Ever wonder what happens to those sad faces on adoption pages of rescue websites? Do the dogs there ever find their happily ever after? Here, meet six dogs who were rescued in terrible conditions (think: sick, stressed, abandoned) but who are now part of wonderful families and living the good life.
Chance came to the Voorhees Animal Orphanage as a stray. He was emaciated, so weak he could barely hold his head up, and very scared. Even after he got better, he was adopted twice and returned to the shelter both times.
Betsey Cichoracki and her boyfriend had gone to the shelter to look at another dog, but that dog didn’t get along with cats (Betsey has two) so they got the opportunity to meet Chance and fell in love with him. Chance is now the king of the house (sorry, kitties!), according to his adopter, and he’s a big couch potato and goes to work with his dad a couple times a week so he can hang out with the guys.
Koko was dropped off at the Michigan Humane Society with a note that said her owners were moving and they couldn’t take her with them. After an examination, the shelter found signs that suggested she had given birth to multiple litters of puppies, leading to the speculation she may have come from a puppy mill.
Koko was about eight years old and had lost all of the hair on her ears due to stress. She was also missing more than half of her teeth and was underweight. Because of her age and the fact she was so scared and withdrawn, her chances for adoption were slim.
Summer Stoneburner and her boyfriend walked into the shelter looking for a young dog or a puppy.
“However, fate had a different plan for us,” says Stoneburner. “As they say, you don’t pick the dog, the dog picks you.”
Koko now spends a lot of time on the water (Summer and her boyfriend love boating), sleeps in a warm, comfortable king-sized bed and has a bigger wardrobe than her new mom.
Kimo was rescued by the SPCA Puerto Vallarta. When he was found roaming the streets, Kimo had mange, was malnourished, and very much terrified and shut down. He also tested positive for Ehrlichia (a tick-borne illness) and heartworm and was covered in ticks.
Canada-based Shannon stumbled upon the SPCA Puerto Vallarta Facebook page and fell in love with Kimo after looking at his pictures. By then, Kimo had been moved to Canada and was being fostered in a suburb of Vancouver. After an application and a very successful meeting, Kimo moved in with Shannon and her husband Rich.
Today, Kimo goes on daily hour-long hikes in the forest with a pack of doggie friends.
“He also loves coming to my office, where I have four staff that fawn all over him and he loves it,” says Rich Patterson. Kimo is back to being a healthy dog with no lasting issues.
Richie was rescued from a high-kill shelter in January 2011.
“I saw a photo of him on Facebook, called a rescue and asked if they could pull and transport him,” says Bonnie Gayle, Richie’s mom. “I got him pulled in the nick of time because he was third in line [to be euthanized] when they called the shelter.”
When he arrived to Gayle’s home, he was so weak and sickly that he couldn’t stand on his own. Richie also had signs of being abused and his fur was matted to the skin.
Richie is now a happy, bubbly dog who goes to work with Gayle every day.
“I am a financial coach and people are scared to deal with their money challenges,” Gayle says. “I call Richie my therapy dog for those who need some support around money.”
Mollie was found in September 2013. She had parvovirus and was severely neglected. Mollie was between one and three years old at the time and only weighed seven pounds.
After being rescued, Mollie went straight to the injury and illness coordinator at Secondhand Hounds Rescue. She was put into a foster home with Sara, a staff member.
Although Sara had fostered dozens of sick puppies before, she couldn’t let Mollie go. After three months of fostering, she officially adopted Mollie. Today, Mollie (who weighs 30 pounds) enjoys cuddling with her human sister, canine sister and brother and running in her fenced-in backyard.
Eleven-year-old Axel was was found as a stray in Kentucky with awful allergies and horribly long nails. With the help of Mobile Mutts (a transport coordination program that bridges the gap between high kill shelters and rescues), he was transported to Minnesota and went into a foster home through Secondhand Hounds.
After three months, Patrick, Axel’s foster dad, adopted him. Axel now spends his days enjoying car rides, eating, and playing with the other senior dog in the house.
Diana Bocco is a full-time writer and adventurer, whose work has been published in DiscoveryChannel.com, Yahoo!, & Popular Mechanics.