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.
Aubrey Manzo Dunn met her now 13-year-old pup, Lestat, when she was a volunteer at a dog shelter in Delaware, and he was one of the pet rescues. “Our second time meeting (the first time he scared me too much, and I had to return him to his crate), he chewed the side of a plastic chair, and I was too scared to leave him alone, so I crawled into his dog crate with him to make sure he’d be okay,” Dunn explains. Normally super stressed (and underweight from the stress), that night he cuddled with her for over an hour. That was December 2009—the moment when Dunn fell in love. At this point, Lestat’s pet rescue dog story had just begun.
From then on, Dunn would go to the dog shelter multiple times a week just to see him. “We’d take rides to McDonald’s or to the beach, and I’d end every visit by crawling into his crate for an extended period of cuddle time,” she says. When he eventually needed major surgery, Dunn helped raise money to cover the costs, and then moved into a hotel with him to foster him back to health for 2 weeks, away from the stress of the dog shelter. “I lived at home with my parents at the time, and we had a 15-year-old dog that we didn’t want to disrupt,” Dunn says. “At the end of that, I couldn’t bear to return him to the shelter, so a fellow volunteer kindly offered an RV parked in her driveway for us to move into, until I could hopefully adopt him for good.”
Dunn got a new job 3 months later and was able to move to a different state, which meant having her own place and the freedom to finally adopt Lestat. Dunn then realized that some dog rescue stories take time and patience. “At that point, he was 7 years old and had been in the shelter’s custody for 2 years,” says Dunn, who finally took Lestat home on April 22, 2011.
Since then, Dunn says he’s been everything to her and her husband. “He announced our engagement, wedding date, pregnancy and gender reveal,” Dunn says. “He’s getting older, and slowing down, but I’m thankful every day that the stars aligned and I was able to scoop him up and have him with us for so long.”
See the next adoption story: Cat Gets Adopted by Taxi Driver
Diana Bocco is a full-time writer and adventurer who has written for National Geographic, DiscoveryChannel.com, Yahoo! and Marie Claire. Diana has lived in five countries and taken her rescued dogs along to each one of them.