We all know about the 12 Days of Christmas—the famous holiday carol about a lucky recipient receiving a series of gifts from their loved one. Although gifts can be a nice gesture, most can agree that the true joy of Christmas is being able to spend time at home surrounded by friends and family. Pets are entitled to the same comforts during the holidays, but unfortunately for the thousands of abandoned pets across the country, this isn’t always the case.
There are those pets who are lucky enough to receive the gift of love during the holidays—including those who may have not been ever able to experience this luxury before. In light of the season of giving, we’re offering 12 heartwarming pet adoption stories. These once-abandoned pets finally found their forever homes and are able to spend this Christmas surrounded by the best gift of all—love.
By Nikki Naser
These days, little Nico the Chihuahua spends his days playing in the dog park, going on car rides and cuddling up to his adoptive pet mom, Penny, at their home in Boca Raton, FL. But it wasn’t that long ago that he was found roaming the streets alone in Miami Beach, darting in and out of traffic.
Nico was lucky that there are plenty of dog lovers in South Florida, and two of them happened to come to the rescue the day Nico was running loose. Brenna and her friend Dominique were walking Brenna’s dog, Fig, when they spotted Nico running in front of cars. They were able to pick him up, and they searched for an owner with no luck. Nico spent the night at Dominique’s place, enjoying plenty of pampering, and the next day, she took him to the vet. He had no microchip, and was not neutered. Dominique knew that she traveled too much to care for a dog, so she posted Nico’s picture on Rescue Me, a pet rescue site that helps animals find loving homes.
Penny was looking to adopt another Chihuahua after her beloved Gabriel passed away in 2013. She contacted Dominique after seeing Nico’s picture, and agreed to drive down to meet him. Their first face-to-face meeting was the night before Nico was scheduled to be neutered, and Penny returned to take him home a few days later.
The match was perfect. “He was just everything I was looking for,” says Penny. “He was fairly young. I had adopted my former Chihuahua Gabriel when he was 8 years old, and he came with a very serious heart condition and died 4 years later. I was happy to find a younger dog like Nico who happened to look very much like Gabriel.” Penny thinks that he’s mostly Chihuahua, possibly mixed with French Bulldog. She decided on the Italian name Nicolo (Nico for short), a suggestion from Dominique, who teaches Italian history.
Nico and Penny go on long walks in the mornings, and to a weekly farmers market on Saturdays. They love going to the small dog section of the Boca dog park and visiting Penny’s parents in Deerfield Beach. When they’re not on the go together, you might find them relaxing and watching TV. At home, Nico’s favorite toy is his squeaky plush Lamb Chops toy that Penny got him on his second day to ease his separation anxiety. “He’s also extremely affectionate and cuddly. I could not have asked for more from a little Chihuahua,” says Penny.
In the time that Penny has had Nico, he’s had some liver and knee issues. She discovered through a biopsy that he is missing one of his liver lobes as well as a gall bladder, and he has scarring on his liver—all of which Penny attributes to a birth defect due to irresponsible breeding practices.
Despite his health issues, Penny remarks that Nico is doing well and enjoying life. “Nico has turned out to be the greatest little companion… Did I say I really love Nico very much? I really do! He was extremely lucky that someone like Dominique found him.” And Nico is exceptionally fortunate to have found such a loving forever home with Penny.
See the next adoption story: Litter of Rescue Puppies Find Loving Families
Nikki Naser, BeChewy Senior Editor
Instead of owning 30 cats, Nikki has an impressive collection of 30 cat-themed T-shirts, and just 4 pets—a ginger-haired senior cat, a senior Maine Coon, a middle-aged Choodle, and a young kitty who showed up one day on the back steps. A former Orlando resident, Nikki worked on several tourism publications before moving to South Beach. When she’s not stopping to take pics of community cats to post on Instagram, Nikki spends her time with the office pets at Chewy, writing for their BeChewy blog.