Therapy Dogs Help at U.S. Swimming Trials

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by Caroline Golon

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Photo credit:
USA Swimming

At the recent U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha, Neb., the athletes employed all types of tactics to keep calm and perform at their best, including snugging with friendly dogs!

According to NY Daily News, this year, USA Swimming brought in 30 therapy dogs to help swimmers de-stress before their races. The group partnered with Domesti-PUPS, which is a Lincoln, Nebraska-based nonprofit organization that provides therapy dogs for a variety of organizations and events.

At the trials, the stress was high for the nearly 1,700 swimmers from across the nation. The high-stakes event determined the American team for the Rio Olympic games but also gave other top swimmers a chance to experience the highly competitive atmosphere of the trials.

Morgan Weinberg, program and services manager for USA Swimming told NY Daily News that she was looking for something to help the swimmers while they were there. A dog lover herself, she immediately thought of relaxation in the form of wagging tails and soft bellies.

“This is the first time we’ve ever done it,” she explained. “I like dogs, I thought about dogs, and it just kind of evolved into therapy dogs.”

Domesti-PUPS set up at the athletes lounge at CenturyLink Center, where the dogs were happily available to cuddle, play or simply sit and be petted by the swimmers.

The program was a big success!

One swimmer who spent 20 minutes with a dog right before her race, returned later to report that she’d just had the best swim she’d ever had because she was so relaxed when she jumped in the pool.

Kacey Oberlander, who will be attending the University of Alabama in the fall, agrees that the dogs make a difference. “It’s nice to see the happy puppy dogs running around when everything is so intense and everyone’s so serious,” she told NY Daily News. “The dogs are very happy all the time. It makes me calm.”

Many swimmers, like Oberlander, miss their own dogs. The therapy dogs, for a few days at least, filled in the fluffy void. Oberlander told NY Daily News how much she missed her miniature dachshunds, Biscuit and Bella. “I miss them soooo much,” Oberlander said. “When I come in here and see the dogs, it’s just like home.”

Two Bonded Senior Cats Find Forever Home – Together

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by Caroline Golon

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Photo by
Amanda Smith @camelliathecat

Things didn’t look good for Pepa and Meli, two 21-year-old cats in the care of West LA Animal Services in Los Angeles. Their owner had passed away and too often, senior cats don’t fare well in a shelter setting. But, thanks to a family with a soft spot for senior kitties, these two will live out the rest of their lives happy and loved.

According to Love Meow, when the bonded pair arrived at the shelter, workers knew their chances of adoption were slim. Senior cats are hard to adopt and a pair of senior cats is even harder. So the shelter put a plea out to their network for help.

When Amanda Smith of San Diego learned about the cats, she knew she had to help. “A bonded pair of super seniors. I think we all know what the odds are there. To make matters worse, Meli had been moved off the adoption floor due to fearful and aggressive behavior. Being guardian to a previously terrified girl I knew I had to get them both out of there.”

Smith had already adopted Camellia, a 16-year-old deaf and blind cat, from West LA Animal Services so she was well aware of the challenges – and blessings – a senior cat brings.

So Smith’s husband set out on the 4-hour round trip to retrieve the cats and bring them back to their forever home.

“When we adopted them we found that Pepa was emaciated, had severe dental problems, and was severely matted. She is also the most friendly, brave, loving cat I’ve ever known. Of all the cats I have loved, none has nose booped me at every greeting the way she does,” Smith says.

Meli, on the other hand, is taking longer to come out of her shell. “Though it’s so easy to want instant results, we know that scared cats take time and patience,” Smith says. “We will give her all the time she needs. That’s what family does.”

The Smiths don’t shy away from the responsibility of senior cat care, or the emotionally painful reality that the cats might not live for very long.

“No matter how long they are in our care, we can say with confidence when the time comes, that we have loved them the best we could ever single day they were with us,” explains Smith. “We gave them a new end to their story. Instead of dying alone, scared, and abandoned in a shelter they pass in a comfortable home surrounded by love.”

And while it’s clear this family is performing an incredible kindness, they know they are the lucky ones.

“We are honored these beautiful souls bless us with their presence for their twilight years. There is nothing quite like a senior cat.”

Blind Dog and His Guide Dog Adopted Together

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by Caroline Golon

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Photo by Salem Dogs

What could have been a bad situation for an abandoned blind dachshund has a happy ending thanks to the dog’s own guide dog and a kind couple who fell in love with them both.

According to the Statesman Journal, three dachshunds were heartlessly abandoned in Salem, Ore. A kindhearted man took the dogs to the Marion County Dog Services shelter, who immediately contacted Diane Young and Salem Dogs, a local dog rescue. 

One of the dogs was put up for adoption right away and found a home quickly. The other two, Hilda and Herbie, however, had a few quirks.

The staff at Salem Dogs noticed right away that Herbie, a smooth-coated, dappled boy, had vision problems. “It’s not uncommon for dappled-colored dogs of any breed to have vision and hearing problems, and when I and the shelter staff saw Herbie walk into walls, it was obvious he couldn’t see much,” Young told the Statesman Journal.

Soon it was also clear that Hilda, a long-haired female, was Herbie’s protector and guide. “Hilda shepherds him around and protects him, and we knew immediately they needed to be adopted as a pair,” Young explained.

The two would need to go to a special home. It turns out, however, that special home was ready and waiting for the right dog – or dogs – to come along.

Retirees John and Dorothy Sinnar of Yakima, Washington, were looking for a new dog. Sadly, in April, their 16-year-old dachshund Annabelle passed away, and they were ready to open up their hearts and their home again.

“I’d been Googling dachshunds and knew we wanted a rescue because we’d rescued Annabelle from a puppy mill in La Pine years ago, and I somehow got onto a Salem site and saw Hilda and Herbie,” John Sinnar told the Statesman Journal. “I told Dorothy that ‘I think these are our dogs’ and I knew immediately that we had to go see them.”

After a five-hour drive, the couple arrived in Salem to meet the dogs. The connection was instant. Hilda and Herbie had found their forever home – together.

Stray Cat at Hockey Game Gets Winning Shot at Loving Home

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by Caroline Golon

Talk about a great game plan to find a home! One homeless cat made a surprise appearance on an ice hockey rink that turned out to be the smartest play of her life.

According to Maddie’s Fund, the little black cat snuck out onto the ice during a San Jose Sharks hockey game, much to the surprise and delight of the players and the fans.

The tiny stray cat, weighing less than 2 pounds, slid around on the ice before she made it to the sidelines where she was scooped up by staff members and brought to safety. In return, the kitten brought the team luck – they won their game that day.

Then, when no one claimed the shy cat, the hockey team called in the Humane Society of Silicon Valley (HSSV) to care for her.

She was named Jo Paw-velski, a female cat spin on Sharks captain Joe Pavelski’s name.

Fortunately for Jo, she’d already made quite an impression on the public with her brief hockey stint.

Finnegan Dowling, content marketing manager at HSSV said, “There was a ton of media interest in her, and a lot of people wanted to know how she was doing and what she was up to. Camera crews wanted to film her.”

The HSSV has a special room where they can broadcast the pets in their care live via their “MaddieCam,” which is what they did with Jo. The public loved it! Jo garnered a record of nearly 40,000 views on the MaddieCam page.

“The outpouring of support and concern for Jo was just amazing,” said Dowling. “The link got retweeted over and over, and shared by, and a bunch of other media. It was amazing.”

The Sharks continued to want to help Jo, even featuring her MaddieCam feed on the jumbotron during a game.

Not surprisingly, lots of people wanted to adopt the sweet cat but one lucky family brought her home for good. “She was adopted by a lovely local family who are huge hockey fans. They were aware of her from the game – her being on the ice – and put their name in with us immediately when they found out she was with us,” said Dowling.

Even better, because Jo is so shy, the family adopted a second, more outgoing cat to keep her company.

“This whole experience has served as a good reminder that people are good and the animals have a lot more supporters than just the folks we see on our social media accounts. People want to do the right thing for animals,” said Dowling.

Dog Brings Cell Phone to Woman Who Fell Off Cliff

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by Caroline Golon

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Photo by Dina Wuest

Dina Wuest loves camping and hiking with her dog, Bonnie, but she never dreamed that Bonnie would save her life on one of those trips.

According to the Dodo, Wuest and Bonnie were camping on the Tararua Ranges in New Zealand when they decided to go for a hike. The two were having a great time until disaster struck – Wuest fell off a cliff, stranding her on the rocks below with a broken leg.

Wuest, unable to move, was facing away from her pup so couldn’t see her dog or signal to her.

But Bonnie knew Wuest was in trouble. The dog was wearing a pack that contained some essentials and the brave pup make her way down the cliff to be by Wuest’s side.

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Photo by Dina Wuest

“I fell and was facing the cliff so I couldn’t see her, but I heard her making her way down the side of the cliff where it was not so steep,” Wuest told The Dodo. “Within about a minute she was by my side.”

Luckily the pack Bonnie was wearing contained Wuest’s cell phone so she was able to call for help.

Bonnie stayed by Wuest’s side while they waited for help to come. “She curled up beside me and stayed there until the helicopter arrived,” Wuest told The Dodo. “We had to wait for a bit over an hour for them to come and she stayed with me the whole time.” 

And, while Wuest said Bonnie was a little scared by the noise of the helicopters she remained beside her. Wuest has recovered from the accident and will likely to be ready for camping again sometime soon. Good girl, Bonnie!

Woman Takes Rescue Cat Sailing Across the World

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by Caroline Golon

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Photo by Liz Clark

Liz Clark has been on an incredible adventure since 2006 – sailing around the world on a Cal 40 sailboat, solo. That is, solo until 2013 when she was joined by an unlikely co-captain – a feral cat she adopted and named Amelia.

According to Clark’s online chronicle, the former bartender has traveled along the western coast of Mexico and Central America, and around the South Pacific.

Amelia was just six months old when Clark found her. The feral kitten was skinny and starving for attention and Clark immediately took to her. She says she saw a  “commanding lioness air and carefree bravado” in the little cat.

Amelia (also known as Tropicat) seems happy on the boat with Clark. “She has adapted to living surrounded by water,” Clark told Buzzfeed. Amelia loves watching the fish and birds and Clark made a cat tree out of a yoga mat wrapped around the boat’s mast and finds loose palm leaves make great toys for her little companion.

But the two also have plenty of time and adventures on land. Amelia loves hiking and exploring, says Clark.

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Photo by Liz Clark

Clark makes sure to give Amelia plenty of freedom on land to do the things cats like to do. After an episode in 2015 when Amelia went missing for 43 days on an island they visited, Clark is even more dedicated to making sure the cat is happy wherever they might be. Each time they depart land for the open water, Clark lets Amelia decide if she wants to climb aboard or stay on land. So far, Amelia continues on the ocean adventures.

And, while she recognizes someday Amelia might choose to stay on land, having her aboard makes Clark happy.

“But I think she now understands that I will keep her safe and she will have a lot of fun in the end. She makes Swell [the yacht] feel much more like a home.”

Dog Helps Boy with Dwarfism Gain Confidence

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by Caroline Golon

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Photo by Yarraka Bayles

Five-year-old Quaden Bayles has faced more life hurdles than most kids his age have. He has a form of dwarfism called achondroplasia. Dealing with the challenges of the condition left the boy angry and depressed. That is, until a special dog named Buddy came into Quaden’s life.

According to, Quaden’s struggles aren’t just physical. People also say cruel things to him and about him when he’s out in public. He hates to attract attention to himself or his condition and even told his family not to speak any words related to his condition out loud. But then Buddy arrived.

Buddy is a 9-year-old Shih Tzu rescue dog who also has achondroplasia.

“Quaden now proudly accepts that he’s got dwarfism, because Buddy’s given him that reason to think that it’s cool,” his mom, Yarraka Bayles, told “So he tells everyone, ‘My dog has dwarfism like me,’ and it’s the first time we’ve ever, in Quaden’s five years of life, heard him say the word, because we are not allowed to say dwarfism or achondroplasia.”

Bayles said that Buddy has made a huge difference in the little boy’s confidence and outlook on life.

The pup accompanies Quaden everywhere, even to the hospital when the boy has one of numerous surgeries or other health issues related to his condition.

Not only has Buddy changed Quaden’s life, he’s impacted the lives of his mother and sisters, too. Quaden’s father passed away from cancer recently and Buddy has brought a new joy to the household, helping them all heal.

“Buddy has made things better, Bayles told “It was divine intervention, definitely — the last thing that I would have expected or wanted, but it’s what we needed, and we’re so blessed. He’s just the perfect companion for all of us, but mostly for Quaden.”

Dog Runs Away Back to Doggie Daycare

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by Caroline Golon

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Photo by Happy Dog
Cafe Daycare

Lots of dogs love to go to Doggy Daycare. One dog, however, loves daycare so much that he ran away from home to go visit his friends there!

According to CNN, Riley the golden retriever and his owner were out for a drive one morning when they drove past a group of dogs from the daycare he attends. Riley was excited and happy to see them, reports his owner, Tonia Mosteller. “Riley was crying because he loves to play, he loves happy dogs,” Mosteller told CNN.

But the two went on their way, with Riley whining the whole way home.

Mosteller thought that was the end of it but Riley had other plans. A short time later, Riley was playing in the backyard and decided to take matters into his own paws.

Riley was somehow able to lift the latch on the gate and escape the yard. He headed straight to Happy Dog Café Daycare – a mile away!

Daycare owner Teresa McCarter says she noticed a dog outside at the daycare, waiting to be let in. She recognized him right away. “Oh my gosh, it’s Riley!” she told CNN she remembers thinking. McCarter called Mosteller right away to let her know her wayward retriever was safe.

It turns out that Riley’s plan worked. Mosteller and McCarter agreed to let Riley stay there for the rest of the day. “Of course,” McCarter told CNN, “He stayed for free.”