5 feel-good animal stories

Chunky-cheeked cat in a kennel
These five stories from shelters and rescue organizations across the country are surefire pick-me-ups.
By Liz Finch  

From a St. Bernard mom dog extraordinaire taking excellent care of her own puppies while also caring for six orphaned little ones to a young deaf dog learning sign language from a former American Sign Language (ASL) professor: These stories are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

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What’s in a name?

How can a shelter make puppies stand out from a crowd of cute adoptables? Get creative with their names. That’s what Austin Pets Alive did for NBC’s nationwide Clear the Shelters event, naming six pups after Today show anchors and hosts: Savannah, Hoda, Carson, Al Roker, Craig and Jenna Bush Hager. The puppies not only got some great media coverage but they were adopted almost immediately.

No shrinking violet

Petunia, a St. Bernard mix at No Dog Left Behind in Minnesota, deserves a medal. She not only took excellent care of her 11 puppies, but when a litter of six orphaned puppies arrived, she started caring for them, too. She fed, cleaned and cuddled them as if they were her own. And when they were big enough, everyone was adopted, including mama Petunia.

Hakuna matata indeed

You don’t often see a seven-pound Chihuahua perched atop a 125-pound potbellied pig, but seeing one is just part of a typical day for Timon and Pumbaa. Named after the meerkat and warthog in The Lion King, this bonded pair arrived at Arizona Humane Society when their person could no longer care for them. They quickly moved on to a permanent home at Better Piggies Rescue Ranch, where the sight of Timon riding Pumbaa doesn’t raise a single eyebrow among the 145 animals (including rescued pigs, cows, dogs and a horse) who call the ranch home.

A good sign

Apollo’s former family relinquished the 14-month-old dog to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay in Florida because they struggled with the challenges of living with a deaf dog. The shelter staff wasn’t sure how to find someone who could train Apollo to understand hand signals. But as it turns out, they didn’t even have to look because a former professor who teaches American Sign Language (ASL) walked in one day to see the dogs. The professor and Apollo bonded instantly.

Unique tortie

The staff members of The Animal Foundation in Las Vegas, Nevada, knew right away that Comet the kitten was not a typical tortoiseshell. That’s because male cats with black-and-orange patterned coats are incredibly rare. (In other words, he’s kind of a big deal.) The unique little guy was adopted in no time flat.

This article was originally published in the September/October 2022 issue of Best Friends magazine. Want more good news? Become a member and get stories like this six times a year.