily. “There was barely an adjustment—they both took to the apartment almost immediately!” Kaylie tells us. “Having a buddy throughout the whole move seemed to give them both an added boost of courage,” adds Sam.
In the weeks that followed, things only got better. Adore quickly established herself as the “house musician,” thanks to her tendency to walk on Sam’s piano, while Hunan is known as the family “techie” who loves to pounce on phones and computers. Looking back, both Sam and Kaylie are thrilled with how their home has grown. “It was a great decision to get both cats,” Kaylie says. “They bring us so much joy every day, and we couldn’t be happier with our new roommates and family members.”
Looking back at all of our Happy Tails, a clear theme emerges: pets are more than just furry, four-legged animals living in our homes. They are our best friends, our support systems, and our constant sources of joy. That’s why, when Joshua S. was struggling through a difficult period in his life, a dog named Brewster was the only thing able to turn it all around. Here is their Happy Tail.
Joshua grew up with dogs—a Pomeranian and a Newfoundland—but had been without a pup of his own since moving to New York City. While going through what he describes as “the most trying time in my life,” Joshua thought the companionship of a dog was just what he needed. At the end of May, he headed to the ASPCA Adoption Center in search of a little companion. “I was originally looking to adopt a smaller breed as they seemed more practical for city living,” says Joshua. “However, when I began looking at the ASPCA, I fell in love with pit bulls.”
Fortunately for Joshua, Brewster—a one-year-old pit bull—was at the ASPCA Adoption Center waiting for his new forever home. He and another dog, Bonnie, first came to the ASPCA in October 2013 after being rescued from an abusive situation. Though initially timid and nervous around new people, Brewster’s puppy-like energy soon shone through, and he was eager to meet the right person.
“I knew Brewster was the dog for me as soon as I saw him,” says Joshua. “I had seen quite a few dogs, but when I got to his room, he immediately jumped up and wanted to play.” The two spent some time getting to know each other, but Joshua was already certain that Brewster was right choice. “He was so affectionate, and you could tell that he had so much love to give. I knew definitively that he was the one.”
Back at home, Joshua’s new companion proved to be everything he had hoped for. “Brewster sleeps with me at night, and if he’s not curled up at the end of my bed, he’s next to me with one paw resting below my shoulder as if he’s protecting me.” Brewster loves to daydream by the windowsill, and the two pals spend lots of time together at the dog park, running, and exploring the neighborhood. Before Joshua leaves for work, he says, “Brewster will literally jump up and wrap his arms around me to give me a hug. He does the same when I return home, except he has a lot of kisses as well.”
Both Joshua and Brewster persevered through a period of suffering before they found each other, and their bond is so much stronger because of it. “I thought the companionship of a dog would help me through,” says Joshua, “and Brewster has done just that. He has helped me more than I could ever imagine possible.”
Brewster’s sister, Bonnie, is still waiting for her forever home. If you are interested in adopting this sweet girl, please contact the ASPCA Adoption Center at 212-876-770 ext. 4120.
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