New York City Finalist #1 )
We lost our beautiful Saluki mix, Scout, on a Tuesday. We were devastated. She had been our baby when we found out that we could not have our own children. No dog could have taken her place, or won our hearts. Then came Tilly.
Secretly, my husband I are were scouring PetFinder because our house was just too quiet. We finally confessed to each other that we were ready to have another dog in our lives within a few days of losing Scout. Even more coincidentally, we had narrowed it down to the same 4 dogs. One of these dogs was a puppy named Tilly at Manhattan’s Bideawee. We applied and drove to get her on Saturday morning. As we arrived, we learned that she had just been adopted. Since we had traveled nearly 3 hours, we decided to look at the dogs that were available.
Cowering in the corner, with a skin disease, sagging nipples from a recent litter, and the saddest, mistrusting eyes I’d ever seen was a little dog called Nina. She was Tilly’s mama. There was something in her that called to me. Long story short, Nina became the new Tilly, and came home with us.
That night, in fear of my husband helping her up the steps, she bolted and ran from us, across a busy highway and into the woods. We searched for hours, calling every name we could. We didn’t find her. Finally, at 12:30am, we gave up. As we were heading into the house, a young man pulled up in a car and said, “Hey, is this your dog?” And, there she was. We learned that Tilly was terrified of men. For a year, my sweet husband worked to gain her trust. He took on every task with her—walking, feeding, training, and becoming the human she needed. He baby talked her, plied her with treats, and offered her more love than she could ever have known. I don’t know that I have ever seen a more beautiful relationship or a more amazing transformation. We’ll never know what Tilly’s life was like in Puerto Rico. But, my husband I both agree, that loving Tilly, and teaching her to trust, is the most beautiful gift of our 25 year marriage.
New York City Finalist #2 )
We foster dogs, and recently decided to foster dogs we might adopt. We were looking for a 2-4 yrs old, 25-45 lbs, female, hound dog. Then we agreed to foster Maxwell from Labs4Rescue (L4R). Max is 9 yrs old, 75 lbs, and a male black lab mix. We picked up Maxwell from boarding, where he had been for about 2 weeks after being picked up by L4R from NYC shelter. He was surrendered by his previous family a few weeks earlier, since one of their children became allergic to him. As an older black dog we expected he would be a long foster. We had no intention of adopting him since he was clearly NOT the dog we were dreaming of (and he drools. A LOT.)
Max walked into our family like he’d lived here his whole life. His relaxed attitude was reassuring. From Day One, Max loved our kids, and all kids and dogs in the neighborhood. He bonded instantly with our 15 year old daughter. He loves to be close – keeping an eye on us in the kitchen, sitting outside with us, going on walks, or curled up on the couch with his head on a lap. It is heartbreaking to imagine how sad he must have felt being away from the only family he knew and in a shelter environment. He is a gem of a dog! We had discussed adopting many of our foster dogs, but there were always reasons that made us decide not to. Our daughter was adamant about wanting to adopt Max, but since he didn’t match our list about our next dog, we weren’t going to adopt him, no matter how wonderful he continued to be every day. Then she said Maxwell was all she wanted for her 16th birthday. We had one adoption application for him, which made us anxious – we were feeling very protective of his future. At the same time his adoption coordinator from L4R asked us if we wanted to keep him since he seemed happy and we clearly enjoyed him. Suddenly, it all seemed so clear. Why was it so hard to imagine him anywhere else? Because he already WAS home.
Rescued Hero Maxwell has changed our lives by showing us love. No matter how he has been let down by people in the past, he is an affectionate, happy, playful and curious companion. His presence in our lives reminds us of the luxurious pleasures of steady friendship. He models resilience and loyalty despite his history. He showed us that what we really wanted in a dog was a best friend who loves unconditionally, not a dog of a certain age, size, gender or type. We wish we could reassure him that he will never again have to move or wonder where his people are. We love you Max!
New York City Finalist #3 )
Hudson didn’t change my life, he just made it better. We rescued Hudson in June 2017, shortly after finding out we were pregnant with our first baby. Hudson was 10 weeks old and I was 10 weeks pregnant, and we knew it was meant to be. He spent my entire pregnancy at my side and we are pretty sure he knew I was in labor before I did.
After B was born, I didn’t suffer from postpartum depression, but I started to feel a little lonely and a bit isolated. Except I wasn’t lonely because, just like the months before B was born, Hudson was by my side. He made sure to always be with me. He kept me company even with a screaming newborn in his ear. He didn’t care, as long as he knew I was okay.
As the weeks got easier, and our routine more solid, I started to focus more on getting back to “normal”. I had gained close to 60lbs during my pregnancy, and finding the motivation to exercise like I did before baby just wasn’t there anymore. I used to hate running, but at the time it felt like the only option I had for exercise after B was born was to go for a quick run in the neighborhood. But it wasn’t fun, so it became easy to put it off or make an excuse not to go. Then Hudson changed the game. One morning my husband suggested I take Hudson with me to burn his puppy energy, and that was the start of the best year of my life.
Hudson has become my favorite running buddy. We run around three times a week, at least two to three miles. Earlier this month, we completed our first 5K together, and came in second place for my age group. Together, we’ve run over 120 miles this past year.
Dogs have these amazing spirits that make you feel like you can do anything. So if it was hot and muggy, or cold and rainy, we still ran. Why? Because Hudson wanted to. Seeing him so happy made me want to run more. Thanks to Hudson and his passion for running, I’ve lost the 60 lbs I gained from my pregnancy and then some. Hudson has truly made my life better, and made me healthier. He’s inspired me to keep running, and we’re already signed up for our next race.
I really can’t express the love I have for my Hudson. It’s not just being my running buddy that makes him so special to me. He was there for me every day of my pregnancy and my first year of motherhood. I can’t imagine having gone through the first year without him by my side, and while I focused solely on his impact on my life, watching the bond he’s formed with our son B, has been truly incredible to watch. But that’s a story for another entry.
New York City Finalists #4)
My rescue dog, Hope, has changed my life and my family’s life, significantly. I never thought that I would ever have a rescue, so when I did I was surprised. My wife, son, and I fell in love with her the moment we saw her. The reason she changed my life is because I saw that she truly was “hurt” and in her eyes I can see how grateful she was to be with us. You can truly see it in their eyes. They know.
The other part of this life changing experience is the rescue organization that found her clinging to life. I decided to make it a mission to help them out as much as I can. They gave me my girl and I was going to give back. I operate 2 restaurants. I immediately decided that I would create two cocktail drinks and a draft beer, where all the proceeds would go directly to RDRNYC. I then connected with them and told them to set up a day for an adoption event right outside my doors. We held one adoption drive in June, and the next one will be in October 2019. In the 3 months that I collected money from the cocktails and beer we were able to raise $8,000 for RDRNYC!
On the day of our first adoption drive, a woman walked up to us outside and handed us a dog, telling us she’s not able to keep her anymore. So, I did the next best thing. I took her in, and am now fostering her. I’m real close to finding her a forever home too. From the day I held my girl Hope in my hands, I knew right then and there, that it was meant for me and my family, to help out as much as we can. For that alone I’m grateful. But in the end, I’m simply happy that Hope, and any other rescue adopted, is truly happier, and will live a very happy life.