Cat and dog stories to spark joy

Happy black and tan dog lying on a gray cushion
Best Friends Network Partners across the country share their tales about animals whose lives are now shining bright.
By Liz Finch

A beautiful reunion of a dog and her person. Photo sessions that put senior pups in the spotlight. And a cat whose sad expression touched hearts and helped him score a home.

Our network partners are making a difference every single day for animals in so many ways. So with partners in all 50 states, it only makes sense that there’s a lot of good news to share. Here are sweet animal stories from shelters across the U.S.

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A dog’s dramatic turn

A good Samaritan found Lilo wandering with her leash attached and a note on her collar explaining that her person had surrendered the dog when she became homeless. Lilo was taken to McKamey Animal Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where staff decided to take an unusual step: reach out on Facebook in hopes that Lilo’s person would see the message. “We want you to know Lilo is safe, and we will take the very best care of her,” the shelter posted. “But if you are reading this, we will help you with whatever you need to care for her. We are here to help in any way we can.” The post worked, and when Lilo’s person arrived at the shelter to take her back, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

New digs for needy pups

When the Humane Society of South Mississippi (HSSM) received a call about three dogs without adequate housing, officers hurried out to do a welfare check. To their happy surprise, they found that Layla, Jac, and Mr. Freckles were anything but neglected. The friendly pups were much loved by their family members, who were caring for them as best they could.

That’s not an uncommon situation in a community, so HSSM applied for and received a grant from Best Friends to purchase doghouses for the trio, as well as other pets in need. “When we meet families with respect rather than judgment, they are willing to accept the resources they need in order to keep their pets rather than surrendering them to the shelter,” says a spokesperson for HSSM.

Cat frown turned upside down

New Jersey’s Homeward Bound Pet Adoption Center (HBPAC) decided to name a stray tabby Fishtopher because he “acted like a fish out of water” at the shelter. In fact, Fishtopher was quite depressed, eating only when a person would sit next to him. He also wouldn’t look up for picture-taking, which resulted in a sad-looking snapshot for his adoption profile. But that sad expression really touched people’s hearts. His adoption post went viral, prompting hundreds of people to send in adoption inquiries and dozens more to line up at the shelter’s front door.

“We’re super happy for him, but if you were interested in him, have no fear,” HBPAC said on social media. “We have hundreds of other kitties who are just as wonderful and are wishing that people would come and stand in line for them.” In the end, Fishtopher’s online popularity didn’t just net him a home; it also led to the adoption of several other cats.

Senior dogs strike a pose

Like most shelters in the country, PAWS Atlanta has difficulty finding homes for older dogs. So when JCPenney offered the shelter a chance to participate in a new program to help showcase senior dogs, the staff didn’t need to be asked twice. The program provides older pups with a session of glamour shots, and the staff knew right away who they wanted to feature: Popcorn and Sloppy Joe. “Popcorn has so much energy and loves to run around and play. Sloppy Joe is a bit more on the chill side; he likes to hang out in his sweater and take naps,” says Brenna Lakeson, communications and campaign manager. The photo shoot went off without a hitch, and both dogs loved being the center of attention.

This article was originally published in the May/June 2023 issue of Best Friends magazine. Want more good news? Become a member and get stories like this six times a year.