Announcing the Winners of Our Giving Day #BeTheOne Story Contest
In August, we encouraged ASPCA supporters across the country to #BeTheOne for animals in need in honor of ASPCA Giving Day, and the response was monumental. As part of our month-long Giving Day celebration, we also encouraged you to submit stories about the special animals in your lives for a chance to win an ASPCA prize pack and a feature on the website.
After careful consideration we have chosen a winner—Petey! We are thrilled to share his story, along with the stories of five other finalists: Mattie, Bishop, Georgie, Sweet Charity and Milo.
Petey, as told by by Ishy C.
In 2013 I adopted Petey, a badly abused, former fighting dog whose emotional scars were far deeper than his physical ones. Petey was initially not a good companion. When I petted him or spoke to him, he stared over my shoulder or studied the ground. While the dog went about the serious business of ignoring me, I read all I could about emotionally damaged dogs, but still got my feelings hurt whenever Petey bit or snapped.
Eventually, he began to gain weight. Twenty-nine pounds at rescue, the formerly emaciated American Bulldog blossomed into 90 pounds of “don’t touch me.” His nightmares regularly woke us—it was the only time he submitted to my adoration. I would lay his polar-bear-like head on my lap and sing made-up songs. I stroked the ditch in his neck left by an ingrown collar and kissed the scars on his head. In the mornings, he would pee on the floor and drag me all over the farm.
A year went by in this manner, with him despising me, and me turning my life upside down to make him happy. Because my common sense was lacking in those days, I agreed to foster a tiny, wiry-haired puppy from the rescue where we adopted Petey. The little dog’s weight approximated Petey’s enormous head and his pelt sprang in all directions. Augie, the imp, had no idea that Petey was neurotic and unbalanced. He didn’t know that the older dog was mistrustful and antisocial. Though we kept a close eye on them, we needn’t have worried. It is a myth that all fighting dogs are violent. When Augie snugged himself along Petey’s belly and laid his “peanut head” on Petey’s arm, the larger dog didn’t quite know what to make of it. Sometimes he would just lie there, soaking in the little dog’s warmth. Other times, he would get up, move 10 feet away and thump to the floor with more drama than I felt necessary. But Augie just followed him, as if the floor was a much better idea than the dog bed. He drank at the same time Petey did, napped with my husband and was a willing nominee of my motherly affection. At night, he slept in Petey’s den. There were no more nightmares.
However, the foster assignment was over too soon. I drove Augie to the transport van that would take him an entire state away from us. I cried all the way home and for the next three days. On the first night, Petey searched the yard and house for his friend. He painfully clambered up the steps to the loft, a place he never went on his own, to search for Augie. “Ishy,” my husband had said the night before transport, in a moment of rare irritation, “if you want Augie, then let’s keep him. I’m not driving seven hours to get a dog that was in my living room the day before.” He admitted later that even as he said it, he knew he’d be driving seven hours to get a dog that was in his living room the day before. So Augie reentered our home and set in motion healing changes that brought Petey out of the darkness that had claimed his life. His love for Augie eventually transferred to love for us.
Today Petey is an elderly dog who enjoys napping, barking at his reflection in the mirror, and having the loose hair vacuumed from his back. The only evidence of his past are the scars that mark his body. Thanks to Augie, they did not leave an imprint on his soul.
Mattie, as told by by Tom M.
My wife and I were ready to add a four-legged friend to our pack and read about a litter of puppies that had been born feral behind a local strip mall. Several of them were killed by teenagers before a Good Samaritan could save the remaining pups. Reading that, we went to save these pups, but upon arriving at the rescue and talking with the manager, she suggested our work schedules were not conducive to giving puppies that age the time they need, and instead referred us to "Dory," a dog a little older who had been dropped off by a woman who said nothing more than: "If you don't take her, my husband will kill her,” and left.
So at a meet and greet, little Dory spotted my wife and SPRINTED across the floor to her in a ball of excited wiggles, arriving at her feet within seconds and simultaneously starting to lick my wife AND pee all over her foot at the same time. We knew right then that we had been claimed as her people. A brief play session in the yard cemented what everyone already knew, and later that day Dory, now named "Mattingly J. Dog," was ensconced in the backseat of our car, lying on my wife’s lap, being driven to her forever home.
Fast forward 14 years, Mattie is the center of our lives. Slowed from arthritis and four ACL surgeries, she still gives the delivery man the what-for anytime he feels like ringing the bell. As she would tell it, she has saved our lives hundreds of times from him, and we need to show a little more appreciation for her efforts. It was also Mattie, both literally and figuratively, who inspired me to start my pet photography business, Bundle of Paws. If it wasn't for Mattie, none of this would have happened. Here is to another 14 years of love and cuddles and celebrating life with the best dog ever.
Bishop, as told by by Erika G.
I first came across Bishop (aka Push-Up) through a shared Facebook plea posted to a group page for shelter volunteers. He had just received emergency surgery to amputate one of his legs due to infection from an old injury. Push-Up had been living in a hoarding situation in Camden, New Jersey, when NJ Aid for Animals first met him. He had previously been hit by a car, and was never taken to see a vet.
The administrator for the Facebook group shared Push-Up's post-recovery photos following his amputation. The images of a skinny white-and-orange cat with a long row of stitches were plastered across my phone screen. After reading his story I knew that I needed to meet this cat and bring him home. We made arrangements for me to come meet little Push-Up to decide if he would be a good fit for our family. Push-Up was being kept in a foster room in a big dog crate with lots of comfy blankets to keep him inactive while he recovered from surgery. I knelt down to his level, put my hand out and waited. After a very hesitant sniff, Push-Up decided that I must be alright, and let me pet his head. I looked up and said "I'll take him." We made arrangements to come pick him up a couple days later, and I don't think he's ever looked back.
My fiancé and I welcomed him into our home and decided on the name “Bishop,” to fit in with our X-Men theme. We've had Bishop for a little over a year now, but it feels as if he's always been a part of our family. He's the happiest cat, even when he's at the vet's, and he never stops purring. After taking him to our vet we discovered that he was FIV positive, so now I love to use him as an example for potential adopters not to overlook the FIV or amputee cats at the shelter where I volunteer. He's a constant reminder of why you should always adopt, and to support your local animal rescue groups who work so hard for these animals who otherwise would never have made it.
Georgie, as told by by Emily V.
Just a few weeks into the new year, I happened upon a horrific story on the local news. A beautiful pit bull had been abandoned by his owners, chained up with no access to food or water, and was then shot and left for dead by an unknown neighbor. The story concluded with a plea for a foster family to take him in while he recovered.
Having two dogs of my own, plus four cats and one toddler, I knew taking in an injured dog who would need physical therapy in addition to TLC would be a challenge. But it was one to which I could not say no. I called Metro Animal Control here in Nashville and volunteered to take Georgie.
When we took him in he was broken, both physically and emotionally. There was so much pain in his eyes. I would have to carry him upstairs and over thresholds because he was too weak to do it himself. We would have to carry him into the living room with us in the evenings and place him on a dog bed because he was too scared to enter by himself.
After several weeks of fostering and some absolutely amazing rehabilitation work by Canine Rehabilitation of Nashville, Georgie became a whole new dog! He became so happy! Nothing warmed my heart more to see him wag his tail when I walked in the door. He loved to run in the backyard with my two Beagles, and he grew to love my three-year-old daughter. He was very gentle with her but protective as well.
After more than two months, Georgie was almost completely healed from his injuries. He still had a slight limp but that didn’t stop him from running like a Greyhound through the backyard. He was climbing stairs with no problems and would even cuddle up on the couch when we let him.
I am happy to report that Georgie has now been adopted permanently by his forever family and is doing fabulously! They love him dearly and he is just thriving in his new home.
I wanted to share this story with you because I think it shows how vital being a foster can be to an animal in need. Fosters save lives! So many people say "I could never foster an animal because I'd get too attached." To that I say, "What a wonderful problem for an animal in need to face … being temporarily placed with someone who loves them too much." I know my husband and I helped save Georgie's life, and that is something we are incredibly proud of. For more information about Georgie's journey with us, follow the hashtag #GeorgieOnMyMind on Facebook!
Sweet Charity, as told by by Donna C.
My Kitty’s name is Sweet Charity Hope Valentine. Her name represents exactly who she is in my life. She brings me joy, hope and unconditional love every day! We have had a special bond since I adopted her as a kitten from the SFSPCA. Charity is a miracle and a hero: she survived a terrible blood clot and heart disease, recovering in a way that astounded all the doctors.
She has helped save other cats’ lives by allowing doctors to see that a kitty can overcome a horrible crisis and live a quality life. Charity lives a life like no other cat! Charity is a world traveler, traveling across the country four times, where she visited many national parks such as Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Zion, Mt. Rainier and many more.
The gifts she has given to me completely outweigh what I have done for her. The unconditional love from one so beautiful and sweet is one that I will treasure for the rest of my days and beyond.
Milo, as told by by Morgan S.
When I first met Milo, he was playing with other pups and I didn't realize anything was off —until he laid down. Milo only has three legs due to the neglect of a previous owner. Being a three-legged pit bull-mix, Milo was with the best foster family for quite a while and I fell in love with him at an adoption event in my small town. That day, without yet having a plan, I put down a deposit and asked them to hold him for me.
Now, Milo has been with me for over four years, through one graduation and five moves spanning four cities and two states. We currently live in Washington, D.C., and he loves going on walks through crowded streets. He thinks every walk is a personal parade for him and prances down the sidewalk because he loves attention from strangers.
I didn't set out to adopt a "special" dog, nor did I intend to adopt a pit bull, but I wouldn't change it for the world. Dogs who are disabled or arbitrarily deemed aggressive because of their breed are often just misunderstood, and I've got the goofiest and most cuddly dog to prove it. I'd challenge anyone to adopt a dog who faces stereotypes—they'll be extra grateful for your love and you'll have the unique opportunity to introduce both strangers and friends to your dog and help break the stereotype.