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Rescues Make the Best Pets

By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

As a pet blogger, I’m often asked to recommend the best breeds of cats and dogs. My answer is always the same. I tell everyone that rescues make the best pets. I speak from experience.

Our very first dog was a miniature poodle. He had papers, which my family misplaced. It didn’t matter to us. This puppy was on his way to the pound when my mom rescued him.

Pierrot was adorable and incredibly smart. I was in kindergarten when we got him. We had him for just a few years. I remember being called into the principal’s office. The principal told me my dog died and that I should go home. I was in 5th grade. Someone in the neighborhood sprinkled poison around the outside of the park near my house; 13 dogs died.

It took us a while to heal from the pain of losing such a dear friend—a friend who slept at the foot of my bed at night and kept the monsters away.

A year after Pierrot died my mom rescued a collie, shepherd, beagle mix from a family member who didn’t want him. We named him Mr. Chips. I remember putting a few pieces of paper with different names on it on the ground. We let him pick from the names. He chose Mr. Chips.

He was handsome—especially around his eyes. It looked like someone took eyeliner and outlined them. Mr. Chips lived for 13 years watching me grow up. We were inseparable.

He didn’t want to share his space with another animal—especially a cat. However, in college, a chocolate point Siamese kitten wandered into my copy editing class. I found a box to take the kitten to our local vet to make sure she was healthy.

My mom said, “Bring her home.” We named her Magic, and she and Mr. Chips tolerated one another. Magic lived for 20 years.

When I left home for a newspaper job in southern Louisiana, I knew it would be a matter of time before I got a pet. I worked long hours covering school board and city council meetings. Weekends were often spent covering football or baseball—depending on the season.

Within two weeks of taking this job, a female cat snuck into the production area. The tables were piled high with an endless supply of newspapers. It was soft place to have a litter of four kittens.

The first one that wandered out was Gigs, an all black kitty. His body shook, he was so little. The next one that tentatively emerged from the pile of newspapers looked like the mom. Belle was a grey, rust, tan, and white tabby with a pink nose. I waited until they were strong enough, got them fixed and took them home. The other two kittens and the mom cat were also fixed and went to good homes.

I stayed in Louisiana for a little over a year. And when I got a job back home in New York City, I took Belle and Gigs with me. A few people wanted to adopt Gigs. I wrote an article about how he helped me break into my apartment when I left the keys inside. (The front doorknob had a lock on the inside; if you didn’t turn it and the door closed behind you, you got locked out.) I would forget to turn that damn knob at least once a month.

Gigs slept by a big sun-filled window with a latch. I would get a wire hanger and place it between the upper and lower windows and Gigs would swat it so the loop that I made on the hanger would land on the latch. Then I would pull and the window would open.

So Gigs was famous, and everyone who met him adored him. He was incredibly friendly. Belle, unlike her brother, was a one person cat. I fortunately happened to be her person.

Gigs died at age 15. My husband and I sobbed. It was a terrible loss. Belle lived to age 20. She was constantly at my side. She got sick the last three days of her life. The vet said it was her time. I was going to put her down, but she made that hard choice for me.

A week to the day that Belle died, we came home from a wedding. It was around 1 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Waiting for us on our front porch was Mr. Earl Gray, a handsome charcoal gray and white cat with a badly broken leg. It was an internal break—no blood or visible cuts.

This is Earl Gray.

We opened the front door and with his tail raised high, he hobbled into our house.

Later that morning, we saw out vet who sent us to a specialist. Earl wore a cast, which he kept on removing. My husband put up a five foot barrier to the steps in our house. We didn’t want him climbing upstairs for fear that he would tumble down. Well, Earl leapt over the barrier—cast and all.

Today, at age 19, Earl spends most of his time stretched across my desk while I write.

I tell everyone to adopt from local shelters or rescues. Yet, I never made it there. All of our pets found us.

This post is my entry into the BlogPaws Blog Carnival Contest sponsored by BISSELL Homecare, Inc.

25 comments to Rescues Make the Best Pets

  • Kathy

    I LOVED today’s blog post from PNAV Michele…..for so many reasons ….but most of all because of the timeliness of it all. Tomorrow, I am picking up “Phoebe” my first rescue dog from the shelter. She is an 8- 10 yr. old Bichon/Poodle mix – all white like your beloved dog Pierrot was too. Although we are adopting her from a local shelter, she really found us in that my dog Jezzy and I have been grieving terribly since the loss of our beautiful baby Toby in May of this year. Around June, we saw a flyer for Phoebe at the local pet store and decided to go meet her at the shelter. As it turns out, she was a stray found wandering the streets of Greenwich, the same weekend in May that my Toby passed away. The shelter had tried to find her owners and spent a lot of time posting flyers for her in the surrounding towns and neighborhoods but to no avail. Who knows where she was before……now as our Rescue, she is going to her forever home w/ us where she will never have to worry about where to put her sweet little head at night. We have a big fluffy pink pillow bed waiting for her arrival. She will be able to feel safe and loved maybe for the first timtime in her life!! I am going to save your blog post from today in her scrapbook so she will have it forever. I think that it’s good karma working behind the scenes for us 🙂 And I think over the rainbow bridge, My beautiful Toby approves of what were going to do too!!!

  • Thanks Kathy, And again, I know how much you miss Toby. I still think about the two of you. I didn’t know how personal I should get in this post. Thank you!–Michele

  • jmuhj

    You are so right — rescued cats are the BEST! Our family, of both genders on both sides, have always loved, rescued, and adopted “street” cats, and we encourage others to do so as well. Until every cat and kitten has a loving, forever home, ADOPT — and be sure to SPAY & NEUTER, too!

  • Kathy

    Michele, I also want to say how horrified I was when I read what someone did to the dogs in your town when you were just a little kid – how could such evilness exist? I can’t imagine being a 10 yr old and having to learn the news that you not only lost your beautiful dog and best friend but to find out that someone actually poisoned him and 12 other dogs – is beyond heartbreaking. It makes me so upset to know that someone could do something so horrific to the most vulnerable and innocent of all – our pets. I am quite sure that if it happened in my town where I grew up – that individual’s head would be on a stick and driven out of town by angry mobs; justifiably so!!! What an emotional experience that must have been for you and the others who all lost their dogs that day. I truly hope they caught that perpetrator and that he/she (my first guess is that it was probably he – based on statistics of these types of crimes against humanity and animals…), threw him in jail for life and destroyed the key. I am so sorry that your dog had to suffer at the expense of such evilness. I can easily see why you have chosen the path in life to h help animals in a remarkable way. Our life experiences clearly play a huge role on what path and direction we end up taking……Thanks for all you do for pets by promoting responsible pet ownership, education and awareness.

  • Thank-you for sharing the stories of all of you pets! Every cat that my family ever had was a foundling, all kittens from barn cats in the surrounding area. I loved your story about Gigs and how he helped you get back into your house. Such a clever kitty!!

  • Karen, Gigs was incredibly smart, and he truly was loved by everyone who met him. We were lucky to have him in our lives.–Michele

  • Kathy, The criminal was never caught. My mom and I went on TV asking people to watch for suspicious behaviors and to come forward with any information. At the time, it wasn’t as big a deal as I believe it would have been if it happened today. My mom told reporters that the poison was placed around the park where kids played. The part about the kids really outraged people. Investigations were held, but the culprit was never found.–Michele

  • Marcie Winthrop

    What a touching story Michele, I see you have suffered some tragedies and obviously overcame them. I agree that rescue pets are the best. All of our pets–cats and dogs–came from local shelters. We also got a Siberian Husky from Siberian Husky Rescue. It’s amazing what you can find, and I believe that these pets are truly grateful.

  • Susan Sims

    Yes, rescues do make the best pets. We don’t support stores that sell puppies. They support puppy mills, and we won’t even purchase food or any other pet supplies at these stores. If the stores sell puppies, we won’t shop there. Adopt, Don’t Shop.

  • Tara Reid

    Thanks Michele. We got our cat from a Siamese cat rescue. I grew up with the breed and love they way they talk. So, when I was able to get another cat, I contacted a Siamese cat rescue. I see you wrote about one.
    People who want specific breeds should skip the breeder and go right to the specific breed rescue. You will get a grateful pet, and you hopefully will encourage others not to go to pet stores or breeders. And you can even find pure breds at shelters. About 25% of the pets at shelters are pure breds.

  • Toby Reisman

    I love your stories Michele. You should write a children’s book about the animals in your life. I especially love how Gigs helped you break into your house. What a smart kitty.

  • Sandee Harman

    You certainly suffered a great loss as a child. Obviously, you and your mom sound like you did the right thing and sailed through it. It has shaped how you handle pets today. Bless you Michele. I love Pet News and Views. I just subscribed.

  • Christopher Johnson

    Michele, I love your blog. This is a moving piece. Thank you. I, too, have only adopted dogs from my local shelter, and my cats have found me. I never made it to a local shelter to get a cat. Cats just come around my house. We have 3 1/2–three indoors and the 1/2 is a feral who eats outside. He will not come indoors.

  • Kristen Cooper

    Great personal piece. I have been reading Pet News and Views for almost 2 years now, and I look forward to each post. It is one of the better blogs out there. Thanks Michele. I’m glad to know a little more about you and your pets.

  • Amy Thomas

    Great site Michele. I also only shop at pet stores that DON’T sell pets. My local PETCO and Petsmart allow local shelters to “sell” pets, and that is very acceptable. We can only end puppy mills is if we don’t support them. So, Adopt, Don’t Shop!

  • Misty Hanson

    I also have a Siamese that I got from my local animal shelter. My friends are always surprised by that. So many people don’t realize that you can find purebreds at local shelters. It’s very possible. I also have an orange tabby named Twinkie, a black cat named Magic, and our Siamese is Simba. They are all rescues and all wonderful. They make my life so much better.

  • Tom Cohen

    We all need to take this message of Adopt, Don’t Shop to a wider audience. Let’s Tweet it, put it on FB, LinkedIn, and other sites. So many people still go to breeders and to pet shops. They just don’t know, which is amazing in this day and age. I really don’t have a lot of respect for people who aren’t informed about important issues.

  • Mary Turner

    Looks like your cat Gigs was a real cat burgler.

  • Sara Magnolia

    Now, I can see why you love cats and dogs so much. They are a part of you. I feel the same way. And yes, Rescues do make the best pets.

  • David Cramer

    My cats, Milk and Honey, are sisters that I got from my local shelter. Milk is all white and honey is a warm tan color. Rescues are great and grateful.

  • Susie Marsten

    My rescue is from a greyhound rescue. These dogs are so sweet and cat like in the sense that they can be independent. Toby is my second greyhound dog, and I love the bred. They really need to loved, and greyhound racing needs to end. The dogs are so poorly treated. So, I will tell your readers to adopt a greyhound.

  • Rescues are wonderful pets, indeed, Michele! Thank you for this lovely post!

  • Carrie Mastella

    Michele, I had no idea of the tragedy you faced as a child. You are lucky to have such a strong mom. I think she influenced your love of animals.–Best, Carrie

  • […] preach “adopt, don’t shop,” yet, I’ve never made it to a shelter because all of my animals have found me. Still, for those of you who must have a purebred dog, please consider adopting at a rescue. There […]

  • Jada Brooks

    Thanks for this personal account. We just learned why you are so involved in rescue and caring of animals!